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What Our Leaders Are Really Like

Recently, I saw Al Gore's movie about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth." Whether you are someone who believes in global warming or someone who has the equally legitimate position that global warming is actually a rumor started by polar bears who want more land, it would be impossible for you to avoid noticing that the Al Gore in the movie seems like a much different person from the Al Gore who ran for president.

He's not as stiff or cold or pompous as he was. He's more, well, human. This personality change is quite common among people after their political careers are over. (And I'm sure that Al Gore will return to his robotic persona if he resumes his political career.) After politics, politicians don't have to weigh every word. Everything they say and do is no longer motivated by trying to please as many people as possible.

While they were in office, who would have ever predicted that Bill Clinton and the first President Bush would say nice things about each other, would respect each other, and actually become friends? Many people feel that Jimmy Carter has done his best work after his unexceptional presidency. So it will be interesting to see what the current crop of politicians are like after the pressure is off — after they no longer have to be concerned about their popularity. If I were to interview them sometime in the future, they might sound something like this:

Hillary Clinton: "Let's get what you're really interested in out of the way first. So, let me just say that I have a cordial relationship with my ex-husband. However, it's obvious that at that infamous time of our marriage, he had all the self-control of a mosquito in a blood bank.

"I've enjoyed being retired and, since you've caught me here in Rome, it's obvious that I love to travel. However, I am getting the political itch once again. So I'm considering declaring myself a resident, and running for president of Italy."

John McCain: "Out of all the distasteful things that I did in my political career, I guess pretending to like George W. Bush was the worst. Embracing him was torture for me, and I know torture. But that was in the past, and I like to live in the present. I'm thoroughly enjoying my job as baseball commissioner, and I assure you that we will get to the bottom of this steroid issue any day now."

Dick Cheney: "I have to admit that it's been a little lonely since I retired. For some reason, nobody wants to go hunting with me."

Howard Dean: "Was I bitter because I lost the chance of ever being president just because I got carried away that one night? I was for a while. But I got over it. I realized that I could help the country in other ways. By being the head of the Democratic Party, I was able to accomplish a great deal working behind the scenes. Maybe I wasn't in that big house in Washington, D.C., but you know something? You know something? I got to work in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma, North Dakota, CALIFORNIA, AND MICHIGAN! YEAH!"

George W. Bush: "Being president was indubitably a hoot for me. The most enjoyable aspect of my octet of years in that position was, of course, la grande charade: I loved posing as a rube from Texas instead of presenting myself in the context of my true identity as someone born to a well-ensconced Eastern establishment family. At first, I was surprised that so much of the public was taken in, but I guess some of my classmates at Yale and Harvard were right — we of the elite class can get away with just about anything.

"I don't want to be accused of verbosity, but before you go, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Karl Rove for finding that little loophole last year. Let's face it, without it, I don't think I ever would have seen my twins, Jenna and Barbara, elected co-presidents of the United States."

Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

By Lloyd Garver