Taken from the TV show Nixon's the One, which gets its U.S. debut in the Fall, here's Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls (aka Harry Shearer aka Charles Montgomery Burns aka Kent Brockman) reenacting the bizarre few minutes that preceded Tricy Dicky's televised resignation on August 9, 1974.
The actual footage has been exuding a weird fascination on YouTube for years now, and Shearer does a remarkable job of ever-so-slightly magnifying the departing president's behaviour—the flatlining "jokes" he makes to the TV crew and White House staffers; the sudden bursts of imperiousness; the subsequent bouts of laboured bonhomie.
Shearer's reproduction also captures Nixon's unlikely giddiness as he's about to take history's greatest shitkicking right before the nation's eyes. In an interview with the New Yorker, the actor-writer-comedian reckons it was all front. "Those people in that room were going to go out and say, ‘He wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t angry. My god! He was the nicest guy in the world,’" he says.
But if Roger Stone's got it right in his new book, Nixon's Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon, then we could probably speculate that the disgraced statesman was simply relieved. An engineered scandal like Watergate is so much better than a bullet in the head.