アメリカン・プレジデント(1995年)

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FADE IN:

As the OPENING TTTLES ROLL against a series of shots of
statues and paintings of former presidents, we HEAR shards of
dialogue from various presidential speeches.

MAIN TITLES END ON

EXT. BEAUTIFUL ESTABLISHING SHOT OF THE WHITE HOUSE – DAY

It’s an early November morning, and the sun has just come
over this extraordinary building. WE HOLD on this for a moment
before we

CUT TO:

INT. A CORRIDOR IN THE RESIDENCE – DAY

A SECRET SERVICE AGENT presses the button by the private
elevator as he talks into his shirt cuff.

AGENT COOPER
Liberty’s moving.

Another AGENT rounds the corner into the corridor and is
followed a step or two later by

PRESIDENT ANDREW BENJAMIN SHEPHERD.

SHEPHERD’s walking with his personal assistant, JANIE, a shy,
professional and incredibly efficient 25-year-old.

JANIE
The 10:15 event’s been moved inside
to the Indian Treaty Room.

SHEPHERD
(to Janie)
The 10:15 is American Fisheries?

JANIE
Yes, sir. They’re giving you a
200-pound halibut.

SHEPHERD
Janie, make a note. We need to
schedule more events where somebody
gives me a really big fish.

JANIE starts to make a note.

JANIE
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD
Janie, I was kidding.

JANIE
Of course, sir.

SHEPHERD
(to the AGENT at the
elevator)
Hey, Cooper.

AGENT COOPER
‘Morning, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD and JANIE enter the elevator. As the doors close…

JANIE
Mr. Rothschild asked to have a moment
with you this morning.

SHEPHERD
Is he upset about the speech last night?

JANIE
He seemed concerned.

SHEPHERD
Well, it wouldn’t be a Monday morning
unless Lewis was concerned about
something I did Sunday night.

The elevator doors open, revealing LEWIS ROTHSCHILD. At 32,
LEWIS is the President’s chief domestic policy advisor. It
would appear that he averages about two hours sleep a night,
though that doesn’t seem to slow him down.

LEWIS
You skipped the whole paragraph.

SHEPHERD
(to Janie)
And Monday morning it is.

LEWIS falls into the pace as the three of them head for the
double doors leading to the South Lawn.

LEWIS
“American can no longer afford to
pretend that they live in a great
society”…and then nothing. You
dumped the whole handguns paragraph.

SHEPHERD
This is a time for prudence, Lewis.

LEWIS
That was the kick-ass section.

The three of them are now OUTSIDE and making their way down
the COVERED WALKWAY that runs from the East Wing to the West
Wing.

SHEPHERD
I thought what with being the
President and all…

LEWIS
Sir, of course I didn’t mean to
imply–

SHEPHERD
I thought you’d be turning cartwheels
this morning, Lewis — 63 percent job
approval.

LEWIS
That’s great news, sir, but…

They walk past a GROUNDKEEPER who’s at work at a patch of grass.

GROUNDKEEPER
‘Morning, Mr. President.

Before he’s even completed the last syllable of the greeting,
JANIE quickly and quietly said–

JANIE
Charlie.

SHEPHERD
‘Morning, Charlie.

LEWIS
Sir, the press is gonna need an
explanation.

SHEPHERD
For what?

SHEPHERD, LEWIS and JANIE walk through the door being held
open by an AGENT. The conversation continues as they make
their way through the corridors of

INT. THE WEST WING – DAY

They walk quickly down a hallway teeming with STAFFERS, AIDES
AND OFFICE WORKERS.

LEWIS
Because you dropped the whole kick-ass
section, now we’ve got this thing hanging
out there.

SHEPHERD
There’s a thing hanging out there?

LEWIS
“Americans can no longer afford to
pretend that they live in a great
society.” Then …nothing. No
explanation. No context. So now it’s
just this thing.

SHEPHERD
And it’s hanging out there?

LEWIS
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD stops at an open doorway, calls to a STAFFER–

SHEPHERD
Maria–

STAFFER (MARIA)
Good morning, sir.

SHEPHERD
Did they tell you I’m gonna need–

STAFFER (MARIA)
–overall consumer spending and not
just first homes. Yes, sir. We’ll have
it for you in 15 minutes.

SHEPHERD
Thanks.

SHEPHERD moves on. LEWIS and JANIE stay with him.

LEWIS
Mr. President, I really feel we need
to focus on…

SHEPHERD
Lewis, however much coffee you drink
in the morning, I want you to reduce it
by half.

LEWIS
I don’t drink coffee.

SHEPHERD
Then hit yourself over the head with
a baseball bat, would you please?

Another STAFFER crosses their path–

JANIE
Happy birthday, Laura.

SHEPHERD
Hey, Laura, happy birthday.

STAFFER (LAURA)
Thank you, sir.

Once out of earshot–

SHEPHERD
(to JANIE)
I should send her some flowers.

JANIE
You already did, sir.

And, with that, they walk through a doorway and into

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

In the OUTER OFFICE, MRS. CHAPIL, the President’s secretary,
is hard at work on a word processor. She stands as SHEPHERD
walks in–

MRS. CHAPIL
Good morning, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
How’re you, Mrs. Chapil?

MRS. CHAPIL
Fine, thank you, sir. Mr. Kodak left
the detailed breakdown of the approval
poll for you. He seemed to indicate that
it was very good news.

SHEPHERD
Sixty-three percent of it, at any rate.

And by now they’re in the OVAL OFFICE itself. SHEPHERD has
gone to his desk and is looking over the various overnight
briefing memos that have been left for him. As someone used
to doing six things at once, he has no trouble reading,
listening, and talking at the same time.

MRS. CHAPIL
Lucy called just a moment ago. You
forgot to sign her permission slip
for her class–

JANIE
–the museum trip. I’ll go get it.

SHEPHERD
(to JANIE)
What time does she get home today?

JANIE
Three-twenty.

SHEPHERD
How’s my afternoon look?

JANIE
Very crowded.

SHEPHERD
Schedule some time for me at 3:30.

WOMAN (O.S.)
Buenos dias, Senor Presidente.

This from ROBIN McCALL, a strikingly tall black woman and the
President’s press secretary, as she strides into the room.

SHEPHERD
Too-tall McCall, how was Mexico?

ROBIN
I didn’t truly appreciate it until I
came back and discovered that America
isn’t a great society.

LEWIS
(to ROBIN)
He dumped a whole section.

SHEPHERD
Now there’s a thing hanging out there.

ROBIN
Not a great society, sir?

SHEPHERD
Well, with you out of the country, it
wasn’t, Robin. Now that you’re back,
we’re great again.

ROBIN
There’s a press room full of people
saying “What did he mean by that?”

LEWIS
See?

SHEPHERD
(re: a memo he’s been
looking at)
A.J., did you get one of these?

This is said to A. J. MACINERNEY as he walks through a
separate entrance on the left side of the room. In addition
to being the President’s Chief of Staff and closest advisor,
he’s the President’s closest and oldest friend.

A.J.
Is that the letter from Solomon at
the GDC?

SHEPHERD
It would appear to be a letter from
the entire environmental community.
These people are outta control.

A.J.
I think they’re just frustrated,
Mr. President.

ROBIN
Are they blaming the President for
global warming?

A.J.
Well, they don’t think he caused it,
if that’s what you mean.

(continuing;
to SHEPHERD)
Sir, I’m on the phone with these
people twice a week. I honestly
don’t know what they want at this
point.

LEWIS
What they want is a 20 percent reduction in
fossil fuel emissions.

A.J.
It won’t pass at 20 percent.

LEWIS
We haven’t really tried.

A.J.
Lewis, McSorley, McCluskey and Shane
hold too many markers. If we try to
push this through and lose, there will
be a very loud thud when we hit the
ground, and that’s not what you want in
an election year.

SHEPHERD
Talk to the GDC again, A.J. Tell them
the President resents the implication
that he’s turned his back on the
environment. Tell them I’ll send 455 to
the floor. But we’re gonna ask for a
10 percent reduction. If they want to pull
their support, fine. At 63 percent job
approval rating. I don’t need their help
getting a bill passed. We gotta get going–
where’s Leon?

A.J.
(to an AIDE)
Would you call Mr. Kodak and tell him
the President’s–

A.J.’s sentence is cut short by the sound of a head-on
pedestrian collision in the outer office–

MRS. CHAPIL (O.S.)
Aaagh!

KODAK (O.S.)
Sorry! Sorry, my fault.

A.J.
(to the AIDE)
Never mind.

LEON KODAK comes into the oval office. The White House
pollster is a likable, if clumsy, numbers whiz. He, along
with A.J., LEWIS, and ROBIN, are regarded as the President’s
Starting Team. The people in this room have grown very close
over the past few years.

KODAK
Excuse me. Good morning, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
You all right?

KODAK
They keep moving that big ficus plant.

A.J.
We’re all here, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
Okay. First, I wanted to say
congratulations. Three years ago, we
were elected to the White House by
one of the narrowest margins in history,
and today Kodak tells us 63 percent of
registered voters think we’re doing a
good job.

KODAK
Wait a second. You wanted me to poll
registered voters?

Everyone LAUGHS… even SHEPHERD smiles…

SHEPHERD
But the poll also tells us what we
already knew: We don’t get this
crime bill of ours through Congress
and these numbers are gonna be a
memory. So, starting today, we’re
shifting it into gear.

ROBIN
Can I tell my morning press gaggle
that gun control–

A.J.
Crime control, Robin. Gun control
means we’re wimps and we’re soft on
crime.

LEWIS
Hang on, are we not–

A.J.
Lewis–

LEWIS
Are we not putting back the handgun
restrictions?!

A.J.
We’re leaving ‘em out.

LEWIS
Sir, we campaigned on this issue.
Now, I understand we took it out when
we were in the low forties, but we
can push it through now.

SHEPHERD
After the elections.

