A Perfect Candidate

A Perfect Candidate

When right-wing icon Oliver North tried his hand at electoral politics in 1994, running for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, documentary filmmakers R.J. Cutler and David Van Taylor came along to record all the action. The access given to the filmmakers by North's election staff is startling, especially as it reveals the cynical realities at the heart of his campaign. Scenes of North professing his born-again faith are juxtaposed with footage of his foul-mouthed campaign managers plotting to use sexual rumors against his opponent, Senator Chuck Robb. Indeed, even North's own fabled mendacity is put before the camera: North is shown, in his 1987 immunized Congressional testimony, admitting that he lied to Congress, and then years later he's seen telling credulous high school students at a campaign stop that he never lied to Congress, but the press lied to the American people. Watching this revealing film, one wonders why North's campaign managers welcomed the camera crews into their profanity-filled staff meetings, but perhaps their egos demanded that people would someday get to see how cocky and mean-spirited they truly were. North lost the election, and went on to riches as a radio talk-show host, but this documentary about his campaign scores a win by exposing the dark heart of American politics in the 1990s. --Robert J. McNamara


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