The United States of Umerica

Joseph Lezza
8 min readAug 7, 2023

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O say, can you see that the dawn’s early light of August 11th will herald in the premiere of Red, White & Royal Blue on Amazon Prime — and, with it, the return of actress and supernumerary, Uma Thurman. The film, an adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s best-selling novel of the same name, stars Thurman as President Ellen Claremont whose son’s antics spark an international feud with a British prince (Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicolas Galitzine, respectively).

“Return” may, perhaps, be too strong a word. After all, Thurman’s been working steadily since the eighties. But, as I recently said to a cashier who tried to assure me that my order of Aloha chicken tacos already came with a side of tortilla chips, “Not enough!” For some reason — perhaps my own lack of awareness — it feels as though the actress has been somewhat absent from our screens. Or, at least, not as prominent as she deserves to be.

To that end (end being my own selfish need for a heavy dose of Uma), I set myself to revisiting her filmography and it wasn’t long before I had a renewed appreciation for the diversity of characters that number among her credits. And, as any over-caffeinated gay is wont to do, I swiftly began to qualify the unique skills and traits of each, imagining how they might be put to good use under a Claremont administration.

Let’s just say, there were plenty to chose from. And, it wasn’t long until I’d selected and staffed an entire cabinet:

The cabinet of Ellen Claremont, President of the United States of Umerica.

President of the United States
Ellen Claremont
Red, White & Royal Blue (2023)

I didn’t make her president. Casey McQuiston did. And, who am I to argue with that? I mean, the woman is a Democrat who managed to win a statewide race in Texas. She literally parted the red sea. She can do (and did) the impossible, and all while putting her love for her family and their well being ahead of her own political ambition. Put this woman on the dollar bill.

Vice President of the United States
Rebecca Duvall
Smash (2012)

Like any true VP, Rebecca Duvall stepped in to save the production of “Bombshell” when it was sinking (not unlike the way Uma did for Smash). She learned her lines, mastered her steps, and even took the brunt of the lackluster audience response. What’s more, after being felled by a bad case of peanut poisoning (yes, peanut poisoning), Duvall knew when it was time to get out of dodge. She is the ride-or-die any President needs by their side.

Secretary of State
Anouk Latham
The Slap (2015)

My own personal opinions about the pros & cons of bopping loudmouth brats on the keyster aside — the one skill the Secretary of State has to master is diplomacy. And, ever the diplomat, Anouk did try to mitigate the tension in the days following the titular slap, even going so far as to try and talk Rosie into dropping the lawsuit against Harry. Whether or not that ultimately worked out is irrelevant. Brokers of peace hardly have an unblemished record. The point is, she did her best to send each party back to their respective corners with as few marks…err, handprints…as possible.

Secretary of the Treasury
Edie Athens
Be Cool (2005)

Holding the purse strings is no fun, especially when the purse in question is the fragile American economy. And, sometimes, the road to economic recovery requires taking some harsh medicine. If anyone knows the aftertaste of such a bitter prescription, it’s Edie Athens; a woman who did what she had to do in order to save the failing record company she inherited — even if it meant getting mixed up with Russian mobsters — from her deceased husband, James Woods. Honestly between the mobsters and James Woods, I’m not sure which is worse. But, Edie manages to come thru and pull off that cream beret.

Secretary of Defense
Beatrix Kiddo aka The Bride aka Black Mamba aka Mommy
Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003/2004)

Hanzō down, the best choice. If you have to question this nomination, even for a second, it’s too late. You’re already snake food.

Attorney General
Medusa
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

With Medusa as the Attorney General, it’s sedimentary, my dear Watson. There are no delayed court dates. There are no long drawn-out appeals. She is judge and jury. She turns ne’re do wells to stone with a single glance. She delivers justice, and looks.

Secretary of the Interior
Dr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
Batman & Robin (1997)

“I am Nature’s arm. Her spirit. Her will. Hell, I am Mother Nature, and the time has come for plants to take back the world so rightfully ours! ’Cause it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.”

Nuff said.

Secretary of Agriculture
Mia Wallace
Pulp Fiction (1994)

I dare you to find anyone more obsessed with agriculture than Mia Wallace. Girl loves it almost too much. ‘Specially that coca plant. Don’t worry about the confirmation hearing. Mia nose what she’s talking about.

