The other candidates in the race are barely registering in the polls, and one of those waiting in the wings is carrying enough baggage to sink a cruise ship.
So. What about that likable fellow from Tennessee? Thompson is not "just an actor" (though they said that about Reagan, and he turned out OK). He began his professional life as an assistant U.S. attorney, worked as Sen. Howard Baker's campaign manager and did a stint as co-chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. It was he who asked the innocuous-sounding but momentous question of Alexander Butterfield: "Were you aware of the existence of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"
After leaving Washington, he continued to practice law and slipped into acting as easily as a wagon rolls downhill. They were making a film about his legal exploits and couldn't find anyone who could do Fred Thompson as well as he did himself.
His voting record is solidly conservative. He is articulate, self-made (his father was a car salesman), highly intelligent, and exudes calm authority. His star power offers him an opening with independent voters that other candidates can only dream of, while his solid conservative credentials will excite the Republican base.
He hasn't dreamed of becoming president since he was in diapers. But he has noticed that 57 percent of Republicans tell pollsters they are unsatisfied with the current field.
It may be that no one can play a Republican president better than Fred Thompson.