LEWIS
Sir, we may never have an opportunity
like this again. Let’s take this 63
percent out for a spin and see what
it can do.

SHEPHERD
We can’t take it out for a spin, Lewis.
We need it to get re-elected. For
reasons passing understanding, people
do not relate guns to gun-related crime.

A.J.
Robin, you can brief the press this
afternoon. As of today, the crime
bill’s priority one on the President’s
domestic agenda.

ROBIN
Got it.

A.J.
Leon, you’re gonna run the war room.
We’re gonna need detailed projections
for all the target districts by the
end of the week. And, Leon, don’t be
a nice, sweet guy from Brooklyn. Do
what the N.R.A. does.

KODAK
Scare the shit out of ‘em?

A.J.
Yeah.

KODAK
I can do that.

A.J.
Lewis, we want you to be legislative
liaison on this. You’re gonna run
the show on the hill.

LEWIS
Can I just say, to return to the
subject for one moment, that it might
be easier to fight a war on drugs if
we weren’t arming drug dealers.

SHEPHERD responds a little too quickly — we see a spark of a
temper.

SHEPHERD
Lewis, we’ve gotta fight the fights
we can win.

LEWIS
Yes, sir.

A.J.
We want to announce the crime bill at
the State of the Union, which is 72
days from today. The last nose count
put us 18 votes short.

SHEPHERD
Eighteen votes in 72 days. Thank you,
everyone. Janie, what’s next?

A.J.
Thank you, Mr. President.

The meeting’s over. LEWIS, ROBIN, and KODAK say their “Thank
you, Mr. President”‘s as they exit.

JANIE
Security briefing, sir.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE WASHINGTON BUSINESS DISTRICT – DAY

It’s around 10 o’clock the same morning as the capital district,
in its own way, is showing signs of the approaching Thanksgiving
and Christmas holidays.

EXT. A CHROME AND GLASS BUILDING – DAY

On the seventh floor of the building. A RECEPTIONIST tells us
where we are by answering the phone–

RECEPTIONIST (V.O.)
Global Defense Council…

SUSAN (V.O.)
You wanted to see me?

LEO (V.O.)
I just got off the phone with A.J.
MacInerney.

CUT TO:

INT. LEO SOLOMON’S OFFICE – DAY

LEO, a white-haired man in his early 60’s is meeting with
SUSAN SLOAN, a 40’ish lawyer who seems to go out of her way
to create an issue where none exists.

SUSAN
Did the President read the letter?

LEO
The President’s pissed as hell,
Susan. That letter was a stupid move.

SUSAN
It was aggressive, and we should
stand by every–

LEO
This isn’t the guy who needed us four
years ago, Susan. He’s incredibly
popular. He’s gonna win re-election
in a walk, and he could give a shit
what we stand by! If the President
passes the most important piece of
environmental legislation in history,
and does it despite our negative
endorsement, our political weight in
the future will rank somewhere below
the Save the Spotted Owl Society.
(beat)
I’m bringing in some help.

SUSAN
We don’t need another environmental
expert to confirm what every other
environmental expert–

LEO
Not an environmental expert, a
professional political strategist.
We’re playing hardball with Andrew
Shepherd, and we need a heavy bat.

SUSAN
Who?

LEO
Sydney Ellen Wade.

SUSAN
Oh Christ. That woman doesn’t know
the first thing about the
environmental lobby.

LEO
She’s a closer, Susan. She gets the
job done.

CUT TO:

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

SHEPHERD and LEWIS — working on a speech.

SHEPHERD
Try it like this and lose that.

ROBIN
(entering)
David Sasser from the Times called
and wanted to know what the White
House felt was a great society.

LEWIS
What did you tell him?

ROBIN
I told him I couldn’t speak for the
President, but for my money: Bermuda.

SHEPHERD
Perfect.

JANIE steps in–

JANIE
Mr. President, your cousin Judith’s
come down with the flu and won’t be
able to join you Thursday night.

SHEPHERD
That’s too bad. Remind me to give
her a call later.

JANIE
Yes, sir.

ROBIN
You gonna go stag?

SHEPHERD
That’s not a problem.

ROBIN
No. We’ve never gone wrong parading
you around as the lonely widower.

The words came out casually, but they instantly freeze everyone.

ROBIN
(continuing)
My God.
(beat)
I can’t believe I said that.
(beat)
Mr. President, that was an incredibly
thoughtless remark. I would never
dream of insulting you or the memory
of your wife.

SHEPHERD
That’s okay, forget it.
(to JANIE)
What time is it?

JANIE
It’s 3:45, sir.

SHEPHERD
I’m gonna go over and say hi to Lucy.

JANIE
You have the Attorney General at 4:00
and the trade representative at 4:30.
Somewhere in there you promised NPR
five minutes.

ROBIN
Mr. President–

SHEPHERD
Robin, don’t worry about it.

CUT TO:

INT. THE RESIDENCE – DAY

We HEAR the sound of a TROMBONE being played–not well–from
one of the rooms. SHEPHERD comes around and down the corridor.

He walks into–

INT. LUCY’S ROOM – DAY

LUCY, Shepherd’s 12-year-old daughter, stops playing.

SHEPHERD
No, keep going. I liked what you
were playing? What’s it called?

LUCY
Scales.

SHEPHERD
Well… you play it with gusto!

LUCY
Are my lips swollen?

SHEPHERD
Are they supposed to be?

LUCY
Yeah.

SHEPHERD
Then you’re doing fine.

LUCY
Whatcha got behind your back?

SHEPHERD
A little gift.

LUCY
Is it a dirt bike?

SHEPHERD
Nope.

He hands her an old textbook …

LUCY
Is it a really old seventh-grade
textbook of yours that you’re gonna
make me read cover to cover and
discuss at dinner and drive me crazy
with?

SHEPHERD
I’m not comfortable with the “really
old” part, but everything else you
said was true.

LUCY
(reading the cover)
“Understanding the Constitution.”

SHEPHERD
Your social studies teacher said your
class would be starting on the
Constitution this week.

LUCY
You talked to Mr. Linder?

SHEPHERD
Yes. It’s called a Parent-Teacher
Conference. Mr. Linder and I were
the key player in that discussion.
Why don’t you like social studies,
Luce?

LUCY
I like it fine, Dad.

SHEPHERD
All your other teachers say you’re
happy, you’re enthusiastic, you’ve
always got your hand up…Mr. Linder
says you don’t participate unless he
calls on you, and even then it’s a
one-word answer.

LUCY
I don’t know what to say, Dad. I
guess I’m just not…I don’t know.

SHEPHERD
Luce, take a look at this book. This
is exciting stuff. It’s about who we
are and what we want. Read what it
says on the first page.

LUCY
(reading)
“Property of Gilmore Junior High
School.”

SHEPHERD
The next page.

LUCY
(reading)
“We, the People, of the United States,
in order to form a more perfect union…”

SHEPHERD
See? Grabs you right off the bat.
It’s a page-turner.

LUCY
I can’t wait.

SHEPHERD
Good, ‘cause it’s possible the subject
might come up at dinner tonight.

LUCY
Do you see it as part of your job to
torture me?

SHEPHERD
No, it’s just one of the perks. See
you tonight.

He gives her a kiss on the head and heads out the door.
Behind him, he hears Lucy’s rendition of “Hail to the Chief.”
SHEPHERD shoots her a look as we

CUT TO:

INT. CABINET ROOM – NIGHT

Where SHEPHERD is finishing a meeting with the DEFENSE
SECRETARY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS and a NATIONAL
SECURITY ADVISOR, each of whom is accompanied by at least one
DEPUTY or AIDE. A.J. is also present.

DEFENSE SECRETARY
The C-STAD hardware’s been in place
for a month. We’ve got 22 instructors
from the Army Air Defense School waiting
to go down and train the Israelis.

A.J.
How soon can you deploy them?

CHAIRMAN
We can airlift ‘em in the morning.
They’ll have C-STAD operational in 20
days.

A.J.
Any security concerns?

SECURITY ADVISOR
If anybody wanted to hit it, they’d
have hit it by now.

SHEPHERD
Okay. Let’s move on it. Thank you,
gentlemen.

SHEPHERD and A.J. leave the Cabinet Room amidst a volley of
“good-bye” ‘s and “Thank you, Mr. President”‘s.
They pass MRS. CHAPIL and JANIE.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Have a good evening, Mrs. Chapil.

MRS. CHAPIL
You too, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD starts his walk from the West Wing back to the
residence.

It is the exact reverse of the path he took to the OVAL OFFICE
in the morning.

SHEPHERD
I’ll see you in the morning, Janie.

JANIE
You will, Mr. President.

A SECRET SERVICE AGENT follows at a distance.

AGENT #2
(sotto)
Liberty is moving.

A.J.
Leo Solomon brought in a hired gun
at the GDC.

SHEPHERD
It’s about time.

A.J.
She’s a lawyer from Virginia named
Sydney Ellen Wade. I know this woman
well. She’s had a lot of success
getting congressmen elected.

SHEPHERD
Maybe we should try to steal her.
Ten percent, A.J. Don’t let them
leave the room till they’re clear
about that.

A.J.
You know, if you’ve got a free second,
maybe you could stop in and say hello.
It might smooth the way.

SHEPHERD
Mention it to Janie.

A.J.
Good.

SHEPHERD
Then let’s clear this off the table
and get everybody focused on the
crime bill. I don’t want to win
this. I want to win it by a couple of
touchdowns.

A.J.
We will, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
Good.

A.J. starts to leave. SHEPHERD stops him.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
A.J.?

A.J.
Yes?

SHEPHERD
Listen, Robin said something to me
today that I’m sure she wouldn’t have
said it if…I mean, she wasn’t saying
it to me, I realize…
(beat)
Ah, never mind. Have a good night.

A.J.
Good night, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
A.J., when we’re out of the office
and we’re alone, you can call me Andy.

