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Calling Tom Lehrer: Is there a song about Kumar and the White House?

April 7, 2009 | 11:03 pm

Yes, yes, by now it seems everybody knows that Kumar, who sought out White Castle and slipped out of Guantanamo Bay, is headed to the White House. Kal_Penn_as_Kumar

Or, to be more precise, that Kal Penn, the actor who played the cinematic Kumar, will join the Obama administration as associate director in the White House office of public liaison. Patrick Goldstein, who captains The Big Picture blog, has the details on the actor who got a big career boost with “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay."

Penn’s career move brings to mind other actors who made the jump to public service. There’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, and Clint Eastwood and that other former actor whose oeuvre includes “Bedtime for Bonzo.”  Let's not forget Jane Alexander, who once headed the National Endowment for the Arts.

But years before, there was Shirley Temple Black, the former child star, whose long diplomatic career included stints as ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia (when there still was one).

And for those with long memories—or at least those who listened to a Tom Lehrer song one too many times — there was George Murphy, a Republican senator from California in the 1960s.

Lehrer is the musical satirist who also gave the world “The Vatican Rag” and “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” Murphy was a famous song-and-dance man who strutted his away across big-budget musicals, including “Broadway Melody of 1938” and “Broadway Melody of 1940.” Lehrer immortalized him in song by writing:

Oh gee, it's great,

At last we've got a senator who can

Really sing and dance!

Click here to hear the song.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: New Line Cinema

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