Calling Hollywood to run the West

 

Macho Hollywood actor Val Kilmer has starred in more than 40 movies, often playing tough cops and Western gunfighters. He's probably best known for playing the 1995 Batman and punching out a villain called The Riddler. Now Kilmer wants to become a political hero by running for the governorship of New Mexico.

Don't laugh too hard. Kilmer lives in New Mexico at least part-time, and the license plates say it's the Land of Enchantment.

And the West has a tradition of Hollywood actors taking leading roles in real life. The most macho movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, plays the governor of California. That role was previously defined by a mediocre actor, Ronald Reagan, who got such great reviews that he ended up starring in the White House.

Kilmer says he may run in 2010, and if he does, he says, he's confident he'd win the election. He tells Associated Press, "I'm just looking for ways to be contributive." That indicates he needs a screenwriter to help with his
dialogue. The AP adds, "Kilmer said … it wouldn't have to be a conventional campaign."

No kidding. And Kilmer could play the role like a New Mexico Batman, moving the governor's office into Carlsbad Caverns, and tricking out the governor's limo to be like the Batmobile. He could roar out of his Batcave lair to battle New Mexico's villains, which include (in action-movie lingo) the Evil Legion of Chronic Poverty, the Joker of Heroin, and Droughtwoman.

Maybe it should be a trend, because other Western states have huge problems that need heroes on the scale of the big screen. Anyway it's a fun game, imagining which actor fits where.

Montana? How about Gov. Wolverine, the snarling X-Men mutant superhero played by Hugh Jackman? (I know, he’s from Australia, but still.) He could use his titanium claws to defend the Last Best Place from the Coal Developer Hordes -- invaders from a parallel universe where there is no global warming.

Wyoming's next governor? Clint Eastwood, obviously. The former gung-ho Hollywood cowboy has matured into making movies that reflect on the negatives of the mythology. He could lead the Cowboy State into the 21st
century.

Tina Fey could simply take over Alaska, doing her dead-on imitation of Gov. Sarah Palin. But I think Fey would be even more effective in Idaho. Palin herself graduated from the University of Idaho in 1987 and remains popular in the state. Gov. Fey would unify Idaho Democrats (who get the joke) with Idaho Republicans who don't.

Gov. Robert DeNiro would lead Nevada with a perfect wink and a wry grin, drawing from his many performances as a likeable rogue. He's already played a casino operator and a prizefighter and somewhat ethical mobsters – ideal experience for the state.

Oregon, the counterculture state, could be led by a team: Cheech and Chong as governor and lieutenant governor. Comic actors Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong would liven up press conferences with their bong-smoker routines, appealing to all generations of muddleheads. Like wow, man, better do something to save the salmon, you know?

Utah, the Mormon state, needs spiritual political leadership, How about Gov. Ben Kingsley, stretching his Oscar-winning performance as Gandhi? Possible alternate: Utah Gov. Madonna, just to hear it said out loud.

Colorado, the self-consciously sophisticated, tightly muscled state, would have good symbolic leadership with "Gov. Bond -- James Bond," played by Daniel Craig, the latest actor in that superhero role. Bond movies feature
many skiing action scenes, so the governor could count on support from that industry.

Gov. Juan Valdez – meaning any of the actors who've played the fatherly coffee growers in that 50-year series of TV ads -- would be good for Washington. He'd appeal to Seattle's coffee-drinking crowd and the hometown
global company, Starbucks, and would know what's important to his constituents (trade policies).

Arizona, a state with primitive politics, including a Legislature that doesn't believe in global warming, deserves to be led by a cartoon character, Gov. Homer Simpson. (Homer already works in a nuclear plant that resembles Arizona's Palo Verde plant.)

California has the greatest problems -- billions in the red, all systems breaking down, political gridlock. Gov. Schwarzenegger has tried to loosen up the entrenched interests by knocking heads together. When his second term ends in early 2011, California will need an even bigger Hollywood head-knocker. How about a giant chest-pounder, Gov. King Kong? On second thought, maybe only a vampire could get people to work together in
California.

Ray Ring is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). He is the magazine’s senior editor in Bozeman, Montana.

High Country News Classifieds
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...