Evan Handler stars as Charlie Runkle on the Showtime hit TV show “Californication.” Prior to “Californication,” Handler starred in HBO’s “Sex And The City.” In addition to acting, Handler is an accomplished author, screenwriter and journalist. His bestselling books, Time On Fire: My Comedy Of Terrors and It’s Only Temporary: The Good News And The Bad News of Being Alive, have recently been re- issued and are available on Kindle, iTunes and Nook.\
ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?
Somehow, personal access to a human being who’s had such rarefied experiences over the course of a few years becomes more fascinating to me than even the issues of the day. I’d like to hear what he has enjoyed, and what he has loathed, about the job. I’d like to know his true inner feelings about the office and the nation now that he’s held and led it. I’d like to know what he really thinks of the American people — if there even is such a thing.
I’d like to hear his tone of voice, and witness his expressions, when he shares details. I’d like to know what he believes the costs have been to him, his wife and their kids; if he thinks it was worth it; whether he thinks he’d do it all again; and whether, and how, he imagines his life, and the lives of his daughters, if he hadn’t.
RB: If you could ask the president one question, what would that be?
EH: Well, this is all only interesting to me if the presupposition is that the man answers with a candor that would never exist in the real world. If that’s the case, if he’s indeed bound by some sort of spell to speak the unfiltered truth, I’d probably ask: “Is the danger really so imminent, and so strong, that it’s worth the cost of your legacy collapsing completely over non-adjudicated, unmanned assassinations of non-Americans and American citizens?”
RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama as he settles into his second term in office?
EH: I think he’s caught on at this point that governance isn’t what it used to be and that it’s not coming back to what he’d like it to be anytime soon (meaning, during his remaining term). Bush said he was “a wartime president” (which disgusted me, as he seemed to take a certain pride and shelter in the fact) — well, Obama is president during a continuing and intensifying culture war. I think he’s realized that he’s got to strive to affect and alter the longer-term public perception and preferences as much as try to win shorter-term legislative battles.
RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?
EH: I’d try to walk some of the Los Angeles/Santa Barbara coast (not my very favorite places), followed as quickly as possible by the beaches at Big Sur (very much some favorite spots). I’d ask him to note the proliferation, and then the absence, of oil rigs in the water, and then tar balls in the sand (and on the bottoms of his feet!). I’d ask him to extend the metaphor to the transnational pipelines currently under consideration and contention. I know a lot of people pooh-pooh environmental concerns by saying the economy takes precedence. Personally, I don’t think fuel should be cheaper. I think it should be more expensive — as it is almost everywhere else in the world — and we should use a lot less (as everyone else in the world does).
The United States’s problems don’t stem mostly from lack of access or inflated cost. The United States’s problems stem mostly from gluttony, which Americans perversely experience as deprivation: air conditioning one’s home when it’s 50 degrees outside; air conditioning your restaurant with all the doors and windows open; running neon signs outside your business all night. These choices should not come cheap. From my point of view, these actions should be illegal, and people should be fined heavily for them. Hell, I’m a proponent of rationing resources. I can live with limitations placed on my non-essential, non-life-preserving use of them. Why shouldn’t everyone?
RB: What CD/piece of music would you recommend that the president add to his collection? Why?
EH: I think the guy should listen to whatever makes him feel good, and helps him carry the load. I’m still mostly listening to the same four or five groups and individuals from the same past decades (which were all decades ago), so I don’t think I’m in a position to give too much advice in that arena.
RB: Would you ever consider a political career?
EH: Probably not. (That was pretty typically non-committal, right? Maybe I’ve got a future in it after all.)
Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.