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Oliver Stone's drive to get his Bush biopic W in front of audiences before Election Day acquired new momentum on Thursday — if you can believe it. And we guess we have no choice but to wait and see if the director and Lionsgate, which yesterday picked up the film's North American distribution rights, can place their prismatic presidential quasi-drama on screens by their proposed Oct. 17 release date. Oct. 17! Stone hasn't even cast Dick Cheney yet — for a film that starts shooting Monday. Not a problem, insists the filmmaker, who's still spinning on the big picture:

"We don't really know much about Mr. Bush beyond the controlled images we've been allowed to see on TV. This movie's taking a bold stab at looking behind that curtain," Stone said in a statement. "I'm real pleased that Lionsgate has the independence necessary to bring this provocative story to an American audience."

Distribution deal was made by Tom Ortenberg, Lionsgate president of theatrical films. , who said, "With W, (Stone) again demonstrates his creative vitality and genius for speaking to our times."

Hence the W rumor mill once again whirring into action, deploying hints and whispers from the Louisiana set that Stone would probably "just play the son-of-a-bitch Cheney [himself]." He has alleged this could be his first comedy, after all, and it couldn't hurt to try on one of his films' quintessentially terrible hairpieces and take one for the team in the interest of time. Our democracy evidently depends on it.