In spite of a pretty darned good performance by Costner, the film is pretentious, overblown, unbelievable and just plain obvious.
Problems: Costner's charactor the "average Joe" (not the plummer) - an alchololic slacker has a daughter that is consciencious, overly brite and more mature than he is. Hmm, must be mom's genes? Nope, she leaves the family to persue a career as a country singer (so not a rocket scientist either).
I simply did not feel it was possible for the daughter to be who she was with the kind of parenting she had.
There are a few witty scenes lampooning the political process and how far we've all fallen in the media age (reminded me vaguely of "wag the dog"); where it becomes not about the issues but about who comes off better on tv.
Kelsey Grammer does a good job as the reigning president, a baffoon on the surface, but revealing a deeper, weary of the games, side that is poignant.
Dennis Hopper is wasted as the "opposition", and Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane have not much room to operate as the opposing campaign managers.
That a couple of 12 year old kids can go driving around, even in a small town, is absurd - as is the entire premiss of the film.
When the film does finally take a detour into the darkness of humanity; having the daughter arrive on Mom's doorstep, only to find out that she is a drug addict and doesn't want her around - it takes one riviting scene and then backs out of the situation completly once Costner shows up. Sad - but even with a few more well thought out scenes like that one, the film is still a mess - trying to thrust the local hispanic reporter into the mix as a potential buddy/love interest, like so much of the film, is simply misguided.