Michael Whouley black blazer dark green shirtMichael Whouley black blazer dark green shirt

Denis Leary Is Ripping the Band-Aid Off

After eight years, two wars and countless scandals, just the fact that a darkly funny film could be made about one of the country's biggest political fiascos points to the psychological distance separating 2008 America from the heyday of Survivor and Ricky Martin.

"The last seven years of this administration have been a mixed bag because you had to deal with the patriotism and the reaction to the 9/11 attack," says Recount star Denis Leary. "But, from the moment Bush did the 'Mission Accomplished' appearance on the boat in that jet-fighter suit, that was really the beginning of a free-for-all."

While Denis Leary's fellow comics spend the year yukking it up over the 2008 presidential election, he'll be busy putting out fires on the set of Rescue Me. Then by the time he arrives onstage for the New York Comedy Festival this fall, the next leader of the free world will already be chosen. So what's a notoriously angry stand-up to do? Head back to 2000 to rip the band-aid off a barely healed political system.

But portraying Democratic-strategy ninja Michael Whouley — a man so notoriously secretive that he can count 10 years of media appearances on one hand — posed a few challenges. Whouley never met with Recount writer Danny Strong, but after getting his hands on a copy of the script, agreed to talk with Leary. 

"He knew they were gonna make a movie with or without him, and I don't think he cared about cooperating," the comic says. "But when he finally agreed to talk to me, he did go through, 'This was true, this wasn't true ...' Whouley definitely wanted to tone the language down," says Leary, who drops an f-bomb-laden monologue near the start of the film. "But everyone I checked with, including a couple of girls who still work for him, said that he swore even in places where he didn't remember."