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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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"The Allentown Conference" - August 15

I was going to make a Billy Joel reference here, but I did that last week, so I will just say that last week, Keith and Lisa ran the board on their bids for American Candidate, while Bob was shot in the foot and ousted on a 7-0 bender. Who had the gun in his hand? Bob Vanech. Now the campaign leaves the quiet political majesty of Keene, NH, and heads to Allentown, PA.

First stop: press conference. Topics: Jobs & the Economy. Montel warns the candidates to get ready for some tough questions. Here to help is Tony Fabrizio, a chief Republican strategist and a political analyst to all the major news networks, who will offer that in order to increase the effectiveness of your message, you need to say something provocative. He will also offer his services to whoever scores highest on today's exit poll.

Now to the press conference, which Joyce likens to a barbecue pit. "We could be grilled, all of us." Seemed like Lisa was getting some lightning, but Joyce came in with the thunder, calling for the repeal of NAFTA and GAP. Richard agrees that business is better left to local authority, not federal mishandling, to which Park replies, "Laissez-faire economics don't work."

Meanwhile, a reporter gives Joyce more sparks to turn into provocative fire. Looks like we may have a serious frontrunner for Mr. Fabrizio's services, although Lisa thinks that the way she put herself forward, singling out China, were really offensive. "Let her talk more and let the people decide if that's the kind of leadership they want."

Tony nods in approval as Keith, the only openly gay candidate in attendance (if you remember, Chrissy was voted off on episode 1), fields a question from a likewise reporter in the crowd. Park rebuts with his usual "love the sinner, hate the sin" demeanor, which gives Tony the shakes... of his head. Something tells me that that will either be Park's saving grace or his coup de grace. And James (Park's CM) agrees with me. Park's rebuttal: "What do you have to do with Anne Heche? What do you do?"

What DO you DO? Next, an excerpt from a local newscast. Park gets support from at least one guy... who doesn't even agree with him. Keith gets support from the GL community of Allentown, while Joyce drums up the working crowd.

Meanwhile, we get this crawl: Do you agree with Park that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice"? Text "Y" or "N" to SHOTV (74688). In the immortal words of Ryan Seacrest, "standard text message rates apply".

Tony was pleasantly surprised by the effort of our candidates. But then he jumps on Park for changing the subject "of his own volition". He warns him not to fight battles that don't benefit you but benefit your opponent. He praises Joyce for her message, but docks her points on delivery. "If you would've done that and you were really running for President, you would've been pelted by egg rolls. You sounded like a borderline racist." Of Malia's wardrobe choices? "You need to dress more like a candidate." Of Tony's suggestion: "That's bulls(^_^)!"

Now, the next exit poll result gives Tony to... Keith with 46 percent. Surprise surprise. Now we go to public vote. As with last week, each candidate is given a phone number. Each candidate has until 4pm local time to get others to dial it. The highest poll-getter is the new frontrunner. The two lowest poll-getters will debate, and one of them will drop out of the race. And, in case you didn't know this, Pennsylvania is larger than Keene, so none of this retail crap. We're talking TV, radio, newspapers, whatever you have to do.

Polls are now open. "Boy, it's getting hot in here," Richard says. You said it, bro. Tony takes Team Boykin upstairs and drops a hard lesson: "You need to play the strongest card you have." That would be the card he played at the press conference. That would be the gay black man card... IN ATTACK MODE!

Next idea: radio. There's one rock station, WZZO "The Valley's Rock Station", and WAEB, what Lisa calls "a conservative talk radio station." Lisa calls up ZZO.. and scores with station manager Tori for 8:30. Jim tries the talk radio host Gunther and immediately gets the question that is pretty much the hardest to answer to a talk jock: "Why should I have you on my show?". He said he'd think about it. Meanwhile Tori needs to find "the exact opposite of Lisa". And she does... in Joyce. Meanwhile Gunther gets Park on the air.

Malia avoids the radio scene altogether, sticking to her grassroots... roots. Tonight, she hits the hip-hop clubs with Keith. "And I'm NOT going to look very presidential!" Maybe a presidential daughter... Keith thinks that Malia got more votes that night, because if you have a choice between a man and an attractive woman, you'd vote for, of course, the attractive woman.

Next morning, it's the radio shows. But first, Keith makes up for a less-than-stellar showing in the clubs last night by running to Philadelphia. Malia follows suit to go to union meetings. But for now, back to the radio, where Park, Bruce, and Richard square off on talk radio. Bruce... Dead man walking.. or clucking as the case may be as he brings up the Animal Welfare Act. Here's another statistic... the wireless poll results: 30 percent say that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. Back to the game, as Park gets Gunther's favor, promising that the number will be repeated on air over and over again until it charts #38 on the R&R Top 40. Not only that, Park also gets a record deal that will extend his reach to "Harrisburg and points west and north."

