Articles written for the website of Time Magazine but NOT published!


"Friends, Republicans and Countrymen"
by Martin Lewis
(Written October 14, 2000)

Memo to Bill Daley (Chairman: Gore Productions)

Subject: Final Script Revisions - "Al Gore For President"

We seem to have hit a few bumps in the script. I think in retrospect we all agree that ending the second act with a defanged, declawed Al Gore - Prozak-ed to the eyeballs was too problematic. It just wasn't plausible that he could spring back to life in the third act and win the presidency. This is a three act movie - not a miracle.

So I've done a major rewrite of the third act - with a grand finale speech that just kills!

To help you follow where I'm going - I've preceded it with an analysis of the plot so far.

Work with me Bill... I know it's late in the day for a rewrite - but I'm not spitballing you. I think I've really nailed it now.

Yours ever

Martin

The Story So Far...

We have our improbable hero. Al is the VERY Last Boy Scout. We've set him up with a nemesis with a strong motive. The bad guy may be a doofus - but he is determined to avenge his dad's political death. In that regard - George is a kind of Hamlet. The Melancholic Dude. Not entirely unsympathetic. We ended the first act with Al pulling back into the fight by planting one on his wife and thus getting the single women to root for him. And we played the second act fine. After making it look like Al had the Holy Grail in a lockbox - we ended it with the inevitable setback. So we've set up a great conflict. Now Al must fight back to save the day. Down to the last minute.

In James Bond terms we started the third act with Al strapped to a gurney with a buzzsaw churning inevitably towards his political holdings. "Do you expect me to talk straight Bushfinger?" "No, Mr. Gore. I expect you to die... Especially in Michigan and Ohio." We see flashbacks of the frantic thoughts rushing through Al's mind. Those beautiful Asian girls at that exotic temple he visited in L.A... Damn! They must have been filming him to blackmail him! That smirking Bushfinger - with his limited grasp of the English language - has set him up.

But here's the problem. Al doesn't have the James Bond physical hero thing happening. (I knew Sean Connery. I wrote for Sean Connery. Al Gore is no Sean Connery.) He just can't pull that off. So how can he escape being sawn in half by the evil Bushfinger? There's only one thing for it. He must fearlessly leap films! He has to jump an enormous chasm into a movie genre where he can deliver that great tearjerker speech that wins the day.

The big unspoken weapon Al has barely used is that he's been a super-hero for the past 8 years - but Bushfinger has successfully cowed him into not referring to it because it brings up those Painful Memories. But Al has to turn that on Bushfinger. Everyone has to want him to break free of the shackles and ram it down the bad guy's throat.

The template for this is that Michael Douglas flick with the very apt title - "American President." Remember in that picture the Good Liberal has been slapped around by the wily Republican played by Richard Dreyfuss. But Douglas keeps turning the other cheek. He won't defend his American flag-burning girlfriend. He doesn't even mention her name in public.

But finally the worm turns. Douglas strides into the White House press room and delivers the gutsy speech that turns the picture round. (Even Martin Sheen has tears in his eyes.) "She may have been a flag-burning draft-dodger... You may not approve of some of the things she's done - but bottom line - she's a great gal who's done great things for her country." Bingo! The hero has finally stood up for someone. An imperfect friend. And pointed out that his pal's virtues out-weigh her foibles.

And THAT's what Al has to do to kick butt and bring resolution in the third act. The equivalent of the imperfect pal of course is the unmentionable Bill Clinton. Al has been petrified of touting the best thing he has going for him (being the junior partner in the most successful economic revival in American history) because his friend did a Bad Thing.

This is the elephant in the living room that won't go away unless he deals with it.

So I've written up a new last scene. It needs one more polish - but I think it does the basic job. Here goes....

It's the day before the 2000 election

Int. White House press room. Bill Clinton has just given a press corps briefing when unexpectedly Al Gore strides into the room. Donna Brazile is right behind him (can we get Whoopi?) Jaws drop. This wasn't on the schedule. Networks scramble and go live...

ALBERTUS GORUS:

Friends, Republicans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Clinton, not to praise him.

(shot of a remorseful Clinton biting his lip)

The evil that men do lives after them.

(cut to a bashful Monica Lewinsky covering the event for the BBC)

The good is oft interred with their bones.

(quickie flashback of Clinton at convention boasting about "The longest peacetime expansion in history...")

So let it be with Clinton. The noble Newtus has told you Clinton was amorous. If it were so, it was a grievous fault. And grievously has Clinton answered it.

