The President – Episode 104
Through a series of tragedies, 27-year-old Deputy Secretary of Transportation Holden Jackson has become the youngest President in the history of the United States.
Episode 104 – Steppin’ Out
(With Air Force One grounded, the White House staff and Press Corps are forced to spend Thanksgiving break in the city; which is suffering a severe cold snap. The White House has lost power and President Jackson is in the Oval Office, setting logs down in the middle of the room; while Wilbur Chamberlain tries to fix the thermostat..)
Chamberlain: If we don’t get this heater going soon, it’s going to be a chilly holiday break.
Jackson: (gets up off his knee, reaches for a bottle of kerosene, begins spraying the carpet) What do you think I’m doing over here.
Chamberlain: (glances at the kerosene-soaked log pile) I’m hoping the next words out of your mouth aren’t “building a fire”.
Jackson: Building a…hot pile…of burning.
Chamberlain: For the dozenth time, Mr. President: You cannot start fires in the White House.
Jackson: (pouts, kicks at the log pile grumpily) But I’m cold!
Chamberlain: There are other ways to warm up.
Jackson: Ew, we’re not having sex.
Chamberlain: I was thinking more along the lines of a space heater.
Jackson: We could burn flags. Lotsa flags in this place. From countries I’ve never even heard of.
Chamberlain: Must I remind you the Press Corps is still with us?
Jackson: We could burn books.
Chamberlain: No more book-burnings.
Jackson: Let’s burn this one. I’m done with it.
Chamberlain: (grabs the dusty old tome) Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk. You read this?
Jackson: (frowns, growing hostile) I can be smart too, ya know!
Chamberlain: Easy, Mr. President. No one questioned your intellect. It’s just, Dostoevsky isn’t along the lines of your normal literary interests.
Jackson: Jessica was talkin’ about it with that Russian Prime Minister she was chattin’ up. I thought it would make her like me and stuff.
Chamberlain: (nods) Not your worst wooing plan. What did you think? It’s brilliant, isn’t it? You know, Dostoevsky was just a bit younger than you when he wrote it.
Jackson: I dunno. Kinda bummed me out. That one guy with the wicked long name really liked that one girl with the wicked long name; but they never got together.
Chamberlain: Well, Dostoevsky was not known for his happy endings.
Jackson: I don’t care about his massage techniques, Wilby. The guy doesn’t know anything about love!
Chamberlain: Dostoevsky suffered through many hardships in his lifetime.
Jackson: Any good writer knows the guy’s supposed to get the girl in the end. Like Niles and Daphne.
Chamberlain: What did you think of the poverty element of the novel? His characterization of the poor?
Jackson: Yeah, that was depressing too. They shoulda just ate squirrels. I bet that country’s crawling with squirrels.
Chamberlain: Perhaps that’s what we should do this Thanksgiving. Give back to the needy.
Jackson: Ew, stinky bums?
Chamberlain: Wouldn’t it be nice to do some good for a change?
Jackson: (sighs heavily) I s’pose.
Chamberlain: Plus there’s a good possibility the soup kitchen actually has a functioning heater.
Jackson: Do we have to touch ’em?
(That afternoon Wilbur, Holden and the White House staff and Press Corps are volunteering at the Happy Hobo Soup Kitchen, handing out Thanksgiving dinner to a line of homeless stretching around the block..)
Jackson: Wow, look at all these bums.
Chamberlain: Please stop saying that, sir.
(New York Times reporter Jerry Thames is wiping the sweat off his brow, ladling gravy..)
Thames: Wilbur, how long do we have to do this?
Jackson: Shut up, Jerry!
(President Jackson throws a biscuit at the reporter’s head. Noticing Jessica Sanchez, he makes his way down the serving line..)
Jackson: ‘Sup, Jess.
Sanchez: Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. President. I think it’s wonderful that we’re helping the needy today. I never knew you were so charitable.
Jackson: I’m not. That’s what makes it so surprising. So, I’m sorry about all the planes being grounded. If you need a place to crash..
Jackson: I’m sure your family was excited to see you and your husband and/or boyfriend.
Sanchez: (frowns) Why would that be an and/or? I’d have a husband and a boyfriend?
Jackson: (shrugs) Well, you are pretty hot.
Sanchez: Mr. President, it’s never gonna happen.
(Jessica scoops some stuffing onto a homeless man’s plate and he glances at President Jackson..)
Jackson: Quiet, you dirty bum!
Chamberlain: (from down the line) Mr. President!
Sanchez: I’m just not looking for commitment right now.
Jackson: So you’re into more of a casual type of thing. Okay, I’m down.
Sanchez: I’m really just focusing on my work for the time being.
Jackson: Your work’s always gonna be there. There’s always going to be an excuse not to do something. C’mon. You’re young, I’m young. Let’s have some fun.
Sanchez: Sorry, Holden.
Jackson: But I’m the President and stuff! I could bomb the Sphinx tomorrow and nobody would question me.
