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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 07/28/2010

In light of Wyclef Jean's possible run for Haitian presidency, a look at other potential celeb politicians

By Jen Chaney

Haiti native and former Fugee Wyclef Jean is seriously considering running for president of Haiti in that country's November election, according to numerous news reports. Although the singer and activist hasn't officially confirmed his plans, already Celebritology has one piece of advice for Jean: Don't make "Gone Till November" your official campaign theme.

Jean's possible run has sparked thoughts about other celebrities whom we also wouldn't be surprised to see pursuing political leadership roles.

We know all the usual rich-and-famous suspects who would make natural candidates for president, senator or governor: your Bonos, your Clooneys, your Brangelinas and Oprah Winfreys. But here are five other celebrities who could easily channel their star power and commitment to civic causes into successful runs for office.


(AP)

Billie Joe Armstrong

The frontman for Green Day is clearly a political guy, one who has done work for Habitat for Humanity, campaigned for Barack Obama and made a career out of making social statements through post-punk pop. He's also a California native, so perhaps he'd be a logical person to pursue state office and help clean up its very messy economy? Another plus: He's already written his campaign slogan: "I don't want to be an American idiot."


(AP)

Matt Damon

Here's a guy who has founded humanitarian organizations like the H20 Africa Foundation, become an ambassador for OnexOne and boasts a blazing smile that demands diplomacy. He also attended Harvard University (smart and elite) but dropped out before graduating (can relate to the common man). And, in addition to all that, he's Jason Bourne. You're telling me he couldn't be elected president?


(AP)

Ian Somerhalder

The Boone bias of this Celebritologist has been well documented. Somerhalder's hotness aside, the actor and Louisiana native has demonstrated real dedication to the cleanup of the Gulf Coast to a degree that virtually no other celebrity has. If his outrage about the BP oil spill and his commitment to helping repair the damage are any indication, he could make a heck of a congressional representative for the great state of Louisiana.


(AP)

Salma Hayek

The knockout actress is another example of someone who has dedicated much of her time to humanitarian causes, particularly women's issues. Most notably, she ignited controversy last year when she breastfed a Sierra Leone infant whose mother could not produce milk. Clearly Hayek -- a nominee for VH1's Do Something Movie Star Award -- isn't afraid to give of herself in the most literal way. If Jean actually runs for president of Haiti, maybe Hayek could follow in his footsteps someday and seek the highest office of her native country: Mexico.


(AP)

Jill Scott

This talented singer and actress is a Philly girl who has remembered her roots by establishing the Blues Babe Foundation, a charity that helps young people in the Philadelphia, Camden, N.J. and Delaware Valley areas find the finances to complete their college degrees. As her recent Essence essay on interracial dating demonstrated, she's a woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind. As a civic leader in Pennsylvania, or even beyond, she strikes me as a lady whom people would listen to.

By Jen Chaney  | July 28, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Political Statement  | Tags:  Celebrity Causes  
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Comments

I dont know about Billie Joe Armstrong being able to fix California's problems... they might need J.J. Abrams for that.

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | July 28, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

If Ian Somerhalder is a Congressman from Louisiana, Harry Connick Jr. could be a Senator.

Salma could breastfeed her way along the campaign trail. Although I am not sure that is the way Presidents of Mexico get elected.

Jill Scott! I'd vote for her for anything.

Posted by: reddragon1 | July 28, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

See re Rubén Blades:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruben_Blades

"...He is an icon in Panama and is much admired throughout Latin America, and managed to attract 18% of the vote in his failed attempt to win the Panamanian presidency in 1994. In September 2004, he was appointed minister of tourism by Panamanian president Martín Torrijos for a five-year term. He holds law degrees from the University of Panama and Harvard Law School..."

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 28, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

See also re Gilberto Gil:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilberto_Gil

"...From 2003 to 2008, he served as Brazil's Minister of Culture in the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva..."

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 28, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

And I also forgot Václav Havel, although he could arguably be categorized more as an intelleckchool than a show-biz figure (Sarah Palin and her ilk would doubtless be appalled by him):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A1clav_Havel

"...(born 5 October 1936 in Czechoslovakia) is a Czech playwright, essayist, dissident and politician. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). He has written over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally. He has received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, and the Ambassador of Conscience Award. He was also voted 4th in Prospect Magazine's 2005 global poll of the world's top 100 intellectuals. He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism..." [footnotes removed]

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 28, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that you list Matt Damon but not Ben Affleck, who actually has flirted more closely with the idea of running. I know, it sounds funny -- but when he appears on "Real Time with Bill Maher," for example, he is more articulate and informed on the issues than many of the actual politicians!

Posted by: Janine1 | July 28, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

(Outing myself as a wonk)

If you look at those entertainers who have become successful politicians, an overt interest in politics is more important than participation in charitable works. Examples of this are Al Franken, Fred Thompson and the Gipper himself. Negative experiences with bureaucracy or government generally also propelled more than one into seeking elected office, too; see Sonny Bono and Jesse Ventura. So basically, to get a celebrity involved in politics, they either have to get really mad, or get dicked over. Arnold Schwarzenegger might be the only one who got into politics via philanthropy. (And marrying into it, of course.)

Posted by: northgs | July 28, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

northgs, Besides the Gipper California also had Senator George Murphy, an old-time movie song-and-dance man. And Iowa had a Congressman who'd been on "The Loveboat" (although I seem to recall he was a Harvard grad).

Interesting thought re a celeb getting into politics via philanthropy. Must ponder that one a while. Can anyone else think of someone?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 28, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Nosy, you are thinking of Senator Gopher (Fred Gandy).

Janine, LOTS of people are "more informed on the issues" than politicians. Hence the continual dichotomy between DC and America. Then there are those politicians who are informed, but can't let it show or Joe Sixpack won't reelect them.

Posted by: reddragon1 | July 28, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, reddragon1! I was suffering from a momentary brain-fart...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 28, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

reddragon1, I definitely know that! I just pointed that out re Affleck because it wouldn't be obvious to people who haven't heard him discuss substance. (And I don't mean he's just more informed than idiot politicians -- he actually holds his own against some pretty smart ones. Bill Maher does a pretty good job of booking non-morons (or at least not inviting the stupid ones back a second time).)

Posted by: Janine1 | July 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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