When Politicians Act Up

Jason Segel's offer to act alongside Hillary Clinton is not that far-fetched

The idea of Hillary Clinton starring alongside Jason Segel is not as far-fetched as it may sound.

The writer-actor had mentioned his desire to work alongside the U.S. Secretary of State on numerous occasions, citing her comedic talents as the reason. In a recent note to the “How I Met Your Mother” and “Muppets” star, Clinton politely declined Segel’s offer … for now.

"As you can imagine, I am a little occupied at the moment, but perhaps someday I can help you forget Sarah Marshall... again," Clinton wrote. “My only condition is that there be Muppets involved, and that is non-negotiable," she added.

If Clinton does one day join Segel onscreen, she would not be the first White House regular (or wannabe) who has surfaced in a cameo role in a fictional movie or television series. “SNL” outings aside, these appearances are often brief, but rarely forgettable, with politcos turning up in everything from B-movie horror flicks to reality fishing shows and satirical sitcoms. Remember these?

All the President’s Cameos

Bill Clinton – “A Child’s Wish” (1997) The President played himself in this tear-jerker/made-for-TV movie about the passing of the Family Medical Leave Act through Congress. After Clinton signs the act into law, the fictional family (based on real characters but played by actors John Ritter and Anna Chlumsky) pay a visit to the White House and meet Clinton as per the child’s dying wish.

George W. Bush – “Fishing with Roland Martin” (2004) Taped at the same time a cease-fire was being negotiated in Iraq, the President was filmed fishing with a professional bass angler at a pond on his Crawford, Tex. Ranch. The commander in chief landed a four-pound fish.

Bush was also on the game show, “Deal or No Deal” in 2008, and featured alongside his wife Laura and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the 2006 video short, “Barney’s Holiday Extravaganza,” starring Barney, the Bush’s Scottish Terrier.

Jimmy Carter – “Home Improvement” (1994) In a videotaped message, Carter commended Tim (actor Tim Allen) for his help with the Habitat for Humanity project. Much to Tim’s disgust, the President went on to joke that his wife Rosalynn would like a picture of Tim’s colleague Al (Richard Karn).

Gerald Ford – “Dynasty” (1983) The President made a walk-on appearance in the prime-time soap about the super wealthy of Colorado. According to EW, the cameo happened by chance as the producers had arranged to film the series’ characters mingling with the real crowd at Denver’s Carousel Ball. As they made their way through the throng, the Carringtons (actors John Forsythe and Linda Evans) bumped into guests Gerald and Betty Ford. “Dynasty” producers encouraged Ford to participate in the filming. The couple agreed and Ford even had a line, greeting Blake Carrington by name.

Fun fact: Henry Kissinger was also in attendance and filmed a scene in which Joan Collin’s character greets the former Secretary of State with the following line, “Henry, hello. I haven’t seen you since Portofino. It was fun.”

Bizarrely, Ford also turned up onscreen in the 1978 when-nature-attacks B-movie “The Bees.” IMDb lists the President in the un-credited role of “politician on float.”

When “30 Rock” Calls

The show about the making of a show at an actual television network (NBC) has played host to a quorum of real-life political movers and shakers.

In 2011 former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared as herself playing the ex-girlfriend of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). The pair argue and then battle musically – she on the piano, he on the flute.

Former Vice President Al Gore proved he has acting chops during a stint on a “30 Rock” episode in 2007. In his scene, Gore utters the following line before running offset: “A whale is in trouble. I have to go!”

In 2008, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg appeared as himself on the sitcom and presented a subway hero with a medal. No stranger to making this type of onscreen appearance, Bloomberg is featured below in Mayors Making the Most of Themselves.

Wannabe the President (or an Actor)

John McCain – “Wedding Crashers” (2005) Playing himself, the Senator and White House hopeful turned up as a non-speaking guest at one of the wedding receptions featured in the bawdy flick. Fun fact: In the film McCain appears alongside democratic strategist James Carville.

John Kerry – “Cheers” (1992) Bar habitués Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) and Norm Peterson (George Wendt) mistake the senator for an anchorman in the episode. Upon discovering their mistake, the two rapidly lose interest in the then Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

Newt Gingrich – “Murphy Brown” (1994) In a ratings ploy during the show’s eight season, the then Speaker of the House plays himself and confronts TV journalist Brown (played by Candice Bergen) after she mocks him at a Washington Roast.

Mayors Making the Most of Themselves

Rudolph W. Giuliani – It could be argued that the former New York City mayor and 2008 presidential candidate never missed a chance to appear as himself onscreen. He parlayed his mayoral role into guest spots on the following: The N.Y.-centric sitcoms “Seinfeld” (1993) and “Mad About You” (1994); Whoopi Goldberg’s feature film comedy “Eddie” (1996); “The Cosby Show” spin-off, “Cosby” (1997); “The-Out-of-Towners” alongside Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin (1999); “Law & Order” (2000); Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler movie “Anger Management” (2003); and as an animated version of himself on “The Simpsons” (2007).

Michael Bloomberg – Aside from his “30 Rock” spot (see above), the current Mayor of New York City appeared in the 2011 “Curb Your Enthusiasm” season finale. In the episode, Bloomberg defends actor Michael J. Fox when he believes the show’s star, Larry David, has unwittingly offended the “Family Ties” actor during a fund-raiser for Parkinson’s disease, from which Fox suffers.
Bloomberg’s other credits include “A Muppets Christmas: Letter to Santa” (2008); a scene in “Sex and the City 2” that was ultimately cut from the final version; and like Giuliani before him, has appeared in “Law & Order” (2004).

Other notable mayoral cameo walk-ons include Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles) in the daytime soap “All My Children” (2010). And if you look closely, former White House chief of staff and current mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel can be seen briefly in the background of scene from 2000 of what is perhaps the most fitting show for a political cameo – “The West Wing.”

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