Commander in Chief/First Scandal
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First Scandal is the seventh episode of the first season of Commander in Chief, and the seventh episode overall.
The VP confirmation process is derailed as a tell-all book from an unnamed source draws public attention to the troubled beginning of the Mackenzie Presidency.
Guest Stars: Natasha Henstridge (Jayne Murray), Matt Barr (Mike Fleming), Donzaleigh Abernathy (Reporter #1), Anthony Azizi (Vince Taylor), Eyal Podell (Eli), Hira Ambrosino (Laura), Peter Coyote (Warren Keaton), Chris Ufland (Thibideau), Tim Tracy (Staffer Andrew), Dean Shelton (Ricky), Cole Petersen (Hunter Keaton), Larissa Larenne (Giddy Girl), Lazarus Jackson (Secret Service Agent), Rey Herrera (Reporter Luis), Kim Hawthorne (Special Agent Powers), James Edson (News Anchor), Glenda Morgan Brown (Abigail Keaton), Zylan Brooks (Melissa), Pamela Dunlap (Gilda Rockwell), Mike Binder, Ismael 'East' Carlo (Congressman Ferrer), Will Lyman (Teddy Bridges), Mark Thompson (Gordon Blake), Scott Atkinson (Steve - Reporter), Jenna Gavigan (Jenny), John Sloan
On the eve of Warren Keaton's confirmation hearings, Mackenzie's plan to issue her first Executive Order is in threat of being sidetracked by word of a forthcoming book by Evan Hutchins. While not entirely accurate, as it includes an annecdote that Kelly had an affair with George Clooney, Stolen Presidency does go into specific details on how President Bridges asked Mackenzie to step aside.
Thinking that they have several days to research the book's source and its accuracy, Mackenzie instead focuses on her forthcoming Executive Order. However, on closer reading of the book and its implications, she realizes that Bridges had begun a plan long ago to have her marginalized and then removed. The amount of detail it goes into restricts the number of possible 'inside sources' to very few people. Rod is convinced that Jim Gardner is the leak, as he is one of the few who had access to the private conversations it details. When Hutchins produces the unused resignation letter that Mackenzie had drafted on the day of Bridges' death, she directly asks Jim if he is the leak. Denying it but sensing the distrust, he notifies her that he will resign. Jim does relate that perhaps President Bridges may have been the inside source as he had a long history of using Hutchins as a vehicle for leaked information and an agenda against Mackenzie Allen. Her trust reaffirmed, Mackenzie has his resignation letter returned to him unopened.
Keaton weathers the confirmation hearings well as having an extremely high public opinion rating. He defuses several pointed questions from Nathan Templeton with humor and solid answers, including a line of questioning about following orders and how it relates to Mackenzie following Bridges order for her to step down. Behind closed doors, Templeton meets with hearing members Congressmen Wilcox and Ferrer. Wilcox, an old confidant of Keaton, passes along an unmentioned secret regarding Keaton's deceased single parent daughter for Ferrer to present during the confirmation. At the appropriate time, Ferrer begins this line of questioning but Templeton steps in before it goes too far to call a recess. Meeting with the quietly angry Keaton afterwards, Templeton relates that he doesn't want to let the confirmation devolve into personal attacks and will instead issue a quorum call. With his high approval ratings, an up and down vote will essentially guarantee Keaton the VP seat without the remainder of a messy confirmation. Noting that he owes Templeton a favor, they part amicably and Keaton is confirmed to be the next Vice President.
Rod's decision to take the job with the Baseball Commission brings to light challenges it will bring, including long time away from home. Rod takes a very active role in advising Mackenzie on the issues with the book as well as heading up the administration's team investigating it for inaccuracies. She makes a plea for him to stay at her side, hoping to find a role that he'll find more fitting.
Horace continues to perform poorly in school, receiving a bad grade on a report that requires the signature of a parent which he solves by using an automated signature. Rebecca's relationship with Mike goes a bit too far while they are alone at a party. Rebecca calls for a stop to it, which Mike does, but he has secretly recorded it all on video.
Addressing the critical issue of the Bridges call for her resignation, Mackenzie calls a press conference to announce that her first Executive Order will be an education program offering interest free student loans known as the Bridges Student Loan Program. She then has a candid and throrough round table discussion with the reporters on how President Bridges didn't have the authority to ask her to step down and that she would remain in office unless the people, by way of their representative, wanted her to leave.
- Vince Taylor, worried about the results of a random drug test, confides to Jim that he has HIV and has been keeping it a secret. Jim reassures him that the presence of HIV related medicine will fall under the privacy provisions.
- Chief of Staff Jim Gardner is have an intimate relationship with Jayne Murray, Templeton's Chief of Staff.
- Although it is properly announced that Keaton's confirmation was the third to have been conducted (two historical and this fictional one), the 25th Amendment has been invoked four times. Gerald Ford was confirmed to replace Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973, and a year later Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed to replace Ford after he assumed the Presidency, replacing Nixon after he resigned. It has been invoked two times since, to cover Ronald Reagan in 1985 and George W. Bush in 2002 for colonoscopy procedures.
- The autopen featured in the episode is remarked to have been used since Kennedy. However, President Truman is believed to have been the first to use one.
Behind the Scenes
Allusions and References
- Mackenzie: Why would Teddy want to paint me so badly?
Jim: I think he saw you as someone whose presence was becoming larger than the Presidency itself, and he was right. The difference is that he thought that you were a threat to his legacy, that you were overshadowing, and I thought...I thought you yourself were the legacy.
- Reporter Luis: Madame President, did President Bridges call on you from his deathbed to resign?
Mackenzie: You all want to know about this book. About what is or isn't true. Ok, this country deserves to hear my answers. So I'm going to stand here and give you answers until you have no more questions. And then I will not speak on this subject again. Agreed?
Press Corps: Fair Enough.
Mackenzie: I may be wrong, but I think I'm going to need a seat. (mild laughter) The answer to your question, Luis, is yes. President Bridges was a great leader and my friend, but he had no authority to ask that of me. The constitution not only empowers me it requires me to become President. The people elected me to this position. And only the people and their representatives can ask me to step down. I will never apologize for doing my job. If anything, from this point on, I only pledge to do it better.
- Templeton: The Ayes have 386. Nays are 46. The motion to confirm is carried. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you General Warren Fitzgerald Keaton, Vice President of the United States of America.
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