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John McCain is indeed a 'Maverick'

April 3, 2008 |  4:00 am

The 1986 film "Top Gun" aired on a cable station a few weeks back and, as it sucked us in, we suddenly wondered: Given his early days as a Navy pilot, is John McCain an older, wiser, scarred manifestation of Maverick?

On Wednesday, as McCain proceeded with his "biography" campaign tour, he provided compelling evidence that the comparison to the swaggering lead character Tom Cruise played in the hit flick is an apt one.

Cruise Times reporter Maeve Reston was along as McCain made a late-afternoon stop in Pensacola, Fla., where he trained as a pilot. She relates that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee amused an audience of several hundred people at the local junior college with tales of his years as a young aviator. He recalled that he had few priorities “greater than my own amusement,” and frequently blew his paycheck at a bar known as Trader John's.

He also admitted that after earning his wings, he “made the most” of his Navy experience on the Mediterranean cruises and in various ports of call. And then he told a tale that could have served as the inspiration for Maverick's proclivity, in "Top Gun," for buzzing control towers.

McCain recalled knocking down power lines in southern Spain because he was “flying too low for no good reason.” The result, he said, was a temporary power outage ...

to a “great many” homes.

“I wanted to live the life of a daring, brash, fun-loving flier, indifferent to the hazards of his profession,” McCain said.

He added that he thought the persona would prove irresistible, especially to the women whose attention he sought. “The image I aspired to was, in the end, only irresistible to one person -– me, and it was a very childish attraction.”

But a very cinematic one.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Paramount