A.J.
I beg your pardon?

SHEPHERD
I mean you were the best man at my
wedding, for crying out loud. Call
me Andy.

A.J.
(laughing off the
suggestion)
Whatever you say, Mr. President.

They have reached the south entrance to the White House.

A.J.
(continuing)
Have a good night, sir.

SHEPHERD
Good night, A.J.

SHEPHERD enters the White House.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE – NIGHT

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE – DAY

It’s early morning of the following day, and the grounds
outside are in full swing.

EXT. THE NORTHWEST EXECUTIVE ENTRANCE – DAY

In front of the guardhouse, Susan and her new colleague,
SYDNEY ELLEN WADE, are being cleared.

SYDNEY
(to the GUARD)
Hi, my name’s Sydney Ellen Wade.

SUSAN
He just needs your driver’s license.

SUSAN hands the guard her license.

SYDNEY
(handing him her
license)
I’m from Virginia.

SUSAN
He doesn’t care.

SYDNEY
(to the GUARD)
I’m here for a meeting with Mr.
MacInerney.

SUSAN
He doesn’t need to know that.

The GUARD BUZZES her through the gate.

SYDNEY
(to the GUARD)
Forgive me, this is my first time at
the White House. I’m trying to savor
the Capra-esque quality.

SUSAN
He doesn’t know what Capra-esque
means.

GUARD
(to SUSAN)
Yeah, I do. Frank Capra, great
American director — It’s a Wonderful
Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
(handing SYDNEY and SUSAN
their laminated passes)
Sydney Ellen Wade of Virginia. Knock
‘em dead.

SYDNEY
Thanks.

SYDNEY and SUSAN begin to walk up the path toward the entrance
to the West Wing.

CUT TO:

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

A meeting with the EDUCATION SECRETARY, the HUD SECRETARY,
several AIDES and LEWIS is breaking up. SHEPHERD is ushering
people out.

SHEPHERD
The day the government starts
subsidizing private schools is the
day we give up on public education.

EDUCATION SECRETARY
I know the proposal only scratches
the surface, but it’s the least we
can do.

SHEPHERD
We’re already doing the least we can
do, but I can’t think of anything
better, so we’ll go with this for now.
(to HUD SECRETARY)
Jerry, say hello to Linda for me.
And if I don’t see you again, have a
good Thanksgiving.

HUD SECRETARY
Thank you, Mr. President.

The room has cleared…JANIE is arranging new papers on the
President’s desk.

SHEPHERD
How’re we doing?

JANIE
You’re running four minutes ahead of
schedule.

SHEPHERD
Ahead?

JANIE
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD
(exited)
Janie, this is unprecedented. I don’t
know what to do with myself.

JANIE
Mr. MacInerney asked me to remind you
to pop your head in on–

SHEPHERD
The GDC meeting. Right.

CUT TO:

INT. A.J.’s OFFICE – DAY

A.J.
Your concerns are not falling on deaf
ears. The environmental lobby has
known no greater alley in the White
House than President Shepherd.

SYDNEY
Hardly an impressive distinction, A.J.

SUSAN is trying to avert the inevitable–

SUSAN
Sydney, we should leave Mr. MacInerney
alone now. He’s already given us more
time than–

SYDNEY
Susan, Mr. MacInerney doesn’t want
us to leave, because Mr. MacInerney’s
not yet done what he needs to do today.

SUSAN
Sir, Ms. Wade’s been thrown into the
deep end of the pool on her first day.
She hasn’t even had a chance to read
the report of the Quebec Conference.

SYDNEY — whose brain is telling her to slam on the brakes,
check her swing, smile and leave the building — decides,
instead, to hit the gas and swing away. The OTHERS are watching
this as if they were watching the evolution of a train wreck.

SYDNEY
You’re right. I haven’t read it. If
someone had asked me yesterday, I’d
have told them the Quebec Conference
was made up of six professional hockey
teams. But what I do know is that it’s
time for the President to run for
president again. Leon Kodak is as good
as it gets when it comes to electoral
strategy, and I’m certain he’s told the
President exactly what I’d tell him:
Nail down Michigan and California,
where they make cars and airplanes —
and burn plenty of fossil fuel. But if
I had read these eight hundred pages,
I would have discovered that it’s the
burning of fossil fuels that’s been
mostly responsible for global warming and
that the 20 percent reduction recommended
by the GDC is a necessary first step
toward arresting the catastrophic greenhouse
effect that has gone unchecked by this
administration…

SUSAN
(to SYDNEY)
It’s really time to–

SYDNEY
Susan, I promise you, the White House
Chief of Staff will not let us leave
here until he’s broken the bad news.

No one in the room really understands what’s going on…
except A.J., who would like to take the time to admire
SYDNEY but, of course, can’t.

A.J.
(pause)
I’m afraid Sydney’s right. Although
not about Michigan and California.
The President has asked me to convey
to you that he’s sending his energy
bill to the floor with a call for a
reduction of 10 percent.

There’s an uncomfortable silence in the room…

A.J.
(continuing)
The President is willing to go it
alone on this, but he’s asking for,
and frankly he’s expecting, the full
support of the GDC.

SYDNEY
The President’s expecting our full
support?

A.J.
Yes, he is.

SYDNEY
The President’s dreamin’, A.J.

SUSAN
Sydney!

SYDNEY
–the President has critically
misjudged reality. If he honestly
thinks that the environmental
community is going to whistle a
happy tune while rallying support
around this pitifully lame mockery of
environmental leadership just because
he’s a nice guy and he’s done better
than his predecessors, then your boss
is the Chief Executive of Fantasyland.

VOICE (O.S.)
Let’s take him out back and beat the
shit out of him.

SYDNEY’s blown out her speakers because she’s turned in the
direction of the private office entrance to see, live and in
person, The President of the United States.

She is frozen. Mortified. If she were capable of thought
process, she would be preying for something heavy to fall on
her head right now.

A.J.
Good morning, Mr. President. How are
you today?

SHEPHERD
Couldn’t be better.
(to the GROUP)
I apologize for the interruption, but
A.J. asked me to stop and say hello.
You wouldn’t be Sydney Ellen Wade, by
any chance, would you?

SYDNEY
Mr. President, I’m…don’t know what
to say. I’m speechless.

SHEPHERD
All evidence to the contrary.

SUSAN
Mr. President, we haven’t met. My
name is Susan Sloan. I used to work
with Congressman Myers. I hope this
episode in no way–

SHEPHERD
Sydney?

SYDNEY
Yes, sir?

SHEPHERD
You got a second?

SYDNEY
(quietly)
Of course.

SYDNEY gets up to leave. SHEPHERD escorts her out of A.J.’s
office and into the hallway.

SHEPHERD
I thought maybe we might have a word
in private. Someplace a little less
intimidating.
(calling)
Janie?

JANIE
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD
(to SYDNEY)
This is my personal assistant, Janie
Basdin. Janie, would you show Ms.
Wade into the rec room. I’ll be there
in a second.

SHEPHERD enters a doorway off of the hall. SYDNEY continues
down the hallway.

JANIE
(to SYDNEY)
This way…

JANIE leads SYDNEY into…

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

…where SYDNEY just stands uncomfortably, not knowing
whether to sit or stand. Waiting. Trying — the way a jumper
on a window ledge tries not to look down — trying not to
notice things like the JFK Desk, the Seal of the President of
the United States, the bust of Lincoln…

SHEPHERD strides in–

SHEPHERD
Sorry to keep you waiting.

SYDNEY
Mr. President–

SHEPHERD
Is it okay if I call you Sydney?

SYDNEY
Of course. Mr. President–

SHEPHERD
Have you ever been in the Oval Office?

SYDNEY
I’ve just been on the regular tour.
It didn’t include…

SHEPHERD
I hear it’s pretty good.

SYDNEY
Mr. President, what you saw in there
was nothing more than vanity run amok.
I was showing off for a colleague who
doesn’t think very much of me. It’d
be a real injustice for you to hold the
GDC accountable for my behavior today.
On top of which, I’m monumentally sorry
for having insulted you like that.

SHEPHERD
Are you under the impression that I’m
mad at you?

SYDNEY
(pause)
Well…

SHEPHERD
Sydney, seldom does a day go by that
I’m not burned in effigy.

SYDNEY
Not by a professional political
operative standing 30 feet from the
Oval Office.

SHEPHERD
No, I’ll give you that.

SYDNEY
Mr. President–

SHEPHERD
Did you know that when the City
Planners sat down to design
Washington, D.C., their intention was
to build a city that would intimidate
and humble foreign heads of state?
It’s true.

SYDNEY
I didn’t know that.

SHEPHERD
The White House has the single
greatest home court advantage in the
modern world.

SYDNEY
Learned that one the hard way.

SHEPHERD
Sydney, this bill is important to me.

SYDNEY
Yes, sir, I’ll convey your message.

SHEPHERD
But you don’t believe me?

SYDNEY
The GDC is asking for 20 percent, sir.

SHEPHERD
It’s not gonna pass at 20 percent.
It’s a long shot at 10.

SYDNEY
How do you know that until you put
the full weight of the White House
behind–

SHEPHERD
Sydney, at 20 percent, we are 34 votes
shy in the House. It can’t be done.
But I tell you what. I’ll make you a
deal with you. If you can get 24
votes, I’ll get you the last 10.

SYDNEY
Twenty-four votes?

SHEPHERD
If you can swing 24 votes by the
State of the Union, I’ll promise you
full White House support.

SYDNEY
Do I have your word on that, sir?

SHEPHERD
Absolutely. Listen, are you hungry?
I skipped breakfast. You wanna have
some coffee? A donut or something?

SYDNEY
Sir, I’m a little intimidated by my
surroundings, and yes, I’ve gotten
off to a rocky and somewhat stilted
beginning, but don’t let that
diminish the weight of my message:
The GDC has been at every president
for the last decade and a half that
global warming is a calamity, the
effects of which will be second only
to nuclear war. The best scientists
in the world have given you every
reason to take the GDC seriously.
But I’m gonna give you one more. If
you don’t live up to the deal you
just made, come New Hampshire, we’re
gonna go shopping for a new candidate.

