The most deadpan, dead-on, sharply focused political satire in recent memory, "Silver City" methodically skewers George W. Bush (by proxy), the spineless corporate press (and their mistrustful underground adversaries), the billion-dollar candidate-making machinery of modern politics, and the general gullibility of the voting public -- all within the inimitable interlocking-ensemble narrative style of writer-director John Sayles.

Set in Colorado during the current election cycle, the plot circles a dozen-odd characters around a political scandal in the making, set in motion by the discovery of a corpse during the filming of a gubernatorial campaign ad. The candidate is Dickie Pilager, an inarticulately folksy, uncorrupt but "user-friendly" son of a powerful ex-senator -- played to tongue-tied, Bush-mimicking exactitude by the subtly superlative Chris Cooper ("Adaptation," "The Bourne Identity," "American Beauty").

Pilager's merciless attack-dog campaign manager (Richard Dreyfuss, channeling Bush puppet-master Karl Rove), convinced his candidate is being set up for something sinister, hires a private investigator to intimidate a handful of potential saboteurs, including a spurned arch-conservative radio-show host (Miguel Ferrer) and Pilager's hard-living, black-sheep sister, played with delicious volatility by Daryl Hannah. But what he doesn't know is that his stooge (the complex, understated Danny Huston from "21 Grams" and "ivans xtc.") is a disgraced, disenchanted and depressed ex-loose-cannon newspaper reporter.

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