I’m a big 24 fan. Season 6 is well underway in the UK, and we’ve just had (SPOILER!) the president injured in a bomb blast. The vice president’s now in charge, which got me thinking. In the 24 world, being VP is nothing like that “pitcher of warm piss” that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president Jack Garner called it. In fact, if you want to be top dog, run for vice president. The prez always gets wiped out! Seriously — four vice presidents in a row have become acting president, two of them permanently. Here’s a rundown on the presidents and vice presidents of 24:
David Palmer is a Democratic presidential candidate. The actual president is never named in the television show. Wikipedia says the Declassified series of 24 novels names Harold Barnes as president. In the Star Trek world, something isn’t “canon” (and see here) unless it happens on TV or in film. I’m following the same for the 24 world.
President David Palmer (Democrat). Vice President is Jim Prescott. Prescott becomes acting president by invoking the 25th amendment, claiming Palmer hasn’t performed capably. Palmer is later restored to office. In the last minutes of the season, Palmer’s infected with a virus. So between season 2 and 3, Prescott takes office temporarily once again.
President David Palmer. Vice President is Jim Prescott. And they stay that way throughout the season!
President Charles Logan (Republican). Vice President Hal Gardner. Logan appears to have become president because Keeler either died or was too ill to return to office (the exact reason is unclear and subject to debate). Gardner becomes president. We know this, because Logan is arrested at the end of the Season 5, so Gardner must take over.
President Wayne Palmer (Democrat). Vice President Noah Daniels. Palmer is severely injured in a bomb blast. Daniels takes over (so far, there’s been no formal swearing in that I’ve seen, which is through 5-6pm. The US is slightly ahead, and I’m not reading up so as to avoid spoiling the plot!).
Let’s see the above in bulletpoints:
- President David Palmer (Season 2)
- Vice President Jim Prescott (Season 2)
- Acting President Jim Prescott (Season 2)
- President John Keeler (Season 4)
- Vice President Charles Logan (Season 4)
- Acting President Charles Logan (Season 4)
- President Charles Logan (Season 5)
- Vice President Hal Gardner (Season 5)
- President Hal Gardner (between Season 5 & 6)
- President Wayne Palmer (Season 6)
- Vice President Noah Daniels (Season 6)
- Acting President Noah Daniels (Season 6)
Sadly, the bulletpoints don’t show visually the stunning statistics. Every vice president has become acting president since David Palmer was first elected. Every one. Two of them — Charles Logan and Hal Gardner — moved from being just “acting” president to assuming the job formally.
I’m not a presidential succession expert, but from Wikipedia, this is an unprecedented run. OK, we haven’t had the ability for VPs to formally become acting president that long. But Wikipedia’s entries on acting president and unelected presidents don’t show me that we’ve ever had four vice presidents in a row ever get the opportunity to sit in the big chair.
Hal Gardner: 24’s Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford is unique as being the only US president to have never been elected to the office. He was appointed as vice president by Richard Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew, then took over when Nixon resigned.
Hal Gardner is Ford-like and more. Like Ford, he was appointed to the vice presidency, then become president when the president — Charles Logan — resigned (we assume Logan resigned or was impeached). But unlike Ford, he’s even more unique. Nixon — an elected president — appointed Ford. Logan was never elected president. He assumed the office by being vice president, then appointed Gardner as his new VP.
In the end, the facts are clear. Being vice president in the crazy world of 24 is serious business!