Plot: After his Vice President suddenly dies, President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) who is near the end of his final term, decides to leave a legacy by selecting a woman to fill the position. Enter Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), who has shifted from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. Initially appearing to be the perfect candidate, an allegation suddenly appears that she had been involved in an orgy as a nineteen-year-old in college. Confirmation Committee Chairman Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman), a Republican (of course), leaks the information to the press, while using the press discussion as a forum to bring it into the hearings. The Chairman desires to get a Governor (William Petersen) into the office. The Governor had become a national hero when he attempted to rescue a young woman from a car that crashed from a bridge into deep water near where the Governor had been fishing.
Alternative Plot: When the sitting Vice President dies, Senator Laine Hanson is chosen by the President to be the first woman to hold the office. The selection meets with opposition from members of both parties, in particular a powerful political adversary who will seemingly stop at nothing to discredit her. Her confirmation hearings set off a firestorm of controversy as shocking secrets from Hanson's past are revealed, threatening her personal life as well as her political future.