Jon Snow travels to the US to ask who funds the main political parties - and what do they expect in return for that funding?
The United States holds itself up as a beacon of democracy around the world, but with the 2004 elections fast approaching, this short series of films asks, what is the state of democracy in modern-day America?
The forthcoming Presidential election will be the most expensive political fight of all time, anywhere on earth. As the dollars fly, Jon Snow delves into the multi million-dollar battle to become the most powerful man on earth in this, the first film of the season.
Jon travels to Texas, where Bush honed his fundraising skills, to ask just what Bush's early backers expect him to do for them? Oil wasn't the only industry that Bush relied on and Jon talks to the people who are now dealing with the legacy of the Bush governorship.
By 2000 Bush was a past master at fundraising and entered the Presidential race with a war chest big enough to send five of his Republican rivals running for the hills. But just how did "W" get the good people of Texas to part with their cash? Jon talks to long-time political ally of the President, Dan Branch. Dan was one of the first to enter Bush's exclusive "Pioneer" club, an organisation of the fundraising elite that continues to generate Bush's multimillion-dollar Presidential war chests.
But don't imagine the Democrats were any better during their tenure in The White House. Jon talks to Peter Paul, convicted for cocaine possession and fraud. He got inside the Clinton fundraising machine and pumped millions into trying to get the former President to support his latest business venture.
And what of John Kerry, the Democratic challenger who was written off earlier this year because of his inability to raise the money? The Democrats have spotted a loophole that means their supporters can pump unlimited, unregulated millions into campaigning to get rid of Bush. Jon talks to the man whose job it is to regulate the election business, but Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith doesn't see much wrong with the whole set up.
Lobbyist Craig Engle doesn't see much wrong with it either, but then again, Craig's business is to raise money for his firm to buy access to politicians. Jon takes a tour around the Republican Convention party scene with Craig, where lobbyists schmooze the political elite and half-a-million-dollar parties are not unheard of.
But where does that leave the ordinary voter? Well, if you're a 94-year-old grandmother from New Hampshire it leaves you with sore feet. Granny D walked 3200 miles across America to get money out of politics and she's not ready to hang up her trainers quite yet.
Government of the people, by the people and for the people, or a corporate auction where policy goes to the highest bidder? In this film Jon Snow asks, is The White House for sale?
Video - MPEG-1 Video
Audio - MPEG-1 Audio layer 2
File Format - MPEG-PS
Play Time - 49m 9s
Total File Size - 490 MB
Codec - MPEG Video
Frame Width - 352 pixels
Frame Height - 240 pixels
Frame Rate - 29.97 fps
Display Aspect Ratio - 4/3
Scan Type - Progressive
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