SYDNEY heads for the door–

SHEPHERD
You can’t do that, Sydney.

SYDNEY
With all due respect, Mr. President,
who’s gonna stop me?

SHEPHERD
Well, if you go through that door,
the United States Secret Service.
That’s my private office.
(pointing)
You need to go out that way.

SYDNEY
(beat)
Ah.

SYDNEY, with as much dignity as she can muster, leaves the
Oval Office. SHEPHERD muses about what has just transpired.

CUT TO:

INT. THE BILLIARD ROOM – NIGHT

SHEPHERD has converted one of the rooms on the second floor
residence. His expert shot demonstrates that playing pool is
something he does almost as well as being President. A.J.
stands to the side with his pool cue.

A.J.
McSorley, McCluskey and Shane know
we’re making our move on the crime
bill. They’re circling the wagons on
the assault weapons.

SHEPHERD
Should I meet with them?

A.J.
Let Lewis take a pass at them first.

SHEPHERD
Fine. 2 in the side.

SHEPHERD sends the two-ball flying into the corner pocket.

A.J.
Nice shot, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
Nice shot, Mr. President? You won’t
call me by my name when we’re playing
pool.

A.J. assesses the table.

A.J.
I will not do it playing pool, I will
not do it in a school, I do not like
green eggs and ham, I do not like
them Sam I am.

SHEPHERD
At ease, A.J., and get away from the
pocket. 9 in the corner.

SHEPHERD makes the shot.

A.J.
Leo Solomon phoned. He said he was
thrilled with the deal you made this
morning.

SHEPHERD lifts his cue for a moment…trying to think it
there was something he was supposed to tell A.J.

SHEPHERD
I forgot to tell you.

A.J.
It’s a waste of time.

SHEPHERD
Not our time. GDC makes a big
push for the votes, and when they
come up short, we move in with the
softer bill, to get passed, we’re
everybody’s hero. 3 in the side.

A.J.
Also, Sydney Wade called.

SHEPHERD, a hair too excited by this news, misses by a mile.

SHEPHERD
Sydney Wade?

A.J.
(beat)
She wanted to apologize one more time
for her behavior. 3 in the side.

SHEPHERD
Did she say anything about me?

A.J.
(beat)
Sydney Wade?

SHEPHERD
When she called.

A.J.
Did she say anything about you?
13 in the corner.

SHEPHERD
No, it’s just that we had a nice
couple of minutes together. She
threatened me and I patronized her
and we didn’t have anything to eat,
but I thought there was a connection.

A.J. is staring at him in disbelief.

SHEPHERD
She didn’t say anything about me?

A.J.
(quietly)
Well, no, but I could pass her a note
before study hall and–

SHEPHERD
Tell me this: Hypothetically, what
would happen–

A.J.
I feel a nightmare coming on. 1 in
the corner.

He misses the shot.

SHEPHERD
–if I called Sydney and asked her
to be my date at the State Dinner
Thursday night?

A.J.
You’re not serious.

SHEPHERD
Don’t I sound serious?

A.J.
The President can’t just go out on
a date.

SHEPHERD
Why not? Jefferson did. Wilson did.

A.J.
You’re not–

SHEPHERD
Wilson was widowed during his first
term. He meets a woman named Edith
Gault. He dated her, courted her,
married her, and somewhere in there
managed to form the League of Nations.

A.J.
Mr. President, this is an election
year. If you’re looking for female
companionship, we can make
arrangements that’ll insure total
privacy and–

SHEPHERD
I don’t want you to get me a girl,
A.J. What is this, Vegas?

A.J.
No, sir, this is the White House.

SHEPHERD
And I’m talking about something
that in no way is at conflict with
my oath of office. I’m a single
adult, and I met a woman that I’d
like to see again socially. How’s
that different from what Wilson did?

A.J.
The difference is he didn’t have to
be the president on television.
You’ve said it a million times:
If there were a television set in every
living room 60 years ago, this country
does not elect a man in a wheelchair.

SHEPHERD
What are you saying?

A.J.
We’ll take a hit.

SHEPHERD
How big?

A.J.
I don’t know. Five points. Maybe
more.

SHEPHERD
Five points we’re standing here
talking about?!

A.J.
It could be more.

SHEPHERD
I drop five points when Wisconsin
doesn’t make it to the Rose Bowl.
5 in the corner.

A.J.
Do you want me to have Kodak put
together some numbers so we know
what we’re talking about?

SHEPHERD
Yeah.
(beat)
No. No. I don’t want to check a
polling sample to see if this is
okay, like I’m asking permission
to stay out an hour past curfew.
This isn’t the business of the
American people.

A.J.
Mr. President, the American people
have a funny way of deciding on
their own what is and what is not
their business.

SHEPHERD
I like her, A.J.
(pause)
Stop being my chief of staff for one
minute.

A.J.
(beat)
Give her a call.

SHEPHERD
(calling out)
Janie!
(to A.J.)
She didn’t say anything about me?

A.J.
She said you’re taller than she
thought you’d be.

SHEPHERD
That’s something.

JANIE enters–

JANIE
Yes, sir?

SHEPHERD
I need you to track down a phone
number.

CUT TO:

EXT. A RESIDENTIAL STREET IN GEORGETOWN – NIGHT

Lined with red-brick, three-story walk-ups.

CUT TO:

INT. BETH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

A few suitcases and two or three moving cartons serve as
evidence that SYDNEY’s staying with her sister BETH
temporarily.

BETH, still in hospital scrubs from a 12-hour shift, opens a
bottle of wine while SYDNEY, in a bathrobe and wet hair,
tries to get off the phone.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Richard…Richard, it wasn’t funny.
I acted like a college freshman at a
protest rally.

BETH
Tell him the part about walking out
the wrong door.

SYDNEY
Oh God, I forgot about that.
(back into phone)
No, Richard…Richard, I don’t want
to hear your Andrew Shepherd imitation…

BETH
I wanna hear it.

SYDNEY
I’m hanging up now, Richard…
Tonight? I was gonna go to bed early
and wake up when there’s a new
president.

She hangs up.

SYDNEY
(continuing)
The President must think I’m a third-
rate jerk.

BETH
If he thinks you’re a jerk, I’m sure
he thinks you’re a first-rate jerk.

SYDNEY
I’ll tell you one thing, boy. I
regrouped, you gotta gimme that.
I pulled it together at the end. I
stood in the middle of the Oval
Office and I made it very clear that
from now on, he who doesn’t take the
GDC seriously does so at his peril!

BETH
And then you walked out the wrong
door.

SYDNEY
Are you gonna be throwing that back
at me the rest of my life?

BETH
That’s my current plan, yes.

The TELEPHONE RINGS…

SYDNEY
That’s gonna be Leo Solomon. He said
he’d call at nine.

SYDNEY picks up the phone–

SYDNEY
(continuing;
into phone)
Hello?

SHEPHERD
Uh, hi, is this Sydney?

SYDNEY doesn’t recognize the voice–

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Leo?

PHONE VOICE
No, this is Andrew Shepherd.

SYDNEY looks at BETH and rolls her eyes, then explains to
her–

SYDNEY
Andrew Shepherd.
(back in the phone)
You’re hilarious, Richard. You’re a
regular riot.

And we CROSS-CUT between SYDNEY and SHEPHERD.

SHEPHERD
Uhh…this isn’t Richard, it’s Andrew
Shepherd.

SYDNEY
Oh, really. Well, I’m so glad you
called, because I forgot to tell
you today what a nice ass you have.
I’m also impressed that you were able
to get my phone number, considering
I don’t have a phone. Good night,
Richard.

SYDNEY hangs up the phone.

INT. SHEPHERD’S PRIVATE OFFICE/THE RESIDENCE – NIGHT

as SHEPHERD, undaunted, dials the number again.

SHEPHERD
(under his breath)
This used to be easier.

CUT TO:

INT. BETH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

as the PHONE RINGS.

SYDNEY
I don’t believe this.

BETH
You want me to deal with him?

SYDNEY
No way. I may choke in front of
Shepherd, but Richard Reynolds I
can handle.

She picks up the phone.

SYDNEY
(continuing)
Hello?

And we begin CROSS-CUTTING again between the two.

SHEPHERD
Sydney?

SYDNEY
Are you learning-impaired?!

SHEPHERD
Listen, do me a favor. Hang up the
phone.

SYDNEY
(beat)
What?

SHEPHERD
Hang up the phone. Then dial 456-1414.
When you get the White House operator,
give her your name and tell her you
want to speak to the President.

SHEPHERD hangs up.

CUT TO:

INT. BETH’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

SYDNEY’s still holding the phone and seems a little
confused…an emotion which is about to be replaced by horror
as the unbelievable into the reality.

SYDNEY
(to herself)
This isn’t happening to me.

She dials.

BETH
What’s going on?

SYDNEY
(to herself)
It’s not possible I did this twice in
one day.

The OPERATOR answers.

OPERATOR
(filtered)
Good evening, the White House.

SYDNEY swallows.

OPERATOR
(continuing; filtered)
Hello?

SYDNEY
(quietly)
My name’s Sydney Ellen Wade. I’d
like to–

OPERATOR (O.S.)
(filtered)
The President’s expecting your call,
ma’am. I’ll put you right through.

CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S PRIVATE OFFICE/THE RESIDENCE – NIGHT

He’s just opened a bottle of beer when the phone rings.
He picks up the phone–

SHEPHERD
Hello.

SYDNEY
Mr. President, I’m sure there’s an
appropriate thing to say at this
moment. Probably some formal apology
for the nice-ass remark would be in
order. I just don’t quite know how
to word it.

SHEPHERD
It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have
called you at home. Should I call
you at the office tomorrow?

