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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 –

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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– Show business and reality TV –

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.

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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.

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

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– Music and song –

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

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 –

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

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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‘Rather than leading — he lies’: MSNBC panel says Trump is a ‘danger to the country’ because he can’t be trusted

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MSNBC commentators, former assistant US Attorney Maya Wiley and Rick Wilson, explained that President Donald Trump's most significant barrier is making it past his own lies to save America from the coronavirus.

"There's a case tonight being tested in Walton County, Florida. The heart of Trump country," said Wilson, referring to the panhandle county east of Pensacola. "That's not going to be something you can just walk away from if it turns out to be a real case. We're seeing these things popping up all over. The safe bet was always to say, 'This could be bad. We'll do everything we can to stop it.' But he can't stop himself from self-aggrandizing and lying about things. And it's actually -- setting aside my normal criticism of Trump -- this is a danger to the country that he is not a trustworthy person for the American people. Even people who like him now he BS's them all the time. Now, if he says it's not a problem and people are being hospitalized, it is a problem."

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Trump ‘just wants this problem to go away’: President desperate to get coronavirus ‘off his plate’

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President Donald Trump is desperate for the coronavirus problem to go away, and he doesn't exactly care how it happens.

According to New York Times reporter Annie Karni, sources are telling her that the biggest concern Trump has is more about the markets than the deaths of Americans from the virus.

"First, let's establish, this is a president who tried to change science with a Sharpie when it came to hurricane path prediction," said MSNBC host Brian Williams. "That picture lasts forever."

"Even his allies on Fox and his allies outside the White House were kind of channeling to that proverbial audience of one that this was a great opportunity to look presidential and to tell the facts," said Karni. The Donald Trump we saw out there in the briefing room was very casual, kind of left the facts to the other people that accompanied him out there. But he clearly publicly and privately just wants this problem to go away. He wants to downplay it. He thinks -- he has called people who are talking about fears about it alarmist. He doesn't want to be alarmist, and he's kind of holding on to any comment that makes it sound like this will naturally be a problem that is removed from his plate. That's what we saw publicly, and that's what he's been saying privately as well."

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Seth Meyers: You know Trump isn’t the chief law enforcement officer because he couldn’t pass the physical

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"Late Night" host Seth Meyers warned that the United States is sliding into authoritarianism under President Donald Trump.

Sounding the alarm Wednesday evening, Meyers cited reports that Trump was making lists of disloyal people, purging them from their jobs, hiring unqualified cronies in top posts, and claiming he has the right to interfere in criminal cases.

While speaking to the press last week, Trump even announced that he's allowed to be involved in all criminal cases because he's the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. It's actually a title used for the attorney general.

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