Posted on Sat, May. 17, 2008 BY BETH REINHARD breinhard@MiamiHerald.com Roger Stone has a consulting shop in a tony office building in downtown Fort Lauderdale. "Call Roger Stone.'' With those three words, a political juggernaut was set in motion that helped quash a vote recount, and ultimately, change American history. The directive came from former Secretary of State James Baker, campaign strategist for George W. Bush, and it's captured in the new HBO movie Recount. Who better to screen the movie with than the man on the other end of the phone, the Republican operative who got his start in politics with the most famous dirty trickster of them all, Richard Nixon? ''Now listen, people,'' Baker tells Bush campaign aides in the movie, after summoning Stone. "This is a street fight for the presidency of the United States.'' The moment captures the whatever-it-takes, stop-at-nothing fighting spirit that set the Bush team apart from the Sore Losermans. Yet Stone, whose consulting shop is in a tony office building in downtown Fort Lauderdale, does not look the part of the thug who directed an angry mob that interrupted the Miami-Dade recount. ''The worst part of the whole thing was that I had packed for a couple days, and I should have packed for a couple weeks,'' said the always fashionable Stone, who on this day is wearing a tailor-made navy blazer, pink plaid bow tie and white Brooks Brothers oxford shirt. In fact, the Nov. 22, 2000, protest was dubbed the ''Brooks Brothers riot'' in homage to the throng of out-of-state preppies called in to storm the Miami-Dade government building, bang on the windows and scream until the election recount was called off. Back then, Stone professed innocence about any kind of orchestrated plot. He told CNN, ``I was there as a volunteer. I knew nothing about the protesters other than the fact that I approve Republicans expressing their First Amendment rights.'' Eight years later, he admits he was eavesdropping on the Democratic recount team from a nearby trailer with a walkie-talkie. Stone's office is a Nixon shrine, crammed with campaign posters and buttons and personal letters. Stone even has the former president's mug tattooed between his shoulder blades ``just to piss liberals off.'' He was a student at George Washington University when he volunteered on the infamous Committee to Re-Elect the President, or CREEP, in 1972. Since then, he's worked for political celebrities from Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump to Al Sharpton. In Florida, he helped defeat the penny tax on Big Sugar proposed in 1996 for Everglades restoration, and he ran the 2004 U.S. Senate campaign of Larry Klayman, best known for hounding former President Bill Clinton in court. Most recently, Stone made news when his lawyer said he had alerted the FBI to the sexual dalliances of former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, a political nemesis. ''What I admire about Nixon was his resilience,'' Stone said. ``It's attack, attack, attack. Al Gore thought the recount was a high-minded policy debate. He didn't understand that it was an extension of a war, of a political campaign.'' But aren't those hardball tactics exactly what voters hate about American politics? The Recount movie was drawing to a close, and the Democrats were learning life lessons. The Republicans were winning the presidency. ''You can't take the emotion out of politics,'' Stone said, his feet up on a table. ``Americans like a good political brawl. This is entertainment.'' For those who want to relive the 2000 election meltdown, showtime is 9 p.m. May 25. Beth Reinhard is the political writer for The Miami Herald. 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. http://www.miamiherald.com