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The best president ever

THE BEST PRESIDENT EVER

FADE IN:

INT. CHANNEL 79 HALLWAY - DAY

Posters on the hallway walls support various political causes, some lost, others past, some languishing unfulfilled in the present.

BRAD FRANKLIN, mid 40s, Starbucks cup in hand walks with

LU O'NEIL, black, late 40s, wearing a nice white sweater, clutches an armload of files, DVDs and papers to her chest, a newspaper under her arm and can of Rockstar in her hand.

BRAD
So, I'm being kidnapped to see some videos of what your Independent Producers cooked up from the debates -- (re: her drink)what the hell is that?
LU
We call 'em Indies, and what the hell is what?
BRAD
Right there, what you're carrying.
LU
Right there where? I'm carrying everything I own but my George Foreman Fryer.
BRAD
How do those things work anyhow --
LU
-- Pretty good as a blunt instrument.
BRAD
(off her scowl)Yeah, why don't I just take some of those files from you.

Brad reaches for the files.

LU
Always the gentleman -- careful with the polling stuff, don't be grazing the twins, watch the --
BRAD
-- Yeah, well, maybe you can just carefully slide in my --

Lu lets it all fall, Brad bobbles the handoff, tries to catch things with the hand carrying his coffee, Lu's new sweater gets a coffee bath and the floor proves gravity is still working.

BRAD
-- arms...
LU
(off her sweater)Oh, hell -- you cannot be serious.
BRAD
See, that's what I was afraid --
LU
You ain't seen fear 'til you see Mr. Han's cleaning bill.

They squat down to pick up everything.

BRAD
I'll pay for --
LU
You damn straight you will --

AMBER, 20s and just enough Valley Girl to make you wonder if the Goth look is really her idea or a Halloween hold over she's just going with.

AMBER
Wow -- what happened to you --
LU
I was handing off to Brad --
AMBER
That's gonna stain, you know --
BRAD
I'm paying for --
AMBER
You could, like, soak it in a tub of coffee -- and cream, I guess -- and that way it wouldn't look stained, just -- ummm, mauve.
LU
Yeah, thanks Am -- aren't you late for our meeting?
AMBER
Oh,mygawd -- I gotta go. I'm dead if I'm late again. See ya there.

Puzzled, Brad watches Amber hurry away.

BRAD
Who all's at this meeting?
LU
You, me and her. She's taking notes.
BRAD
She can write?
LU
In three languages and two dialects.
BRAD
You're shittin' me.
LU
You stand around like a cop in a titty bar, dump coffee on my new sweater and you think I'M shitting you?

Lu smacks Brad in the head.

SOUND comes up and they do the walk-away.

LU
Of course I'm shitting you. Amber doesn't know up from left, but she tries like hell, which we could use more of around here because I'm telling ya, if buttholes could fly, this place'd be an airport...

INT. EDITING ROOM - DAY

EARL JACOBS, mid 30s, webmaster for 79 and the go-to guy for all things technical, sits in a chair while Amber holds a bag of peas on his forehead.

AMBER
I am like, so... so sorry. I did not see you coming out --

Brad and Lu walk in and Amber drops the peas in Earl's lap. It's a big bag. And he knows it -- now.

AMBER
I was running in as he was runn--
EARL
-- walking --
AMBER
-- walking out. And I ran into --
EARL
-- over --
AMBER
-- over him. But it wasn't my fault, because I was trying to get to my --
LU
-- our --
AMBER
-- our meeting. Right! So it's not really my fault. Wow, I can't tell you how much better I feel about all this now.

Earl looks at Amber. Looks to Brad. Looks to Lu and indicates a button on the playback.

EARL
Push that button when you're ready. If you need anything else, anything at all, feel free to call somebody with a helmet.

Earl leaves, Amber is nervous, chagrined. Lu puts her stuff on a desk. Brad's arm-load slides onto an editing table.

BRAD
Maybe we should hit the button before something else --

Suddenly Amber is Bridget Jones.

AMBER
-- That's a great idea! Let's watch these ground breaking video clips, these technologically pertin -- ahhh, relevant -- thingies -- and see what a great job our wonderful and insightful --

Lu pushes the "play" button.

ON THE MONITOR as it opens to

A black and white snow, then a black lead, then comes to life under stirring news music. Three men sit at a kitchen table. Two opposite each other for debate, one at the end, to moderate.

The debaters are dressed as Dracula and Frankenstein, the moderator a clean cut young man in a suit.

