Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie/TV President

The current American Presidential election has been going on for what feels like forever. At this point, it seems like most of the public doesn’t like either candidate very much. If you could vote for a fictional President from movies or TV instead, which one would you choose?

Shannon Nutt

Most fictionalized Presidents have been portrayed as either super-liberal or really evil (i.e., virtually every TV and movie version of a Republican). That’s why I always admired David Palmer (played by Dennis Haysbert), the first President of the United States on ‘24‘. Here was a guy who definitely had a moral compass, but wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty (in a political sense) when it came to getting things done. And who can forget his Lady Macbeth-like wife, Sherry? You think your girlfriend is crazy? Try living with this woman! Palmer’s loyalty to those around him eventually led to him not seeking a second term and – in an event I’m still mad at the ’24’ show-runners for – his assassination at the beginning of Season 5. But he’ll always be my favorite TV President because he always came across as believable and real.

Mike Attebery

I’d be shocked if I’m the only one to pick President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet from ‘The West Wing‘ (I’d also be kind of disappointed), but there is no greater fictional President. I get the urge to rewatch ‘The West Wing’ every four years. The people working in that fictional White House, from the staffers to the reporters, right up to the man himself, work at a level of intelligence, debate and discourse that I wish existed in the real world.

Jed Bartlet is an egghead, he’s a fighter, he’s a romantic, and he’s funny. To find all those qualities in one person is rare; to find them in a politician is impossible. For me, he’s the dream President. Whether the election is 2008, 2012, 2016 or 2020, Jed Bartlet will always be my man! Bartlet for America!

Brian Hoss

Thinking on my favorite fictional President had me thinking of William J. Lepetomane, the governor from ‘Blazing Saddles’. (Not President, but he did aspire to a cabinet post, which might have made him the designated survivor in a TV show.) Fortunately, I then thought of President Scroob from ‘Spaceballs‘. Now this was a President. Not only did he decisively attempt to alleviate his planet’s air supply problem, he was willing to be at the center of danger when he joined Dark Helmet on Spaceball I. That’s leadership!

Plus, who can forget the directive, “Comb the desert”?

Josh Zyber

Shannon stole my first answer with David Palmer. Not only do I wish he were real, I’d vote for actor Dennis Haysbert if he decided to enter politics.

Jed Bartlet from ‘The West Wing’ always felt like too much of an idealized wish-fulfillment fantasy to me. For a (sadly) more realistic depiction of a U.S. President, look at Billy Bob Thornton in ‘Love Actually‘. He’s a pompous blowhard, an unrepentant womanizer and sexual predator with a narcissistic sense of entitlement that makes him believe he can have and do whatever he wants. We’ve had this guy in office before (from both parties, thank you) and may well get him again shortly.

But this Roundtable is supposed to be about favorite fictional Presidents. As far as that goes, I’ll toss a shout-out to President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, as played by Terry Crews in ‘Idiocracy‘. If a moron is going to occupy the Oval Office, at least let him be a fun and mostly harmless moron.

Where do your fictional political allegiances lie? Tell us in the Comments.


  1. Paul Anderson

    I am gonna cheat and pick two. However they are kind of bookends to each other due to the similar themes of each film and timing of their release to theaters. Henry Fonda in “Fail-Safe” and Peter Sellers in “Dr Strangelove”. Great performances by both.

  2. NJScorpio

    I’m going to have to go with Laura Roslin from rebooted BSG. She has a great story line, being thrust into the position.

  3. Chris B

    Bill Pullman in Independence Day. That kick-ass speech he gives on the tarmac before the climactic battle always gets me pumped up…and I’m not even American 😉

  4. photogdave

    Mr. President from Death Race 2000. He was a righteous, authoritative figure and his speech about the “treacherous French” was a classic!

  5. Great pick, Josh! 🙂

    Kurtwood Smith gets my vote this year as the Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Now that was a head of hair…

  6. So many good ones. Martin Sheen on West Wing probably my favorite, but gotta mention Kevin Kline in Dave, Michael Douglas in An American President, and Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks!

  7. Plissken99

    I’ve been thinking about fictional presidents myself given the current dumpster fire of an election that’s going on.

    Indeed you can’t beat Pullman in ID4, the speech he gives is one for the ages. So great that if we’re ever really attacked by an alien race, the president would be hard pressed to not copy it.

    Kiefers new show is promising, president Kirkman might be in the running soon. An intelligent statesman who will only act given enough information.. total opposite of the current male candidate for president.

    • I wasn’t crazy about the pilot for ‘Designated Survivor’, but agree the show has gotten better as it’s gone along. I imagine the old showrunners at ’24’ are wishing they would have thought up this storyline for Jack Bauer…it would have made for a great season of ’24’ if they’d somehow figured out a way to get Jack Bauer in the White House.

    • Timcharger

      Hi Julian, this low voter turnout of this
      Weekend Roundtable worries me. Voter apathy may
      lead to a surprising victory in 3 weeks. So Julian, do
      you have room in Europe for me and my family to
      relocate there? Or has Josh already claimed a spot?

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