Hollywood’s Five Best Political Speeches (Thanks for the Idea, Rand Paul!)

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul spoke inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday for nearly 13 hours, making his speech (surprisingly) the ninth-longest in the Senate's history. The reason Paul stopped? He had to go to the bathroom.

But before Paul, there was Thurmond. The late Strom Thurmond filibustered his way to the Senate's all-time record when he protested the 1957 Civil Rights Act for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

The following is Yahoo! Movies' review of the best political speeches on film, inspired by Sen. Paul's recent time-limited tenacity:

Jimmy Stewart filibusters so hard he faints in 1939's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." At one point, after he has talked himself hoarse, he manages to crackle, "Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty."

Chris Rock is impassioned as he delivers his improvised "That Ain't Right" speech in the 2003 comedy "Head of State." He plainly and poignantly says, "If your child's school has old-a-- books and brand-new metal detectors, lemme hear you say, 'That ain't right!'"

In "Dave," Kevin Kline plays the U.S. president. And at the film's climax, he reveals he is guilty of wrongdoing. Scandal. He concedes to the American people, "I oughta care more about you than I do about me."

Bill Pullman in 'Independence Day'
Bill Pullman in 'Independence Day'

When aliens start to invade Earth in 1996's "Independence Day," Bill Pullman (as the U.S. president) addresses the nation, saying, "Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom ... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution ... but from annihilation." I wonder if he used a speechwriter to come up with that one?

Michael Douglas in 'The American President'
Michael Douglas in 'The American President'

In "The American President" (1995), Michael Douglas takes his turn playing the commander in chief. The Rob Reiner-directed, Aaron Sorkin-scribed movie is about a widowed leader of the free world who sort of accidentally falls in love.

When it comes to the politics depicted in the film, Douglas says in a public address, "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight."

And when it comes to his lady love (played by Annette Bening) he reveals to the nation, "I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now."

Can you say "happily ever after"?

Honorable Mentions

In 1999's "Election," Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) finds a political adversary in Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell), who gives a defining speech in her bid for student body president. She argues that high school elections are "pathetic" and "stupid." After promising to dismantle the student body government if she gets elected, she ends her talk with "Or don't vote for me! Who cares? Don't vote at all!" The student-filled audience erupts with cheers.

In "Primary Colors," John Travolta's character is not-so-loosely based on one of America's greatest presidential public speakers: Bill Clinton.

Will Ferrell -- of all people -- completely butchers the Lord's Prayer during a debate in 2012's "The Campaign." Bad politics, good laughs. "Aloe vera be thy name."

There are two dictator films with public addresses worth mentioning: "The Dictator" (2012), starring Sacha Baron Cohen; and "The Great Dictator" (1940), starring Charlie Chaplin.

Warren Beatty raps during a speech in 1998's "Bulworth," and Morgan Freeman makes a political address in "Deep Impact," which came out the same year.

We would be remiss if we didn't mention all that Honest Abe (Daniel Day-Lewis) oration in "Lincoln" (2012), but Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) also deserves a shout out for addressing Congress with the right words at exactly the right time.

And finally, no talk of politics in film can overlook Ned Beatty's crazed speech in "Network" (1976): "YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU ... WILL ... ATONE!"
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