Today is Presidents’ Day and it’s not just another day to off from work. It’s actually a federal holiday, initially referred to as Washington’s Day/Birthday celebrated on the third Monday of February to honor all those who served as presidents of the United States.
Since 1879, the federal holiday began by honoring “Founding Father” George Washington, who led the Continental Army to victory in the American Revolutionary War, presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and was the first U.S. president.
It has us thinking about some of our favorite film and television fictional presidents, who we often adore more than the actual leadership in office. If we were to celebrate the inauguration of our favorite fictitious presidents from television and film, it would look something like this.
Here’s a list of famous fictitious presidents from our most loved shows and movies in no particular order:
1. President Mays Gilliam
Chris Rock portrayed the president in Head of State in 2003 in a comedic take on politics in the United States. Rock plays a low-level Washington, D.C., public servant, Mays Gilliam, who is thrust into the national spotlight when he’s asked to run for president after the party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees are killed in a plane crash. The odds are against Gilliam, mostly because he has a penchant for telling the truth about what is wrong with the country. Remarkably, his straight-talking style catches on with the public.
2. President James Sawyer
President James Sawyer in the 2013 film White House Down is played by the multi-talented Jamie Foxx. The plot follows police officer John Cale, portrayed by Channing Tatum, who has just been denied his dream job of protecting President James Sawyer as a member of the Secret Service. Not wanting to disappoint his young daughter with the bad news, Cale takes her on a tour of the White House. While he and his daughter are there, a heavily armed paramilitary group attacks and seizes control. As the nation’s government dissolves in chaos, only Cale can save his daughter, the president and the country.
3. President Beck
Morgan Freeman is the goat of all powerful television and film roles having actually played God in Bruce Almighty. In 1998, Freeman portrays President Beck in Deep Impact. A comet is bolting toward Earth and could mean the end of all human life. The U.S. government keeps the crisis under wraps, but crack reporter Jenny Lerner uncovers the truth forcing U.S. President Beck to announce his plan. Grizzled astronaut Spurgeon “Fish” Tanner and his team will land on the comet and lay explosives, hopefully deterring the object from its doomsday course. If not, humanity will have to prepare for the worst.
4. President James Dale
Who remembers Jack Nicholson in the 1996 film Mars Attacks! A fleet of Martian spacecraft surrounds the world’s major cities and all of humanity waits to see if the extraterrestrial visitors have, as they claim, “come in peace.” U.S. President James Dale, played by Jack Nicholson, receives assurance from science professor Donald Kessler that the Martians’ mission is a friendly one. But when a peaceful exchange ends in the total annihilation of the U.S. Congress, military men call for a full-scale nuclear retaliation.
5. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
In 2005, average in every way private Joe Bowers is selected to take part in a secret military experiment to put him in hibernation for a year along with a woman named Rita, played by Maya Rudolph. The slumbering duo is forgotten when the base they are stored on is closed down and are left in stasis until 2505. When they finally wake up, they discover the average intelligence of humans has decreased so much that Joe is now the smartest man in the world. Terry Crews plays President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in this Comedy/Sci-Fi film.
6. President Thomas Wilson
Danny Glover plays President Thomas Wilson in the 2009 film 2012. The movie discusses Earth’s billions of inhabitants are unaware that the planet has an expiration date. With the warnings of an American scientist, world leaders begin secret preparations for the survival of select members of society. When the global cataclysm finally occurs, failed writer Jackson Curtis tries to lead his family to safety as the world starts falling apart.
7. President Mackenzie Allen
In 2006, American political drama television series Commander in Chief focused not he fictional administration and family of Mackenzie Allen, portrayed by Geena Davis, the first female President of the United States. She ascends to the post from Vice Presidency after the death of sitting President from a sudden cerebral aneurysm. Now, in 2021 we’re witnessing the first ever female Vice President Kamala Harris being sworn into office.
8. President David Palmer
Dennis Haysbert plays President David Palmer in the 2001 television series 24. In this concept drama, each season takes place within one 24 hour period. Day 1: Jack Bauer is the head of field ops for an elite team of agents who uncover an assassination plot targeting Presidential nominee David Palmer. Meanwhile, Jack’s strained marriage to his wife, Teri, is pushed to the brink by the sudden disappearance of their troubled teenage daughter. Fans anxiously await the next 24 hours in nine season run drama series.
9. President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet
Martin Sheen portrays President Josiah Bartlet in 1999 television series The West Wing. The series follows the lives of staffers in the West Wing of the White House. Presidential advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a country. Fictional Democratic President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet suffers no fools, and that policy alienates many. He and his dedicated staffers struggle to balance the needs of the country with the political realities of Washington, D.C., working through two presidential terms that include countless scandals, threats and political scuffles, as well as the race to succeed Bartlet as the leader of the free world.
10. President Trumbull
Morgan Freeman plays another fictitious presidential role in the 2019 film Angel Has Fallen. The film follows authorities who take Secret Service agent Mike Banning into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull, played by Freeman. After escaping from his captors, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, he soon turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name and save the country from imminent danger.
These are a few of our favorite fictitious presidents. Though none of these characters have the actual responsibility of running our entire country, it is fun to watch as we witness our 46th President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris step into the White House for the next four years and beyond. Happy Inauguration Day, America!
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