Monday, September 14, 2009

Jeff Johnson: Fiction and Real Life

One of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain is that America has no native criminal class except for Congress. James Garner played a thoroughly corrupt Congressman who dies before launching his re-election campaign. Eddie Murphy plays a small-time con man with the name of Jeff Johnson who asks the Congressman’s widow if he can use her late husband’s campaign posters. He manages to win the election running on the platform of “the name you know.” Of course, when the new Congressman Johnson arrives in Washington, originally intent on making off with anything he can steal, he finds his conscience and does the right thing. In real life, Ohio had a state senator named Jeff Johnson, who, since he was a black man and a Democrat, became a minority who was the minority leader in the Ohio State Senate. He managed to wind up doing 15 months in prison for accepting bribes. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

Three Jeff Johnsons.

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