MSNBC reporter Jenny Lerner, while investigating a high-level scandal in Washington, stumbles upon the story that a comet is on a collision course with Earth. A year earlier, amateur teenage astronomer Leo Biederman discovered a new comet that is the one now certified to hit within the year. US President Beck announces to the world that a spaceship called the Messiah will blast off in two months to plant nuclear bombs in the comet in hope of blowing it to bits. This plan fails, splitting the comet into two sections. The smaller will hit off the east coast creating a tital wave that will destroy New York and Washinton while the larger portion will land in Canada causing an ELE, or Extinction Level Event, complete with Earth-enshrouding clouds of dust that will wipe out all life. Declaring martial law, President Beck reveals that a network of caves is being built to accommodate 1 million Americans, most to be chosen by a national lottery.