"Meet John/Jane Doe" -
Millionaire? Cake walk. Pop star? Too easy. Scion to a
real estate magnate? *Yawn*. Trophy girlfriend? Please.
How about trying your
hand at leader of the free world? Sounds tough,
especially if you didn't have the right age, sex,
education, race, or financial backing.
Or does it? Enter
"American Candidate", a televised mock election season,
where 10 people, who all believe that they have what it
takes, will campaign for votes in hopes of winning a
President's annual income: $200,000. Each week, the
candidates will take part in campaigning and other
activities to test their mettle as presidential
hopefuls, and each week, the weakest one will be forced
to drop out of the race until there are two. Then the
power goes to you, the viewer.
Okay, so it's still
tough, but those who think that they can do a better job
than the guys from the last 30 years finally get a
chance to try.
Sun Tzu: "A journey of
1000 miles begins with one single step." First step:
Announcing that you're running. The step is being taken
in 10 different cities across the country. Each hopeful
is getting one briefcase, one megaphone, and one sticker
saying "(Name of hopeful) for AMERICAN CANDIDATE". But
back to the briefcase, which contains each person's
begins with an announcement. Find a place to make yours
and gather as many people as you can. If you can't turn
out a crowd, you may be out of the race sooner than you
The candidates have
chosen their campaign managers for the race ahead,
someone they know and trust. Together, the candidate and
his or her manager have 36 hours to turn out a crowd in
their hometown. They can use press, friends, families,
whatever they have to do to drum up support. The largest
crowd will be declared the Frontrunner. The two
candidates with the smallest crowds will have to face
off in an elimination debate in order to stay in the
But who are the
candidates and why the hell should I vote for any of
38; Stanly, NC; schoolteacher and father of four: His
philosophy? "Love the Lord our God with all my heart and
soul, and from that fulfill everything else." His main
Lisa Witter; 31;
Everett, WA; PR VP: She says she's garish but not
overdone, like her rally location. She came from a
working class family. She knows what the working class
go through. She fights to clean up the environment and
for women's rights. "I am a pro-capitalist progressive
candidate." You know, as opposed to a "flaming liberal".
Richard Mack; 51;
Provo, UT; former sheriff: He's just excited to have the
place right now. He respects the right of the people to
keep and bear arms, and has successfully sued against
the Clinton administration over the Brady Bill.
Joyce Riley; 55;
Arkansas City, KS; talk radio host and Gulf War veteran:
One of her main issues is veterans' rights, especially
sickly and/or dying Gulf War veterans. That's why she
plans to hold her rally at the VFW. Too bad all the
rooms are tied.
34; Norfolk, VA; animal rights activist: "Fair trade
organic songbird-safe coffee" fuels this greener, as do
recessed memories of seeing starving Ethiopians when he
was 12. He directs vegan issues at PETA... the real one,
as opposed to "People Eating Tasty Animals".
Malia Lazu; 26;
Boston; youth organizer: She's just flying off the
handle right now. She started Boston Vote while still in
college. "If I can't energize communities to believe in
democracy again, we're lost!"
Bob Vanech; 35;
LA; entrepreneur: He's on the phone with everyone to get
logistics in order. He has big ideas and knows how to
make big things happen.
An update: Joyce is
still trying to find a room at 30 hours to zero-hour.
"This is why people drop out of being an activist. You
gotta go against the grain all the time."
Keith Boykin; 38;
New York City; author and gay rights activist: He spent
two years working in the Clinton administration. Sorry,
guys. He's taken. Although his partner is his campaign
manager, and if you've ever seen any episode of the
first season of 24, you know that can only lead to
31; Washington, DC; social worker and congressional
daughter (her dad's
Gephardt): She can't even remember a time when she
wasn't involved with politics. She's openly gay, so she
has a perspective on diversity. And she's nailed the
Kennedy endorsement. That's cash.
An update: Bob is still
on the phone AND trying to create a launch speech in
haiku. All over Jefferson. Chrissy, Bruce, and Lisa are
sending e-mails out, while Park gets his banners ready.
24 hours to go... Keith
Googles himself... and BINGO! Good for him, bad for
Chrissy, who stumbles onto the same press release. Her
campaign manager tries to fight fire with fire (and
water). See, they have two gay men, right? So why not a
lesbian and a gay man? That makes sense, right? Bottom
line: they can't wait anymore. This is all happening in
real time, so they must strike now.