Secretary of Commerce
Ulla
The Producers (2005)

The mission of the Department of Commerce is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunities for all communities. And, if the expressions on Max and Leo’s faces are to tell us anything, it’s that something is definitely growing. To be sure, the buxom Swede did everything in her power to facilitate the environment necessary to get the Bialystock & Bloom production fully funded (one might say their cup raneth over); a production that then went on to create employment opportunities for all manner of artists, technicians, ushers, and house staff. And, she did it all while belting to the balcony. Department of Commherce is more like it.

Secretary of Labor
Patti
Playing for Keeps (2012)

To be fair, I haven’t even seen this film. But, I imagine it must’ve been one hell of a labor to show up on the set of a Gerard Butler movie every single day.

Secretary of Health and Human Services
Eliza

Motherhood (2009)

Look at those glasses that say, “I understand the importance of vision coverage.” Look at that hair that says, “I don’t have time for a blowout, there are lives at stake!” Look at that ragamuffin slung to her back, the very embodiment of our oh-so enfeebled healthcare system. This woman, the personification of matriarchy (as the title implies), puts the health and care of her charges ahead of everything else. She is mother.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Fantine
Les Misérables (1998)

Show me someone who understands the essentiality of housing more than a woman forced to earn her meager living on the streets of pre-revolutionary France. This Fantine doesn’t even have time to sing. She’s got gentrifiers to oust and broker’s fees to bust. Victor Hugo? More like Victor Hu-go, girl.

Secretary of Transportation
Sissy Hankshaw
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)

If you’re looking for someone who knows how to get where they’re going, who knows the importance of a good ride (and how to land one), it’s Sissy Hankshaw. The woman is a born hitchhiker, with thumbs the size of auction paddles. And, when the chips are down, when the planes are delayed and the trains backed up and busses stuck in a bottleneck, it’s Sissy who’ll deliver you to your destination on time.

Secretary of Energy
Rafi Gardet
Prime (2005)

If anyone knows about energy, it’s Rafi Gardet. Imagine the stamina required to be a successful Manhattan career woman, prioritize your mental health by putting in the work with your therapist, AND keep up with 23 year-old Bryan Greenberg (and his beautiful p-aintbrush) in bed each night. This is a one-woman nuclear reactor. This woman eats himbos for lunch and has a sensible dinner. This is the woman you want in charge.

Secretary of Education
Noelle
The Truth about Cats and Dogs (1996)

Put aside the fact that she’s literally holding a book in this photo. Put aside the more problematic parts of the movie and its message. When Noelle, a model/aspiring actress, is lassoed into the Shakespearean charade her self-conscious friend has cooked up — all to impress a dude who’s rather mid, if we’re being honest — the woman commits to the part. She does the work, immersing herself in literature and research in order to better embody the articulate radio persona mid man has fallen in love with. And, tropes be damned, she graduates s-Uma cum laude, coming out a more fully dimensional person, having maintained the open mind, eagerness, and receptivity to alternate viewpoints necessary for a lasting educational experience.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Maid Marian
Robin Hood (1991)

Unlike most fairy tales, in this Robin Hood, Marian is no damsel in distress. At least, not entirely. Yes, at the end, Robin must still save her from being married off to the Sheriff of Nottingham against her wishes. But, before the busted-up nuptials, Marian was out in the field, marauding along with the altruistic Merry Men in disguise. That is, until she got made. But, made or not, this Maid knows what it’s like in the trenches. She’s been there, frock and all. And, who better to look after the best interests of noble warriors when the battle is done?

Secretary of Homeland Security
Jenny Johnson
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)

If you break up with Jenny Johnson (aka G-Girl), she will toss your car into outer space and strip you to your skivvies in front of all of your co-workers. And, that’s just when you’re Luke Wilson. Imagine if you were an agent of terror or a foreign adversary. I’d feel adver-sorry for you. This woman can take a direct hit from a meteorite and walk away stronger. With her in charge, the homeland is more secure than the cloud account whose password you’ve long since forgotten.

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Joseph Lezza
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Author and essayist. "I'm Never Fine" (Vine Leaves Press, 2023). Full-time worrier & coffee chugger. Socials: @lezzdoothis. Website: https://www.josephlezza.com