Contender (2000)

Second-term Democratic U.S. President Jackson Evans must select a new Vice President following the sudden death of his Vice President, Troy Ellard. The obvious choice seems to be Virginia Governor Jack Hathaway, who is hailed as a hero after he recently dove into a lake in a failed attempt to save a drowning girl. The President instead decides that his “swan song” will be helping to break the glass ceiling by nominating Ohio Senator Laine Hanson. In accordance with the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, approval from both houses of Congress is required. Standing in her way is Republican Congressman Sheldon Runyon of Illinois, who believes she is unqualified for the position, and backs Hathaway for the nod. His investigation into her background turns up an incident where she was apparently photographed participating in a drunken orgy as part of a sorority initiation. He is joined in his opposition by Democratic Representative Reginald Webster.

The confirmation hearings begin in Washington, D.C., and Runyon, who chairs the committee, quickly addresses Hanson’s alleged sexual imbroglio. Hanson refuses to address the incident, neither confirming nor denying anything, and tries to turn the discussion towards political issues. Anticipating that Hanson would deem her personal past “none of anyone’s business”, Runyon starts rumors in the media saying that the sexual escapade in college was done in exchange for money and favors, making it prostitution.

Hanson meets with Evans and offers to withdraw her name, to save his administration more embarrassment. Despite the wishes of the administration, she refuses to fight back or even address Runyon’s charges, arguing that to answer the questions dignifies them being asked in the first place—something she does not believe. Evans meets with Runyon, informing him he will not choose Hanson as Vice President. Runyon casually brings forward Hathaway as a replacement. They make an agreement that Runyon will back down on his attacks if Evans chooses Hathaway as Vice President. However, Evans requests Runyon to make a public statement defending Hathaway.

Hanson, Hathaway and Runyon are all invited to the White House. Evans then shocks them by showing an FBI report revealing that Hathaway paid the woman to drive off the bridge into the lake and get saved by him. Hathaway is arrested and Runyon is disgraced because he vouched for Hathaway’s integrity just hours earlier. Evans meets with Hanson, and she finally tells what actually happened that night in college. She said that she did indeed arrive at a fraternity house to have sex with two men as part of an initiation, but changed her mind before any sex occurred. However, she did not prove her innocence, citing that by doing so will further the idea that it was acceptable to ask the questions in the first place. Evans addresses Congress, where he chastises all Democrats and Republicans who blocked Hanson’s confirmation. He explicitly calls out Runyon, who leaves in humiliation. Although he declares that Hanson had asked for her nomination to be withdrawn so he could finish his presidency with triumph over controversy, he remains adamant and calls for an immediate confirmation vote.