SYDNEY
No, sir, of course not. I mean —
yes, you can call me anytime you want
— this is fine. Right now is fine.
When I said “of course not,” I meat
that…You know what? The hell with it
— I’m moving to another country.

SHEPHERD
(smiling)
What did you mean when you said you
don’t have a phone.

SYDNEY
I just moved to Washington over the
weekend, and my apartment isn’t ready
yet. This is my sister’s apartment.
Come to think of it, how did you get
this number?

SHEPHERD
(beat)
How did I get the number. That’s a
reasonable question. I don’t know.
Probably the FBI.

SYDNEY
(trying to pretend
it’s just another
guy on the phone)
The FBI. Sure. ‘Cause i-if you want
to find someone and you’re the
president, that’s who you would call.

SHEPHERD
You know who else is good at that?

SYDNEY
The C.I.A.?

SHEPHERD
Well, yeah, but I was thinking of the
Internal Revenue Service. They have
computer files that…Well…I should
stop stalling. As I’m sure you know,
the French have elected themselves a
new president, and we’re having a formal
state dinner at the White House, and I
was wondering — and you’re under no
obligation at all — but I thought it
might be fun… I was wondering if you
maybe wanted to go…with me, and uh…
there it is. That’s why I was calling.

There’s a long silence on the phone.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Sydney? Sydney, Congress doesn’t
take this long to–

SYDNEY
The President has asked me to join
him in representing our country.
I’m honored. I’m equal to the task.
And I won’t let you down, sir.

SHEPHERD
(beat)
Sydney, this is just a dinner. We’re
not gonna be doing espionage or
anything.

SYDNEY
No. Of course. I’m a little…uh…what
do I do? I, I mean, where do I go?
Should I meet you? Will you…

SHEPHERD
I’m gonna have a very nice woman
named Marsha Bridgeport call you.
She’s the White House Social Director,
and she’ll help you with anything you
want. Now when she calls you and tells
you her name is Marsha Bridgeport,
it’ll help if you give her the
benefit of the doubt.

SYDNEY
Of course.

SHEPHERD
I’ll see you Thursday night.

SYDNEY
Mr. President, thank you for asking
me. Really. This is a first for me.

SHEPHERD
Me too.

They hang up.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. OLD EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING – DAY

INT. THE CRIME BILL WAR ROOM – DAY

A large conference room at OEOB has been converted for the
use of a half-dozen STAFFERS as well as ten or twelve
interns, some of them high school age. A sign on a
corkboard reads, “17 Votes in 69 Days.”

The two numbers are written on two separate pads of paper so
that the top sheets can be torn off to reveal the following
numbers in descending order.

There is also a bulletin board that lists every member of the
House of Representatives and is divided up into five columns:
FOR, LEANING TOWARDS, UNDECIDED, LEANING AGAINST, and AGAINST.

KODAK
Who’s on Indiana?
(raising his voice)
Excuse me. New people, I can’t
remember your names. Raise your
hand if you’re on Indiana.

Two INTERNS raise their hands–

KODAK
(continuing)
Put your hands down — you’re on
Illinois.

LEWIS comes in.

LEWIS
We’ve got Jarrett.

KODAK
What?

LEWIS
George Jarrett. He’s ours. Solid
“yes.”

KODAK
I don’t believe it.
(to an INTERN)
You. New guy. “Jarrett, Democrat,
Minnesota.” Slide his name on over
to “for.”
(to Lewis)
We just had his name laminated under
“Undecided.” How’d you get the fence
pole out of his butt?

LEWIS
I wish I could take credit. He just
said, “Lewis, I support the President
a hundred percent .” Not the bill,
the President.

LEWIS
We’re gonna win this in a walk. It’s
like a kissing booth at a carnival.
Give us a vote, get a photo-op with
number 63.

LEWIS reaches to the tote board and pulls the “17” off,
revealing “16.”

LEWIS
We should have gone after the
handguns.

KODAK
We gotta do one thing at a time.

LEWIS
We don’t have time to do one thing at
a time.

CUT TO:

INT. FOSSIL FUEL WAR ROOM – DAY

A GDC conference room that SYDNEY, her assistant, DAVID, and
two INTERNS have made into their 72-day headquarters. A
similar tote board reads “23 Votes in 69 Days.”

The two interns are marking spreadsheets. DAVID is on one
phone, SYDNEY is on another.

DAVID
(into phone)
Carol, it’s David in Sydney Wade’s
office. I want to confirm her lunch
with the Congressman.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
We could do with a little party
leadership, Mike. Is the Majority
Whip takin’ a break? Congress is in
session, right, I’m not wrong about
that?

LISA, another intern, is hanging up a phone in the background
and crossing to the corkboard.

LISA
I just got off with Luther Simons.
Brock’s on board.

SYDNEY
Terrific!

She rips the “23” off, making it “22.” SYDNEY reaches for
her coffee and knocks over a cup of pencils. In righting the
pencils, she knocks over her coffee.

DAVID
You’re awfully jumpy today. What do
you have — a big date tonight?

With that, a big pile of papers is sent flying off the desk.

CUT TO:

INT. THE WHITE HOUSE – NIGHT

It’s a beautiful night. The White House, lit up and shimmering
in its golden glow, would appear now to be exactly what the
poet was looking at when he described The Shining City on a
Hill.

Limousines, several of which fly the flag of foreign
diplomats, pull up one by one, their doors opened by white-
gloved MARINES.

White lights from television cameras mix with the fireworks
of flashbulbs from the print media.

INT. THE WHITE HOUSE – NIGHT

The GUESTS — of whom there are a couple hundred — in black tie
and evening gowns, are entering the receiving area.

All this happening, of course, under the eye of the SECRET
SERVICE AGENTS, both American and French, who are
strategically placed throughout.

The light from a TV camera comes on as a reporter begins a
quick stand-up interview with ROBERT RUMSON, a handsome man
in his late forties.

REPORTER (LLOYD)
(to the camera)
I’m standing here with Senate
Minority Leader Robert Rumson, just
one of the many guests arriving at
what, for a few hours at least, is a
non-partisan White House. Senator,
the latest public opinion survey
shows the President with approval
ratings that would make him all but
unbeatable, come next November. Is
there a Republican who can mount a
serious challenge, and are you that
candidate?

RUMSON
Lloyd, it’s a long time till next
November. Right now, I’m just
looking forward to a pleasant evening.

CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

Lucy is standing behind her father, tying his bow tie.

SHEPHERD
That’s a little tight, Luce.

LUCY
It’s supposed to be tight. It’s
supposed to make you look regal.

SHEPHERD
Is it supposed to cut off the blood
flow to my face?

LUCY
All done.

He looks in the mirror.

SHEPHERD
Not bad. Where did you learn how to
do this?

LUCY
Social studies.

SHEPHERD
Very funny.
(smiles)
Really, where did you learn?

LUCY
I don’t know…I just guess…

SHEPHERD
Sweetie, did Mom teach you how to do
this?

LUCY
Yeah.

SHEPHERD
(pause)
Lucy, is this okay with you? My
having dinner with a woman?

LUCY
It’s totally okay.

SHEPHERD
Are you sure? Because if you want to
talk about it…

LUCY
Dad, it’s cool. Go for it.

SHEPHERD
You know, I’m a little nervous.

LUCY
You’ll be fine. Just be yourself.

SHEPHERD
Be myself.

LUCY
And compliment her shoes.

SHEPHERD
Her shoes?

LUCY
Girls like that.

CUT TO:

INT. EAST WING ENTRANCE – NIGHT

Dressed in formal, but not festive, clothes and holding, as
always, her notepad, JANIE waits by the door.

A SECRET SERVICE AGENT sits alone behind a small desk.

The door opens and SYDNEY walks in. She’s, needless to say,
stunning.

JANIE
Miss Wade? The President wants you
to join him upstairs in the
residence. May I show you the way?

CUT TO:

INT. SITTING HALL/THE RESIDENCE – NIGHT

This formal reception area is filled with special GUESTS. As
SYDNEY walks in, A.J. goes to her immediately.

A.J.
Sydney, come on in. You look
beautiful.

SYDNEY
Thank you. I have no idea what I’m
doing here.

A.J.
I promise you there’s no hidden
agenda.

SHEPHERD approaches SYDNEY.

SHEPHERD
Sydney. Andrew Shepherd. We spoke on
the phone.

SYDNEY
Yes, sir. I remember.

ESTHER, MACINERNERY, A.J.’S wife, joins them.

A.J.
You know my wife, Esther.

SYDNEY
Sure. It’s nice to see you again.

ESTHER
(affectionately)
Sydney, the President told me about
how you two met. I think it’s
priceless.

SYDNEY
I don’t know what happened. One
minute I was calling him a mockery of
an environmental leader. The next
minute I had a date.

ESTHER
Men like being insulted by women.
It makes them feel loved. Don’t ask
me why.

A.J.
Sydney, when you meet the French
President, don’t make him feel too
loved, all right? We just signed a
new trade agreement.

SYDNEY
Got it.

The French President, D’ASTIER, and his WIFE approach.

SHEPHERD
(to D’Astier)
Mr. President, would allow me to
introduce Sydney Ellen Wade of the
Commonwealth of Virginia. Sydney,
this is President Rene-Jean D’Astier
and his wife Monique Danielle
D’Astier of France.

SYDNEY
An honor to meet you both.

JANIE
Mr. President, I’m sorry to
interrupt. The receiving line is in
place.

SHEPHERD
Sydney, it sounds like our table’s
ready.

SHEPHERD’s guests make their way out of the residence,
leaving SHEPHERD with SYDNEY and the FRENCH PRESIDENT and
MDME. D’ASTIER.

CUT TO:

INT. STAIRCASE – NIGHT

SHEPHERD and SYDNEY are walking down the staircase that leads
to the red-carpeted hall through which the President enters
the East Room.

