There is no time like the present to take a glance back at the unprecedented events in 2000 that resulted in the Supreme Court decision to, in effect, hand the presidency over to George Bush. Not only has Justice Antonin Scalia gone on CBS’ Sixty Minutes to dismiss the lingering contempt by the American people, but now HBO is airing a redux of the whole affair called Recount.
Why the 2000 election? Easy. Bush’s approval ratings are in the toilet and his two-term presidency is probably going to down as one of the worst in recent history. Either way, Bush is out this year and we’re heading into another potentially close election that may or may not come down to Florida.
Recount traces the events, taking the Gore side, from the moment Gore was about to conceded to Bush, through the controversial decision by Bush patsy Katherine Harris to refuse to count the remaining ballots, through the Florida Supreme Court overturning that decision and on through to the US Supreme Court that, in turn, reversed the state court’s ruling, thus putting an end to the election once and for all. Bush was in, Gore was out, lest we forget.
While it’s obvious that this is the story told from losers side, if you happen to be biased that way you’re going to enjoy watching many of these notorious folks get the send up they deserve, Ms. Harris right at the top of the list. As portrayed by Laura Dern, no one got it worse than the former Florida Secretary of State, who became the lightning rod for rage and hatred against the Republicans. Dern nails the character, especially how she paints a big smile on her face once the cameras start rolling.
Also notable here is Kevin Spacey whose understated work serves as a reminder of what a great and skilled actor he is. He gets help from Ed Begley, Jr., another actor who hasn’t been around much lately.
What is perhaps most frustrating about the film is remembering back to when the Florida Supreme Court ordered the recount and gave a September deadline. It seems, looking back, that they were trying to help keep the democratic process alive. But the Republicans had an ace in the hole with the conservative Supreme Court, who then elected our president for us, or so many of us believe.
Recount is not an investigative report and it does not show the Republicans any sympathy. No doubt if this film flipped the parties and told exactly the same story, it is doubtful that the same viewers who feel that an injustice was done to our country would have still felt the same way.Most chilling of all, however, is how the Supreme Court intervened for a “one time only” ruling that would not be held as precedent. In the end, the 2000 election will probably never be fully accepted and the Supreme Court has lost a good deal of credibility for their decision to intervene. Scalia is busy trying to revamp his legacy with a new book. Gore’s legacy is blemish-free. Recount is likely one of the many films that will be made of that fateful year.