In the first half, acclaimed business writer James Ledbetter joined George Knapp to explore the history of gold and America’s volatile relationship to this hallowed metal. Ledbetter said that he first got the idea to research the issue while watching the 2012 Republican presidential debates, and was struck by the willingness of the majority of the candidates to put the United States back on the "gold standard," where currency is backed up with the country’s gold reserves, and wondered what it was about that issue that "resonates with so many voters." He pointed out that there was actually a 'mini gold rush' in North Carolina in 1799, and that much of the metal from that era ended up in the national treasury.
Ledbetter described the California gold rush as the event that allowed the United States to become an economic world power. He described the state as a "nation within a nation," which for a time had a larger active stock market than New York. Soon after the Civil War, the U.S. government moved to back its paper money with gold reserves, which was the standard until 1971, when Richard Nixon ended the practice, mainly, Ledbetter said because "the gold supply was no longer sufficient to prop up the monetary system." Government schemes in the 1960s, such as using nuclear explosions to mine gold, or using science to turn other elements into the precious metal actually cost more than the product was worth. Owning gold now is not essential, Ledbetter believes, since people "lose money in gold as much as they make it" because the value is tied to market influences.
In part two, Matthew Alford revealed how the national security state, led by the CIA and Pentagon, has influenced more than eight-hundred Hollywood films and over a thousand network television shows. Alford discussed how the government has gone to considerable lengths to prevent information from reaching the masses with specific script changes or even buying stories before they are produced. Alford said that this influence "has been going on since the beginning of Hollywood" and throughout the 20th century. Politicians and others in power have always felt that "movies are the most powerful tools for recruitment and changing people’s minds" even though there is still no reliable scientific evidence on their effectiveness.
Nevertheless, Alford said, the Pentagon and other government organizations currently maintain close relationships "at the highest levels" in the film and television industries. Alford used the Transformers series as an example, where he discovered that the relationship between director Michael Bay and the government was so "symbiotic," that after the first film, no signed cooperation agreements were needed. He contrasted this with Independence Day, which according to his research, rejected any Pentagon influence because of restrictive requests for changing the script to eliminate any government involvement with the Roswell Incident or Area 51. Alford believes that most films that secure the cooperation of the authorities are recruitment tools. He recalled that there were Navy recruiters in theater lobbies during the initial release of Top Gun. His concern with this sort of influence is that popular culture may become "something where you can’t really dissent from the government line." Related article.