The GROUP escorting the President gives them wide berth so
that the two of them can have some privacy.

SHEPHERD
Once we hit the bottom of the
stairs, I gotta do a thing.
You’ll be escorted…

SYDNEY
They took me through it.

After a slight pause–

SYDNEY
(continuing)
Do you do this often, sir?

SHEPHERD
(beat)
This is, actually, only our second
State Dinner. The first was for the
Emperor of Japan, who died shortly
after that, so we stopped having them
for a while, just in case.

SYDNEY
I meant do you go out on…do you–
often–do you–

SHEPHERD
Do I date a lot?

SYDNEY
Well, yeah.

SHEPHERD
No. How ‘bout you?

SYDNEY
Me? Lately, I seem to be going out
on a lot of first dates.

SHEPHERD
Then you’re experienced at this.

SYDNEY
Oh yeah, you can ask me anything.

SHEPHERD
How are we doing so far?

SYDNEY
It’s hard to say at this point. So
far it’s just your typical first date
stuff.

And all of a sudden an INCREDIBLE SOUND from inside the East
Room–

–The Marine Corps Brass and Percussion Ensemble plays four
ruffles and flourishes.

SHEPHERD
Damn. And I wanted to find a way to
be different from the other guys.

A BOOMING VOICE over the P.A. announces–

VOICE (O.S.)
Ladies and gentlemen, the President
of the United States.

And now — the whole walk timing out with incredible precision —

SHEPHERD
By the way, nice shoes.

–SHEPHERD walks into the hall as the Brass and Percussion
Ensemble plays HAIL TO THE CHIEF.

The 180 GUESTS come to their feet and applaud long and loud.

The GROUP following the President catches up to the spot
where SYDNEY has stopped walking. They all join in the
applause. We can see in SYDNEY’s face that she’s been quite
swept up.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. EAST ROOM – NIGHT

The room is beautifully appointed, with the Marine Corps
Dance Band playing dinner music — and the SECRET SERVICE
strategically positioned.

CUT TO:

AT SHEPHERD’S TABLE

STEWARDS are clearing away the main course and refilling wine
glasses.

In addition to the two main couples, and ESTHER MacINERNEY
and TWO OTHER COUPLES are seated at the President’s table.

SYDNEY
Mr. President, the President and Mrs.
D’Astier look bored. They’re not
talking to anybody.

SHEPHERD
They’re hammered. Esther, do you speak
French?

ESTHER
Latin.

SHEPHERD
I thought you spoke French.

ESTHER
No, Latin.

SHEPHERD
Great, next time Julius Caesar comes
to town, you’re our gal. Sydney, I
don’t suppose that you speak any–

SYDNEY
(taking over–
to D’Astier)
Monsieur le President, nous sommes
tous habilles, nous avons ce
merveilleux orchestre, une piece
magnifique…comment se fait-il que
les invites ne dansent pas?

SHEPHERD
(proudly to A.J. and
Esther)
That’s my date.

D’ASTIER
Je ne connais pas la tradition en
Amerique, mais dans mon pays, si les
invites de Louis XVI et Marie
Antoinette avaient ose danser devant
le roi et la reine, ils auraient
perdu la tete.

SYDNEY
Really?

MADAME D’ASTIER
Absolument.

SHEPHERD
Sydney, you didn’t dissolve the NATO
treaty, did you?

SYDNEY
I just said that we’re sitting in this
beautiful room, listening to the music
of this wonderful orchestra, and I
wondered why nobody was dancing.

D’ASTIER
And I informed Ms. Wade that in my
country, a guest at the palace of
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette would
soon find their head in a guillotine
if they made the impertinent gesture
of dancing without so much as a
by-your-leave from the King and the Queen.

A.J.
I’ll bet no one accused Louis of
being soft on crime.

SYDNEY
There’s a lesson there, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
More beheadings at the White House?

A.J.
Bob Rumson would embrace it.

SHEPHERD
I’m sure he would, but I have a
better idea.

SHEPHERD stands, holds out his hand to SYDNEY.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Would you like to dance?

SYDNEY
Uh, yeah, I guess. I mean, yes, sir,
I’d love to.

SHEPHERD and SYDNEY move to the dance floor, accompanied by
the appreciative “oooh’s” and “ahh’s” of the GUESTS.

The dance band begins, and SYDNEY and SHEPHERD dance…

…beautifully.

CUT TO:

THE GUESTS

each and every one of them, have stopped all conversation and
are fixating on this captivating sight. As we go around the
room, we can observe the subtle reactions of, at first,
various anonymous GUESTS, then

CUT TO:

A.J. AND ESTHER MACINERNEY,

holding hands smiling as they watch their old friend, and we

CUT TO:

RUMSON’S TABLE

where the Minority Leader’s game face can barely conceal the
gears that have slowly begun to turn in his head, as we

CUT TO:

SHEPHERD AND SYDNEY DANCING

SYDNEY
I don’t know how you do it.

SHEPHERD
Arthur Murray. Six lessons.

SYDNEY
That’s not what I mean. Two hundred
pairs of eyes are focused on you
right now, with two questions:
“Who’s this girl, and why’s our
president dancing with her?”

SHEPHERD
First of all, the 200 pairs of eyes
aren’t focused on me. They’re
focused on you. And the answers are
“Sydney Ellen Wade” and “Because she
said ‘yes.'”

LEWIS AND ROBIN

looking on from the back of the room.

LEWIS
They make a nice couple.

ROBIN
Lovely.

LEWIS
We’ve got troubles.

ROBIN
Huge.

As PEOPLE start onto dance floor, we

CUT TO:

INT. A BLACK LIMOUSINE – NIGHT

as it pulls away from the White House and into the night. In
the back, SYDNEY slips a shoe off and rubs her foot.

She smiles, then turns around to look out the back window as
the White House slips out of view.

CUT TO:

INT. WHITE HOUSE – MORNING

SERIES OF SHOTS – DAY IN THE LIFE

CUT TO:

INT. OUTER OFFICE OF THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

MRS. CHAPIL and JANIE are at their respective desks as
SHEPHERD walks in.

SHEPHERD
Good morning, Mrs. Chapil.

MRS. CHAPIL
Good morning, Mr. President. Mr.
Rothschild and Miss McCall are in the
office, sir. They said they needed to
speak with you before scheduling.

SHEPHERD
Fine. Janie, can you get me the
number of a local florist?

JANIE
I’ll take care of it, sir. Where do
you want them sent?

SHEPHERD
I want to do it myself. I just need
the phone number.

JANIE
I don’t understand.

SHEPHERD
I want the phone number of a florist.

JANIE
You just want the phone number?

SHEPHERD
Yeah.

JANIE
(beat)
I don’t understand, sir, is there–

SHEPHERD
I want to send some flowers, Janie.
I want to do it myself. I don’t want
to staff it out, and I don’t want to
issue an Executive Order. I just
want a phone number.

JANIE
I’ll get it for you right away, sir.

SHEPHERD
Thank you.

He heads into the office.

CUT TO:

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

where LEWIS and ROBIN are waiting anxiously.

ROBIN
Mr. President, we need five minutes
before scheduling if you can spare it.

SHEPHERD
(to Robin)
I just need two minutes to make a
call and I’ll be right with you.

JANIE enters and hands SHEPHERD a piece of paper.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Thank you, Janie.

She exits.

LEWIS
Who are we calling, sir?

SHEPHERD
I’m calling the Organization of the
United Brotherhood of It’s-None-of-
Your-Damn-Business, Lewis. I’ll be
with you in a minute.

LEWIS
Yes, sir.

LEWIS and ROBIN exit the Oval Office. SHEPHERD picks up the
phone.

SHEPHERD
(to the OPERATOR)
Yeah, good morning. How do I get an
outside line? Really? That’s simple.
Thank you.

SHEPHERD dials the phone number JANIE’s given him.

CUT TO:

LEWIS and ROBIN

hovering near the outer office.

LEWIS
Janie?

JANIE
Yes?

LEWIS
What’s the President doing?

JANIE
I’m sorry, I’m really not at liberty
to say.

CUT TO:

SHEPHERD ON THE PHONE

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Tell me something. What is the state
flower of Virginia?

CUT TO:

THE OUTER OFFICE

ROBIN
Does this have something to do with
Sydney Wade?

JANIE
I’m really not at liberty to say.

CUT TO:

SHEPHERD AT HIS DESK

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Is there someone else there who might
know?
(beat)
No, I’m not trying to five you a hard
time, I was–hold on please.

THE OUTER OFFICE

SHEPHERD’S VOICE comes through on INTERCOM.

SHEPHERD (O.S.)
(through intercom)
Janie, what’s the state flower of
Virginia?

JANIE
(turning to MRS.
CHAPIL)
Mrs. Chapil. State flower of
Virginia.

MRS. CHAPIL
The dogwood.

CUT TO:

SHEPHERD AT HIS DESK

JANIE (O.S.)
(through intercom)
The dogwood, sir.

SHEPHERD
(to JANIE)
Thank you.
(into phone)
It’s the dogwood.
(pause)
What? Hold on please.
(to JANIE, through
intercom)
Janie, the dogwood is a tree, not a
flower.

CUT TO:

THE OUTER OFFICE

LEON KODAK walks by.

KODAK
It’s a tree and a flower.

JANIE
Are you sure?

KODAK
Yes. What’s going on?

CUT TO:

OVAL OFFICE

JANIE (O.S.)
(through intercom)
Sir, it’s a tree and a flower.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
The dogwood is both a tree and a
flower. I’d like a dozen, please.
Really? No dogwoods? How ‘bout
roses? Simple. Classic. Two dozen
roses.

CUT TO:

THE OUTER OFFICE

LEWIS
Janie, I’m the President senior
domestic policy advisor. It’s
important that I have a full
understanding of–

SHEPHERD (O.S.)
Janie! Do you have any idea where
my credit cards might be?

