Nichols boldly allows art to imitate political life in this comedy, based on the not-so-anonymous book by former Newsweek reporter Joe Klein, about a Southern governor whose race for the presidency gets tripped up by sex scandals. When the media, all hot and bothered over Monica Lewinski, started hyping the movie as an exposé, Nichols and the cast vehemently defended the film as fiction. But from the movie's opening shot, a soft-bodied, silver-haired Travolta walks the Clinton walk and talks the Clinton talk in the role of Gov. Jack Stanton, political prodigy and sexual glutton. When a black teenager from the governor's home state claims she's pregnant with Stanton's child, his advisors, including a ferocious political strategist (Thornton), a straightshooting lesbian (Bates) and the governor's loyal wife (Thompson), are called in for damage control. Their spin doctoring, as recounted by an idealistic campaign aide (Lester), is both hilarious and sad, as ethics and loyalties are sliced and diced in the name of Stanton's White House win. But more than unscrupulous campaign practices or lascivious candidates, Nichols's sophisticated comedy questions the American public's underlying obsession with the sexual antics of its politicians.
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