"Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." - Josef Stalin.
RECOUNT is another nail in the "democracy" coffin. Even for those who detest politics, this movie unfolds like a thriller rather than a dusty legal doc.
Surely no one in Amerika believes the lie of "One Man One Vote"? Surely no one believes their vote "counts"? It's not that everyone's vote doesn't count. The lowest-rung incompetents empowered with the fate of the country and, by association, the world, do count the majority of votes, sure. But a bigger percentage than would make anyone feel comfortable simply gets thrown out, lost, disqualified, unregistered, purged, re-directed, or - cue duplicity on toast - RECOUNTED.
Back in 2000, Republican liar and nitwit, George W. Bush, stole the American presidency from Democrat man-bear-pig Al Gore on the strength of confusion generated by a disturbingly imperfect, manual voting system exacerbated by disturbingly imperfect manual morons.
Written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach, RECOUNT tells the backstage story of the infamous Florida Recount, from the hanging chad to the purged felons. Well-researched, well-written, well-directed; myriad events on their own separate tracks or classified at the time, now juxtaposed into a cogent story of deceit, apathy, misfeasance and malfeasance that rivals the most twisted pulp fiction Hollywood can rat-spit.
Kevin Spacey is Ron Klain, Al Gore's ex-Chief of Staff, who returns to the Democrat fold when, during the last stages of the 2000 presidential election, a computer glitch necessitates a recount of votes in Florida. The winner in Florida would win the presidency.
Denis Leary is excellent as a Gore strategist and Klain's right-hand; his pivotal scene is explaining the significance of "chad." The chad was the perforated stub that voters had to punch out on their ballot cards. Chad (plural: chad) were notorious for "hanging" from their perforations if they were not fully punched out, and counting machines sometimes re-sealed these "hanging chad" as the cards were fed through. This meant the person's vote did not register. To exacerbate problems, the ballot cards were "butterfly ballot" design, that confused people who rarely use their brains - that would be 90% of voters - many votes accidentally cast for Pat Buchanan's Reform Party.
The Democrats sue for a recount - and the Republicans roll out their big gun lawyer: James Baker (Tom Wilkinson), Reagan's Chief of Staff and George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State. Ed Begley Jr. is dyslexic Democrat lawyer, David Boies, while Bob Balaban plays snide Republican lobbyist and Baker's right-hand, Ben Ginsberg.
In Florida law, if the vote difference between candidates is less than 30,000, every county has to run their ballots through the machines a second time - an automatic recount. Bush versus Gore was so close, an auto recount was assured... But 18 of the 67 counties didn't run their ballots a second time, leaving 1.5 million votes uncounted.
What happens NOW in a "democracy"? Confusion.
Not only were 1.5 mil uncounted; it is well-documented that every time the ballot cards are run through the machines, the total is different - because the chad get pummeled: mangled, resealed, hanging, tearing, swinging, dimpled...
Clueless Katherine Harris (Laura Dern), airheaded Republican Secretary of State of Florida, is called upon to adjudicate the recount.
Every time it looks like the Democrats have lost the Recount legal battle, they get reprieve after reprieve, pushing back the deadline date for recounts, gaining numbers, gaining credibility...
At one point, when hand recounts are called for and the Republicans protest the method, Klain uncovers a statue in Texas that cites hand recounts as the "preferred method" - signed into law by Texas's then-governor - George W. Bush.
It is amazing to realize what a JUDAS WHORE Joe Lieberman was even way back in 2000, while he was on the Vice President's ticket with Gore, no less! Actual footage shows Leiberman on MEET THE PRESS, insisting undated military votes should be counted (swinging the votes in Bush's favor) - after he was expressly advised by Klain that they shouldn't be counted because with no post-mark.
If the country was as non-partisan as this movie, there might have been a different outcome - it's painfully regretful to imagine that one thread of time unravels in that non-W direction, like a sci-fi scenario - but the Republicans overlorded Florida: not only was Harris stultifying recounting; Florida's governor was George W.'s mildly-Special-Olympics brother, Jeb.
Katherine Harris declares Bush winner before anything had been resolved and (true to Republican form) she lies outright: "Democracy has triumphed once again" (though democratic processes were not used).
The Dems escalated the case to the Supreme Court in the now-infamous Bush vs. Gore.
History tells us Bush won, the Supremes decreeing there was just not enough time to recount everything (geez! You'd think each citizen wanted their vote to matter or something!). The actual numbers tell a different story - but we'll never discover it, all the ballot cards with their accusatory chad relegated to a subterranean vault guarded by a Balrog.
Hhere's the stinger for you democracy-lovers and in-denial-amerikans: Florida legislature planned to award the 25 Florida electoral votes to Bush ANYWAY. No matter the outcome of the recount.
Ergo, your vote, counted or not: useless.
Movie ends on a nauseous note - Bush's acceptance speech. The last scene shows Bush and Gore in split screen, acceptance and concession speeches, both ending on the same words, "God bless America." Only one of them meant it.
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