In one of The War Room's most emblematic moments, political guru James Carville offers a contrast between Bill Clinton's campaign for president, which he's managing, and that of incumbent George Bush. "We're saying 50 plus 50 equals 104; they're saying 50 plus 50 equals 104 thousand!" quips the Ragin' Cajun. The comment is telling not because he's slamming Bush, but because he's freely admitting that his own team fudges the facts as well. It's a basic acknowledgement that minor ethical compromise is a necessary evil to elevating a superior candidate to the country's highest office. But by merely cooperating with Chris Hedgus and D.A. Pennebaker's behind-closed-doors project, Carville not only forces himself to resist dirty politics, but his few demonstrated acts of sly manipulation are almost proof of full disclosure, much more honest-seeming than if he feigned spotlessness. It's a genius strategy, even though the PR generated by the movie probably had more effect writing the history than it did winning the election. Any successful documentary relies on some luck -- if Clinton had never made it out of New Hampshire, there would be no movie -- but it seems like shrewdness on the part of the husband-and-wife documentarists to identify that Carville could be one of the truly captivating real-life political characters, capable of propelling the movie through some of its inevitable ho-hum passages. George Stephanopoulos contributes somewhat less ostentatiously. Other than those provided by Carville, The War Room is generally lacking in zinger moments. But the complete package is pretty groundbreaking, representing unusual access to round-table gripe-and-plot sessions that had previously been shrouded in mystery. Few characters resonate beyond Carville and Stephanopoulos, with the possible exception of the candidate himself -- seen only in dribs and drabs, but also deserving credit for his openness to the intrusion.