Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Recount", an earlier HBO film from Jay Roach, dramatizes the mess in Florida after the 2000 election


Jay Roach has a lively “earlier” HBO drama, “Recount”, from 2008, giving a dramatic chronicle of the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election and the debacle in Florida.

Kevin Spacey places the lead Democrat boss Ron Klain, and Laura Dern is memorable for the stubborn Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.  Gore and Joe Liebermann play themselves.  You already want Gore to move on to global warming when you hear his voice.

I remember that night well.  I was living in Minneapolis, and active with the Libertarian Party.  There was an early even returns party at a bar in St. Paul, where I heard NBC project that Florida had gone for Gore. I jumped in my Ford Escort, somehow still a bit uneasy, and drove through  a wet snow, whitening the grassy areas and the first of the fall, toward another party in Eden Prairie.  I got lost, and came upon a railroad crossing somewhere in the southern suburbs.  Just as I stopped, I heard that the early projection on Florida had been rescinded.  Sometime after arriving at another bar in the suburbs, Florida went for Bush.

In the coming weeks, the media would cover nothing else but the recount controversy.  I remember having the TV turned to it on CNN, while working at my Windows 98 computer across the living room, from my pad in the Churchill Apartments in downtown Minneapolis, with the glorious view of the Post Office.  (I wasn’t high enough to look across it to the Mississippi River.)  It’s a period in my life that I remember well.
The early months of the Bush administration would sound innocuous enough (it did snow in Washington inauguration night), but we didn’t start to sense the dread that would come until summer.   (I went to a snowboarding party with Pride Alive on inauguration day, a Saturday.)   It would turn out to be a bizarre time in my own life.

The film becomes synoptic (with no "good news") toward the end, as the Supreme Court intervenes in the notorious “Bush v. Gore”,  and the Court even said that this was a “one time only” action.  Yes, the revolution was bloodless now.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be so in nine months. The film has some neat visuals as to how voting cards, machines, and "chads" work. 

I was surprised to hear that the GOP machine apparently conspired to keep those with names resembling those of convicted felons from voting. The rest of the history (like the Butterfly Ballot, which Democrats designed) was familiar. 

The official site is here


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