May 1st, 2003: An S-3 Viking, assigned to the "Blue Wolves" of VS-35, transporting President George W. Bush to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln stationed off the coast of San Diego, California crashes as its engines flame-out on approach to the carrier. Unable to eject and unable to control the craft, the crowd of sailors on the "Lincoln" watch in horror as the S-3 slams into the aft end of the carrier and explodes.
Also killed is the pilot, Commander Skip "Loose" Lussier, the Executive Officer of VS-35, and the flight officer, Lieutenant Ryan "Wilson" Phillips.
Minutes later, Vice-President Dick Cheney is sworn in as President at the Vice-President's mansion, the Naval Observatory. He calls on prayers for the Bush family and the nation, but answers no questions about who he will name as Vice-President.
May 3rd, 2003: A stunned nation holds a state funeral for the President. Left-wing critics on the Blogosphere raise the question as to the necessity of the "PR stunt" of flying to the "Lincoln" in a Navy fighter, and not the Presidential helicopter. But most pundits hold back on criticism for at least a few weeks.
Dick Cheney stuns the world by announcing after the funeral that he is nominating National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as his Vice-President, over theories that he would have nominated Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Republicans in Congress sing Rice's praises, and conservative pundits note the obvious political fall-out: namely, that Cheney with Rice as Vice-President assures himself a large contingent of both the black vote and the woman's vote and undercuts any Democratic challenger in the up-coming 2004 election.
May 6, 2003: Debate begins in the House over the Rice nomination. Democrats, fearful of attacking a popular black woman, offer only token resistance to her.
May 8, 2003: The House of Representatives names Condoleezza Rice the Vice-President of the United States of America. It is not unanimous with several members of the Congressional Black Caucus voting against Rice, causing something of a split in that caucus.
July 6, 2004: Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry names Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana as his Vice-Presidential running mate. The move, obviously in response to the Rice Vice-Presidency, is seen in some circles as brilliant, others as cynically trying to "negate" Rice's effect on the election.
October 13, 2004: In their third debate, Senator Kerry brings up the topic of President Cheney's daughter being a lesbian and Republican opposition to gay rights. Cheney angered but in control, issues his famous "Senator, really, is nothing too low for you to go to?" statement and chastises Kerry for "attacking his family to score political points".
Kerry, aware of audience disapproval of the move, attempts to quickly back away from it and reiterates his opposition to gay marriage, while supporting civil unions. The incident totally backfires on him, costing him both independent voters and (with his back-tracking) some of his liberal supporters in the gay community.
November 2, 2004: The Cheney/Rice ticket defeats the Kerry/Landrieu ticket by a popular vote of 5.1 million, and by a 307-230 electoral vote margin (pulling out a squeaker in Pennsylvania as well as Ohio). Some evidence points to some African-American and women's vote going to the Republicans, perhaps enough to change the outcome in several key districts. Kerry's gaffe in the 3rd debate is credited for his defeat as well.
This historical nature of the Condoleezza Rice Vice-Presidency and her near-assured nomination in 2012 become the focus for the re-election. Meanwhile, things begin to sour in Iraq as American casualties approach 3000.
May 15, 2006: President Cheney announces that due to health concerns from his wife, Lynne, and his family that he would NOT seek his Party's nomination in 2008. The timing of the announcement coincides with dropping popularity polls, and seems linked to attempts to "remove Cheney as an issue" for the Democrats going into the 2006 midterm elections. Rice is immediately propelled to "front-runner" for the 2008 nomination for the Republicans.
November 7, 2006: On the heels of "Foley-gate" and the Abramoff scandals, as well as worsening news in Iraq and no record of accomplishments, Democrats re-gain control of the House of Representatives by a margin of 18 seats. The Senate remains in Republican hands by one seat, when George Allen is declared the winner over challenger Jim Webb two days after the election.