24 has been hammered this season for promoting torture, but that's not all it promotes. Let's turn to the official Web site, where there's a minute-by-minute synopsis of past episodes.
Season 2, 7:56 AM: "At a press conference outside the federal building, Palmer pronounces to the public that the nation is safe. . . . A woman calls for the President. . . . She reaches her hand out to him. . . . The woman is Mandy, who was hired by Ira Gaines the previous year in the plot to assassinate Palmer. Palmer clasps Mandy's hand in a kind shake. . . . 7:59 AM: After reaching his limo, Palmer looks down at his right hand. The flesh on it has been eaten away. His breath is shortened and he falls to the ground. . . . Palmer gasps for air helplessly."
Season 4, 10:59 AM: "President Keeler hugs his son. Anderson fires from the stealth. An explosion erupts in Air Force One. Chloe reports that Air Force One suffered an indirect hit and pieces of the plane are falling to the ground over the desert. Everyone is horrified."
Season 5, 7:02 AM: "In Wayne Palmer's Los Angeles high rise apartment, former President Palmer works on his memoirs. . . . As Palmer stands by the window overlooking the city, a gunshot blasts through the glass and hits him in the neck. From another building, the assassin Haas lowers his rifle."
Season 6, 4:59 PM: "A Secret Service agent quickly lunges in front of Wayne as the podium explodes. More agents run into the room after the blast. They push aside the various bodies, including Assad, and find the President bloodied and unconscious."
To be technical, we may not have had a sitting president assassinated yet on 24. Palmer made some sort of miraculous recovery between seasons two and three, and he was out of office when he finally took a bullet. For all we know Keeler survived the missile attack on Air Force One even though he was written out of the show in favor of his scurrilous veep, Charles Logan. Now Vice President Daniels, who is really settling into his new job, mentions to someone that Wayne Palmer will pull through.
So here's the score: six seasons have brought us assassination attempts on three presidents, one of which probably succeeded, and the successful assassination of an ex-president. And I guess we should mention what just happened at 6:47 PM this season: "Martha stabs Logan in the neck with a kitchen knife." Just a domestic spat, maybe, but another ex-president bites the dust. As Logan was behind Palmer's murder in some cockamamy way I could never follow, it's poetic justice.
Anyway, this show treats American presidents as so many pheasants in the field. Has anyone objected to that? Dennis Haysbert, who played David Palmer, says he was so unhappy with the idea of his character's assassination that at first he refused to shoot the scene. But in the end he listened to reason.