Potato Games

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Apocalypse Now went so far overbudget that Francis Ford Coppola had to mortgage his house. Titanic's tab was so big two studios had to go dutch. And don't get me started on Waterworld. But no story factory in recent memory has gotten less bang for its buck (no pun intended, of course) than the White House, in this, its ongoing remake of Wag the Dog (1997).

Put that scenario in the real Washington's hands, though, and suddenly every plot point's a Pentagon toilet seat. Thursday's diversion cost at least $75 million, at a million per cruise missile, for all of an hour's work. No figures available on Clinton's first diversion, that February tango with Saddam, but those battleships sure don't run on solar power. And as overhead, you've got Ken Starr. At $40 million, the taxpayers would certainly have been better entertained by two Brandos and a Jim Carrey.

Some cost-cutting tips for next time: There's a very serviceable Camp Terrorism scene in Patriot Games (1992), and some great Sudan footage in Khartoum (1966). Heck, I'm sure Pfizer would have let us blow up its factory, if only to drive up the price of Viagra. With a little help from Industrial Light and Magic (pro bono for Hollywood Bill, I'm sure), it all would have looked fine.

When a second-rate scandal pic like this runs into the hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars, the era of Big Government is definitely not over yet. Barry Levinson did his for, what, $15 million? Well, at least the White House's version actually happened. Although, after watching CNN's feed of Sudanese TV on Thursday, well . . . Did anyone else spot Jon Lovitz?