Everyone loves a good cameo. A familiar face drops into a show or movie for a minute or two, for no more reason than because they can. They say something funny, they leave, everyone has a good laugh.
For politicians, cameos are perfect — a way to connect with the public outside of the usual campaign. It’s no surprise they take advantage of the opportunity. Indeed, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is due to make one on the season finale of “30 Rock.”
Yes, politicians have made plenty of cameo appearances over the years. Here’s a look at the ten best.
10. Richard Nixon, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”
Richard Nixon’s 4-second appearance on “Laugh-In” was a truly brilliant move for the future unindicted co-conspirator. “Laugh-In” was aimed squarely at the Boomers — a wet kiss to the hippies. To say this was not Nixon’s demographic is an enormous understatement. Nevertheless, Nixon’s spin on the show’s catchphrase – “Sock it to me?” — was not just smart politically, it was objectively funny. Nixon would go on to be one of America’s worst presidents, but at least for a few seconds, he entertained the nation.
9. Joe Biden, “Parks and Recreation”
This appearance by Biden may well go up in the ratings as years go by, simply because Biden ably acquits himself as an actor. His ability to play the straight man to Amy Poehler’s ridiculously star-struck Leslie Knope makes the scene. What’s truly remarkable about the scene is that it was timed not to affect the election — it aired after Biden had already been re-elected vice president.
8. Patrick Leahy, The Dark Knight Returns
Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has been a fixture on the national stage for decades. He’s also been a fixture in Batman movies. Yes, Batman movies. Because Patrick Leahy loves Batman.
“The Batman character has been one of Patrick Leahy’s lifelong passions, and it has spawned and energized an enduring bond to Vermont,” Leahy spokesperson David Carle once told the Huffington Post. “By now this legacy includes collaboration with his crusade against landmines and helping to protect children in conflict zones, as well as ongoing help for the children’s library where he developed a lifelong love of reading.”
It also includes Leahy’s lovely evening at a Harvey Dent fundraiser being interrupted by the Joker.
7. Michael Bloomberg, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Bloomberg nails a classic Larry David scene — hectoring David for making fun of Michael J. Fox’s battle with Parkinson’s disease. It goes without saying that David wasn’t doing so, but it looked like he was, so Bloomberg’s ire is understandable.
6. Dan Quayle, “Murphy Brown”
To be fair, Dan Quayle didn’t actually intend to make a cameo appearance on “Murphy Brown.” Indeed, he didn’t actually appear in person in this episode. His comments came on the campaign trail, about the show itself. If you’ve forgotten the 90s, the character Murphy Brown became pregnant out of wedlock. Quayle used a stump speech to blast the show for showing this horrible moral failing. The show responded by airing Quayle’s quote as an attack on Brown personally. Granted, most people watching “Murphy Brown” probably weren’t going to vote Bush-Quayle anyhow, but still, it stung.
5. Michelle Obama, “iCarly,”
Michelle Obama appeared on iCarly with a message of support for the troops — spurred by the fictional Carly’s father’s extended deployment overseas. (Granted, he’s deployed overseas because otherwise, how would the wacky hijinx happen?) Obama nailed the appearance, ably demonstrating why she remains the most popular Obama in the nation.
4. Jesse Jackson, “Saturday Night Live,”
One of the most amazing tributes to the late Theodor Geisel — you know him as Dr. Seuss — came from one of the most unexpected people. Jackson’s reading of Sam I Am was brilliant, showing a willingness to parody himself. In his reading, Sam I Am is given the weight of scripture. As is fitting.
3. Hillary Clinton, “Saturday Night Live”
It’s probably not a coincidence that two of our cameos feature the talented Amy Poehler. This time, it’s Poehler’s portrayal of Clinton, set against Clinton’s portrayal of herself. Together, it’s magic.
2. John McCain, The Wedding Crashers
It’s a mystery why John McCain decided to show up in a scene for “The Wedding Crashers,” a movie about two guys who crash weddings, looking to seduce single ladies along the way. Nevertheless, it played a bit part in the 2008 campaign. The cameo was used as a rejoinder by the Obama campaign, in response to McCain’s assertion that Obama was playing “celebrity.” Did it work? Did McCain win?
1. Al Gore, “Futurama,” “Anthology of Interest”
Al Gore appeared several times on “Futurama,” because he had to — his daughter, Kristin, was a writer for the show. Needless to say, if your daughter asks you to make a cameo, you make a cameo.
It’s hard to pick which Gore cameo was best — him leading a global warming conference at which he proclaimed he had “ridden the moon worm” was awfully good. Still, nothing beats his leading the Vice Presidential Action Rangers — with help from Stephen Hawking, Nichelle Nichols, Gary Gygax, and Deep Blue. The Vice President, as we all know, breaks ties in the senate, and also protects the space-time continuum. Read the Constitution, people.
Alas, there’s no video available for free online — so enjoy this cameo “Futurama” did in Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
Image Credit: Videocrab