Opinion | How George Santos Became Stranger Than Fiction

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When I wrote the screenplay, I never thought anyone could pull off such a hoax. But 30 years – to the day – after the film opened, I saw a bombshell headline in it. New York Times – “Who is Rep.-elect George Santos? His résumé might be too fictional. It was a spit-take-your-smooth moment for me.” Dear honorable person It may not exactly be art, but life was imitating it.

I wrote the film A Crying heart During my years as a writer of my own (and my boss Fritz Mondale’s) keynote speeches for campaign finance reform. In the years that followed, as a Hollywood studio executive and screenwriter, that dream became increasingly ambiguous, bordering on despair, because of Mitch McConnell’s constant resistance to making big money out of politics. As far as I was concerned, journalism and politics were not moving the needle; He did not make a sound. The best tool I had was storytelling.

The story of Santos shows the identity of the Washington racket that made me turn to Frank Capra Mr. Smith A legend in itself. Jimmy Stewart marvels at the monuments; Eddie Murphy is impressed with K Street. Capra’s tale is the bravery of exposing error; Mine is about the virtues of perversion, a culture where shakedowns are frowned upon as fundraisers, bribes are sold as campaign contributions, and lying can land you a gig as a speechwriter or governor.

Like Thomas Johnson, the character Murphy played, Santos was cast as someone else. Near the beginning of the film, the incumbent legislator from Conman’s district – Representative Jeff Johnson, played by James Garner – dies in his office. in flagrante delicto with the staff member. A powerful committee chairman, Dick Dodge, tries to convince Jeff Johnson’s widow to run for her seat: “In your name,” “You can’t lose.” Mrs. Jeff Johnson wins by walking. She refused: “I’ve been Washington’s wife for 20 years. I think that’s enough humiliation for one lifetime.

But Murphy’s character’s full name is Thomas Jefferson Johnson. If he gets on the ballot using his middle name and runs as Jeff Johnson, he realizes he can ride the dead man’s name recognition all the way to Congress. His campaign slogan? “A name you know.”

distant? Maybe, but not completely cracked. It’s been tried before, most recently last year in Pittsburgh. When 14-term Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle retired, state Rep. Summer Lee won the Democratic nomination to replace him. But the general running against her was Republican Mike Doyle. Anyway, Lee won.

Santos doesn’t need to improve his name; Instead, a candidate from suburban New York stitched together the biographical body parts he could compete against and win. Baruch College Volleyball Star; a Jew Grandparents survived the Holocaust; mother survived 9/11; jobs at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup; Owner of 13 properties; Broadway producer Spider-Man: What’s not to like about the fake room?

If he had had Eddie Murphy to show him the ropes, George Santos’ eclipse would have been perfectly legal, and the House Republican Conference would still be calling the man from Queens and Long Island “the gentleman from New York.”

With Murphy’s character, Thomas Johnson, as Sherpa, Santos could have stayed in the lines, as they did. Instead of using a campaign debit card to pay for Botox, OnlyFans and Ferragamo, Santos’ leadership PAC could have bent the rules and whitewashed the personal care expenses. Santos could have developed his runaway campaign to Harrah’s and Caesars Atlantic City instead of charging it. Billionaires Club Delighted by the company, he jets off to glam locales and lets his big stuff down.

When the House returns from its Thanksgiving break, Santos faces an impeachment vote soon. If he doesn’t quit before then and takes the time to explain himself, I hope he’ll consider washing it out of the closing scene. Respected gentleman. At trial, Murphy’s counsel, Dick Dodge, now his character, tries to bring him down the way many of Santos’ opponents have tried to bring him down: by revealing his true past.

“Here’s your rap sheet!” yells an angry Dodge. “Binding for books! Card shaving! Con games! Mail scam! You know, I was hoping not to harm this venerable institution. But I see you have no respect for this institution or any other. over there! I dare you to answer.”

“Yeah, I am,” Murphy says, looking at the list. “I can’t deny it. Nothing can be denied here. I did all this. Everything on this list is true.” With this twist: “But all this is nothing…compared to the shake I’ve raised right here in Washington.” And everything I do in this city is considered legal.

I guess there is another way for Santos: he might try to gas light the conference. If we’re living after the truth, if his colleagues on the Hill can still call the January 6 uprising “a typical tourist excursion,” perhaps Santos figures an alternate reality is his best shot. But no matter how loud the vote is against him, no matter how many members of his party vote to expel the two-bit tyrant, as long as those honorable gentlemen and ladies remain silent about the outcome of the 2020 election, there is no penalty for execution. The Santos folks distinguish them as anything but the greatest Cone Two-Bit Pigeons ever sold.

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