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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
THE STORY:Tom Laughlin directed and starred in Billy Jack (1971) about a Green Beret who protects hippie kids from town bullies. It became a cult classic. For the next 30 years, Laughlin lived quietly. Then rumors had him preparing a new film to coincide with a presidential run.
FROM THE STORY: His wife hesitates when she's asked about his hints at another quixotic journey.
"It devastated him the last time because people didn't take him seriously," she says. "It was hard."
Hard because it's tough to reconcile Billy Jack with Tom Laughlin, the hero with the human.
Laughlin wipes his mouth and tells his assistant they should take the extra tortilla chips home. He asks if there's anything else he can answer.
Laughlin looks up. "I would have to be stupid to run for president," he says. "I'd be dismissed as a nut."
He says the only reason to run would be to give the people a chance to reclaim power.
THE REST OF THE STORY: Laughlin was on the Democratic ballot in the New Hampshire primary this month. He spent no money on ads, made no announcements in the press and never campaigned in New Hampshire. He got 47 votes.
WHAT'S NEXT: He says he's a month away from finishing the Billy Jack and Jean script. Then he needs money to make it.
"I should be resting, but my wife and I have agreed that if it's the last thing we do, we have to put out this film," he says. "We have to bring this consciousness to the world."