We’ll be honest: We feel kind of bad for John McCain. He wants to be president so bad, but despite giving his best debate performance yet last night, the Republican candidate faces as much as a fifteen-point deficit going into the final three weeks of the campaign. Though Republicans sometimes dismiss Hollywood, it’s a Hollywood ending they hope for now — and years of underdog movies have shown us that whether your dream is to become president, to win a boxing match, or just to seduce a cheerleader, there’s no obstacle you can’t overcome. Here’s a look at six DVDs we imagine are playing on repeat on the Straight Talk Express’ wide-screen TV — and which ones could even help John McCain mount his own improbable comeback.
The lesson: Even a million-to-one shot can hang with the champ if he’s got the love of a good woman behind him.
The inspirational moment: Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) tells his girl, Adrian (Talia Shire), that he just wants to “go the distance” with his heavyweight opponent – make it through fifteen rounds so that he’ll know he isn’t “just another bum from the neighborhood.”
The Rocky strategy: McCain trains day and night, assailing the health-care policies of sides of beef and running to the top of any stairway he can find.
The payoff: Election night goes down to the wire, with Obama winning his final state, Pennsylvania, long after midnight. A bloodied and battered McCain doesn’t care, screaming “Cindy! Cindy!” and embracing his wife passionately.
The lesson: Even if your faith in yourself – and in your team – falters, it’s never too late to get it back.
The inspirational moment: Depressed by the death of his coach the night before the ADAA tournament final, Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) wants to hang it up but is dissuaded by a chance encounter with Lance Armstrong, who tells him, “I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung, and testicular cancer all at the same time. What are you dying of?”
The Dodgeball strategy: A disheartened McCain, too, plans to give up the night before the election, but his campaign team flies Lance Armstrong to Washington to meet with him. “I’m sure this decision won’t haunt you forever,” the cyclist tells the candidate.
The payoff: Not only does McCain win, he bets his entire final-day advertising budget on himself – at 50-to-1 odds. The resultant windfall gives McCain enough money to single-handedly solve America’s financial crisis.
The lesson: It doesn’t matter if you’re not the biggest guy, or the most naturally gifted, or if everyone’s telling you there’s no way you can succeed. After all, through dogged determination and hard work, tiny Rudy (Sean Astin) achieves his dream of playing one down for Notre Dame.
The inspirational moment: When Coach doesn’t want to let Rudy suit up for the final game of the season, his teammates drop their uniforms on his desk, refusing to play unless Rudy does.
The Rudy strategy: America’s senators, who have watched John McCain work hard for more than twenty years, lay their folded suits on the Capitol steps, demanding that America make McCain’s dream come true.
The payoff: Though Barack Obama wins the election, he lets McCain be president for a single day in August 2011.
The lesson: Standing up for your principles is more important than fame or glory, as British track star Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) – a devout Christian who would later serve as a missionary to China – learns when he refuses to race a preliminary Olympic heat scheduled for the Sabbath.
The inspirational moment: Liddell’s teammate gives up his spot in the 400-meter race so that Liddell can win the gold.
The Chariots of Fire strategy: John McCain announces that he will not run for president on Election Day, “the most sacred holiday in America,” allowing himself to bow out of the race gracefully.
The payoff: President Obama rewards McCain for his selflessness by naming him ambassador to China.
The lesson: Just because the guys you hang out with are uncool doesn’t mean that you can’t triumph. Just ask the men of Lambda Lambda Lambda, who defeat the handsome smooth-talkers of Alpha Beta thanks to their ingenuity, sexual prowess, and a rockin’ electro-funk jam.
The inspirational moment: The nerds sneak Liquid Heat into the jocks’ jocks, resulting in football-practice chaos.
The Revenge of the Nerds strategy: In a dramatic election-eve surprise, John McCain appeals to America’s outcasts with a heartfelt speech: “We have news for the beautiful people. There’s a lot more of us than there are of you,” he says. “Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you’re a Republican or not, why don’t you just come down here and join us.” Meanwhile, RNC operatives fill Barack Obama’s underpants with scorpions.
The payoff: McCain wins with 61 percent of the popular vote.
The lesson: Don’t be dissuaded when your opponent fights dirty. As Daniel (Ralph Macchio) learns from handyman Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita), courage and purity of spirit are more important than fighting.
The inspirational moment: Facing off against his nemesis, his leg injured from an illegal move performed by another Cobra Kai fighter, Daniel summons up all his courage to perform “the Crane.”
The Karate Kid strategy: Inspired by the message of Mr. Miyagi, McCain pulls all his negative ads off the air in the final month of the campaign and refuses to retaliate, even when Obama’s ads paint him as “out of touch,” “a return to four years of George Bush’s economic policies,” and “disturbingly influenced by 1980s karate movies.” On election night, even as Obama adviser Warren Buffett shouts for Obama to “sweep the leg,” McCain summons up all his courage and, using “the Crane,” kicks Obama in the face.
The payoff: McCain is arrested and booked for simple assault.