Sanchez: I’m pretty sure everyone would question you, actually. And that’s precisely my point, Holden. How is anyone ever going to take me seriously as a journalist if I’m gallivanting about with the President of the United States?
Jackson: I could give you inside info. Big-time stuff. I know who shot Lincoln!
Sanchez: Everybody knows who shot Lincoln. I think you mean Kennedy.
Jackson: Oh, no. I don’t know who shot him.
(A rotund homeless man saunters up..)
Homeless: Can I have some stuffin’?
Jackson: Move it along, Tubby.
Sanchez: Dating a highly-placed government official would go against everything I stand for and have worked so hard to achieve.
Jackson: (pondering) So, what you’re saying is…if I wasn’t the President, I’d have a shot.
Sanchez: (smiling faintly) Perhaps.
(A derelict with his head down holds out a plate..)
Jackson: (takes a closer look at the homeless man) Gary?
Busey: (looks up) Holden. What the heck, you come here too? You ever tried their tomato soup?
(President Jackson is wearing a pilgrim hat and eating a turkey leg, staring out at the full cafeteria..)
Jackson: Man, look at all these bums.
Chamberlain: I wish you’d stop saying that, sir.
Jackson: I was saying it in a good way that time.
Chamberlain: Perhaps, being the leader of the free world – a man these people don’t get too much face time with – you could say a few words.
Jackson: Ugh, do I have to?
Jackson: (taps his turkey leg on a table and climbs up on it) Bums of Washington!
Chamberlain: Oh, dear.
Jackson: I come here before you today – on the day we give thanks – to tell you that you are not forgotten.
(Some of the homeless clap tentatively..)
Jackson: We have not given up on you. Though we sometimes pass you by, avert eye contact and hold our breath for a few yards after, because you smell really bad; we have not forgotten.
(More tentative applause..)
Jackson: And just remember that this is not the end of your story. Change can come at the drop of a hat. (points at pilgrim hat) Your whole life can be turned upside-down from its upside-downedness so that it is rightside-up again.
Jackson: Change is good. None of us would be standing here today, no matter how old our shoes, without change. (glancing at Jessica seated at a far table, transcribing) Sometimes you have to take a chance. Throw caution to the wind. Break the rules. Whether they be the rules of life, the rules of society or the rules of journalistic propriety.
Sanchez: (glances up, frowning)
Jackson: If we don’t take chances, we’ll always be stuck in the state we’re in right now. Which isn’t so bad for me, ’cause I’m the President. But the rest of you need to make a decision. Do I want to be a pilgrim or an Indian?
(Holden places his pilgrim hat on the balding head of an obese homeless man and pets him..)
Jackson: Me? I wanna be a pilgrim. ‘Cause the pilgrims won. And that’s what America’s all about: Winners. The Indians couldn’t accept change and they died out.
(A homeless man a couple tables over raises his hand..)
Homeless: I’m an Indian.
Jackson: We could all do with a little change. (glances at a shirtless homeless man gnawing on a turkey bone) Some of us more than others. And that’s what I promise you bums today. I can’t promise you the world, but I can promise you a little change. I think we can all spare some change.
(A number of homeless begin shaking change cups at Holden..)
Jackson: Oh, no. I meant more like change in your life. Not actual metal currency. I don’t carry any money on me, I’m the President. I’m crazy rich. Wilby, get these guys some change. CHANGE FOR ALL!
(The cafeteria erupts with applause and President Jackson defiantly raises a fist to the ceiling, while Wilbur Chamberlain fishes through his pockets.)
(The White House staff and Press Corps are walking the five blocks back to the White House, with President Jackson and Jessica Sanchez bringing up the rear..)
Sanchez: That was quite the speech today, Mr. President. Kind of got away from you a little towards the middle; but overall, one of your better speeches.
Jackson: (beams) You know, that felt good today – giving back. Maybe there was a Makar Devushkin out there today that we helped.
Sanchez: Hey, I didn’t know you read Dostoevsky.
Jackson: (chuckles under breath) Yeah, I’m pretty learn-ed.
(Jessica leans in and kisses Holden on the cheek, before catching up with the rest of the Press Corps..)
Sanchez: Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. President.
(Holden stops in his tracks, causing a Secret Service agent to bump into him..)
Agent Riley: Sorry, Mr. President. Is everything alright?
Jackson: (smiling dazily) Yeah, Riley. ‘Sall good. Overall, pretty cool Turkey Day.
(Vice President Busey comes screaming down the street, with a dozen loose turkeys..)
Busey: Run gobblers, run!
(Early the next morning – on Black Friday – President Jackson calls Wilbur Chamberlain into the Oval Office..)
Chamberlain: You rang, sir?
Jackson: I need your help with something, Wilbur.
Chamberlain: Hand me the Sudoku puzzle, Mr. President.
Jackson: No Sudoku. We’ll finish that together later.
Chamberlain: Then what is it you want, sir?
Jackson: I wanna impeach myself.