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Politics

HBO Recounts The 2000 Election

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: June 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

It's not a horror movie, although it is Hollywood spin. But to many Floridians, HBO's homage to the 2000 presidential vote-counting debacle will be a cringe-inducing look back at democracy in action in their home state - and it might prompt questions on whether, in this election year, it could happen again.

The flick, debuting May 25, is billed as a behind-the-scenes ride inside the controversial recount that landed George W. Bush in the White House over Al Gore.

The movie opens with voters on Election Day 2000 confused about which hole to punch because of the ballot's two-page "butterfly" design. The plot, mixing fact with fiction, winds through 36 days of drama, ending with the Supreme Court stopping the recount.

HBO says the film is a look at "larger than life personalities" and the "human drama of characters involved in the chain of events that would determine the leadership of the country."

Laura Dern as Katherine Harris

The actress known for her roles in "Blue Velvet" and "Jurassic Park" takes on the role of the oft-lampooned former Florida secretary of state who tried to call the state's presidential primary for Bush. Her portrayal comes complete with the eye-popping wardrobes and makeup that helped Harris get the most out the intense national exposure she seemed to savor. Harris went on to be elected to two terms in Congress but then lost a 2006 bid to unseat Florida's Democratic senator, Bill Nelson.

John Hurt as Warren Christopher

Hurt got a Best Actor Oscar nomination for "The Elephant Man," a guy who occasionally had to play docile to avoid being beaten up by bullies. But in portraying former Secretary of State Christopher, who supervised Gore's team in Florida, Hurt shows someone who really was - at least in this matter - too often hesitant and overly diplomatic. Christopher returned to California, where he remains a senior partner at a Los Angeles area law firm.

Tom Wilkinson as James Baker III

Wilkinson seems to be everywhere nowadays, portraying Benjamin Adams in the recent HBO miniseries "John Adams" and getting an Oscar nomination as a lawyer-gone-awry in "Michael Clayton." Baker, the chief legal adviser for Bush's campaign, is portrayed as a political brawler whose loud and frequent message to the media was that Bush had won in Florida, clear and simple. Behind closed doors, however, Baker fretted over what would happen if the Supreme Court did not intervene to stop the recount. Today, Baker is a senior partner in a law firm.

Matt Miller as Gov. Jeb Bush

Miller's list of screen credits is not long, and his personal blog details struggles to land parts in films, TV shows and ads, and industrial videos. But he is a ringer for President Bush's little brother. "Even though it's small, I am still very excited. Every job is a huge victory!" Miller wrote when he landed the bit role, requiring just one day of shooting. On Election Eve 2000, George Bush famously told Gore his governor-brother had advised that the networks were correctly calling Florida for him. "Your little brother," Gore replied prophetically, "is not the ultimate authority on this." Jeb Bush left office Jan. 2, 2007, because of term limits.

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