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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (Documentary)

Unprecedented – The 2000 Presidential Election  (Documentary)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Documentary: B+



There is no doubt about it.  Too many things seem to be in unnecessary downswings lately, especially since the events of 9/11.  However, the problems we are seeing now were in play well before those catastrophic events, going back to the bitter and ever-disturbing events of the 2000 election.  After watching Unprecedented – The 2000 Presidential Election, the situation turns out to be far worse than was first thought or reported.


On the surface, it seemed a simple case of two big political parties having a catfight about who won the White House and voters-be-damned.  The country sort of went without a president after Election Day for weeks, though Bill Clinton would not be stepping down until inauguration day.  The news focused on the problematic way election ballots were handled in Florida, some of which (purposely) were using very backwards and antiquated paper ballots.  The way they were punched, where they were punched, how they were punched, if chads did or did not hang from the punching, and how they were counted became the celebrated ugliness of the period.  However, this turned out to be a distraction from the real problem.


Essentially, the documentary thoroughly maps out how Florida under Jeb Bush hired an outside firm in an exclusive contract without any additional competition or bidders, and at roughly 20 times the normal price, to make a list of “convicts” from Texas (!) and other areas of people that should be denied their right to vote.  It did not matter how specific the information was, as long as it was close enough, it would eliminate over 90,000 voters, especially if they were Democrat or African-American.  The records even listed convictions from crimes committed in 2007!  Add in the previous ballot debate to distract from this one, add the issue of military ballots, the intervention of the United States Supreme Court, top it with big money, and you have a disaster!


The full-screen image is from analog video and is transferred about as well as it can be.  This includes roughly 40-minutes of extras footage in the supplement that should have been part of the feature.  Besides all the on-camera interviews, much care has been taken to explicitly show vital documents and illustrate certain images with print words.  That makes this already stunning content even more pointed.  The sound is PCM CD 16bit/44kHz 2.0 Stereo, but it is very light stereo, but this is still clearer than most DVD-issued documentaries with their Dolby 2.0 tracks.


Directors Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler manage to dispel one other cover-up over the election, the blame game.  Democrats/(Neo-)Liberals can complain with great validity that George Bush stole the election in a criminal way that assures he will never totally be able to be considered a legitimate president and is wrecking the country.  Republican/Neo-Conservatives can forever cry Sore/Loserman (a send-up of the Gore/Liberman campaign), but never be able to totally defend their president except to say, “He’s there”.  With all the many ugly, true revelations this surprisingly unbiased work offers is what it says about Al Gore.


Even the press material goes lite on the former Vice President, but the film goes farther and probably not far enough.  Gore made many mistakes in his campaign, including ignoring the better part of the Clinton Legacy, trying to “ethnically cleanse” himself of it and suddenly become a high moral figure.  He suddenly also developed multiple personalities, was arrogant in his handling of the Green Party’s Ralph Nader, whose biggest contributor was the extremely pro-Neo-Conservative Richard Mellon Scaife, and his constituency became narrower and narrower the more he sold out to Wall Street.  He even lost his home state.  Some of this is not even in the documentary, but very relevant in what it says.


Who was advising this man?  Where was his leadership?  The last straw turned out to be his inability to go to Florida and defend the African-American voters who were denied their guaranteed right to vote, many of whom did not have the big money to make large contributions to any campaign.  Note that this is something Nader could never do or be in the position of doing.  Of course, his supporters also missed the boat here, too distracted by their own power and arrogance, also helping Bush more than they ever imagined.  If he thought this would save his political future, he was wrong again.  The time to act came and went, at the same time the failed media’s did.


Finally, it is striking how many of the interviewees were authentically shocked that the current Bush and company pulled of such a coup of the Presidency.  This was also surprising, as The Iran-Contra Affair was not that long ago, and happened to involve his father.  That point NEVER comes up in this documentary, which makes that its biggest flaw, including in the extra footage.  Despite that, it is still a remarkable work that shows why in 2004, the American People need to go back to being the American Voter again.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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