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Bush's Brain (2004)

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An examination of political consultant Karl Rove's influence on George W. Bush's candidacy.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cathy Bonner ...
Herself - Richards Campaign Official
Bruce Buchanan ...
Himself - Presidential Scholar, University of Texas
Max Cleland ...
Himself - U.S. Senate, Georgia (D) 1997-2003
Shirley Cuff ...
Herself - Proprietor
Robert Edgeworth ...
Himself - Professor of Classics, Louisiana State University
Kent Hance ...
Himself - Bush's Opponent for Congress 1978
Bill Israel ...
Himself - University of Massachusetts
Molly Ivins ...
Herself - Author, Political Columnist
Richard Leiby ...
Himself - 'Reliable Source' Columnist, Washington Post
Susie Lieseke ...
Wade Lieseke Jr. ...
Himself - Former Nye Co. Sheriff, Tonopah, NV (as Wade Lieseke)
Ken Luce ...
Himself - Campaign Manager for Rick Perry
Garry Mauro ...
Himself - Former Texas State Land Commissioner
Chuck McDonald ...
Himself - Former Richards Press Secretary
Dave McNeely ...
Himself - Political Columnist, Austin American-Statesman


An examination of political consultant Karl Rove's influence on George W. Bush's candidacy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




Release Date:

13 March 2004 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$11,927 (USA) (20 August 2004)


$11,927 (USA) (20 August 2004)

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Production Co:

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Exposé of the Most Brilliant Political Strategist in Moderns Times -- And Possibly One of the Most Unethical
16 July 2008 | by (Oakland, CA) – See all my reviews

There is an irony in history that political acts perpetrated outside of ethics with the rationale "the ends justify the means" usually become viewed in later years as not only unjustifiable but detrimental to societal well-being. When he was president, Nixon believed that bugging and spreading erroneous rumors about political opponents was necessary to ensure his policies would not be undermined. He would have been impeached and convicted if he had not resigned. Sadam Huessin when he ruled Iraq labeled anyone that did not agree with his policies as "terrorists" and dealt with them accordingly. And at the time of this writing, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe refuses to allow fair and impartial elections. Mugabe's belief that he is the best leader for his country justifies his undermining the democratic election process. Almost no one in the international political community outside of Zimbabwe agrees with him.

George W. Bush with the aid of the political mastermind Karl Rove are added to the list of political operatives in which the need to win elections justifies the means no matter how much it undermines the democratic process. It is one thing for a candidate to spearhead an opponent with challenging rhetoric like Ronald Reagan did against Jimmy Carter in 1980. It's quite another to enact dirty tricks that in many ways cannot be defended. Spreading false rumors and/or making false accusations of wrong-doing. Bush's Brain chronicles how Karl Rove, an upstart of the young Republicans in college, learned how to use dirty tricks to win elections.

The documentary is primarily told from people in his political circles who saw his tricks first hand. The first major use of extra-political means to win an election was when Rove managed the campaign for William Clement against the gubernatorial incumbent White in Texas. Clement was polling badly when a bugging device was found in their offices supposedly planted by the White campaign. Although the investigation never implicated White, it became the turning-point in the election and gave Clements the win.

Then, Rove and company decided to point their political weapons against Governor Anne Richards in 1994. On the first front, they decided to attack her on four issues where they felt she was weak. Fair enough. Issues are always fair game. But then they decided to enact a "whispers" campaign, spreading false rumors alleging that she was a lesbian. This is quintessential Rove. Hurt your opponent by back-biting. Bush won the election, and with the help of Rove, won the presidential nomination and the general election.

This is a devastating documentary about what appears to be a misguided man. A brilliant strategist using his abilities for all the wrong reasons. His goals early on were to place republicans in all the major political seats in Texas. It didn't matter if any of those politicians were qualified, as long as they were republicans. I am a democratic, but I would never want a fair-minded republican to be un-seated by the use of dirty tricks. And I would never vote for a democrat solely on the basis that they are a democrat. And I would certainly never condone a democratic candidate using dirty tricks to win an election.

History is already proving to be against a positive legacy for Rove. After his resignation from the Bush administration, the number of articles and books arguing against his tactics has gone up exponentially. In the end, Rove will be viewed as a brilliant but ethically and morally bankrupt figure in the annals of the failed Bush administration. Rove succeeded in putting Bush into the White House and giving the United States one of its worst presidents in its 230-year history. If that's a success, I would fear what a failure would be. My only hope is that future republican politicians will steer clear of Rove and put him out of political business.

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