Sure, Dwayne Johnson was on The Tonight Show last night to promote the upcoming and deeply necessary Baywatch movie, but everyone in attendance knew why he’d really come to hang out with giggle-buddy Jimmy Fallon. In a recent GQ profile, the former The Rock was asked if he’d ever be interested in running for president. The ever-diplomatic (see?) Johnson issued what Washington insiders call a non-denial denial, sparking a grassroots groundswell of support for his hypothetical candidacy that saw the master of the People’s Elbow easily outpolling Donald Trump in an equally hypothetical Trump-Johnson 2020 showdown. And not just internet polls, but, as Johnson reported smilingly, those “on real news channels.”
Crazy? Perhaps. But let’s look at the tale of the tape. As Fallon pointed out, Johnson’s latest movie, Fate Of The Furious, has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, while rumors continue to swirl that supposed billionaire Trump is worth a lot less than he claims. (It might be all the bankruptcies. Or the fact that he’s super not into releasing his taxes. Or the constant lying.) Point: Johnson. And, to those who’d point to Johnson’s long and storied career in the professional wrestling industry as proof of his unsuitability for the highest office in the land, one need only note that Trump—thanks to his appearances at not one, but two Wrestlemanias—is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. He even shaved WWE head Vince McMahon’s actual head. Johnson, while he will certainly be welcomed into those hallowed halls whenever he tells McMahon he wants in, is not yet a member. Credibility point: Johnson. And, to the people who scoff at the idea of a president starring in a big screen reimagining of the perennially goofy Baywatch (the clip he brought sees co-star Zac Efron having corpse fat drip comically into his mouth), refutation comes with a simple look at Trump’s IMDb page, where it’s clear the current office holder is still getting residuals from things like The Jeffersons, Paul Mazursky’s misbegotten The Pickle, and the 1989 Bo Derek vehicle Ghosts Can’t Do it. Plus, Trump invariably (and ineptly) plays himself on screen, while charisma factory Johnson has shown both his versatility and box office clout again and again. Strike three to Trump.
So is Johnson serious? He’s cagey about it, in the supremely polished manner of a lifelong performer—or politician. Without mentioning his eventual opponent by name, Johnson takes a dig at Donald Trump, agreeing with Fallon that, as he corrects himself, to huge applause, “A lot of people want to see a different leader—I’m sorry, a better leader.” Add in the fact that the ever-gracious Johnson took time to coo over a picture of an adorable baby fan, to praise the troops, and to highlight the two women at GQ (Caity Weaver and photographer Peggy Sirota) who made his interview and photo shoot so enjoyable and successful, and it sounds an awful lot like Johnson is already on the campaign trail. He even trotted out his first campaign slogan, telling Fallon the country needs, “More poise, less noise.” So, Johnson 2020? We could genuinely, demonstrably, do worse.