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It's anything but politics as usual as ten people from all walks of life compete for a $200,000 purse and some prime TV space to air their grievances.

And you get to decide who.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Montel Williams
Creator: RJ Cutler
EP: RJ Cutler, Tom Lassally, Jay Roach
Packager: Actual Reality Pictures, Kustom
Airs: Sundays at 9:00pm ET on Showtime

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No infringement of copyright is intended by these fan pages; production companies of shows this site covers retain all rights to the sounds, images, and information contained herein. No challenge to copyright is implied. 

Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

"Meet John/Jane Doe" - August 1

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 assignment:

"Every campaign 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 think."

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 race.

But who are the candidates and why the hell should I vote for any of them? Well...

Park Gillespie; 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 issue: abortion. 

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.

Bruce Friedrich; 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 trouble.

Chrissy Gephardt; 31; Washington, DC; social worker and congressional daughter (her dad's VP-candidate-in-the-eyes-of-the-New-York-Post Dick 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 Leadership".

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 driving.

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 Gephardt candidacy!"

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 herself.

Now, from Orbitz, the next mission:

"Congratulations! Now 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 and Chrissy.

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 the race."
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 constituents.

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