MODERATOR
Good morning. I'm Lewis Dumbhauser and this is Capitol Jerkoffs. From the left, Count Dracula, representing Democrats trying to suck the life blood from our economy. From the right, Frankenstein, representing Republicans trying to build an economy from their own dead body parts.(a beat)Alphabetically, we'll start with Count Dracula. How do you see your party dealing with the issue of national health care?
DRACULA
Well, obviously we'll want to join the other 36 industrialized nations who already provide affordable health care to their citizens. And we'll start by fixing the prescription drug program. I see little reason that the wealthiest nation on earth cannot provide for its own citizens in their own towns --
FRANKENSTEIN
-- You're backing a national health care plan that extends down to the towns and villages? That is ridiculous -- you're going to effectively run the insurance industry out of business. Who then, I ask you, is going to build all the skyscrapers? Who is going to loan money to developers? Who is going to build our shopping malls? The people living in small towns and villages?
DRACULA
We trust the good people who are the backbone of our country, living in the towns and villages all across --
FRANKENSTEIN
Well, when it comes to health care, I can tell you from personal experience that villagers are not to be trusted! Especially when you're talking about breakthrough medical experiments.
MODERATOR
What about special needs?
FRANKENSTEIN
Well, everyone has special needs, but we simply cannot afford to provide for them all. And yet not everyone wants to deal with this issue.
MODERATOR
Like who?
DRACULA
Well, for example, Senator Clinton has no policy on affordable access to free range blood.
MODERATOR
Free range blood. You mean --
DRACULA
Yes, if we concentrated on free range blood, we would not have these seasonal shortages when people are not giving to the blood banks. We would go to them, as it were.
MODERATOR
And Senator Clinton refuses to construct a national policy for free range blood?
DRACULA
Yes, but I did get a nice letter from Mike Gravel on the subject and I expect his white paper and a video very soon.
MODERATOR
Count Dracula, let's be honest. Aren't you just piling on Senator Clinton on this issue because she's a woman?
FRANKENSTEIN
No, No, No. He'd be delighted to pile on Hillary any time, blood has nothing to do with it.(thinks)Well, that -- and she is ahead.
BRAD (O.S.)
You know, we missed Halloween with this one.
LU
Yeah, well, for most of us it's Halloween everyday in our bank accounts.
BRAD
So, what else ya got?
LU
(cues up another one)Here's one on the war I like -- puts things in a nice historical perspective with a modern bookend.

ON THE MONITOR

A black man in robes preaches from behind a podium. A sign on the podium: "Temple Mount Christian Cavalry".

PREACHER
And while it is true that Arab armies conquered Palestine in the 7th century, Pope Urban II began the First Crusade in 1099 when he dispatched 35,000 brothers to run them godless mother[BLEEP] out of the promised land. Now we up to 145,000 troops with Pope Bush II and still waiting for that Promised Day in the Promised Land. But hear me now brothers and sisters. There is a powerful wind a-blowing from the great state of Tennessee that will expand our military to the greatest heights mankind has ever seen. Pope Thompson I will spare no expense to chase these godless mother[BLEEP] to every nook and cranny in every part of the world and kill them as fast as they spring up.
BRAD
Oh, yeah, run that one. I haven't been audited in ten years.
AMBER
I liked all the history in it. I mean, you can tell he really did his research... you know, the Urban Pope and all. Kinda reminds me of a rock group, like Def Leppard, Urban Pope -- get it?

Brad looks at Amber. Looks back to Lu.

LU
How about a nice debate-inspired poem?
BRAD
From this bunch? I can already rhyme Huckabee, thanks.
LU
No, no -- it's ain't like that.(cues it up) It's a haiku, you know 5-7-5?
BRAD
Oh, good. We could use some Japanese simplicity, around here.
LU
Yeah, well -- about that...

ON THE MONITOR

A tough-looking heavily-tattooed biker sits on a Harley. A biker babe in a bikini holds a sign: "Harley's Haikus."

HARLEY
Was that a flip flop?Tell us about drivers' licenses.Or, read my finger!

Harley starts to jab the bird at the camera.

BRAD
OK. Alright. I always wondered where they went.
LU
Where what went?
BRAD
Careers, where they went to die. Turns out they come here. They sit in this very chair and watch 20 years of their life slide right down the toilet without so much as a courtesy flush.
LU
So you want to see the trailer for "A Nation's Shame, the Sequel."
BRAD
Sure, go for it. It'll be a nice segue into the throbbing headache that's going to keep me awake all night.

