by BEN KROMER & r & & r & Recount & r & & r & (HBO, June 19 at midnight; on DVD Aug. 19) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & R & lt;/span & ecount deserves credit for not being half as partisan as a reasonable person would expect a dramatic reenactment of the 2000 election hullabaloo to be. And it's made as dramatic as possible, including a chase scene with a chubby guy falling while chasing after Al Gore, gasping "Mr. Vice President, don't concede yet!" Featuring Kevin Spacey as Gore's point man and Laura Dern as Katherine Harris, Recount ends on an image stolen (ha-ha!) from Raiders of the Lost Ark with Florida ballots standing in for the ark of the covenant. Then Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" plays over the credits. Having heard the complaints for nearly eight years, I believe the whining has now reached its highest, most artistic form. So maybe now if we all watch the HBO movie, we'll never have to hear about it again. Please.

Recount is full of people watching television and looking aghast while too busy to cast aspersions at the TV. Of course, the rest of us have plenty of time for blaming the boob tube for what ails society; just last week in this column, Luke Baumgarten took the national news media to task for being mere entertainment and for just being lousy at their jobs. That's fair and accurate and I can't argue against it, but here's a different perspective.

I remember watching my dad watching Peter Jennings at 6 pm every night, but now Jennings is dead and there's nothing attaching me to the establishment media. That's relevant because people seem to have all kinds of revelations about the media nowadays. And they're acting as if they've been betrayed: "The mainstream media is biased," they say. "The MSM doesn't report the Real News. The MSM is just entertainment."

Sure, but there's a big assumption here -- that something has changed. I think it has always been this way. It's just that now, in our meta-culture, it's obvious to everyone. Baby boomers don't want to feel as if they've been bamboozled for the last few decades and were too helpless to realize it without the kids' Internet helping spell it out for them.

That's my theory anyway. Another is that the MSM is run by James Bond villains like the one in Tomorrow Never Dies. But my version is more plausible.


Penn and Teller: Bull!

An episode showing how statistics can be used to screw with people's heads should be required viewing for everyone since the practice will be employed frequently between now and the November election. Or else follow my example and mutter "bull..." every time you hear numbers you don't like. (Showtime, Fridays, 10 pm)

AFI's 10 Top 10

Another shameful American Film Institute list fest, this one featuring 10 selections from each of 10 genres -- and apparently "Courtroom Drama" is a genre. (CBS, Tuesday, 8 pm)

Russian Roulette

A game show as disingenuous as A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, with the four participants playing knowing that at any moment they could ... drop through a trap door. And not into a bottomless pit or spikes or anything like that. Pretty weak. (GSN, Saturday, 4 pm and 10 pm)


Part One of a three-part series on the life of the British prime minister, who was known for drinking, smoking and not taking any guff from Hitler. Yet late in life, Sir Winston felt like a failure because the Empire was declining and the Cold War was rising. (PBS, Sunday, 3 am)

Vandal Summer Cinema Series

Fridays, Sat., Aug. 21 and Thu., Aug. 26. Continues through Aug. 20
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