Who would be a better president: Mays Gilliam or Merkin Muffley? (Presidential Madness – Round One)

Welcome to Presidential Madness 2012 Round One. Just like the real NCAA March Madness, our field of 32 fictional presidents will be squaring off daily to see who will advance and ultimately be crowned best fit as President of the United States. In a series of polls, we’ll answer the age-old question: does life imitate art more than art imitates life? You will decide.

Follow the entire process and download your own bracket on our Presidential Madness page. To the first matchups!

The President from “Fail Safe” (1964) vs. The President from “Fail Safe” (TV 2000)

A match-up of two legendary actors playing the same role in the same story. In both the film and TV versions of Fail Safe, the president must stop an accidental nuclear war from erupting with the Cold War-era Russians in a knuckle-gripping thriller. So, who would make the better president?

The President (played by Richard Dreyfuss)

The President (played by Henry Fonda)

Mays Gilliam from “Head of State” (2003) vs. President Not Sure from “Idiocracy” (2006)

Mays Gilliam (played by Chris Rock)

And now for a lighter take on the Oval Office. In Head of State, Chris Rock is the first African-American president who wins over the electorate using candor with the United States people. (Warning: some language in the clip may be unsuitable for children.)

President Not Sure (played by Luke Wilson)

In the satirical comedy Idiocracy, Luke Wilson is an unlucky, average guy who accidentally freezes himself only to wake in a future filled with a dramatically dumbed-down populace. Now the smartest man alive, Wilson leads the future American back to a land of prosperity by suggesting such advanced policies as watering plants with water instead of energy drinks.

Merkin Muffley from “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) vs. The US President from “Love Actually” (2003)

Merkin Muffley (played by Peter Sellers)

Peter Sellers plays the president in this Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, about a nuclear bomb falling into the wrong hands. In the movie Sellers plays three roles, but this time we’re only voting on his capacities as president.

The US President (played by Billy Bob Thornton)

In the romantic comedy Love Actually, Thornton makes a brief but memorable appearance as the American president who attempts to bully the British Prime Minister while romancing his assistant (and crush). The Prime Minister, in a not-so-subtle reference of the Iraq War, is then forced to stand up to America professionally and personally. In the clip below, the PM (played by Hugh Grant) shares his new position with the press and the President.

James Dale from “Mars Attacks” (1996) vs. President Hathaway from “Monsters v. Aliens” (2009)

James Dale (played by Jack Nicholson)

Much like Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, Jack Nicholson plays more than one role in the campy Mars Attacks. Nicholson must decide whether to greet the Martians peacefully or view their actions as aggressive. In the clip below, he makes one last plea to the Martian leader after Earth is attacked.

President Hathaway (played by Stephen Colbert)

Comedian Stephen Colbert lends his voice as president in the 2009 animated feature Monsters v. Aliens, where he plays a Commander in Chief whose sole focus is not being remembered as the one in charge when the world ends.

Return to Constitution Daily tomorrow for a new round of voting, and keep track of the tournament competition on our Presidential Madness page.