Jim on the other hand, is in the shopping centers trying to get his word out. Trying being the operative word, of course.

Seven hours to go, and Joyce and Lisa are on Bearman and Keith over at ZZO. Joyce rides her high (somewhat unsuccessfully, knowing the Bearman, but she recovers), and it seems like Lisa wants to ride it with her. "Don't me too everything that you find that works for me," Joyce complains. One thing Lisa has that Joyce doesn't? Short skirt legs. No offense, Joyce.

Six hours to go, and Keith is still on the road to the Illadelph. The camp begins to think that this is a useless trip. Malia has the same traffic woes, but she decides to turn around. Meanwhile back in Allentown, Lisa gets screen time on channel 69, which she has no problem with. Bruce, on the other hand, had a news camera on their tails, when they capture anotehr guy saying "Drop a bomb, lay a parking lot." Kayla (Bruce's CM) does her part by dressing scantily and letting people look at her cleaves as long as they vote for Bruce.

Keith FINALLY makes it to Philly... and now only has one hour to do some damage. He decides to make up two flyers: one for the blacks and one for the gays. Unfortunately, due to a mix-up, Keith hands out the black flyers to the gays and vice versa. Potential beatdown, I think.

Three minutes left... and we're done. Richard's cry: "I will NOT BE ELIMINATED!" That's the spirit, now take your ass back to the War Room. Bruce says that he'll be surprised if Park and Lisa are not the top two. Well we have the results right here...

Second: Park and Lisa (tied, 18% each) - Park is surprised. Pleasantly or not... God only knows.
Fourth: Joyce (14%)
Fifth: Keith (9%) - he learns that you can't just talk to blacks, you can't just talk to gays, you have to talk to everyone.
Sixth: Richard (7%)

Malia (4%) and Jim (3%) face elimination, while Bruce, with 24 percent of the vote, is your new frontrunner. Needless to say, the three get ready for the next day's elimination debate. Jim sees this as the only time he can come straight at the "liberal guys". He does this with car talk. Meanwhile Joyce doesn't want anyone to come at her trying to sway her vote. Too bad for both candidates. "This one is going to be decided at the debate, for sure."

So it's the liberal of the liberal versus the conservative of the conservative. It's the stuff that the 60s are made of. My take: if it comes down to a tie, Malia may have a slight upperhand with Bruce being the frontrunner. Joyce will definitely be a swing.

Malia's CM tells her to go slower, while Jim tries to get pumped while going over past tapes. Malia needs to look more like a president today, Tony suggested, so... she tries... She doesn't like it, but she tries.

The debate: Jim believes in a new patriotism for a new century, and he will fight for "politics we can be proud of". Malia wants to make democracy accessible for all. She doesn't agree with Jim's values, and she's not above saying that Republicans are puppets for big business. Jim doesn't agree with her values. Bruce asks where the two place animals. Malia says she agrees with him. Jim still needs to learn, and has no problems admitting so. Bruce asks Jim how he would get the 50 percent who didn't vote in 2000 to the polls. He supports initiatives on the state level, while Malia suggests to repeal voter disenfranchisement laws. Overall, it's your standard far-lefty vs. far-righty cut-and-paste debate, and it hasn't swayed me as a voter in any one direction. Time to vote.

Bruce: "Jim, you're one of the most optimistic guys I've ever met, but I'm really worried about your politics." (MALIA)
Richard: "JIM, you are the best candidate in this debate."
Park: "I think JIM's ideas are best for the country."
Keith: "MALIA, you know I got your back."

The next two votes worry me, Lisa the rival and Joyce the swing.

Lisa: "MALIA and I share the same vision, and I'm very proud of my decision."

Joyce's vote is not recorded. But we do have a result. The rules state that Bruce breaks any and all ties as frontrunner... but there was no tie this time. The vote is 4 to 2 in favor of Malia, and Jim is off the ballot.

Malia's going to look and sound more presidential in the coming weeks. This she promises. It would've make a wider margin, as Richard says that Malia would've gotten his vote were it not for her tongue ring. In the end, Joyce sees past the tongue ring and sees to her heart. That's why she got her vote. As for Park, the sole conservative in the race, "I've got a target the size of Texas on me."

Jim says he's given it 110 percent. "I'll be back because I want to see our leaders meet the high standards of our everyday heroes who make this country work." Well put.

Next time, we head to Virginia, where candidates must get votes the old fashioned way. None of this two-way, text message, cell phone bull. We're talking little slips of paper with your name on it, and you want as much of those as you can get your grubby little hands on.

And again, because this is the first time we have the blurb on screen, if you want to learn more about the candidates, log on to See you soon!

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