McCain's favorite film/TV president, for instance, is President David Palmer, played by Dennis Haysbert, on 24. "He’s fabulous," McCain says. "He’s a guy who makes tough decisions, he takes charge, he’s ready to sacrifice his interest on behalf of the interest of the country."
And what of the fact that on the show Palmer was the nation's first African-American president?
"You know, I hope that I and all Americans can be color-blind about any president," McCain said.
(No mention of the fact that Palmer was assassinated.)
Obama, meanwhile, is partial to Jeff Bridges in The Contender.
"He was charming and essentially an honorable person, but there was a rogue about him," Obama says. "The way he would order sandwiches – he was good at that." Obama jokes that he similarly wants to test the White House chefs. "I want to see if I can get any sandwich I want," he says.
Of superheroes, McCain likes Batman.
"He does justice sometimes against insurmountable odds," McCain says. "And he doesn’t make his good works known to a lot of people, so a lot of people think he’s just a rich playboy."
Obama says he "was always into the Spider-Man/Batman model. The guys who have too many powers, like Superman, that always made me think they weren’t really earning their superhero status. It’s a little too easy. Whereas Spider-Man and Batman, they have some inner turmoil. They get knocked around a little bit."
Despite the fact that much has been made of his lack of internet prowess, McCain says he watches Youtube spoofs of the campaign.
"I've seen some of them," says the Arizona Republican. "Some of them are too painful for me to watch. One of my favorites is 'It's Raining McCain.' But I also like that early one they did for Obama" -- a reference to the pro-Obama will.i.am song "Yes we can" -- "That was really excellent."
The first movies they recall seeking in theaters?
For McCain it was Bambi. "When his mother was killed," McCain admits. "Oh, yeah, I cried."
For Obama one of the first was Born Free. "I remember that movie having an impact on me," Obama says. "I think I may have teared up at the end when they release [the lioness] Elsa. I couldn't have been more than 4 or 5, but I remember choking up on that."
The last movies they saw in theaters were the latest Indiana Jones vehicle for McCain -- "I enjoyed that so much. The old guy wins" -- and for Obama Shrek 3.
McCain lists his favorite Vietnam films as We Were Soldiers, Full Metal Jacket, Coming Home, Born on the Fourth of July, and Apocalypse Now. Viva Zapata! is his favorite film.
"Elia Kazan made three movies with Marlon Brando," McCain recalls. "One was A Streetcar Named Desire, one was On the Waterfront, and the third was Viva Zapata! Many people think Brando's performances in Streetcar and Waterfront were his best. I think Zapata! was his best. I'm in the minority about this. But go back and watch the scene of his wedding night, with [Brando] and Jean Peters — the actress who later married Howard Hughes, who made her give up acting — when she teaches him to read by taking out the Bible and reading it with him. That's a poignant scene."
Of TV shows he liked watching growing up, Obama mentions M*A*S*H and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Who controls the remote at home?
Generally, Michelle Obama. "Most of the time," says the Illinois Democrat, "the TV is on HGTV, and I suffer that silently...She likes American Idol, her and the girls, in a way that I don't entirely get."
The McCains fight over control of the clicker.
"Foolishly she continues to try to assert her control over the remote," McCain jokes about his wife Cindy. "This is a battle that will continue for a long time. But there are shows we agree on. We like the reruns of Seinfeld. I really like Curb Your Enthusiasm. I kind of like Dexter, too, although it certainly has a macabre side to it. I'll tell you that Cindy likes Big Love — I haven't watched it much, but she enjoys that. And I like The Wire a lot, too. That's a great show."
The last videogame Obama played was pong. "That gives you a sense of my age. I loved that game."
On Obama's iPod; Frank Sinatra, Sheryl Crow, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Javanese flute music, African dance music, a lot of R&B.
And McCain cops (again) to more ABBA love, though he notes "'I'm also a Roy Orbison fan and a Linda Ronstadt fan — all the ones whose place in the spotlight ended some years ago. But I like Usher, too. I was on Saturday Night Live with him, got to see him perform, and I was very impressed with him."