ON THE MONITOR

EXT. JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMP - DAY

Grainy film shows dreary wooden buildings surrounded by barbed-wire fencing. An American flag waves from a flagpole.

People wander the compound. Some are gardening, a few women sit on porches and sew. A sandlot baseball game occupies some children while others kick balls to each other.

The camera cuts to a series of close ups of the faces of older Japanese women in the compound. Their faces are wrinkled and worn. They look tired, haggard. Some attempt a smile but most have that thousand-yard stare of the defeated.

The voice over is Japanese, emotional, animated and seems to be describing what's going on in the camp. The voice over continues uninterrupted -- and without subtitles -- until

BRAD (O.S.)
Gonna be hard to get happy after this.
LU
That's the point. We screwed these people over and we're doing the same thing again. Different century, different race, but we're doing it again.
BRAD
I don't think there's an Emmy category for Most Depressing Screwover in a Foreign Language.
LU
But this is damned compelling stuff.
AMBER
Yeah, it's some really good shit.
BRAD
Well maybe we should take it out back and smoke some of it because nobody's going to watch it.
LU
(defensive, to Brad)These people were American citizens and we locked them up for no other reason than because they were Japanese. And the entire piece being in Japanese lends to the sense of futility and lack of understanding we had as a nation. And still don't have.(a beat)You know damn well it's just a matter of time before we have to admit we did it again. The boogey man is after us, so let's lock up whoever we don't understand.(glares)It's like we don't have a on-deck circle in this country, it's just "Batter Up", start swinging and hope "Mission Impossible" turns into "Mission Accomplished".

The door opens and Bill Marlin, News Director for Channel 8 walks in, just as the silence becomes deafening.

Lu switches the playback off, settles back in her chair, annoyed.

BILL
Am I interrupting something?
BRAD
Yes, thank god. Where the hell were you two minutes ago?
BILL
Getting the new numbers for Iowa. Check this out: Clinton's up by two over Obama, and Edwards a real close third.
LU
Lord God almighty, they got the brother surrounded.
BILL
Yeah, and the way Iowa works, second could be first.
AMBER
I don't get that.
BRAD
Neither does anyone else, but the basics are to win, you gotta get 15%. If you don't get 15%, then they total up the candidates in second place, who didn't have enough to win, but one of whom has more second place votes than the leader had for first. Then second wins.

Everyone looks at Amber for a flicker. Any flicker. Finally a perspective.

AMBER
Right... so it's kinda like Olympic Ice Dancing. You wait to see who wins and if it's not your guy, you know somebody got paid off.

Brad, Lu and Bill look at each other, and then shrug their agreement.

AMBER
So, how many people go to these caucuses? Is it like, most of the people in Iowa?
BILL
Not even close -- last time it was around 125,000.
BRAD
Less in New Hampshire. Waaay less.
AMBER
OK, so I really don't get it now. Why is everyone all wound up over Iowa and New Hampshire -- aren't there like twice as many people in New York City as in all of Iowa AND New Hampshire -- combined?
LU
Well, yeah -- probably twice as many in New York City. But the point is --
AMBER
-- that a tiny number of people in a couple of "who cares" states are going to decide who runs for President.
BRAD
Well... there's more to it --
AMBER
-- But that's the bottom line, isn't it?
BILL
Well, it's a lot more complicated than that --
AMBER
I don't think so. I don't know anyone who can name three cities in Iowa.
LU
(counts them off)Des Moines, Ottumwa --
AMBER
Doesn't count -- you got that off a MASH rerun.
LU
-- Dubuque --
AMBER
Spell it.

Lu stops. It's quickly apparent she can't.

AMBER
See? If Iowa was so important, we'd know more about it. At least New Hampshire gave us one great president.

They all look at each other, thinking. Finally,

BILL
Franklin Pierce was from New Hampshire, but he isn't considered one of our better presidents.

Amber imitates a ringing phone, answers the imaginary hand piece and then hands it to Bill.

AMBER
It's the "DUH" phone, it's for you.(exasperated)I was talking about one of our best Presidents EVER -- Jed Bartlet!(looks at all three)Hello -- he was President for like six years or something.

Bill looks at Brad.

BILL
I'll just take these numbers back to the office. You can drop by anytime and pick them up from Jimmy Smits.

Brad jumps up to follow.

BRAD
Hey, whoa, weren't you going to introduce me to that guy over at the place so we can finish that thing we were supposed to do? (jogs)Hey, wait up...

FADE OUT

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