INT. BILLY MULDOON'S COFFEE SHOP - DAY
A coffee shop with burgers and magazines. Flat screen televisions blaring horse races, professional sports and betting lines from around the world.
An eclectic crowd fills the place, taking notes, cheering on their favorites, tearing up pieces of paper which then litter the floor.
Brad Franklin and Lu O'Neil are at a postage-stamp-sized table. Brad looks over the menu, Lu signals to the waiter.
LUThat's what it says.
BRADSays who? Zagat? Michelin?
LUZagat? Michelin? Did you hit your head on the way in?
BRADI don't even get the menu. (off the menu) Do I want to know what a "Colon Blow" is?
LUChili -- if it says, "With Floaters" it includes corn.
BRADThey got anything in a nice hermetically sealed bag?
WAITERHey Lu. Who's the virgin?
LUBrad -- new guy at Channel 8, kinda my boss.
WAITERJust kinda, eh? (to Brad) OK, Kinda Boss, what'll it be?
BRAD(off the menu) Well... ahhh... gee... I dunno... what do you recommend?
WAITERThe Golden Duck --
BRAD-- I didn't see duck on here --
WAITERTwo doors down. $1 Chinese food, all you can eat. Tell 'em you're from Muldoon's and they'll throw in some Pepto-Bismol with your cookie. (to Lu) I ain't got time for this Lu, I'm flying solo here.
LUCouple of rendering plants with glue.
WAITERJesus take the wheel, was that so hard?
BRADThat's a new one.
LUIt's a song.
BRADYou mean like "Drop Kick Me Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life?"
LUYeah, but now it ain't funny. Now they really mean it. Some chick's driving to Cincinnati, hits some black ice, loses control and decides to let Jesus take the wheel.
BRADIs he in the car, or something?
LUApparently he's always in the car. That's the point.
BRADSeems about right, he's everywhere else. He's all over the Iowa caucuses. Can't swing a losing candidate without hitting Jesus over the head.
LUI didn't think he took sides.
BRADMe either. But everyone in second place or worse is trying to out Jesus everyone else. Kinda makes you wonder.
BRADYou know, if he were really here, what would Jesus do?
LUHell, I don't know, what would Scooby Doo do?
BRADYou couldn't just say "cheeseburger"? You had to mess me around?
LUWhite people are so polite. You order a "rendering plant" for a brother and he's like, "Oh, hell no -- I ain't even hungry now."
BRADYou know, we coulda got a cheeseburger anywhere, what's so special about this one?
LUNothing, really, but I'm going down on a UFC guy after I see if he's got any action.
BRADWhoa! Stop talking right now. This is EXACTLY the kind of conversation white people don't want to have while they're looking at a rendering plant.
LUYou are such a moron. (imitates sign language) Me, big, beautiful, black woman place large bet on Ultimate Fighting Championship after lunch.
BRADI knew that. It was the raw meat that threw me.
LUIt's rare -- that's why they call it the "rendering plant".
BRADYou gotta stop saying that. And isn't betting illegal?
LUNot if you're the state or an Indian.
BRADWhich are you?
LUNeither, but see that guy over there? (points) That's Las Vegas Vinnie and he's a....
LUI like to think of him as my retirement advisor.
BRADBet he thinks pretty much the same thing about you.
LUReally, he's not just a bookie he's a --
LUNo, he's not a gangster. He's like a Renaissance Man.
BRADSo, he paints AND covers the spread and knows the over and under?
LUI'm calling him over. You'll see.
BRADI'm just getting used to the idea of eating a rendering plant, I don't think I can handle a Renaissance gangster --
LU(shouts to Vinnie) Yo, Vinnie. Bring it over here.
BRAD'Course, he's a friend of yours so "what are the odds" I won't like him? Unless he's been mean to his "ante". Heck, he's probably a "river" of information. I'll just "flop" down here and --
LAS VEGAS VINNIE, a balding, 50ish, mouse of a man approaches the table. He looks like a gangster like Tim Conway looks like a gangster. He carries a large Moleskine notebook and a small laptop.
VINNIEHey, Lu. (off Mark) You bring the Vice Squad or something?
LUVinnie, Brad. Brad, Vinnie. I'm working for Brad so I can go down on some action.
BRADAlways nice to know your role. Pull up a sharp rock and sit down.
Vinnie sits, not sure what to make of Brad.
LUSo, what kind of odds are you giving on the UFC.
VINNIEGimme a minute. Been concentrating on the election - gotta kick up the UFC thing.
BRADYou make book on the presidential election?
VINNIEWhy not? Good odds are as good a reason as any to vote.
BRADAhh, yes, democracy in action.
LUMore like what's the action on democracy.
VINNIEYeah, you guys might want to get down on the odds I'm giving, before Iowa changes them.
BRADYou serious? You taking book on the election?
VINNIEOnly as fast as I can.
LUWhat're you giving?
VINNIEWell -- you want long odds or short?
BRADWhy would I bet the long shot?
VINNIEOld bookie rule: when the odds are evenly split amongst the front runners, bet the long shot.
BRADLike . . . for instance.
VINNIEWell, for instance, I'm at 3 to 1 says Hillary takes the whole thing.
LUWhat whole thing? There's a lot of whole things between now and November.
VINNIEThe whole, whole thing. The big enchilada. 3 to 1 says she takes the general election.