And there's one more
candidate we haven't heard from yet. James Strock;
47; San Francisco; author: "I've been a Republican,
almost since I could THINK of these things." He wrote
"Reagan on Leadership" and "Theodore Roosevelt on
22 hours to go... and
Joyce is still struggling to save the world out of the
room she doesn't yet have. Hopefully she can find some
people from the American Legion. In the middle of a
bingo game. She's obviously moved and touched by her
cause. "We will not stop!"
Park says grace before
dinner... as day two arrives. It's 6am... 12 hours to
go. Time to hit the radio. James goes to KGO, where he
admits to being clean and sober. Good for him. Then
comes the other question: "Boxers or briefs?" James
bluntly says, "I don't go there."
After a radio jam with
Maria, we go back to Arkansas City, where Joyce gets a
donation slip... and a building! It's a hangar. That's
big building. Now she needs food, volunteers, and
flyers... all in seven hours.
Four hours to go, and
Bob gets off his phone, but can't work his megaphone. He
drums up support from the gun shows and the mad handlers
down on Muscle Beach. Bruce on the other hand, sells the
public on vegan pizza.
Three hours to go, and
Richard hopes to get support from gun shops. He does..
by buying up stock. Meanwhile, Chrissy goes way beyond
the cut-off point and hopes that people will show.
One hour to go... and
Park needs to lie down while everything else comes
together. For the rest, it's time to primp. For Joyce,
it's time to worry and fear that no one will show up.
For Malia, it's time to wish that her family was there.
For Chrissy, it's time to meet Dad. For Bob... back-seat
Park's rally is the
first we see, followed by Keith's, Chrissy's, Richard's,
Lisa's, James's, Joyce's, Bruce's, Malia's, and finally,
Bob's. Each pretty much sums up their platform for
American Candidate. Even Dick Gephardt gets in on it:
"This Gephardt candidacy's gonna do better than the last
And Park scares the hell
out of me now. But for the most part, there is not one
failure amongst the crowd. Although Joyce may doubt
Now, from Orbitz, the
that you made your announcement, it's time to go to
work. All presidential campaigns live or die. The road
to the White House begins in New Hampshire. Welcome to
the campaign trail!"
Live free or die, baby.
Next stop, Keene, New Hampshire, where the candidates
must now await their fate. They meet Montel at campaign
headquarters, but for one of them, this is as far as
they go. The rallies were the first campaign challenge.
Now, the results of this challenge:
Park: 407 - Frontrunner
Bruce: 375 - #2
Lisa: 278 - #3
Keith: 259 - #4
Joyce: 225 - #5
Malia: 203 - #6
Richard: 168 - #7
Bob: 159 - #8
Chrissy: 147 - #9
James: 54 - #10
So James and Chrissy
will face off in the first elimination debate. The rest
of them votes to eliminate either one of them. Everyone
was surprised that Chrissy was so far down. Time to face
off with Richard to convince the candidates why they
should be in the race, all the while putting her loss
behind her. Lisa thinks that it's a good move to go to
Chrissy. Park is leaning toward Jim. Malia paints the
larger picture: liberals (Chrissy) versus conservatives
(Richard). Bruce and Joyce are also leaning toward
Chrissy in that respect. On the other hand, Keith's
manager feels like voting against Chrissy would benefit
him in the long run.
Now, the debate: At the
end, the fellow candidates will vote for who gets to
stay. Each candidate will speak to the others on one
issue that is important to them. Jim argues that the
withdrawal of troops in Iraq should be accelerated.
Chrissy supports partial birth abortions and strikes
down constitutional amendments banning gay marriage,
which begins a back-and-forth tete-a-tete between Jim
Time to vote. We're
using an actual voting machine, so no hanging chads
here. The vote to keep a candidate on is five.
Park: JIM - "He best
articulates what I stand for."
Lisa: CHRISSY - "The values of the American people are
much more important."
Bruce: CHRISSY - "She wants to empower people."
Bob: JIM - "I just felt like Chrissy couldn't joust."
Richard: JIM - "You most represent my values and views."
Keith: CHRISSY - "We need more progressive candidates in
Joyce: JIM - "The only reason I'm voting for Jim is that
I'm voting against Chrissy."
4-4 tie. In case of a
tie, the frontrunner will cast the deciding ballot, and
Chrissy's about to join her father in the Loser's
Lounge. He plays the partial-birth abortion in attack
mode, and uses his daughter in the argument. Sure
enough, Chrissy Gephardt is off the ballot. All that is
left for her now is a note saying "I love you 'gurl' and
I am so proud of you no matter what happens -John"
(campaign manager). In the end, she says it all came
down to a difference of view.
And so it begins... Next
time, the candidates meet the faces of their