the choice 2000
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synopsis
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"The Choice 2000" is a two-hour dual biography of Al Gore and George W. Bush. Filled with rich personal detail and candid observations from wives, old friends, mentors, associates and advisors, this report explores the personality and character of Bush and Gore, while artfully weaving together their background and careers with touchstone events in the lives of their babyboom generation.

Culled from months of reporting and interviews, "The Choice 2000"--produced by Michael Kirk (watch a realvideo interview) and co-written with FRONTLINE correspondent and New Yorker writer Peter J. Boyer--focuses on what is most telling about the lives both candidates chose for themselves.

Behind Al Gore's urge to know more than the other guy and work so relentlessly was his parents' expectation from the day he was born that he would be president. "It was always part of his parents' plan to prepare him for the presidency." says Gore family confidant Dr. James Fleming. FRONTLINE looks at Gore's lifelong problem--what his friends call "his wooden Apollo" image--and also chronicles his malleability on issues and his tendency to exaggerate his accomplishments. "He did it, I think, honestly, to try to connect with the person he was dealing with." says campaign aide Mike Kopp.

In contrast, "Georgie" Bush, as described by cousin John Ellis, was "the rebel in the family." He charted his own course, free from familial expectations and seemed to get by easily and successfully with a likeable personality. He was the classic frat boy in school and college, effectively avoided service in Vietnam by joining the Texas National Guard, and took much longer than Gore to pursue a political career.

FRONTLINE explores how as both men matured, they faced turning points, misteps and controversies: their experiences with substance abuse and drugs; their decisions to enter politics; and how they dealt with the long shadow of their famous fathers.

George W. Bush would draw on his family name, family connections, and own personality to help bail him out of failed ventures in the oil industry. Later, he successfully rebuilt the Texas Rangers baseball team, becoming in the process a millionaire and celebrity. It set him on the road to win the Texas governorship in 1992. During this same period, family expectations pushed Al Gore--a newly elected 39-year old Senator--to enter the presidential race in 1988. Soon after that defeat, a devastating injury to his son forced him to reconsider his life and political ambitions.

"The Choice 2000" concludes with chapters tracing Bush's performance as Texas governor--his leadership and decision-making style--and Gore's 8-years as Vice President. Insiders such as Clinton advisor Dick Morris describe how White House backstage maneuverings affected Gore's first few years in office, and later, how his own political calculations would shape his relationship with Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal.

In following the personal and political journeys of Bush and Gore, "The Choice 2000" offers a revealing portrait of the candidates, and reminds viewers of the political times in which they lived, the decisions they made, and the events that helped shape their character.

"This film is not only the life story of two young men," says producer Kirk. "It's also about America at this moment and the choice we face--a choice that's simply fascinating."



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