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Harold and Kumar go to the White House (not Harold though)

By Jimmy Orr / April 8, 2009

Actor Kal Penn is joining the White House Office of Public Liaison as a representative to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. He will also be the main point of contact in the Obama White House for the arts community.

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Some would call the touching cinematic drama "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" an American masterpiece.

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You remember that ageless classic. The story of two youths emboldened by life yet unfulfilled in their never-ending quest to reach their dream. Or in this case, getting rid of the munchies by eating hamburgers.

The guy who played Kumar, Kal Penn, is attaining his own real-life dream by temporarily pushing show business aside to work at the White House.

New job

Penn announced yesterday that he's taking a job in the Office of Public Liaison for President Barack Obama.

If you paid attention to the campaign, you noticed Penn at Obama rallies. He was particularly active on college campuses rallying support, although he was never elevated to a Democratic version of Joe the Plumber.

Penn will be an associate director for the office focusing on outreach for Asian-American and Pacific Islander groups as well as the arts communities.

Why?

So why would someone who could make exponentially more money in show business leave to take a job that could pay $50,000?

He's into politics. Not only did he study it in college, but the interest runs deep in his family. Three of his four grandparents were active in India's Independence movement and his grandfather marched with Gandhi.

"There's not a lot of financial reward in these jobs," he said. "But, obviously, the opportunity to serve in a capacity like this is an incredible honor."

Plus, the character he was playing on the FOX TV program "House" killed himself on Monday. So it was a good time to go.

He told reporters on Tuesday that unlike his character on House, he intends to return to acting. "I certainly intend to come back, but right now I just felt my calling was in public service."

Parallels

You could say there are parallels (if you tried really hard) between the White Castle movie and Penn's decision to go to the White House.

Sure, the plot of the movie was to eat hamburgers, but Kumar saw something much more than that when he scolded his friend Harold.

"You think this is just about the burgers, huh? It's about far more than that. It's about the American dream."

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