(The following is an abridged excerpt from Wayne Publishing’s American History II textbook)
This chapter focuses on the presidency of Lex Luthor. Like Luthor’s life itself, his presidency is filled with unconfirmed rumors, innuendo, and controversy. Many of the key events surrounding his short term are still being disputed among historians. Due to the unusual nature of conflicting facts, and the absence of Luthor’s presidential records, this chapter will present the facts as we know them, while noting contradicting material.
BEFORE THE PRESIDENCY
Lex Luthor was born in the impoverished district of Metropolis known as Suicide Slum. Luthor became an orphan at an early age when his parents died in an automobile accident (see Footnote 1). The young Luthor threw himself into his schooling following the death of his parents. He studied business and engineering, and developed a new aviation craft known as the Lex Wing. The vessel was notable for breaking world records in travel time when it flew from Metropolis to Sydney, Australia. Luthor used the success of the Lex Wing to build his company Lexcorp, which grew into an empire over the next few decades. In addition to his entrepreneur status, Luthor was also a philanthropist, spearheading numerous charitable initiatives.
Until the arrival of Superman, Luthor was seen as the most admired man in Metropolis. Thanks to the various companies under the Lexcorp umbrella, at one point it was estimated that everyone in Metropolis worked for Lex Luthor in one way or another (1986’s The Man of Steel #4).
Lex Luthor shocked the world when he stood outside the steps of Lexcorp Tower and announced his candidacy for the office of the President of the United States (Adventures of Superman #581). Instead of running as a Democrat or Republican, Luthor said he would be launching a new group known as the Tomorrow Party, built on a platform of taking the nation into the prosperous future. Despite the brief interruption from a costumed criminal known as Adversary, Luthor’s speech was well received and excited the citizens of Metropolis.
Luthor’s candidacy was not without its controversy. King Orin of Atlantis, more popularly known as Aquaman, felt that Luthor’s B13 technology was damaging underwater life. Orin launched an attack on the United States and kidnapped Luthor (2000’s Superman #162), but Lex was able to solve the situation diplomatically. Luthor researched Orin’s claims, and learned that the B13 technology had accentuated the Atlanteans aggressive traits.
After making peace with the Atlanteans, Luthor survived an assassination attempt at a Metropolis rally. Two shots were fired, one striking the candidate. The injuries proved minor, and Luthor’s poll numbers increased upon his recovery (See Footnote 2). Another bump in the polls came when he chose former Kansas Senator Peter Ross as his running mate. Ross described the ticket as “the country mouse and the city mouse.” Ross’s small town roots contrasted with Lex’s big city mogul background, and appealed to Midwest voters. To prepare for his presidency, Luthor stepped back from Lexcorp and appointed Talia Head as the chief operating officer (see Footnote 3).
On election night 2000 Luthor narrowly beat Governor George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore, a rare instance of a third party candidate scoring a victory in a national election. President-Elect Luthor was personally congratulated by Superman (Adventures of Superman #586) despite press rumors of their feud.
A few weeks before his inauguration, the outgoing Clinton administration allowed Luthor to use the White House press briefing room to announce his cabinet (2001’s Superman #166). To keep with the platform of the Tomorrow Party, Luthor’s cabinet was full of unconventional choices. General Frank Rock was chosen as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see Footnote 4), Amanda Waller was the first Secretary of Meta-Human Affairs, Major Sam Lane was appointed Secretary of Defense (see Footnote 5), former athlete and educator Jefferson Pierce was named Secretary of Education (see Footnote 6), and television personality Catherine Grant was appointed White House Press Secretary.
President Lex Luthor was inaugurated on January 20th, 2001 (Superman: The Man of Steel #110). The ceremony was briefly interrupted by a metahuman criminal called Earthquake, who accused President Luthor of forsaking his Suicide Slum roots. The Secret Service worked with Superman, Steel, S.T.R.I.P.E., and the Star Spangled Kid to stop the attack. Thanks to their intervention, the ceremony continued and there were no casualties.
President Luthor’s first act in office was to pass a bill called the “Justice League Spending Act” which ensured the metahuman superheroes of the nation had the necessary funding to do their work. President Luthor redistributed the United States budget, sending billions of dollars to public schools.
Despite his rumored run-ins with Superman, Luthor was seen as the most metahuman friendly president to date. President Luthor was one of the first world leaders to officially recognize Atlantis as a nation, setting up trading arrangements and sharing technology (2000’s Superman #165). The Man of Steel assisted President Luthor with his first foreign relations crisis after the leader of Bialya imprisoned an American journalist. At the orders of President Luthor, Superman rescued the journalist and helped the United States avoid an international incident (Adventures of Superman #590).
