By Benjamin Svetkey
Updated January 24, 2012 at 09:44 PM EST
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Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images

You thought last night’s GOP debate on NBC turned in some laughable performances? Hollywood screenwriters have been concocting over-the-top doomsday Presidents for decades, many of whom make even Rick Santorum look like Charles de Gaulle. Below, five bad prezes from the big screen. Feel free to nominate your own candidates in the comments, PopWatchers.

Peter Seller’s President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove (1964): Not a bad guy, really, but a bit of a milquetoast (“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room!”). Plus, he was indirectly responsible for setting off Russia’s Doomsday Device.

Martin Sheen’s President Greg Stillson in The Dead Zone (1983). Sheen’s corrupt politician character is running for Senate through most of the film, but Christopher Walkin’s psychic powers reveal a future in which Stillson becomes President, goes mad, and launches a nuclear war.

President Cliff Robertson’s President in Escape from LA (1996): A right-wing religious fanatic, he not only makes the U.S. a non-smoking country, but outlaws drugs, curse words, red meat, and fur.

Gene Hackman’s President Allen Richmond in Absolute Power (1997). Not only is he a philanderer, he’s an accessory to murder, getting the Secret Service to shoot his mistress and then cover up the crime. At least she wasn’t an intern…

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s President Schwarzenegger in The Simpsons Movie (2007): His most famous quote (“I was elected to lead, not to read”) actually became part of Herman Cain’s real-life campaign (“We need a leader, not a reader”).

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