BRADSo, what about Iowa?
VINNIEWell now, that's where it gets interesting. Right now the polls show Obama and Edwards tied at 29% and Hillary pulling in right behind at 28%. In a three horse race, she's dead last.
BRADa) there's more than just three horses and 2) one point behind ain't much of a dead last.
VINNIETell that to an Olympic swimmer. (a beat) See, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina -- none of them really represents the majority of Americans. But what they do is show where the candidates are strong or weak.
LUSo, what? If Hillary loses in Iowa she's not going to throw the towel in. Or in New Hampshire, either.
VINNIERight, but Iowa is the first test of the high negatives.
BRADIs that like "jumbo shrimp"?
VINNIEHillary's got a high negative trust factor -- people's major beef is they don't trust her.
LUTo do what?
VINNIEDo anything. Doesn't matter if they're right or wrong, it's trust they're talking about. Kinda like faith, you either have it in the candidate or you don't.
BRADOK, so Hillary's got a high negative trust. But you're still giving 3 to 1 on her, which is pretty damn good. Why's that?
VINNIEWell, Obama's the only one that can derail her -- Edwards is a one trick pony. Even if he wins in Iowa -- which he might because of the time he's spent there and the organization he's got -- it don't matter. He's got nothing going for him in New Hampshire or South Carolina.
LUSo what's his negative?
VINNIEExperience. People may not trust Hillary, but they don't think Obama has the experience to do the job.
LUWho doesn't? He's a U.S. Senator for Christ's sake.
LUHe's as qualified as anyone to be President.
VINNIELu, they don't call it the White House because of the paint job. Blacks are maybe 13% of the population -- if every black in America voted for him, it wouldn't be enough. Overall, I'm giving him 8 to 2 odds to take the general and even odds to take Iowa. (a beat) But if loses Iowa, it better be pretty damn close or he's going to be looking that high negative of experience right in the face. The funny thing is around 60% of New Hampshire's Democrats are polling for Obama, so I give him the lead there.
BRADWhat about Hillary?
VINNIEHillary doesn't expect to win Iowa or New Hampshire. She expects to get her message out, be competitive. But she knows this is an endurance contest and she'll be in it to the end. Reagan and Clinton both got waxed early on in the primaries and pulled it out at the end. Don't expect her to panic if she loses along the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.
LUSo what happens if Edwards wins?
VINNIELike I said, he might. In fact, Bill Clinton predicted Edwards would win in Iowa. But given the time he's spent there and the shoe leather his people have put into the blue-hair vote, if he doesn't win he's just about got to fold it up and call it a career.
BRADYou giving odds on the rest of the Dems?
VINNIESomebody might, but you're wasting your money. Everyone else is either setting up for another election or lobbying to be V.P. It's these three or nobody.
VINNIE(to the waiter) Can I get a Roy Rogers?
WAITER(as he walks away) Two words: Golden Duck.
BRADWe're going down there later and applying for meal tickets.
LU(to Vinnie) So what about the Republicans?
VINNIEFive anyone cares about: McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani and Jesus.
LUYeah, we were just talking about that. What is it with Jesus and Republicans.
VINNIEMust be He thinks they need more help.
BRADI don't get it, why are the Republican's trying to out-Jesus each other? There ARE other issues, you know.
VINNIEWell, most of it's Huckabee and Romney trying to hold on to what they think they got. McCain dances in on religion when it's convenient, but immigration is his bogeyman.
LUYeah, I thought they did a full ten-count on him a while ago.
VINNIEPretty much they did and then Huckabee and Romney went self destructive and suddenly McCain's got a shot. He's the candidate that the Democrats fear most in a general election because he's got the experience. But he's 71 and really hated by a lot of conservatives for his immigration stance -- I'm giving 7 to 1 on him.
BRADSo, who's got the inside track?
VINNIEThat's where I make all my money. The Republicans are all over the place based on the issue of the week. (rifles through his notebook) I'm giving 6 to 1 odds on Romney to win the nomination, but he's got to finish first or second in either Iowa or New Hampshire. Anything less and the only thing he has in common with Jack Kennedy is good hair.
LUSo, what about Giuliani?
VINNIEPretty much the only thing he's got going for him is 9/11. Everyone in the Republican party is astonished he's led in the polls all year. He's got more personal baggage than a minivan on spring break. I'm giving 10 to 1 and I wouldn't take the bet unless someone else melts down, hard.
BRADWhich leaves Huckabee and Jesus.
VINNIEI'm giving 13 to 1 on Huckabee but he's got the same problem that Edwards' got -- the "then what" factor. Say he wins in Iowa -- which he has to if he wants to stay in -- then what? He's not strong anywhere else besides a few primaries in the South. And you gotta win more than the South, no matter how much Chuck Norris or Jesus likes you.
LUSo, we're back to that.
VINNIEBack to what?BRADJesus, take the wheel.VINNIEOh, yeah, Carrie Underwood. "Jesus take the wheel/Take it from my hands/'Cause I can't do this on my own/I'm letting go/So give me one more chance/Save me from this road I'm on/Jesus take the wheel."LUSounds a lot like the Republicans.BRADI'm surprised you know the words.VINNIEOh, yeah. I like all music, political parties, and religion. I'm strictly agnostic about everything and a real Renaissance Man.(a beat) And I'll give you 2 to 1 odds on it, too.