CUT TO:

SHEPHERD AT HIS DESK

JANIE
They’re in storage in Wisconsin with
the rest of your personal items.

SHEPHERD
Ah.
(into phone)
Listen, what might be better is if
you just bill me for the flowers.
I’m sure it’ll be okay with your
boss. Well, I don’t know if you
recognize my voice, but this is the
President.
(beat)
The United States.
(they’ve hung up)
Hello, hello…

CUT TO:

INT. LEO SOLOMON’S OFFICE – DAY

SYDNEY enters.

SYDNEY
Leo, you wanted to see me?

LEO
So there I was, thinking maybe I
should give Sydney a call. She’s
new in town, doesn’t know many
people…

LEO produces a copy of the morning paper, which has a photo
of SHEPHERD and SYDNEY dancing.

SYDNEY
Leo–

LEO
Then I picked up the Times–

SYDNEY
It was crazy. He called me at home.

LEO
What’s going on?

SYDNEY
Nothing. It was innocent. His
cousin got the flu at the last
minute.

LEO
Did you sleep with him?

SYDNEY
What?

LEO
Did you sleep–

SYDNEY
That’s none of your business, Leo.

LEO
Yeah, it is, Sydney.

SYDNEY
You wanna tell me how my personal
life in any way–

LEO
Because when it’s the President, it’s
not personal. Sydney, I hired your
reputation. I hired a pit bull, not
a prom queen.

SYDNEY
That’s unfair.

LEO
It’s incredibly unfair. But you’ve
spent a lot of time over the year
telling me the trouble with the
environmental lobby is that we don’t
understand the fundamental truth that
politics is perception. This is a
bad time to develop ignorance.

SYDNEY
You’re making way too much of this.

LEO
Am I? This is your time, Sydney.
You’re sitting at the grown-ups’
table. You have a chance to get
everything you want — run a national
campaign, be a major player inside
the party. But this relationship had
better go all the way, because with
the leader of the free world there is
no halfway. Politics is perception,
and if thing don’t work out, the
amount of time it’ll take you to go
from being a hired gun to a cocktail
party joke can be clocked with an egg
timer.

There’s a quick knock at the door — Leo’s SECRETARY steps in
with a strange-looking package.

SYDNEY
Leo, there is no relationship. It
was one night. It’s done.

LEO’S SECRETARY
Mr. Solomon, this was just delivered
by White House messenger. It’s
marked “Perishable.”

LEO
The White House has sent me something
perishable?

LEO’S SECRETARY
It’s for Ms. Wade.

LEO
Here we go…

SYDNEY begins unwrapping the package.

SYDNEY
Relax, Leo. I’m sure it’s just a
formality.

LEO’S SECRETARY
(exited)
It’s from him.

LEO
Of course it’s from him.

SYDNEY
So he had some staff flunky send
me a fruit basket.

LEO’S SECRETARY
He wrote the note himself.

SYDNEY
I’m sure he didn’t take the time to–

LEO’S SECRETARY
The messenger said he was waiting in
the Oval Office for ten minutes while
the President wrote the card.

SYDNEY
Okay, listen, so he–
(to LEO’S SECRETARY)
–it took him ten minutes to write a
card?!

LEO’S SECRETARY
Apparently he went through several
drafts.

SYDNEY can’t stifle her laugh — she sees what the gift is.

LEO
What is it…what is it?

SYDNEY
A ham.

LEO
(beat)
A ham?

SYDNEY
He sent me a Virginia ham.

LEO’S SECRETARY
Dig it, Ms. Wade. You’re the
President’s girlfriend.

SYDNEY’s smile fades away…she looks at LEO.

LEO
There’s never an egg timer around
when you need one.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE NORTHWEST EXECUTIVE ENTRANCE – DAY

as the white-gloved MARINE snaps the door open for SYDNEY,
and we

CUT TO:

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DAY

SHEPHERD is conferring with LEWIS and ROBIN.

ROBIN
Sir, they’re gonna be pressing today
about whether the White House is
prepared to soften the assault
weapons section of the crime bill.

LEWIS
There is no need to entertain that
at this point.

ROBIN
How do you want me to handle the
Sydney issue?

SHEPHERD
The Sydney issue?

LEWIS
We should have a consensus on how the
White House is going to handle it.

SHEPHERD
I sure hope the Sydney issue refers
in some way to a problem we’re having
with Australia, because if it’s
anything else…

JANIE pokes her head in.

JANIE
Mr. President, Ms. Wade is here to
see you.

SHEPHERD
Tell her she can come right in. I’m
finished here.

JANIE
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD
(to LEWIS and ROBIN)
There is no Sydney issue.

SYDNEY enters, crossing paths with LEWIS and ROBIN. They
exchange pleasantries.

SYDNEY
(to SHEPHERD)
Thanks for seeing me on such short
notice.

SHEPHERD
No problem. Did you get the ham?

SYDNEY
I got the ham, yes. Thank you very
much.

SHEPHERD
I wanted to send you flowers, but
there seem to be some kinks in the
system. I’m really glad you stopped
by. I had such a good time last
night.

SYDNEY
So did I. It’s just that…

JANIE enters.

JANIE
They’re 45 seconds away, sir.

During the following, JANIE will go to the desk, pick up two
briefing books and stick them in a briefcase and gather up
his things — all without interrupting the conversation a beat.

SHEPHERD
I’m delivering a luncheon speech at
the Governor’s Conference this
morning. I’m sorry to–

SYDNEY
No, no, that’s fine. I just stopped
by to…

SHEPHERD
Are you free for dinner tomorrow night?

SYDNEY
Dinner?

SHEPHERD
Casual. In the Residence. Without
the United Nations. My daughter’ll
be with us, so it may seem like the
United–

SYDNEY
I’d love to meet Lucy, but…

An AIDE has slipped in and hands SHEPHERD a note.

SHEPHERD
(reading to himself
as he talks SYDNEY)
She’s gonna like you.
(calling to the AIDE)
Excuse me — Jeff!

SYDNEY
Actually, I have some concerns that–

The AIDE (JEFF) steps back in–

JEFF
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD
(reading the note)
I can’t do this.

JEFF
Which? Robbins or Stackhouse?

SHEPHERD
Either one. I have to be in and out.

JEFF
Sir, Governor Stackhouse said he just
needed 10 minutes. I think he wants
to talk about the assault weapons.

SHEPHERD
Stackhouse wants to talk about
grazing rights. Trust me.

JEFF
Got it.

And he’s gone.

SHEPHERD
(to Sydney)
Sorry. You have concerns.

SYDNEY
Yes. Not many. A few. One. I have
one concern.

SHEPHERD
Does it having anything to do with
one of us being the President?

SYDNEY
You like to make jokes about this,
but–

SHEPHERD
I am not mocking you, honest. I’m
just a guy asking a girl over for a
meal.

And, as if from out of nowhere, a LOUD CLAAAMMERING, like the
sound of a jackhammer against cement, comes from somewhere
outside — growing louder and closer —

SYDNEY
What’s that?

SHEPHERD
My ride’s here.

And, sure enough, coming into view outside the windows of the
Oval Office, is MARINE-1, the President’s helicopter. JANIE
comes back in and helps him on with his coat and scarf.

SYDNEY
Leo Solomon has serious concerns
about my exploring a social, you
know, scenario, with the President
of the United States.

SHEPHERD
Yeah, well, when you put it that
way, it doesn’t sound that great
to me either.

SYDNEY
It’s just not–

SHEPHERD
Have dinner with Lucy and me. It’s
meat loaf night — how presidential
can it be?

As SHEPHERD rushes out…

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Seven-thirty.

SYDNEY now stands alone in the OVAL OFFICE, trying to figure
out what just happened.

CUT TO:

INT. WHITE HOUSE – SOUTH LAWN – DAY

Marine 1 lifting off the south lawn. TILT DOWN off night sky
to reveal

EXT. WHITE HOUSE – NIGHT

CUT TO:

INT. SITTING HALL/THE RESIDENCE – NIGHT

A room designed more for comfort than for show, with its
overstuffed couches.

Lucy enters.

LUCY
Are you Ms. Wade?

SYDNEY
(standing up, smiling)
Sydney.

LUCY
Lucy Shepherd.

SYDNEY
Nice to meet you.

LUCY
My dad told me to tell you he’s on
the phone with his dentist and that
I should behave myself and entertain
you till he gets here.

SYDNEY
Your father’s on the phone with his
dentist?

LUCY
No. He told me to tell you he’s on
the phone with his dentist. He wants
you to think he’s a regular guy.

SYDNEY
Who is he on the phone with?

LUCY
The Prime Minister of Israel.

SYDNEY
They’re probably not discussing his
teeth.

LUCY
No. They’re talking about that
abbreviation I can never remember.

SYDNEY
C-STAD?

LUCY
Yeah.

SYDNEY
Capricorn Surface To Air Defense.

LUCY
Right.

SHEPHERD enters.

SHEPHERD
Let meat loaf night begin.

SYDNEY
Everything all right with your teeth?

SHEPHERD
My teeth?

SYDNEY
The dentist.

SHEPHERD
Oh, right. I’ve got a cavity in my
upper bicuspid region.

SYDNEY
You’ve got a short-range weapons
system outside Tel Aviv.

SHEPHERD
(to LUCY)
You turned on me.

LUCY
Can we eat?

CUT TO:

INT. A POSE HOUSE IN CHEVY CHASE – NIGHT

Two dozen limos and town cars line this suburban Maryland
street, their drivers waiting patiently.

CUT TO:

INT. THE HOUSE IN CHEVY CHASE – NIGHT

A cocktail party is underway. This is a fat cat fundraiser
for the Republicans.

RUMSON (V.O.)
You’re over-thinking this.

CUT TO:

INT. THE LIBRARY – NIGHT

The look and feel of old money. Rumson is holding court with
a half-dozen political insiders. Some smoke cigars; others
sip their drinks.

