Bring the popcorn: “Recount” perfect viewing for political junkies

If you want to relive the election night(s) of 2000 and don’t have HBO, try bribing a friend who does in order to catch a rerun of "Recount," an HBO-produced movie about the Florida miscount that determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Heck, just to see actress Laura Dern play former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris is worth the price of a six-pack.

 

 "Recount" retraced the steps from election night in Florida to Dec. 13, 2000, when the presidential outcome hung in the balance between hanging chad ("chad" is both a singular and plural noun, as noted in the movie) and the U.S. Supreme Court. We all know the outcome of that story.

 

Written by screenwriter Danny Strong, the movie follows how members of the Democratic team, led by Ron Klain (played by actor Kevin Spacey) were apparently outgunned and outmaneuvered by their Republican counterparts. In particular, one of Gore’s legal counsels, President Clinton’s Secretary of State Warren Christopher, was portrayed as ineffectual in comparison to candidate Bush’s formidable legal chief, President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker III.

In reaction to his depiction in the movie, Christopher told the New York Times:

He believed the film, “Recount,” was “pure fiction” in its portrayal of him as a weak strategist unprepared to stand up to the aggressive tactics of Baker. Baker agreed, telling the Times that he doubted that the portrayal of Christopher was true. “I don’t think I was as ruthless as the movie portrays me, and I know he was not as wimpish as it makes him appear.”

Yeah, that might be right, but then again, who won the fight over the recount?

The campy scene-stealer and comic relief in the movie was Dern portraying Harris, who gave blue eye shadow and red lipstick bad reputations.

With the 2008 Election Day only 24 weeks away, "Recount" should remind us here in Colorado that we should be paying more attention to the potential problems at the secretary of state’s office over the certification of election machines and voter registration lists.

If the 2008 election goes astray, the biggest question will be: Which actor will get the nod to play Secretary of State Mike Coffman?

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Leslie Robinson

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