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Oliver Stone Commits Foul Play with 'W.'
October 17, 2008

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

"W." is a “fair and balanced” movie, says its creator, Oliver Stone.

"I think in this present political state, the real George W. Bush might not approve of this movie," Stone told the Chicago Sun-Times. "But this movie tries to understand George W. Bush: the good, the bad, and the ugly."

Stone definitely puts the emphasis on the "ugly" in the film, which opened in theaters Friday. He basically acts as cinematic shrink and psychoanalyzes the parent-child relationship between elder George H.W. Bush and junior George W.

Stone presents the son as a twisted foul-mouthed drunk with a daddy complex who becomes a religious zealot and accidentally ends up being leader of the free world.

In the lead role, Josh Brolin does his best "Saturday Night Live" Bush imitation. James Cromwell plays papa George. Bush’s closest advisers are portrayed predictably as scoundrels, with Richard Dreyfuss playing the Machiavellian Dick Cheney and Toby Jones as Karl Rove exhibiting all the charm of Hannibal Lecter.

"I tried to be fair and balanced and compassionate," Stone claims. "I don't take sides. I don't take political sides."

This is the same dubious director who made the cartoonish film "Nixon," historically mangled movie "JFK," and a pair of Fidel fawning flicks, "Comandante" and "Looking for Fidel."

In a recent appearance on CNN, Stone, who co-opted Fox News Channel’s slogan for his latest big-screen slam, said Bush is "a disgrace." Like so many of his Hollywood comrades, he has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

At the "W.," premiere, he mentioned that he had invited GOP presidential candidate John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, but they declined. He apparently saw the occasion as an opportunity to throw a spitball at the Alaska governor, saying, "I don't think Sarah would understand the picture. It has a lot of complicated dialogue."

While walking the red carpet, he added, "George Bush is an intellectual compared to her."

Stone has gone to great lengths to depict a presidential character who never really should have had a political career. With the aid and comfort of alcohol and excess, Brolin's character drowns his neurotic anxiety about living in his domineering father’s shadow.

The film also posits the tired canard that the younger Bush disapproved of his father's decision not to press toward Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. Stone’s Bush character sees his dad as lacking nerve.

The director told Bloomberg, "They'll say I'm a political propagandist, but I don't think that's true at all."

Stone's own mother might disagree. Evidently, she is a Republican who doesn’t think too much of the film. Stone confessed to the Los Angeles Times that she "didn't really like the movie."

Still, he claims that proof of his benevolence toward Bush is his decision to eliminate some fantasy scenes in which President Bush, while at the White House, chokes on a pretzel and falls from a sofa. Hussein is there with him, and Bush flies on a magic carpet over Baghdad as he bombs the city.

Although Stone professes objectivity, he just can't seem to help himself. His Bush hatred leaks through with cherry-picked mythology and trademark revision of history.

Stone's feelings on the subject of his film are a matter of record. In 2006 he made reference to another president he had demonized onscreen. "Bush makes Nixon look like St. Augustine," he told USA Today. "At least Nixon had some intelligence and a conscience . . . Bush is The Manchurian Candidate."

Bush hatred is so prevalent in the entertainment industry that a qualifier must be added to any expression in which there is a hint of admiration. "I told my wife, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really like the guy," Brolin told ABC News Now.

Although haters always have characterized the president as being a dunce, Stone's perspective in regard to the movie is that Bush is an overly tough autocrat. “He found his role as the war president: 'I am the decider. I make the final decision. Nobody else - not the U.N., not the Congress, me,' " Stone said.

Despite Stone's continual assertions to the contrary, the film is saturated with politics; this, coupled with a release date a mere 18 days before the presidential election makes it, at a minimum, unfair and unbalanced.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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