How much truth is in “24″?

By Kevin Wilson

With Jack Bauer walking into the sunrise, a fourth season of 24 ended Monday night with a hero, a villain, a death and a second chance at life. And that was just for Bauer.
If you’re confused, don’t feel ashamed. Those who have watched any season of the drama — which stars Kiefer Sutherland as government agent Bauer — know you pretty much need a scorecard to keep track of the day, which is broken down into 24 episodes.
In this season, fans saw many things. I’ll try to narrow it down to the essentials.
• The secretary of defense was kidnapped, with terrorists plotting to broadcast his execution on the Internet.
• The broadcast, the Counter Terrorism Unit learns, was just a way to divert attention so terrorists could use the Internet to gain control of more than 100 nuclear power plants and melt them down. All but one are rescued.
• A stealth bomber is stolen and used to shoot down Air Force One, with the president on board.
• With the president injured, Vice President Logan becomes acting president, but finds himself incapable of dealing with the pressure and enlists the help of former president David Palmer.
• Terrorists find the wreckage of Air Force One and locate a briefcase containing the location of every nuclear warhead in the nation and its access code.
• A warhead is stolen and fired from the middle of the country on a missile with an 1,800 mile range.
• In the process of tracking down the man behind the attacks (Habib Marwan), CTU trespasses on the Chinese embassy and a Chinese consulate is killed during the raid.
• Bauer and the other agents are able to locate the missile’s target of Los Angeles and an F-16 pilot is able to shoot the missile down before damage is done.
• The Chinese government finds out Bauer is behind the raid and demands the U.S. government hand him over to be tried under Chinese law. The U.S. has no choice but to hand him over. Logan looks the other way when somebody suggests that if Bauer were to “have an accident,” there would be no trial to embarrass the U.S. government.
• Palmer contacts Bauer and warns him of the trap, giving Bauer and CTU agents enough time to fake his death so he can escape the country under an assumed name.
For the viewers, “24” gives us a look at how the insides of the Oval Office and a counterterrorism unit might look. From the outside, Vice President Logan looks like a hero for helping the country avoid nuclear disaster.
Bauer, who was responsible for approximately 95 percent of the mission, goes into exile and Palmer receives no credit for leading Logan.
I realize I’m discussing fiction here, but I wonder how much truth is embedded in stories like the ones Sutherland and others act out, and whether our perceived heroes (and villians) deserve those titles.
Until January, when the fifth season starts, there’s a lot of time to consider just that. You learn something new every day, and the fourth day of “24” was no exception.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail:
Kevin_Wilson@link.freedom.com