When Washington lawyer Ron Klain served as general counsel of the Florida recount effort for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, he thought the debacle might one day make a good “horror flick.” Instead, it’s the subject of HBO’s movie, “Recount,” which debuts Sunday night, and stars Kevin Spacey as Klain. “The guy’s a great actor. It’s a little surreal,” says the real Klain, who is today general counsel of investment firm Revolution, based in the District.
The infamous 36-day recount culminated, of course, with the U.S. Supreme Court confirming George W. Bush as the winner of Florida’s electoral votes. Klain says he’ll never get over that decision, but it certainly didn’t turn him off to politics. He has since served on the presidential campaigns of Sens. John Kerry and Joseph Biden. Before joining Revolution in 2005, he spent five years as a partner in O’Melveny & Myers’ D.C. office.
Klain has seen “Recount” three times, and will spend Sunday evening watching its HBO debut with his family in Indianapolis. He says the movie is generally accurate, but “a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff is fictionalized.” Klain adds that there were 100 lawyers working on the recount, while only eight of them appear on screen. As a consequence, he says those lawyers get more credit and more blame than they deserve. “It looks a lot more like a one-man show than it was in real life.”
Another star performance in “Recount” is Laura Dern’s portrayal of Katherine Harris, who was both Florida Secretary of State and co-chair of Bush’s Florida campaign. Throughout the ordeal, Harris developed as one of the most controversial figures involved. As for Dern’s portrayal of her, Klain says, “If I were allowed to pass out Emmys, she definitely would get one.”