A few weeks ago I was captivated by a morning NPR radio conversation with retiring US Senator Fred Thompson (23 Dec 2002, interview by Bob Edwards). Maybe I'm a sucker for certain smooth-talking politicians (especially retiring ones?!) --- but this fellow seemed to be actually honest as well as self-effacing and realistic in his judgments. How many others are there like him in the Congress? In my more optimistic moments I fantasize that there might be a (bare) majority of such folks ... but of course, they're not the ones that get quoted, photographed, interviewed, and splashed across the front pages. Thank goodness, since if they did, they'd cease to be worthy of respect.
Now-former Senator Thompson is also an actor (though I must confess that I've never seen him perform; guess I don't watch enough TV?). He remarked, memorably, on the envy and misperception associated with his two jobs: "I know that Hollywood doesn't have all that much fun, and I know that Washington doesn't have all that much power."