Three weeks ago, George Clooney was sauntering down the Oscar’s red carpet in Giorgio Armani threads, cracking jokes with Ryan Seacrest.
Twenty-eight days, one round-trip flight to Sudan and a rowdy protest later, the now-scruffy Hollywood superstar has swapped his designer suit for a pair of handcuffs and his cheeky E! interviews for gravely serious sit-downs on the Sunday morning political shows.
So what inspired America’s sexiest man to launch his crusade to bring aid to the war-ravaged people of Sudan?
“I grew up in a family that believed that … your job was to be involved with your fellow man,” Clooney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “You have a responsibility to participate in the human condition, one way or another.”
Clooney, whose father Nick Clooney was a broadcast news anchor, said that growing up around news made him a “big believer in the importance of information.” He also learned the realities of hard news being scrapped for celebrity gossip.
“I saw my father in the ’70s doing really good stories and then getting bumped because there was a Liz Taylor story that was going to be out,” Clooney said.
When he first learned of the plight in Sudan back in 2006, Clooney said his first reaction was to call his journalist father.
“I said, ‘Remember how you used to get all your stories bumped by Liz Taylor or something happened in Hollywood?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Well, let’s go to Darfur. And you be the newsman and I’ll be Liz Taylor and let’s get it on the air,’” Clooney said Sunday.
Last week, Clooney made the rounds in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to convince Congress and the president to initiate negotiations with China to intervene in Sudan against the country’s president, Omar Al-Bashir, an alleged war criminal.
“What’s going on right there is exactly what we saw in the beginning of Darfur,” Clooney said. “All three men charged with war crimes at The Hague are the same three who are now bombing indiscriminate innocent civilians with Antonov planes with 300-millimeter Chinese rockets.”
Clooney, who appeared on three Sunday morning news programs today, said the United States and China are in a unique bargaining position right now because South Sudan has stopped producing oil, thereby eliminating 6 percent of China’s oil imports.
The actor argued that with gas prices rising, the fighting in Sudan is now more than a humanitarian issue. It’s an economic one.
“When the Chinese aren’t getting their 6 percent from Sudan, they are getting it [oil] from somewhere else and that drives the [gas] price up for everyone else,” Clooney told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Realistically, Clooney said the U.S. and NATO are not going take military action to stop the Sudanese government from bombing civilians. So instead he called for the United States to employ the same techniques the government uses to discover the funding channels of terrorist organizations to “go after” the money supporting the Sudanese “war criminals.”
And at the end of the day, Clooney said it is all about “saving lives.”
“We are going and standing where people are shooting rockets at us and we’re standing where there’s a bomb hit the ground and didn’t blow up, and that helps get attention to the story that we are trying to tell, then that’s all we can do,” the actor said on Fox. “I don’t make policy. I can just make it louder.”