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Lesser Presidential Encounters with the Supernatural

A friend of mine complained about people who complain that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has no historical merit.   “No shit,” he says.  “It’s about vampires.”

This reminded me that, once upon a time, film critic Roger Ebert appeared on Conan O’Brien’s show, and somehow the conversation drifted to *Kazaam,* starring Shaquille O’Neal, which Ebert described/describes as one of the worst movies of all time. One of his complaints is that Shaq-as-genie showers a kid with all kinds of modern name brand candies, in a clear example of product placement. But then Ebert added something to the effect of “Wouldn’t a 2,000 year old genie from Arabia be more apt to give a kid dried figs or something?”

And Conan gave him a look, and said slowly, in a voice dripping with irony, “Soooo… you didn’t like the historically inaccurate rappin’ genie movie?” 

My husband and I pretty much say this in response to any complaint like the one my friend brings up.  (“Soooo … you didn’t like the historically inaccurate Abraham Lincoln-as-vampire killer movie?”)

Here’s some historical accuracy:

James Madison was our shortest President, at 5 feet, 4 inches.

William Howard Taft was our tubbiest President.  (See what I did there?  See?)  He may or may not have once gotten stuck in the White House bathtub. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson horrified dog lovers by picking up his beagles, Him & Her, by their ears.  Frankly, it’s always looked to me as if LBJ was messing with people’s minds, because if you look at pictures where he’s “lifting” the dogs up by their ears, their back legs are never off the ground.  I think it’s possible that Johnson cued the dogs by starting to “pull” at their ears, then the dogs would start to stand up on their back legs while Johnson kept up the illusion of “pulling.” 

But LBJ was a complicated guy.  It’s hard to say, really.

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