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From Reagan to Zelensky, stars who went into politics

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Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, whom exit polls showed winning Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine, follows several celebrities — from US actor Ronald Reagan to Liberian footballer George Weah — who nabbed top political jobs in their countries.

– Actors and comedians –

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AFP/File / MIKE SARGENT Former president Ronald Reagan, seen here with wife Nancy, rose from Hollywood to the White House

Reagan, a Hollywood actor for more than two decades, was the first cinema star to become head of state.

He was elected governor of California in 1966 before starting the first of two terms as the 40th US president in 1981.

Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger later also made the leap from cinema to politics.

The bodybuilder and action hero was Republican governor of California, the richest and most populous US state, from 2003 to 2011.

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AFP/File / NOEL CELIS Former Philippine president Joseph Estrada was forced from office by a popular revolt driven by accusations of corruption

In the Philippines, all-action tough guy movie star Joseph Estrada, who played in around 100 films, entered politics in 1969, becoming mayor, senator and vice president.

He was elected president in 1998 but driven out of office in 2001 by a popular revolt after corruption accusations.

In Guatemala, Jimmy Morales — a former TV comic with no previous political experience who campaigned on anti-corruption promises — was elected president in October 2015.

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AFP/File / Orlando ESTRADA Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales previously played a country bumpkin on TV who nearly becomes president by accident

Also a cinema producer and TV personality, Morales is famous for his 2007 film “A President in a Sombrero” in which he plays a country bumpkin cowboy named Neto who nearly gets elected president by accident.

Another popular cinema and theatre actor, Salvador del Solar, became Peru’s culture minister in 2016, before being named prime minister in March 2019.

– Show business and reality TV –

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AFP/File / Andreas SOLARO Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi started out as a singer on cruise ships before going into construction, then building a TV empire — then getting into politics and becoming Italy’s leader three times

Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, reputed for peppering his television programmes with nearly nude women, was Italian prime minister on three occasions between 1994 and 2011.

Despite his regular brushes with the law, the man known as “the immortal” for his longevity in politics led the Italian right for more than two decades.

AFP/File / KENA BETANCUR America’s current President Trump also leveraged his profile as a real estate heir and reality-TV star to crush opponents and win his country’s top political job

In January 2017 US real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump, whose surprise election shocked the world, entered the White House without any political, diplomatic or military experience.

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The 45th president of the United States hosted the TV show “The Apprentice” between 2004 and 2015.

– Music and song –

In Lithuania, musician Vytautas Landsbergis led his country to independence from the Soviet Union and was in 1990 elected as president.

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AFP/File / HECTOR RETAMAL Michel Martelly turned his popularity as a carnival singer into a platform to become president of Haiti between 2011 and 2016

In Haiti, popular carnival singer Michel Martelly — known to the country’s youth as “Sweet Micky” — won the April 2011 presidential election with more than 67 percent of votes, ruling until 2016.

– From sport to politics –

Double Olympic gold medal epee winner in 1968 and 1972, Pal Schmitt became the fourth president of democratic Hungary in 2010.

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He was forced to resign two years later after being accused of plagiarism in his doctoral thesis.

AFP/File / JACK GUEZ Liberian President George Weah, elected in December 2017, had a career as a star footballer in the 1990s

George Weah emerged from Liberia’s slums to become a superstar footballer in the 1990s and was elected president of the west African nation in December 2017.

The only African player to have won the Ballon d’Or, he entered politics at the end of the country’s 1989-2003 civil war, winning his first political job as a senator in 2014.

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In August 2018 former cricket champion Imran Khan, idolised by millions of Pakistanis for having led the national cricket team to its only World Cup victory in 1992, became prime minister.

AFP/File /Idi Amin Dada was a heavyweight — originally in the boxing ring, then later in politics when he became dictator of Uganda after a 1971 coup

Well away from the electoral process, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada, who seized power in 1971 in a coup, was a former heavyweight boxing champion.

Others have combined jobs in literature and politics, like Senegal’s poet and author Leopold Sedar Senghor, who became the republic’s first president upon independence in 1960, and Vaclav Havel who in 1989 won post-communist Czechoslovakia’s first presidential election.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Mnuchin begs Chris Wallace: Take the president ‘very literally’ except on being ‘the chosen one’

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that Americans should take President Donald Trump's hyperbolic comments "very literally" -- but he allowed for some exceptions.

During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had recently "ordered" companies not to do business with China.

"When the president says something, how seriously, how literally should we take it?" Wallace asked.

"I think most of the time, you should take it very literally," Mnuchin insisted. "I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke."

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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

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