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‘Running with Beto’: the off-stage version of Beto O’Rourke

It was on when Beto O'Rourke, center fielder for the Los Diablitos de El Paso, jumped up on hay bale when filmmaker David Modigliani, first baseman for the Texas Playboys Baseball Club, knew he could make a movie about the 2018 Texas Senate candidate and now one of nearly two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020. "I was playing first base, he got a single and he was, like, 'Hey, I am running for Senate,' '' recalled Modigliani while talking about making "Running with Beto" on the...


Why the Grim Reaper thing works for Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a successful politician without being a typical one. He's proudly uncharismatic, relatively unpopular in his home state of Kentucky and embraces his self-styled role as the Grim Reaper of legislation. So why does he keep winning? In this episode, senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski explains how McConnell uses his negatives to win.


When Werner Met Mikhail in "Meeting Gorbachev“

Everything about Werner Herzog becomes theater. His documentary “Meeting Gorbachev” combines his iconic narrative style, never-before-seen footage of the last days of Soviet rule and the personal side of the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev. In this podcast, Herzog muses on how "deeply involved in all these events" he himself was and how “I never would have dreamt I would have spoken to Gorbachev himself."


Get used to talking about Pennsylvania

For pure Political Theater, it will be hard to beat Pennsylvania during the 2020 campaign. The Keystone State will be, well, key to an Electoral College victory. President Donald Trump knows it. That may be why he has visited it six times since taking office, including to Montoursville in the north central part of the state on May 20. He won’t be alone, though, because the current Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was born in Scranton, represented...


These Democratic women don't want to be 'show ponies'

Five Democratic freshmen, all women with military or intelligence backgrounds, are banding together to help each other fundraise for their 2020 races. They all flipped Republican districts in 2018, and they know winning districts like theirs is the key to holding and expanding the House majority in 2020. After a few months in Congress, they've figured out who are the "workhorses" and who are the "show ponies," in the words of Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and they're tired of the latter...


Movie Night: The Catholic priest who shepherded civil rights

A documentary about the late Notre Dame president Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, a real life "Forrest Gump" who challenged presidents and popes in the last half-century, resonates in today's turbulent times, the director of the film tells CQ Magazine managing editor Mike Magner, who grew up hearing about Father Ted's work and causes. The film, directed by Patrick Creadon, explores the challenges Father Ted faced with Republican and Democratic administrations in advancing civil rights.


Who's afraid of gerrymandering?

Political gerrymandering is losing friends fast, at least in the courts. Ohio and Michigan recently got smacked by federal judges for rigging the maps in favor of Republicans and states like Maryland are under court order to draw more politically neutral lines. Almost of all these fights end up in the same place, the Supreme Court. And a divided set of justices could decide by next month whether the high court is willing to shake things up by defining what exactly constitutes an...


Movie Night: "Hail Satan?"

Penny Lane’s documentary “Hail Satan?” is among the most entertaining civics lessons to come around in a long time. Chronicling in jaunty manner the origins and growth of the Satanic Temple, which the IRS just recently recognized as a bona fide church, Lane’s movie shows how the Temple has enforced the First Amendment’s separation of church and state across the country. Lane, the director of “Our Nixon,” and “Nuts,” discussed her new movie, the underlying issues and just how much resonance...


No holds Barr as Democrats grill attorney general

Anytime Attorney General William Barr talks about the Mueller report it’s a big deal. It's a bigger deal in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Add a leaked letter, a bunch of presidential candidates on the committee and all kinds of almost Shakespearean context, and you've got a lot of political theater.


Movie Night: "Knock Down the House"

If you listen to this podcast, you know Jason Dick loves movies, especially if they relate to politics. So on occasion, we’re going to bring you conversations with directors and actors — and even some movie reviews — for all the political movie-lovers out there. In this episode, we talk with Rachel Lears, director of the Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House,” which profiles four congressional challengers in 2018 and how they fared (spoiler alert: one of them is Alexandria...


Why a crowded 2020 ‘knife fight’ is good for Democrats

Democrats continue to throw their hats into the 2020 presidential race, and veteran strategist Rodell Mollineau thinks that’s a healthy way to work out the party’s message during a “once in a generation time” for them. “I’m all for this,” he says. Mollineau, a founder of American Bridge and Rokk Solutions, and previously a staffer for Senate majority leaders Tom Daschle and Harry Reid, discusses with Jason Dick and Nathan Gonzales the burgeoning field, what an ideal ticket would look...


When Fritz Hollings ‘made the turn’ as a Southern politician

Before the late Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings was elected to what would become a distinguished congressional career, the South Carolina Democrat reversed himself on the defining issue in Southern politics: segregation. Running for governor in 1958, Hollings opposed integration of public schools, a keystone battle in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision desegregating public schools. But by the end of his term, he said it was time for the South to change,...


Why 'Queer Eye' stormed Capitol Hill

Washington might be Hollywood for ugly people, but every once in a while Hollywood pretties the place up. That was certainly the case when the cast of “Queer Eye” came to the Capitol to advocate for the Equality Act, to the delight of many staffers, members and tourists. Jennifer Shutt discusses how the celebrity advocates used their powers for policy purposes.


Why we should care that the Senate will debate less

The Senate has changed its rules again and it will result in less debate on many judicial and executive nominations. Who cares? The public should, if it wants a responsive government at least. James Wallner of the R Street Institute and CQ Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski discuss the ramifications. "No one can be bothered to care about the rules, '' Wallner laments.


Will Mueller matter in 2020?

CQ Roll Call senior political reporters Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé explain the political ramifications, if any, on the conclusion of the Russia election interference report of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.


‘The River and the Wall,’ a journey down the wall’s path

When Ben Masters began the 1,200-mile journey along the Rio Grande to film his new documentary “The River and the Wall,” he had no idea the border wall would dominate politics the way it does today. Nor did he think, as he spoke with such locals as Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd, that their voices would resonate so far beyond the border. Now the movie, making festival rounds and set for a May 3 release, profiles the debate deftly and shows off the unparalleled beauty of the region as Masters...


Why Trump is Fueling Journalism Majors

When the president of the United States labels you the enemy of the people, what’s a young, aspiring journalist supposed to think? While recognizing that journalism is in a crisis, Christina Bellantoni, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and a former editor of Roll Call and at the Los Angeles Times, says the era of fake news is actually bringing out the real value of journalism and helping to motivate the next generation to seek the truth.


Why everyone wants to talk about HR 1

Democrats love it. Republicans hate it. K Street really hates it. The White House wants to veto it. Everyone’s talking about HR 1, House Democrats' overhaul of campaign finance, election and lobbying laws. CQ Roll Call’s Kate Ackley says Democrats “ran on this messaging” in 2018 and are arguing it deserves to be a top priority “so that we can unrig the system.” Republicans across the board have rallied against it. What's going on? We break it down on the latest Political Theater Podcast.


How the National Archives Helped ‘Apollo 11’ Get a Fresh Look

The Apollo 11 Moon landing is one of mankind’s iconic stories. So how, with the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing coming up, does the documentary “Apollo 11” tell the story in a new way? For director Todd Douglas Miller and his team, it started with archival footage, some of it never seen, at the National Archives and other audio and visual files around the country. Miller discusses his new film, how it came together, both in middle of the politically tumultuous 1960s, and now, in...


Does Michael Cohen Testimony Change Political Strategies?

Sure, as one cable news talking head says, Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday is “very, very explosive” and spread out over “several, several hours” but does it change the political parties’ 2020 strategy? Roll Call political reporters Simone Pathe and Bridget Bowman discuss.