Convention floor. The roll-call vote of the states is under way. Most of the undecided superdelegates decide not to decide until they can see which way the wind’s blowing. A handful of pledged delegates switch sides at the last minute, and each one immediately gets his fifteen minutes on every network. With about 250 superdelegates staying on the sidelines, the first ballot ends with no nominee and Barack ahead of Hillary by 137 delegates.
Gore tells Dean he wants to address the convention.
Dean: Sure, Al. No problem. Right after you tell Hillary and Barack what a great job VP is and persuade one of them to take it.
Barack goes to the men’s room and finds an undecided superdelegate, Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, at the urinal beside him. Barack knows he doesn’t have much time to take advantage of this situation, so he gets right to the point and offers Brown his seat on the Foreign Relations Committee when he becomes president. Brown says he doesn’t want Foreign Relations, he wants to go where the money is: Finance or Appropriations. They both know even the president can’t help you get on those committees. Brown zips up and leaves Barack with his dick in his hand.
Michelle runs into General Wesley Clark, who’s having trouble getting into the convention hall because he forgot his credentials. She has her Secret Service detail intervene to get him in. Clearly dazzled by Michelle, Clark thanks her profusely, tells her he’s a big fan. Michelle jokes that she didn’t think she had a lot of fans on the Clinton campaign.
Clark (almost apologetically): I’m from Arkansas, I owe Bill Clinton a lot. Hillary asked for my advice on military issues, so I …
Michelle spots an uncommitted superdelegate, Rhode Island senator Jack Reed, and drops Clark to chase Reed.
On the second ballot, there is surprisingly little delegate movement and no winner. But Al Gore gets six votes, including one from the fat man, who goes with his heart this time.
With Dean still denying him the microphone, Gore does a march across the convention floor that gets him mobbed by worshipful delegates shaking his hand and getting their pictures taken with him.
Dean rushes the convention to a third ballot before Gore can build up momentum. Hillary and Barack go to the floor and desperately work the delegates during the roll call of the states. As they beg for votes, network camera crews are pushing through the crowds to get live close-ups of Hillary and her surrogates (Bill, Clark, Dianne Feinstein) and Barack and his surrogates (Michelle, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd) in full suck-up mode with every delegate they talk to. No presidential candidates have ever looked so desperate.
CLOSE ON Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus sitting quietly with the Montana delegation, watching Hillary and Barack working the floor. Baucus is disgusted by the circus the convention has become.
The third ballot is a big setback for Gore, who loses half his voters and ends up with three. The Gore surge is over. Delegates get friskier this time. There are two votes for Eliot Spitzer, one for Jimmy Carter (Carter actually has to swear to Bill O’Reilly that he did not vote for himself), eleven for Barney Frank, and one for Keith Olbermann. The Frank voters happily do network interviews explaining what a joy it is to actually cast convention votes to nominate a gay man on the same night that they already cast votes to nominate a woman and a black man.
Dean finds Barack and tells him Hillary wants to meet with him one-on-one. Barack’s campaign guru David Axelrod says no way, she wants to offer you VP. Michelle agrees: Don’t do it. Barack turns down the meeting, then tells Dean he wants a meeting with Hillary. Dean’s confused: So what is it? You want the meeting or you don’t want the meeting?
Barack: I just turned down Hillary’s meeting. And now I’m inviting Hillary to my meeting.
Dean tries to pretend that what he just heard isn’t crazy. He turns to leave. Barack tells him to be sure to tell Hillary that he turned down her meeting before inviting her to his meeting. Dean exits.
Axelrod: So you offer her the VP, then—
Michelle: She won’t take it.
Axelrod: I know. Then we leak that she turned it down and—
Michelle: I got a better idea.
Dean tells Hillary that Barack wants the meeting (without mentioning that Barack turned down her meeting and that this will be his meeting). Bill is shocked that Axelrod is letting Barack do the meeting.
Dean: Believe me, it wasn’t easy to persuade him to do it.
Bill: Something’s wrong with this picture.
Dean: I had to twist his arm. I—
Bill: You? Twist arms? Bullshit. (to Hillary) Barack wants to offer you VP. Dueling press conferences afterward—who offered who the VP slot. Forget it. It’d be a fiasco. The meeting’s off.
Dean: The meeting was your idea!
Hillary: Good-bye, Howard.