(quickie flashback of Clinton in sackcloth and ashes at his 17th prayer breakfast being exalted by Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa)

Here, under leave of Newtus and the rest. For Newtus is an honorable man... So are they all, all honorable men.

(shot of Newtus Gingrich, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Bob Barr, Dan Burton et al watching a TV. They are all scowling)

Come I to speak in Clinton's farewell. He was my friend, faithful and just to me. But Newtus says he was amorous. And Newtus is an honorable man.

He hath brought many homeless to D.C. Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill?

(shot of Lincoln Bedroom. A twist. All the Clinton guests turn out to have been HOMELESS people! Or at least West-Coasters lacking a duplex penthouse in Georgetown.)

Did this in Clinton seem amorous? When that the poor have cried, Clinton hath wept and felt their pain. Lust should be made of sterner stuff.

(shot of Brit Hume, Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, Sam Donaldson - tears of remorse streaming down their cheeks)

Yet Newtus says he was amorous. And Newtus is an honorable man.

You all did love him once - in fact twice if you include '96 - not without cause. What cause withholds you then to mourn for him? O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts. And white men in the 25-49 demo have lost their reason! Bear with me... My heart is there with Clinton. And I must pause till it come back to me... (he sighs loudly with emotion)

FIRST PUNDIT: (on MSNBC)

Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.

SECOND PUNDIT: (on Fox News)

If thou consider rightly of the matter, Clinton has had great wrong.

THIRD PUNDIT: (on CNN)

I fear there will a worse come in his place.

(insert shot of George W. Bush stumbling on "subliminable-ble")

FOURTH PUNDIT: (on "Rivera Live")

Poor soul! His eyes are red as fire with weeping.

(we see Al weeping with the pain of loyalty)

FIRST PUNDIT:

There's not a nobler man in D.C. than Albert.

FOURTH PUNDIT:

Now mark him. He begins again to speak.

ALBERTUS:

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. You all do know this budget. I remember the first time ever Clinton put it out. 'Twas on a Summer's evening in the Oval Office. That day he overcame the deficit. Look, in this place ran Trentus Lottus' dagger through. See what a rent the envious Orrin Hatch made. Through this the well-beloved Dickus Morris stabbed. For Dickus as you know, was Clinton's angel. This was the most unkindest cut of all. For when the noble Clinton saw him stab, ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms quite vanquished him, then burst his mighty heart.

O what a fall was there, my countrymen!

FIRST GALLUP-SELECTED CITIZEN:

Behold Albertus! Let not Bushus take the Clinton shroud!

SECOND GALLUP-SELECTED CITIZEN:

Yes! Albertus - lead us... take on the mantle of our fallen hero!

500 PREVIOUSLY UNDECIDED CITIZENS (assembled by CNN with Wolf Blitzer)

Albertus Gorus! Thou art the noblest of them all!! Lead us! lead us!

Al places his hand on his heart (using the international sign language for "I wish to appear humble and moved")

(cut to an ashen-faced George W. Bush. Suddenly his face shows relief. He turns to Karl Rove and Karen Hughes and speaks: "I appreciate that... I never wanted to be a President anyway. I was just doin' it for muh pappy. I wanted a different 'consequence.' I always wanted to be... to be... the BASEBALL COMMISSIONER!"

He breaks into song - singing to the tune of Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song." Providing a chorus behind him is that retro-band from Congress - Henry Hyde & The House Managers - dressed as Yankees and Mets)

"I'm a C'missioner and I'm OK. I watch base-ball all night and day..."

Meanwhile watching these events on TV in a swanky NY penthouse is Lucianne Goldberg. Her face becomes engorged with rage and she suddenly ages - becoming a 600 year-old witch - before disintegrating into a plume of dust.

As Lucianne crumbles - the evil spell she'd cast is lifted off a slew of conservative pundettes - and we see Ann Coulter, Kelly-Ann Fitzpatrick, Barbara Olsen, Laura Ingraham all rub their eyes and waken from their trances. They start to speak vivaciously of Al Gore and their joy at being radical feminist liberals.

Music swells up - dissolve through to Inauguration Day 2001. Bill Clinton watches proudly as Al Gore is sworn in as President. Tipper (dressed as Cleopatra for her Mark Anthony) swoons as Al kisses her. Pull back slowly to reveal millions of Americans of every race, color, creed, religion, orientation and size - dancing joyously together in the streets.

Fade To Black

Credits


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