Ken Regan

Remember that other administration you used to be outraged about? The one that took the U.S. to war against Iraq based on flawed intelligence and was so ruthless in protecting its false narrative about an impending "mushroom cloud" that it outed a CIA spy whose husband—not the spy, her husband—dared to question the rationale for war in a New York Times op-ed?

Maybe you only kinda remember the details of all that (it involved a woman named Valerie Plame—remember now?), but you certainly remember the pure and righteous outrage it inspired, and you probably kinda miss that outrage (don't lie), especially now that you're spending all your time in a state of semiconflicted, highly complicated outrage about what this war-ending Democratic administration is and isn't doing for the gays, the Gitmos, and the progressive agenda in general.

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Fair Game, the movie based on the book based on the spy outing, takes us back to that time of simpler, clearer outrage and offers Sean Penn, bottomless font of male fury, as Joseph Wilson, the diplomat who Bush & Co. tried to publicly destroy after his New York Times op-ed was published, lest other knowledgeable insiders start speaking up, too. Faced with a huge media campaign to discredit him, Wilson decided to push back, even if it was him against the most powerful men in the world, and the rest—well, it's the story of how, in the end, no one really won but a lot of people's lives were totally messed up, including the lives of Iraqi informants left out in the cold after the outing.

The most interesting part of Fair Game is its exploration of the tension between Wilson's need for a David-and-Goliath-style confrontation with the White House and the needs of his outed-CIA-spy wife (played by Naomi Watts). It's Penn's compelling rage versus Watts's "Hey, dude, I've got a little bit more to lose here than you" vulnerability, and in the end, that's another story with no clear winner. recommended