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Weds I went to The Ronald Reagan Library. It is on a wind swept hilltop west of Los Angeles. Because of the winter rains, the hills look very green and pretty. For a few weeks Simi Valley looks like County Cork, until the desert heat makes it all brown again.

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As you’d expect, the Ronald Reagan Library was a last bastion of the hard core, true believer conservatives. I bit my lip a lot. I had visited it once before in 1992 when it as still pretty new. I noticed they had removed the Guest Book people signed. I guess they were tired of people writing %&$* Reagan !! Too often. The crowd was very white. The only African-American I saw in the entire place was on a bookshelf. A book by neo-con polemicist Larry Elder. There was only one mention of former President George W. Bush, another forlorn book on a bottom shelf. I noticed there were no more copies of DUTCH, that weird half-fictional biography of Reagan.

It was fun to walk through the retired Air Force One 707 jet, and check out the Marine One and a visiting copy of the Magna Carta, one of only four copies. There was lots of military stuff like cruise missiles, chunks of the Berlin Wall, toy tanks and uniforms from his movies. It might give you the impression he had a big military career, which he didn’t. I remember an old Warner Bros animator who during World War Two worked at FMPU- First Motion Picture Unit at Ft. Roach in Culver City, near MGM. He laughed- "Every morning Captain Ronald Reagan in his smart, drycleaned uniform would come in to review the war correspondents' footage from overseas. Marlene Dietrich got closer to the Front Lines in pumps and fishnet stockings."

There was no mention of Reagan’s being President of the Screen Actors Guild for fourteen years, during the time he signed contracts to get actors their first residuals. The contract payments was only for films made after 1955, so old acts no longer famous like Laurel & Hardy and the Marx Brothers got nothing. Only one little forlorn cabinet facing the back wall had his testimony to HUAC. Very little about Jane Wyman, his first wife when he was a New Deal Leftie. In the bio movie of him with Judy Davis as Nancy they skip that whole period also. The Conservatives want that fourteen years of his life to just disappear.

There was an entire room dedicated to Red-Commie paranoia, about how bad the Evil Empire was, in which the walls were emblazoned with large quotes from Khruschev and Bukharin about how they would destroy us. All these quotes were said long before the 1980s when Reagan was President. It was almost like it was trying to justify Reagans' massive arms buildup and his Star Wars Program, and stomping hippy anti-Vietnam War protesters when he was governor of California.

It reminded me of a few years ago, when I was contacted by a Reagan biographer in Washington who was digging for details about Ronnies Hollywood Years. I sensed from his questions he was going to write from an obvious favorably doctrinal side. After I burned his ears for awhile about how we in Hollywood Labor thought about the only American President to ever come from our ranks, he stopped calling me.

Still, all in all the visit was fun. The plane was very interesting and the displays and recreation of the Oval Office were fun, but I liked the job they did on the West Wing TV show better. And you can buy all the Jelly-Bellys you want in the gift shop.
Napoleon said History are but Myths we all agree on.