Ethics Movies About Government

Saturday, April 2 by Karen Murdock

Whether you enjoy a good political sex scandal or long for honest leaders, these ethics movies about government will fuel your earnest—or not so earnest—indignation. Some of these ethics movies feature inspiring politicians who fight to stay honest, while others focus on slimy, sleazy figures capable of any ethics violation necessary to hold onto power.

  1. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939) – How many times have American politicians shown so much earnest commitment to bettering the nation, only to get dragged down by Washington corruption? In this ethics film about government, an idealistic man gets appointed to fill a vacant senate seat because local fat cats think they can puppeteer him. They could not be more wrong. If you are tired of watching government officials compromise ethical principles, watch this movie and feel inspired.
  2. “All the President’s Men” (1976) – By their very nature, ethics movies about government often wind up digging up real historical dirt. In this historical drama, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford star as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein respectively, the two journalists responsible for uncovering Watergate. Government ethics violations do not get much more riveting than in the Nixon era.
  3. “Wag the Dog” (1997) – This satire about a president who uses a phony war to cover for a scandal might just be the ultimate ethics movie about government. After all, it just happened to hit theaters during the infamous sex scandal involving President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Americans were questioning how far politicians would go to cover embarrassing blemishes in their personal ethics. This movie probing government ethics earned two nominations for Academy Awards.
  4. “Thank You For Smoking” (2005) – No list of ethics movies about government would be complete without a film about the tobacco industry lobby. In this ethics movie, Aaron Eckhart plays a Big Tobacco lobbyist pitted against a senator who wants a skull and crossbones printed on cigarette packages. Consider this government ethics movie an opportunity to witness corruption up close.
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