Julia Louis-Dreyfus might be the closest thing we have to Lucille Ball. Not only did the actress earn her 13th Emmy nod this year, tying Ball's record, she also made slapstick antics and harebrained schemes fresh again with the HBO comedy Veep, which won her a best-actress statuette for the role of half-wit vice president Selina Meyer.
Americans love to see politicians suffer, and Louis-Dreyfus helped us relish every last embarrassment. Who didn't cringe when Selina caught the stomach flu from tainted frozen yogurt, then fought to keep her legs crossed while being carried to her limo? Or when she accidentally spilled the liquid ''contents'' of a pregnancy test and searched desperately for a place to wipe off the evidence before shaking hands with a reporter? (She settled on the press photographer's coat sleeve. Apparently politicians love to see media types suffer too.) ''The humiliation is my favorite part,'' says Louis-Dreyfus, 51. ''Particularly for a character who's very vain and power-hungry.'' Maybe her friends in Washington won't like to hear that: Louis-Dreyfus grew up in D.C., where she attended school with President Ford's daughter, and she remains close with many V(I)Ps there, including Al Gore, for whom she campaigned in 2000 during his presidential bid. But her combination of insider knowledge and comic timing would make it hard for the real-life veep to resent her. No comment from Joe Biden, but looks like he's more of a Parks and Recreation fan.