NBCMike Schur, co-creator and producer of beloved (and recently departed) TV show Parks and Recreation, told Hitflix that Sen. Rand Paul was set to appear in an episode, but backed out at the last minute:
Having landed both Bill Murray and Werner Herzog, were there any dream guest stars you never managed to get?
Mike Schur: Hillary Clinton, but that became impossible once we jumped to 2017, because we would've had to have answered a question that she probably wouldn't have wanted us to even pose at this point. We also wanted Rand Paul to be in the Washington episode, and he agreed, but then bailed at the eleventh hour. I think he thought we were making fun of him, or something, which we were not, at all. We were in fact flattering him, by linking him to Ron. I get the sense that maybe interpreting writing and humor is not his strong suit.
Notable politicos who did appear on the show at various points include First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Paul's inclusion would have been appropriate, in some sense, given that breakout character Ron Swanson was TV's best-known libertarian. Reason editor Matt Welch celebrated Swanson's appeal in an interview with The Daily Beast:
“[Swanson] has done more to persuade my (French) wife about libertarianism than I have,” Matt Welch, editor in chief of Reason, told The Daily Beast . “Though in fairness we’ve only been married 17 years.”
Schur claimed that Paul's cameo would have been written in a positive light, a fact the senator did not grasp. Whether that's true or not, who knows.
I enjoyed Parks and Rec throughout its run, and Swanson is indeed an entertaining and frequently fair stand-in for real-life libertarians. Taken as a whole, however, I must agree with Michael Malice's criticisms. On Parks and Rec, the private businesses are always greedy, unscrupulous promoters of unhealthy foods and environmentally ruinous projects. Government bureaucrats, on the other hand, are always justified in going to whatever length necessary to achieve some vague public goal deemed vital by unelected, petty local tyrant Leslie Knope.
Perhaps that's why Paul decided to steer clear, whereas Michelle Obama saw the show as an obvious vehicle for her various crusades.
Watch Reason TV's "5 Best Libertarian TV Shows Ever" below.
Robby Soave is a staff editor at Reason.com.
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