Last night I had a chance to watch Journeys with George, an independent film made from a journalist’s home video of the 2000 Bush campaign. Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of Democratic congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, was attached by NBC to Bush’s campaign, and she was with the campaign through the shaky primaries, the tough campaign, the Florida mess, and up to the inauguration.
It’s not a very long movie, and because it was shot with a cheap DV-cam the quality isn’t that high. However, it is a very interesting behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be in the press pool for a Presidential campaign. Most of the reporters and photographers obviously didn’t care for Bush that much, but their success was attached to Bush’s success. So at a point when it seemed as if the Bush campaign was over, most of the press attachment was a little bummed. You also get to see the inanity and ridiculousness of presidential campaigns: everything from the stupidity of campaign stops at 2:30 A.M. in Wisconsin while it’s 20 degrees below zero to mass-manufactured support signs passed out to the crowds.
As an added bonus, you get to see Bush in some very unguarded, unscripted moments. Alexandra and Bush develop a friendly relationship, and even though Bush is unable to persuade her to vote for him, he treats her kindly. At one point he even sticks up for her after an informal poll she conducted got leaked. The rest of the press corps stopped talking to her until Bush came to the back of the plane, put an arm around her shoulders, and explained why Alexandra was okay. Also, we discover that Bush loves cheetoes, bologna sandwiches, and Buckler non-alcoholic beer.
The last scene is touching. Bush is in a tuxedo and is starting to walk out to his inauguration banquet. But after spotting Alexandra in the mix of reporters, mics, and cameras, he stops and says, “Hello, Alexandra.” Alexandra asks if he has any last words for them. After a slight pause, he waves and says, “Good night.” The most powerful man in the world, who is about to step out into a celebration of his victory, stops to say hi to a young woman with a video camera who didn’t even vote for him. I thought that was cool.