By Betsy Rothstein - 01/23/07 12:00 AM EST
This week 20Questions asks documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi about her new movie, “Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi,” set to air on HBO on January 25 at 9 p.m. Pelosi is the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She lives with her husband, Michael Vos, and son, Paul Michael Vos, in Manhattan. This is her third documentary film: Her first was “Journeys with George,” followed by “Diary of a Political Tourist.”
What is the big message you want to send with this film?
I want the people in New York and California to see that there’s a big country out there of people who don’t believe what we believe and are doing something about it. For example, they go to church, and after, they organize for political purposes. I want to be an ambassador from the blue states to the red states. We all have a lot to learn about each other.
What do you think of your mom being Speaker?
I introduced her at the celebration the night of her swearing-in. As I said when I introduced her, people ask if I’m surprised that my mom is Speaker of the House. If you saw the way she ran our house growing up, you wouldn’t be surprised.
Do you feel hurt by the criticisms of her?
No, why would I? I’m only offended as a native San Franciscan when the Republicans use the term “San Francisco values” in a derogatory way because it’s code for something.
Do you plan to do any filming of the 2008 presidential campaign as you did in 2004 with “Diary of a Political Tourist?”
No, I’m done with politics.
You just had a baby and it coincided with the election and your mom becoming Speaker. What was that like for you?
We always knew there was an election. We always knew there was going to be a baby. My mother only talked to me about the baby. She came to New York and built a nursery for me.
What are your personal feelings about the nation’s evangelical movement?
I made a lot of friends in evangelical churches. There are all kinds of evangelicals. It’s a big tent.
Do you think you are a sinner in any way or do you not think like that?
I don’t know. We’re all sinners. In whose eyes?
Did hanging out with evangelicals make you feel like you were a sinner?
If it is a sin to be a Democrat, then yes, I’m a sinner. I got to go on the Christian “Oprah,” “The Joni Show.” I asked Ted Haggard if it is a sin to be a Democrat and he said yes. Of course that was before he got caught having sex with a male prostitute. Isn’t that funny?
Do you believe in Jesus?
Of course. I was raised in the Catholic church. In my family we have 100 years of Catholic education. That was never a question. I was raised by nuns.
Did you feel close to George Bush after the first documentary?
I have always had nothing but respect for George Bush because he won. It takes a lot of hard work to become president of the United States. I saw how hard it was.
What do you enjoy most about making documentaries?
Meeting all kinds of people, getting to go to people’s houses. You have an excuse to go into someone’s life and get to know them. You can’t just show up at Ted Haggard’s house and roast marshmallows with him.
What do you not enjoy about it?
Sleeping at truck stops and driving really long distances alone at night while pregnant.
When you make a movie, you have to spend two years [learning] about one thing. You have to really love the subject. I don’t know yet. A lot of dirty diapers. My baby’s only 8 weeks old. I gotta change diapers and get some sleep.
Was it stifling never to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table?
I said that we were told that the two things you don’t talk about at the dinner table are religion and politics, but it doesn’t mean we didn’t talk about them.
Are you a rebel?
Rebel? [Calling to her husband] Honey, am I a rebel? I’m a housewife. I have a mortgage. How much of a rebel could I be? You can’t be a rebel with a Bugaboo. It’s the Hummer of strollers. My mother bought it for me.
How has motherhood changed you?
I don’t have any desire to spend the next two years on the road. I’m happy at home with my baby and my Bugaboo. For this movie I went to 16 states. Now the farthest I go is Murray’s Bagels.
Are you excited about the debut of your film?
Of course. I have a lot of friends in Washington. This is like a friends-and-family screening.
What do you think of Ted Haggard and Joel Osteen? Are they sincere?
I never smelt an ounce of insincerity in any of the religious figures I spent time with. Stephen Colbert said it best: “Ted Haggard is not a hypocrite — he didn’t try to gay-marry anyone.”
You once joined the KKK to learn about hate in America. What kind of impact did it have on you?
We can’t pretend there isn’t a lot of hate in America and we can’t pretend there are no haters in the evangelical community. There are always going to be bad eggs in any business.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My son, Paul Michael Vos, because he’s perfect. He hasn’t made any mistakes yet.