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'Commander in Chief' premiers tonight on ABC

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"Commander in Chief"Tonight at 9 on ABC/Ch. 7

Several years ago I found myself with several other female columnists chowing down and chewing the fat with Hillary Clinton at a White House lunch. We talked about politics, media, kids and the curse of bad haircuts. I swear.

The next morning, a front-page New York Times story proclaimed that Clinton had invited us all in for makeover advice!

The point? One, sometimes even other women can't bear to see a woman in a position of power and, second, on tonight's premiere of "Commander in Chief," President McKenzie Allen's makeup is so crazy-lady-on-the-bus bad that even Clinton's lunch bunch could have done a better job.

In the first episode. we learn that Allen, the first female vice president, moves to the grownups' table when the very Republican president drops dead - despite his dying wish that she step down and let the right-wing Speaker of the House take over.

Where the plot gets thinner than Mary-Kate Olsen's thighs is how she got into this position in the first place.

The creator, Rod Lurie, wants us to believe that Allen, an independent, got tapped while serving as a college president. The president-wannabe figured that she (who has no party loyalty) would boost his low, 40-percent approval rating. Right. Hey, Lurie, how about making her get there on her own steam instead of this convoluted trail?

In her first speech to the nation, the commander in chic has a Jeanine Pirro moment when her speech disappears off the TelePrompTer. After an in-tense 25 seconds, she rallies with a hell of an off-the-cuff inspirational speech.

What works is that her family - husband Rod (Kyle Secor) and her three kids - don't dominate the plot. They are part of, but not all of her complicated life.

What doesn't work is that she not only boots her husband as her chief of staff in favor of the dead president's guy (Harry Lennix), but she keeps his whole cabinet, too.

More implausible is that her first act as president is to bypass the Joint Chiefs and order warships to Nigeria to save a woman who's about to be executed for adultery.

Breathing down her neck is the ultra-conservative Speaker of the House, Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland), who says that a woman president will be laughed at as ineffective by the Muslim nations. He must have forgotten the election of Benazir Bhutto as president of Pakistan in 1988 and again in 1993!

Davis, often the most glamorous woman at the Academy Awards, is very good, and gets double kudos for being the only woman over-40 in Hollywood who hasn't had so much surgery that she looks like the tragic victim of a horrible wind-tunnel accident.

TV used to merely supply us with fantasy sex objects. Now they've moved onto fantasy presidents. Unfortunately, both look as real as Courtney Love's lips.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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