HAIL TO THE CHIEF
TREATMENT: A nationally prominent personality mucks up a presidential race by running as an independent.
Lee Westwood, premier news anchor for WKBC-TV, covers a presidential race involving three major candidates, Horace Nelson, a black Republican Four-Star General who has served in two administrations, Rachel Morgan, Democrat, liberal, anti-establishment two-term senator from Oregon, and a third independent, Reverend Ogden Worrell Billibog, televangelist, cable TV owner and founder of the Planetary Village of Divine Light Ministry.
At a Republican rally for Nelson, a mysterious fellow by the name of Nigel Bushman, approaches Westwood with a wish to pass on vital information. Before they can meet at a restaurant, the informer is bushwacked by a SWAT team set up to terminate him because of his alleged wish to assassinate TV news anchors. Westwood discovers that, in fact, Bushman was trying to warn him that Horace Nelson had been in special forces during the Vietnam War, and had been in on the assassination of Pong Wai, the Prime Minister of Laos. Nelson and Bushman were triggermen in the operation, and Nelson has also been involved in other clandestine affairs and political assassinations.
Simultaneously, Westwood discovers that Rachel Morgan, now a widow, is actually a seductress of women. She has had a number of affairs with key wives, most notably, the vice president's wife. Her husband, who reportedly died in a car accident, had really committed suicide when he discovered the awful truth.
Westwood is placed in a dilemma, as in both cases, he cannot prove the accusations, because he has no hard evidence, and his boss, Lawrence Grant, CEO of KBC, afraid to rock the boat, will not allow him to release, what can only be construed as wild and unfounded accusations.
After much soul searching, played as a scene of Westwood swimming alone in a New Hampshire lake to Tony Bennet’s version of If I Ruled the World, Westwood comes to the conclusion that his only recourse, as he sees it, is to run for the presidency himself. He seeks out Samson Packard, a well-known industrialist, to be his running mate.
Unbeknownst to Westwood, Packard is buddies with Alvin Slipcord, the real Howard Hughesian power behind Horace Nelson, and so Packard encourages Westwood to run, while simultaneously ameliorating Horace Nelson's new concerns by telling him that Westwood, by entering the race, will split the liberal vote. This will supposedly insure Nelson's victory. The General goes away in a happy frame of mind, but Packard and Slipcord could care less, because even if Westwood wins, they will still be in power.
Quitting his plush 5.5 mil. job, Westwood bares his soul to the nation telling them the far-reaching plans he has for the country. His platform is powerful and moving.
The televangelist, however, also has a firm constituency. They are a lot of Bible-fearing folk out there who do not trust blacks or liberals. Billibog stands for Family, God, Purity and Country, "like your mom's clean sheets hanging out on the line to dry."
For various reasons, the head of the League of Woman's Voters bars Westwood and Billibog from the great TV debate set up three weeks before the election. As she sees it, they are trying to usurp traditional routes to the presidency, as Billibog lost in the Republican primaries to Nelson and Westwood is a Johnny-come-lately, and so only Rachel Morgan and Horace Nelson meet for this all important encounter.
During the debates, Westwood's replacement at KBC, reveals during the questioning, the various allegations regarding Nelson and Morgan. These revelations, even though "unfounded" and "obvious disinformation" nevertheless severely injures their credibility. The race is now up for grabs.
The night of the election is upon us. After the tally is in, it is discovered that each candidate has approximately 1/4 of the electoral votes, Billibog sweeping the south and Morgan, Westwood and Nelson splitting the big industrial states. Whoever takes California will take the race.
HAIL TO THE CHIEF is a political mystery thriller which holds the audience until the final moment when the outcome of the election is revealed. Its subtext not only portends the future of American presidential politics, but also reveals additional insights into the structure of the hidden powers behind the thrown.
© 2002 Registered with the Writers Guilde.
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