Holy pro tempore! Imagine a world in which the President of the United States needs to be called away from the set of a Batman movie or show. It could conceivably happen, and we’ve not lost our Bat-minds. Starting with Batman Forever, one of the most powerful politicians in the country, has, over the years, cameoed in six different iterations of Batman movies (or TV shows). Really!
As initially reported by CNN, Senator Patrick Leahy is 80 years old, a Democrat from Vermont, the longest-serving member of the current Senate, a lifelong Batman fan, and currently third in the presidential line of succession (a/k/a pro tempore). Senator Leahy was born a year after the publication in 1939 of the first Batman comic, a point he made in the foreword he penned for Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman. He even teamed with DC Comics in 1996 to develop the graphic novel, Batman: Death of Innocents: The Horror of Landmines, which cautioned of the dangers that landmines present. And he holds the distinction of appearing in six Batman productions: Batman Forever (himself), Batman: The Animated Series (voice of Territorial Governor), Batman & Robin (himself), The Dark Knight (Gentleman at Party), The Dark Knight Rises (Wayne Enterprises Board Member #2), and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Senator Purrington).
A few of Senator Leahy’s roles proved particularly memorable or noteworthy. His son, Mark, joined dad for Batman & Robin. Next, in The Dark Knight, he informed Heath Ledger’s Joker that “We’re not intimidated by thugs,” prompting the Joker to intimidate him by pulling him close, shoving a knife toward his face, and declaring, “Y’know, you remind me of my father… I hated my father!” Most recently, in Batman v. Superman, Leahy’s Senator Purrington died – along with other Senators gathered for a hearing at the U.S. Capitol — when Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) detonated a bomb he planted in the wheelchair used by Wallace Keefe (Scoot McNairy).
So, what’s behind Senator Leahy’s Bat-love? As he noted in Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, he was just four years old when he happened upon the Caped Crusader while perusing comic books at his childhood library, the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont, and felt a “kindred bond” with the character. “Entering Batman’s world through my imagination,” he elaborated, “opened an early door into a lifelong love of reading.” And what does he recall of sharing the screen with Heath Ledger? “He scared the heck out of me,” Senator Leahy once told Roll Call. “I didn’t have to act.”
Unfortunately, Senator Leahy won’t return to big-screen action alongside Robert Pattinson in The Batman. He confirmed as much to his hometown newspaper, the Burlington Free Press, this past summer, stating, “I have too many other things going on with Covid, with appropriation bills.” That’s a shame not only because we’d love to see Senator Leahy reunited with the Bat, but because it means he won’t earn money that he’d then donate to the Kellog-Hubbard Library. You see, he hands all the money he’s made – salary and residuals – to the library. CNN quoted the library’s co-director as stating that Senator Leahy donated $150,000-plus solely from his Dark Knight trilogy appearances.
All of this brings us back to our admittedly morbid premise. Given the craziness of the world at the moment, if Senator Leahy were acting in a Batman project when all hell broke loose and President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Speaker of the House Pelosi could not serve, then Senator Leahy would become President Leahy.
Holy pro tempore, indeed!