Attention, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.): You’re not the only punching bag for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The 2008 presidential hopeful is also really mad at the producer of the Sundance Film Festival award-winning film “Why We Fight.”
Forget about his nanosecond blip on Monday night’s episode of “24.” McCain — and especially his chief of staff — think the movie producer intentionally twisted McCain’s few lines in the film so that he comes off as critical of Vice President Cheney.
“We’re actually pretty mad about it,” McCain’s chief of staff, Mark Salter, told HOH. He accused the producer, Eugene Jarecki, of “doing manipulative editing” to make it look like McCain is questioning Cheney’s involvement in the awarding of military contracts to Halliburton, the company the veep used to run.
McCain says in the movie: “It looks bad. It looks bad and apparently Halliburton, more than once, has overcharged the federal government. That’s wrong.”
Then, asked how he would tackle the problem, McCain says, “I’d have a public investigation of what they’ve done.” At that very moment, coincidentally, the phone rings in McCain’s office ... and an aide announces the vice president is calling. Scene ends.
While McCain said nothing about Cheney in the context of Halliburton, Salter is angry because McCain’s scene immediately follows one in which Richard Perle is defending Cheney, saying the veep wouldn’t dare use his power to help Halliburton get contracts.
Then McCain pops on the screen saying, “It looks bad” — as if he’s talking about Cheney, when in fact he’s not, Salter argues. To the contrary, Salter said — McCain has “complete respect for Mr. Cheney’s integrity.” “It’s editorial manipulation,” Salter said of the film.
Jarecki can’t believe that McCain’s office is so upset. He says McCain didn’t impugn Cheney in any way, nor did he, as the filmmaker, intend for it to look that way. “I’m mystified by the whole thing,” he said. “My view of John McCain is extremely glowing.”
A big part of the film is about Dwight Eisenhower, who, in his 1961 farewell address as president, warned America about the “military-industrial complex” — a term he coined in that speech. “If there’s anybody today who carries that spirit ... it’s John McCain,” Jarecki said, adding, “What I see when I see John McCain in the film is a good man in a weary world. He’s working so hard every day to make Washington a better place.”
The love, apparently, only goes one way. Salter calls Jarecki a “a slippery son of a gun” and says that McCain doesn’t like the film, at least not the part involving him. “He thought it was dishonest,” Salter said.
The miffed chief of staff said Jarecki was misleading from the get-go. McCain thought he was doing an interview on Iraq with the BBC. “Turns out to be a theatrically released film in the United States.”