(SCENE: a nondescript hotel room, covered with paper, the television tuned to CNN. JOSH, TOBY, SAM, DONNA, and CJ are sitting around the room in various states of concentration.)
SAM: (reading aloud) “This election is important, not because it is about change but because it is about choice. As a politician, I choose to present you with facts. My opponent chooses to lie to you. Your job is to choose as well – but the other guy doesn’t want your job to be easy.”
TOBY: Shift from formal speech to informal conversation. Wait, did I say informal? I meant “folksy.”
TOBY: From my lips to L’il Abner’s ears, yes.
SAM: What’s wrong with folksy? People like folksy.
TOBY: How about he’s not folksy? How about it comes across as inauthentic? Like he’s trying to get people to like him?
CJ: But we are trying to get people to like him.
TOBY: There’s a fine line between charismatic and pathetic. You are jumping, you are vaulting over that line.
SAM: I’ll rewrite it.
JOSH: When did people stop doing math?
DONNA: For me, that would be grade eleven.
JOSH: I don’t mean – look. He’s promising to increase military spending and cut taxes, and his entire plan for not making the country go broke is cutting earmarks. That’s like you trying to pay off your credit card by saving your change when you buy gum.
DONNA: I don’t have that much on my credit card.
JOSH: Yes you do.
DONNA: There was a sale on widescreen televisions.
JOSH: You watch the news and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
DONNA: And I can see every last one of their pores in glorious high definition.
JOSH: But you watch the news. Donna, how is the fiscal outlook of the United States right now?
DONNA: Are you asking me or are you asking the campaign’s press secretary?
JOSH: I’m asking you.
DONNA: Then it’s pretty bad.
JOSH: Then why does he think he can just yell out “tax cuts” and everything will work?
CJ: Because both parties spent years convincing the American electorate that we were on the wrong side of the Laffer curve and we needed to cut taxes in order to make the government more efficient and put more money in voters’ pockets.
JOSH: I know, but wouldn’t you think they’d have figured out we were all full of crap yet?
CJ: You’d think.
Silence for a while, then:
TOBY: I can’t take this any more!
JOSH: (checking watch) Who had eight-thirty to nine o’clock in the pool?
SAM and DONNA and CJ: (in unison) Charlie.
JOSH: Why do I ever let that kid gamble?
TOBY: How do I do this job? He just lies and lies and lies and nobody gives a damn!
JOSH: We do.
TOBY: You don’t count.
SAM: Black voters do. Hispanics do. Younger –
TOBY: Yes, Sam, thank you, I needed a description of the Democratic Party’s traditional base, now how about independent voters? You know, the stupid ones? I mean, I knew they were stupid, we spend most of every other year catering to their stupidity, but I thought until now they were just dense and uninterested, not actively handicapped!
JOSH: Look, we knew we’d have to grind this one out.
TOBY: This isn’t “grinding it out,” Josh. Every day they lie. Phyllis Schafly’s hot daughter is on the campaign trail every day lying – not shading the truth, not trying to make a bad thing look better, she’s just lying every time she opens her goddamn mouth about things that are in the public record for anybody to see!
CJ: Toby, the press –
TOBY: The press! The press! The press is useless, CJ! Worse than useless! Never mind that this year the choice comes down to a gifted young leader and the Cryptkeeper and they want “balance” – you know what they call them? “Distortions.” Not lies. “Distortions.”
DONNA: “Distortions” doesn’t sound that good.
TOBY: It sounds better than “lies” and that’s all that matters. People who don’t follow politics know what “distortions” are – they’re what you get when a politician tries to make something average sound good. But this – I don’t know to fight this. We call them lies, everybody will get caught up in a big round of “everybody does it” and nobody cares. Worse, we destroy what we’ve got – a guy who people think doesn’t like it because he doesn’t like it. We’re walking a razor here and I’m out of ideas.
JOSH: I vote for beer.
TOBY: Is that your answer to this?
JOSH: It’s my answer to needing beer. Come on, Toby, let’s go get a drink and then come back and tackle it fresh.
(All rise and proceed to exit. From out in the hallway…)
SAM: You know, he jumps from formal speech to folksy all the time when he writes his own stuff.
TOBY: Great. Let’s get him a straw hat and have him hum the tune to “Hee Haw.” I bet that puts Alabama in play.