In politics, there's an art to diplomacy - and then there's the diplomatic arts, in which government officials temporarily morph into amateur singers, actors and musicians, their performances ripe for mass consumption. Showcasing varying degrees of skill, here are six political leaders who have tried to sing, act and play their way to public approval:
Since making $45-million in cuts to arts and culture funding in 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has participated in a spate of arts-oriented public-relations stunts over the past few years. It was announced Wednesday that Harper's cameo on CITY-TV's Murdoch Mysteries will have its premiere on July 20. The show follows William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a detective who uses innovative forensic techniques to solve gruesome murders in 19th-century Toronto. A self-described fan and long-time viewer, the Prime Minister will play a clueless cop who doesn't recognize then-prime minister Wilfrid Laurier when he enters the police station.
Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan
It was a love-it-or-hate-it moment when new prime minister Brian Mulroney and then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan sang the ditty When Irish Eyes Are Smiling after a cozy meeting in Quebec City on St. Patrick's Day, 1985. Performed onstage with their wives and a host of Canadian celebrities, the song - which referenced the leaders' shared heritage - marked the beginning of an even cozier relationship between Canada and the United States, eventually leading to the free-trade agreement of the late eighties.
Even before the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, former U.S. president Bill Clinton proved he had major sax appeal after appearing on actor-comedian Arsenio Hall's eponymous talk show in 1992. The then-presidential candidate played the saxophone while sporting Wayfarer-style shades, conveying a cool, calm image to television viewers across the United States. It was a performance that some pundits said revived Clinton's stalled campaign and helped him win the presidency, defeating incumbent George H.W. Bush.
Despite being a pop cultural icon for Generation Y - his face and "Yes we can" catchphrase emblazoned on T-shirts everywhere - the U.S. President has yet to showcase his prowess in the arts. His credibility with geeks, however, was given a big boost by his appearance on MythBusters, the Discovery Channel show that seeks to debunk urban legends through science. In a December, 2010, episode, Obama challenges hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman to retest the myth of Archimedes Solar Ray, a weapon that the Greek scientist used at about 200 B.C. to set Roman ships ablaze, using only mirrors and the sun.
The only municipal leader on our list, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford gave new meaning to his signature phrase, "Stop the gravy train," when he made his theatre debut in Thomas & Friends Live! On Stage, starring Thomas the Tank Engine. In a critically panned 30-second appearance, Ford appeared alongside Sir Topham Hatt, head of the railway, Thomas and other talking trains from the popular British book and television series.