The most notable event during Lex Luthor’s presidency was the Imperiex War. While most presidents have had to coordinate wars against other nations, President Luthor was faced with an enemy power from beyond the stars. The attacker was a being known as Imperiex who sought to destroy the planet. The first shots were fired at Topeka, Kansas, destroying the city and killing countless residents (JLA: Our Worlds at War #1).
President Luthor’s good relations with the metahuman community paid off, and he rallied the Justice League to help the military take on Imperiex. President Luthor made the controversial decision to weaponize the being called Doomsday, hypnotizing the creature into seeing all of Imperiex’s probes as his enemy Superman (Adventures of Superman #594).
The combined forces of the United States military and the metahuman community were able to defeat Imperiex, but at a great cost. It was estimated that over 8 million people died during the conflict, including Secretary of Defense Sam Lane (see Footnote 7).
Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent published a story alleging that President Luthor had advanced knowledge of the Topeka, Kansas attack, causing some pundits to wonder if impeachment was on the horizon (2002’s Superman #183). President Luthor invited the Justice League to the White House so the telepath Martian Manhunter could probe his mind as a lie detector test. Luthor passed the test, but not everybody was convinced (See Footnote 8).
Ultimately President Luthor became enmeshed in a scandal and failed to complete his only term. Luthor’s administration blamed Superman and Batman for a Kryptonian meteor heading to Earth, and offered a 1 billion dollar bounty for their capture (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies). The asteroid was destroyed and Superman was cleared of all wrongdoing.
President Luthor donned war armor from the planet Apokolips and addressed his constituents in a puzzling way. “Theodore Roosevelt said it best, ‘speak softly and carry a big stick.’ I wear that stick,” Luthor said. It was a far cry from his iconic “The Tomorrow Party” speech, and many questioned his mental health. Testimony from White House officials later revealed that President Luthor had been injecting himself wiith the performance enhancing drug called Venom, which is known to have negative mental health side effects. President Luthor’s battle with Superman was broadcast to the world, and during the skirmish Luthor confessed to engineering the asteroid crisis, and numerous other crimes. President Luthor disappeared after the battle with Superman, presumably skipping town rather than facing the inevitable impeachment hearings.
After President Luthor’s disappearance and presumed death, the 25th amendment was invoked and Peter Ross became the 44th President of the United States. Ross’s presidency proved shorter than Luthor’s, and he soon resigned after a few weeks, citing personal problems (Superman Secret Files and Origins 2004 #1). Jonathan Horne became the next President of the United States, bringing much needed stability back to the office.
Luthor resurfaced and claimed his recent crimes had been committed by an other world doppelganger (52 #3). An autopsy of a body found in a Gotham City alley matched Luthor’s DNA and fingerprints, adding credence to Lex’s story (see Footnote 9). After a series of investigations exonerated Luthor from over 120 criminal charges, Lex left politics behind and returned to the world of business (Superman #650).
Footnote 1: Lionel and Letitia Luthor lost their lives in an automobile accident during Lex’s youth. Journalists and biographers have investigated claims that young Luthor paid off a mechanic to sabotage the vehicle, but nothing concrete has ever been proven (Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography).
Footnote 2: The shooter was identified as a waitress named Jenny Hubbard. During her FBI interrogation, Hubbard claimed that Luthor had propositioned her years earlier when he stopped at the diner she was employed at (1987’s Superman #9). Luthor denied the claims, and professional psychologists concluded Hubbard was delusional.
Footnote 3: Unconfirmed intelligence reports claim that Talia Head is a terrorist known as Talia al Ghul. Those reports remain unverified. After the end of the Luthor presidency, Head sold all the shares of Lexcorp to Bruce Wayne before disappearing from public life.
Footnote 4: Amanda Waller has been overheard saying that the real Frank Rock died in 1945, implying that the one who served in President Luthor’s administration was an imposter (2002’s Suicide Squad #12).
Footnote 5: Major Sam Lane is the father of Lois Lane, the Daily Planet reporter who previously accused Lex Luthor of masterminding the fall of Metropolis (Action Comics #700).
Footnote 6: The public soon learned that Jefferson Pierce was the costumed adventurer Black Lightning. When this was revealed, Luthor’s successor President Ross asked Pierce to step down (2004’s Outsiders #10).
Footnote 7: Secretary Lane survived the Imperiex conflict and was placed in a secret government program to monitor alien activity. His own family was allegedly unaware of his survival (Action Comics #870).
Footnote 8: Sources close to the Justice League have alleged that President Luthor was using a psychic ally to pass the test, but nobody has gone on record to confirm the rumor.
Footnote 9: It’s worth noting that Luthor’s defense team using a multiverse doppelganger as an alibi is similar to his previous trial where the case was dismissed due to the discovery of a Luthor clone (Action Comics #737).
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