7 Cliffs We Like Better Than the 'Fiscal Cliff'

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Bill Cosby, Cliff HuxtableLet's face it: the whole "fiscal cliff" thing has gotten downright boring. Yes, we get it: Obama can't back down, the Republicans can't back down, taxes are set to go up, services are set to go away, and there probably won't be a deal until after the first of the year.

Until then, barring some amazing, last-minute change in the legislative will or political fortunes of the involved parties, it doesn't look like the fiscal cliff is going anywhere. But rather than wasting time discussing the same old cliff that we know and hate, we decided to spare a moment to think about a few Cliffs we enjoy. With that in mind, here are seven Cliffs that are more lovable, more interesting, and -- frankly -- probably better with money than the one we've spent the last few months bemoaning. Enjoy!

Cliffs We Like Better Than the Fiscal Cliff
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7 Cliffs We Like Better Than the 'Fiscal Cliff'

It's hard to dislike Cliff Robertson. John F. Kennedy liked him -- the young president tapped Robertson to play him in the movie version of PT-109, despite the fact that Robertson was far too old for the role and couldn't pull off a Boston accent. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences liked him too -- they gave him an Oscar in 1968 for his work in the movie "Charly." And audiences certainly liked him -- he remained a popular character actor until his death in 2011.

Jimmy Cliff is pretty likable, too. The reggae musician's work has crossed political boundaries -- his recording of "You Can Get It If You Really Want" was used as a campaign song by both Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista party and by Great Britain's right-leaning Conservative Party. He's also loved by his fans and by the music industry; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. The people who like him best, however, may be the citizens of Jamaica, who awarded him the Order of Merit -- the highest prize that the country gives to an artist or musician.

Never mind that he was a sometimes-bumbling father, or that he had appalling taste in sweaters, or that he often found himself on the losing end of various bets with his wife. TV Guide put him at the top of its list of 50 greatest TV dads of all time, and Karl Rove credited him with paving the way for Barack Obama's presidency. According to the Republican strategist, "We've had an African-American first family for many years in different forms. When 'The Cosby Show' was on, that was America's family. It wasn't a black family. It was America's family."

At first, postman Cliff Clavin wasn't part of the "Cheers" ensemble. But after unsuccessfully trying out for a role, character actor John Ratzenberger suggested that the producers create a "bar know-it-all" character. Shortly afterward, Cliff Clavin was born. While the trivia-spouting, beer-swilling Clavin often found himself on the receiving end of withering insults, he continually maintained a positive attitude -- a factor that helped make him a fan favorite.

Jimmy Cliff isn't the only musical Cliff to receive national honors. British pop star Cliff Richard received both the Order of the British Empire and the Portuguese Order of Prince Henry -- awards that make him a knight in two independent nations. An early inspiration to The Beatles, he remains a popular singer -- and is third on the list of those with the most No. 1 records in the U.K. 

Unlike the other Cliffs on this list, Clifford Odets went from respected to reviled almost overnight. When the famed playwright and screenwriter was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, he gave them the name of fellow former-Communist Elia Kazan (the pair had agreed that, if either was called, he would name the other). For the remaining 11 years of his life, that decision would haunt him, as he was alternately branded by the right as a Communist and by the left as a traitor to liberal Hollywood. Even so, the author of "Awake and Sing!" and "Golden Boy" remains one of the towering figures of American theater.

Size aside, it's impossible to dislike Clifford the Big Red Dog. Born the runt of his litter, the 25-foot dog's enthusiasm, energy, and love for his owner, Emily Elizabeth, have made him a favorite of children through both a book series and the television show that it inspired. In May 2012, Illumination Entertainment announced plans to create a movie based on the character, hopefully giving Clifford a brand new group of fans (and obscuring the memory of that terrible Martin Short movie).


Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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