We open on a children's chorus singing "America the Beautiful" in French. Someone walks forward and approaches Geena Davis, who's playing Mackenzie Allen, who we learn is the Vice-President of the United States. She makes her excuses and leaves the performance.
Mac asks the man what's going on, but he doesn't know: "We weren't given any warning of their arrival." Through the window, we see a man and a woman speaking. Mac walks out, and we meet James Gardner Jr., the White House Chief of Staff, who tells Mac, "We felt it best that we come here and tell you personally." The woman he was speaking with adds, "This came on us like a sneak attack." "Safe to join?" A man walks up -- Rod Calloway, the Vice-President's Chief of Staff, who looks remarkably like a double-size Jon Stewart. I'm sort of expecting him to deliver some fantastically dry, funny line. Jim wants a second, but Mac lets Rod stay, explaining that the President has a bleeding aneurysm in his brain. Rod asks her how bad it is as he puts a fantastic red coat around her shoulders. If you're thinking this gesture seems like its a little bit familiar for the VP and a member of her staff, you just might be on to something. The bottom line is, the Prez has had a stroke, and even if he does recover, it will mean months of rehabilitation. We are introduced to the woman -- Melanie Blackston, U.S. Attorney General -- who lists everything that he will go through if he survives. It can be summed up neatly as "a lot of bad shit." Try not to have a stroke, kids. Survival or not, the 25th Amendment is going to kick in. Mac gets right down to business, asking, "Melanie, um, what happens now? Do I take the oath, or...?" She notices them staring at her pointedly. "What?" Jim: "We need you to resign, Mac." Melanie jumps in: "You see, if you resign, Nathan Templeton could move into office." As if this is the most logical explanation in the world. Having somewhat of a grasp on politics herself, Mac asks, "I know it would move Nathan Templeton into office; the question is, why would I want to move this Speaker of the House into office?" I'm starting to suspect that when we meet Nathan, he will have horns.
In a fantastic exchange of expository dialogue, Jim and Melanie explain to Mac that she is an Independent, and that they need a Republican head of the administration to succeed President Bridges. Rod gets a bit indignant since, presumably, when Bridges picked Mac as his running mate, it meant he picked her to succeed him should anything go wrong. Mac cuts him off: "This is coming from the President?" Jim replies, "This is the President's intent." Mac: "Jim, I have no idea what that means." While we're all waiting for Jim to explain himself, let it be noted that at this point, I was focusin on Mac's coat more than anything else, and am mentally adding "fabulous red wool coat" to my perpetual shopping list. Melanie jumps in again: "Obviously, there was no major discussion; he was being wheeled into BRAIN surgery. Duh." (Fine. She didn't say "duh." But she so wanted to.) Jim goes on to list all of the countries giving them problems right now -- bottom line is, bad shit's going down in the world: "We don't need the world..." Mac: "We don't need the world to see a soft, indecisive woman commanding the troops instead of Nathan 'Bloody Hell' Templeton." Okay, wait a minute. Is Nathan Templeton someone we should worry about? Because I'm really not sure. Jim: "Madame Vice-President, I really must insist that you..." Mac cuts him off: "You're not in a position to insist how I take my coffee." You tell 'em. "That said...how would this work? I resign citing..." Rod interrupts her to say that she doesn't have to do this, but Jim overrides him: "Tell them that you could not, in good conscience, follow the socioeconomic ideals of this president." Mac: "Then what, I make a deal with Random House? Write a book?" She does a really good job of just seeming deflated at this point. It can't be easy to learn that no one really wants you to do the job you were prepared to do. They make plans to fly home, and Mac lets Jim know that once they are in the air, she wants to speak to the Chairman. Jim: "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?" "No, Jim, the Chairman of the Society for Underwater Basketweavers." Oh, I mean, "Yes, Jim, of the Joint Chiefs." A convoy heads toward Air Force Two, and we move to the opening credits. Unfortunately, the shades of red and blue they chose for the graphics make me feel more than a little bit like I'm watching an After School Special from the '80s.