Television show to pick the President

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The Independent US

Forget about those talentless, tuneless hopefuls wanting to be a pop star, the real question is who wants to be the President?

Forget about those talentless, tuneless hopefuls wanting to be a pop star, the real question is who wants to be the President?

A new television programme plans to invite people to apply for the US presidency with viewers voting for their favourite candidate. The winner will run as the "people's candidate" in the 2004 election.

"We're trying to see if there's a young Abe Lincoln out there, somebody whose vision could turn on the public in an exciting way," said the documentary-maker RJ Cutler, who has been signed up for the new programme, American Candidate.

"Just as American Idol [the US version of Pop Idol] went searching for undiscovered musical talent, American Candidate will be on the hunt for untapped political and leadership skill."

To become a potential candidate, applicants will fill out questionnaires, provide videos explaining why they would make a great president and put together a group of 50 supporters to serve as sponsors. It all seems slightly more complicated than getting the job just because your dad had it before you.

About 100 candidates will be selected for the series, and each week candidates will square off in various competitions such as policy debates and ethics questions.

According to Variety magazine, the final episode will be a convention in Washington in July 2004. In a live episode, viewers will pick the winner from three finalists and subsequent programmes will follow that candidate as he or she runs for the White House.

It seems that such a wonderfully democratic process is something of a threat to an administration that won the Presidency through less-than-perfect voting procedures in Florida: yesterday no one from the White House was available to comment.

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