There has to be something surreal about watching your life play out in a movie. Whether it's Aron Ralston in "127 Hours" or Michel Oher in "The Blind Side" there is an emotional reaction to watching Hollywood recreate the ups and downs of your story. Like that hiker and NFL Football player, Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson are reliving their own hell, one of the most dramatic moments of the Bush administration, on the big screen and are now hitting the road to help get the word out.
"Fair Game" tells the true story of how the lives of Plame, a secret agent for the C.I.A., and Wilson, a former U.S. Ambassador and expert in African affairs, were turned upside down when she was "outed" by syndicated columnist Robert Novak in 2003. Effectively destroying Plame's decades old career and putting the lives of numerous other agents at risk overseas, the move was seen as retribution from the Vice President's office after her husband (Wilson) discounted the White House's allegations that Iraq had received uranium from Niger -- a key point of evidence in the Bush Administration's assertion that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction. Eventually, the VP's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, was convicted of five counts related to Palme's illegal "outing" and was sentenced to 30 months in Federal Prison and a $250,000 fine. President Bush eventually commuted the sentence, but did not pardon Libby.
After meeting the couple, it's eerie to discover how many of their personal traits stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn picked up for their performances. Palme, striking to say the least, admits how odd it is to relive this again on, but pulls out the expected talking point that this is only one chapter in their lives and how they have started over by moving to New Mexico. But, old habits die hard. After being hounded by the press for years, they understand this is something that will never fade away, but as Wilson notes, "I'm hoping this is the second or third sentence in my epitaph."
I asked Palme what her reaction was when President Bush commuted Libby's sentence. Palme said she wasn't surprised, but "When it comes out that in the limousine ride up to Capital Hill to inaugurate President Obama, President Bush and Cheney were in the car and Vice President Cheney was still, at that very moment, moments before Obama was to be sworn in, talking off Bush's ear to ask that Scooter Libby would be pardoned rather than just have his sentence commuted. I found that astounding."
And she's not the only one.
Check out the entire in-depth conversation embedded in this post.
"Fair Game" in limited release on Friday.