… Maybe he’s not so bad as we think? … Maybe he really is a nice guy? … I don’t know. All I know is that I’m feeling very confused right now.
I’m not sure exactly how to put this, but after watching the self-reflexively sympathetic Journeys With George, I have been brainwashed/fooled/deceived/whatever into think that President George W. Bush may not be quite as evil as I originally thought he was.
This movie is quite a doozy, if I can say so myself. The creator is Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She is, quite obviously, a hardcore democrat liberal. She is also a news producer with NBC news and, for whatever reason (I mean, really, why would they assign the daughter of a democratic representative to cover the a republican presidential hopeful??) they put her on the George W. Bush beat and had her cover his presidential run, starting with the announcement that he was running for president.
Over the course of the year or so that they spent together, Alexandra and Bush actually became pretty close. The thing is, based on the footage she shot (for her own documentary — not for NBC news), he is a genuinely nice guy. He joked with her a lot, and when the other journalists turned on her (when an informal poll she did of who other journalists covering Bush wanted to win was leaked to the tabloids, thus making them all look foolish and fearful of Bush’s reaction), Bush was the one who was nice and said something about how the other journalists weren’t her real friends anyway.
Throughout the movie, Alexandra and Bush have a really good relationship. He really was a nice, fun guy with her. The cynic in me wants to be like, “Well, he was just trying to be all schmoozey so she would report on him better” or something like that, but, honestly, it really did not appear that way. And trust me — when it comes to Bush, I’m as cynical as they get.
The documentary, however, did have more substance than just Alexandra showing us that Bush is a nice guy:
At one point she is talking to another journalists (one of her friends during the trip — a guy who worked for The Financial Times of London) and he notes how the journalists traveling with Al Gore didn’t like him much and that he wasn’t very friendly (or, at least, nothing compared to Bush), and that those attitudes undoubtedly showed up in their journalism. With Bush, on the other hand, the journalists treated it like a party, and Bush was throwing it. So they only reported on little, superficial things and “weren’t really doing [their] job.”
Alexandra makes other pithy remarks about the whole surrealness of it (my favorite: from a distance, clouds look majestic and strong, but up close they look like whipped cream — a not-so-vague metaphor for Bush himself?), and that is probably what saved me from going insane at the end. She really makes the whole thing self-reflexive and somewhat tongue-in-cheek — like she is also saying to herself, “What the fuck is going on here. I am friends with George W. Bush???”
I recommend the movie with the caveat that if you turn into a Bush-supporter at the end, I hold no responsibility. Serious — you have to be in an open state of mind when you watch this movie and realize that it will leave you confused and feeling betrayed and embarrassed. Good luck!