George Clooney Drawn to Politics on Screen, Not in Real Life

"Ides of March" star on politics and the upcoming election.

ByABC News
October 6, 2011, 5:06 PM

Oct. 7, 2011 — -- George Clooney made a movie about how messed up the American electoral process could be. It doesn't fall far from how messed up he thinks American politics is.

"I'm disillusioned by the people who are disillusioned by Obama, quite honestly, I am," he said on ABC News Now's "Popcorn with Peter Travers" before today's release of "The Ides of March."Democrats eat their own. Democrats find singular issues and go, 'Well, I didn't get everything I wanted.' I'm a firm believer in sticking by and sticking up for the people whom you've elected.

"If he was a Republican running, because Republicans are better at this," Clooney continued, "they'd be selling him as the guy who stopped 400,000 jobs a month from leaving the country. They'd be selling him as the guy who saved the auto-industry. If they had the beliefs, they'd be selling him as the guy who got rid of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' who got Osama bin Laden. You could be selling this as a very successful three years."

Clooney's had reasons to ruminate on all of this. In "The Ides of March," which he also wrote and directed, he plays a ruthless presidential candidate who ropes an idealistic staffer into his tangled web. Cue the cheating, the lying, the manipulation. He hopes to inspire exactly zero politicians.

"I don't want to go show this to Washington," he said. "I don't want them to be taking notes."

A lifelong Democrat and prominent supporter of President Obama during the 2008 campaign, Clooney took his own leanings into consideration while developing the film.

"We wanted to talk about how we elect people and the deals we make along the way," he said. "I knew that the only way I was going to be allowed to do it, because I'm a Democrat and I've been sort of loud about it at times, was that I'd make him a Democrat so that the flaws are of a Democrat."

In reality, too, the Oscar winner thinks the Democratic Party is flawed. He also bemoaned the state of political coverage.

"I'm angered at the polarization," he said. "Having growing up around television news, I'm angered at the way things are presented. I'm worried about the content. I'm worried about who's minding the store, and I'm worried about the idea that 24-hour news doesn't mean we get more news, it just means we have this repetitive cycle of things that aren't factually accurate."

"When I was growing up, you had three networks," he went on. "Whether you were a Republican or a Democrat, you took basically the same facts in and you digested them and you came up with your own opinions. Now we tend to go to the place that best represents what we believe in, Fox News if you're conservative, MSNBC if you're liberal, what have you. We're starting from such a polarized place in the aisle that we're unable to get together and talk about the things that are actually important."

Is this the birth of George Clooney, political strategist, or perhaps even politico? Not so much.

"We're putting out 'Ides of March,' I play a guy who's running for president, again, it sort of starts these questions of, 'Would you ever want to run for politics or be in politics?,'" Clooney said. "I'm like, look at my life and look at everybody else's life in politics and … why would I ever want to do that? I'm having a very good time."