We all remember with disbelief and horror when the Supreme Court stole the 2000 election for George Bush. Half the country reeled in a mixture of anger and despair as democracy was shut down by partisan judges. And as we all know, the next eight years represented one of the worst (if not the worst) presidential administrations the country ever experienced. The fact that we survived those eight years is a testament to the resilience of the American experience, in which a president, no matter how incompetent, cannot single-handedly destroy the country.
Many celebrities had a premonition in 2000 of what was to come, and threatened to leave the US if George Bush was sworn into office. There were many emotionally moving quotes uttered by Hollywood stars who felt a life under Bush was going to be hellish. But, like most celebrity pronouncements, the vast majority of these threats to leave never materialized. For instance, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder vowed to leave, even though his vote for Ralph Nader helped seal Al Gore’s fate. Vedder was quite concerned about Bush’s control of Supreme Court nominations, and in retrospect, he was quite correct to be worried. Any court that would rule as it did in the Citizens United case is hopelessly incompetent, if not downright venal.
Alec Baldwin, star of the hit series 30 Rock, made some statement to his then wife, actress Kim Basinger, to the effect that he would also leave the country in reaction to the Bush coronation. In a statement to the East Hampton Star, Baldwin predicted the moral bankruptcy of the new administration: exploding the deficit with tax cuts for the rich, failed experiments in public education, rampant prison construction, capital punishment for indigent defendants, etc. His prognostications turned out to be correct, but he ultimately chose to stay in this country, saying he had never made the threat to leave. Of course, the right-wing fringe was more than happy to show Baldwin the door, often in the most vile and obscene terms. It eventually developed that the threat attributed to Alec Baldwin may have come instead from director Robert Altman, who had promised to leave the US if Bush won.
Other celebrities who toyed with idea of leaving the country include former White House press secretary Pierre Salinger, singers Barbra Streisand and Cher, and actress Lynn Redgrave. Salinger was ultimately as good as his word, living out the remainder of his life in France.