RUMSON
(continuing)
Voters aren’t interested in how to
achieve economic growth, and they
don’t want to hear our plans to
strengthen foreign policy.

STAFFER #1
So it comes down to character.

STAFFER #2
The press like him, Senator. The
networks, the newspapers, they’re–

RUMSON
Reporters like him. Networks and
newspapers like ratings and circulation.
For all the bitching we do about liberal
bias in the press when it comes down to
a character debate…

STAFFER #3
The press is an unwitting accomplice.

CARL
Bob, the character debate didn’t work
out for us.

RUMSON
Because it couldn’t. Our polling
told us that attacking his character
less than a year after he’d lost his
wife was gonna be a turn-off and was
gonna make people feel sorry for him.
We couldn’t run the campaign we wanted
because the opponent was a widower.

CARL
He’s still a widower. Time’s passed,
but–

RUMSON
(to the rest)
You’ll have to forgive my friend.
He’s been on a hunting trip and cut
off from the world.

CARL
What’s going on?

And four STAFFERS grab whatever newspaper is closest to their
hand and toss them to CARL.

RUMSON
The President’s got a girlfriend.

CUT TO:

INT. PRIVATE OFFICE/THE RESIDENCE – NIGHT

LUCY, SHEPHERD and SYDNEY are finishing up a game of Scrabble.

SYDNEY
(to LUCY)
Your dad says you’re studying the
Constitutional Convention.

SHEPHERD
She’s not having any fun, though.

LUCY
Dad–

SYDNEY
You’re not having fun?

LUCY
(to herself)
This is a nightmare. This is a
social studies nightmare.

SHEPHERD
They’re doing a mock Congress. Each
kid is playing one of the original
delegates, and they debate the
Amendments. Now what’s not fun about
that?

LUCY gets up from the table and kisses her father.

LUCY
G’night, Dad.

SHEPHERD
G’night, sweetheart.

LUCY
It was nice meeting you, Mrs.–

SYDNEY
Sydney.

LUCY
It was nice meeting you, Sydney.

SYDNEY
Thank you. It was nice meeting
you.

SHEPHERD
Sleep well, honey. I love you.

LUCY
I love you, too.

LUCY leaves. SHEPHERD and SYDNEY are alone now.

SYDNEY
She’s wonderful.

SHEPHERD
She’s her mother.

SYDNEY
She’s you.

After a pause…

SHEPHERD
Would you like the 25-cent tour?

CUT TO:

INT. THE EAST WING – NIGHT

This is the “museum” area of the White House, the part you
see when you take the official tour. Only a few lights are
lit, and while the SECRET SERVICE AGENTS give SHEPHERD plenty
of breathing room when he’s in the residence, we’ll still
catch a glimpse of one of them rounding a corner in the
distance or checking a doorway ahead.

SYDNEY
I thought C-STAD wasn’t gonna be
operational until January.

SHEPHERD
It was ready ahead of schedule.
We’ve just been waiting for the
personnel.

SYDNEY
The Israelis?

SHEPHERD
No, our guys. We’ve sent a team of
Army instructors to train the
Israelis.

SYDNEY and SHEPHERD enter the:

INT. THE CHINA ROOM – NIGHT

Named for its beautiful glass display cases featuring full
place settings of the official White House china and
silverware from every administration since Jackson.

SHEPHERD:
(remembering)
I think this is the dish room.

SYDNEY
It’s not the dish–

SHEPHERD
Yeah, it is. It’s the room with all
the dishes.

SYDNEY
It’s the China Room.

SHEPHERD
I’m more of a West Wing President.
If you’re curious about the mansion,
there’s probably a book you can get–

SYDNEY
There’re about seven-thousand books.
I’ll get one for you.

SYDNEY’s been walking slowly around the room, looking at the
display cases, and as she gets near one of the large windows,
she takes another step which drapes her in a shaft of
incredibly flattering moonlight.

The vision isn’t lost on SHEPHERD. They stare at each other
for a moment.

SHEPHERD
Sydney.

SYDNEY
Mr. President — have you ever noticed
how similar the Van Buren flatware is
to the Buchanan flatware?

SHEPHERD
Do you think there will ever come a
time when you can stand in a room
with me and not think of me as the
President?

SYDNEY
This isn’t a state of mind. You are
the President. And when I’m in a
room with you, oval or any other
shape, I’m always gonna be a
lobbyist, and you’ll always be the
President.

SHEPHERD
I got news for you, Sydney. As a
lobbyist, you would never be alone in
a room with the President.

This last statement is not lost on SYDNEY.

He moves toward her until they are both bathed in the
moonlight. He puts his arms around her.

SYDNEY
You think this is a good idea?

SHEPHERD
Probably not.

They lean in to kiss each other. They barely make contact
when…

AGENT #3 (O.S.)
Mr. President…

An AGENT is standing in the doorway — SHEPHERD and SYDNEY
break apart.

AGENT #3
We have a secure call from the sit-
room.

SHEPHERD knows what that means.

SHEPHERD
Excuse me.

He moves out the door and into the corridor.

SYDNEY, knowing something’s wrong, instinctively moves to
follow him and be with him, but the AGENT hasn’t moved from
the doorway, so–

AGENT #3
Sorry, ma’am.

SYDNEY
(beat)
No…of course.

SHEPHERD comes back in.

SHEPHERD
Listen–

SYDNEY
Is anything wrong?

SHEPHERD
I’m sorry, we’re going to have to cut
our evening short. The Libyans have
just bombed C-STAD. I’ll try to call
you tomorrow.
(to the AGENT)
Can you show Ms. Wade out.

SHEPHERD exits.

SYDNEY, alone for a second in the dish room, is finally
approached by a SECRET SERVICE AGENT, who starts to escort
her out.

CHAIRMAN (V.O.)
The response scenario’s in place…

CUT TO:

INT. THE SITUATION ROOM – NIGHT

SHEPHERD, A.J., the SECRETARY OF STATE, the SECRETARY OF
DEFENSE, and about a dozen or so Pentagon, Security Council,
and Joint Chiefs OFFICIALS are doing exactly what they’re
trained for.

CHAIRMAN
(continuing)
…The F-18’s are fired up on the
Kimitz and the Kitty Hawk. They’re
just waiting for your attack order,
Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
And we’re gonna hit Libyan
Intelligence Headquarters?

MAN
The N.S.A. confirmed they’re the ones
who planned the bombing.

A.J.
What’s the estimate?

GENERAL
We’ll level the building.

SHEPHERD
Libyan I.H.Q’s in the middle of
downtown Tripoli — are we gonna hit
anything else?

GENERAL
Only if we miss.

SHEPHERD
Are we gonna miss?

GENERAL
No, sir.

SHEPHERD
How many people work in that building?

CHAIRMAN
We’ve been all through–

SHEPHERD
How many people work in the damn
building?

DEPUTY
I’ve got those number here. There
are three shifts, so it–

SHEPHERD
The fewest. What shift puts the
fewest people in the building? The
night shift, right?

DEPUTY
By far. Mostly custodial staff and
a few–

SHEPHERD
What time does the night crew go on?

DEPUTY
They’re on now, sir.

SHEPHERD
A.J.?

A.J.
It’s immediate, it’s decisive, it’s
low risk, and it’s a proportional
response.

SHEPHERD
Someday somebody’s going to have to
explain to me the virtue of a
proportional response.

There’s a SILENCE. SHEPHERD gets up and starts to head out
the door.

CHAIRMAN
Mr. President?

SHEPHERD
Attack.
CUT TO:

INT. OVAL OFFICE – NIGHT

SHEPHERD is with A.J., LEWIS, ROBIN, KODAK and a couple of
AIDES, all of whom look as though they’ve been called out of
their homes in the middle of the night.

A.J.
Robin, as soon as our planes have
cleared Libyan airspace, you can call
the press. I don’t know when we’ll
have the full B.D.A.–

LEWIS
General Rork says around O-Eight
Hundred.

ROBIN
Sir, what do you think about a
national address?

SHEPHERD
The last thing I want to do is put
the Lybians center stage.

KODAK
I think it’s a great idea, sir. You
know Rumson’s gonna be talking about
your lack of military service.

SHEPHERD
This isn’t about Rumson. What I did
tonight was not about political gain.

KODAK
But it can be, sir. What you did
tonight was very presidential.

SHEPHERD
Leon, somewhere in Libyan right now
there’s a janitor working the night
shift at the Libyan Intelligence
Headquarters. He’s going about his
job ‘cause he has no idea that in
about an hour he’s gonna die in a
massive explosion. He’s just going
about his job ‘cause he has no idea
that an hour ago I gave an order to
have him killed. You just saw me do
the least presidential thing I do.

KODAK
yes, sir.

PRESS (V.O.)
Mr. President…Mr. President!

CUT TO:

INT. THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING ROOM – DAY

SHEPHERD is at the podium taking questions. He’s flanked by
his PENTAGON STAFF. A.J. and LEWIS stand to the side. ROBIN
stands out of the way.

SALLY
Is there anything at all about the
C-STAD weapons system that could have
been mistaken by Libyan Intelligence
as offensive rather than defensive?

SHEPHERD
No. We did everything but show them
the blueprints. The hardware was
sitting in a airplane hangar for a
month. They didn’t hit it until the

American personnel got there. Leslie.

LESLIE
Sir, there’s an unconfirmed report
that you were with Sydney Wade when
you learned of the attack. Can you
comment?

A.J.
(sotto to ROBIN)
Get him off.

SHEPHERD
Yes, we’d just finished dinner.

ROBIN
Last question.

MARK
Sir, would you care to comment on
the status of your relationship?

SHEPHERD
We don’t have a relationship. We
just had dinner.

CAROL
Can you tell us if she spent the
night at the White House or did–

SHEPHERD
Folks, a lot of people got killed
last night. Let’s try to keep our
eyes on the ball, okay?

SHEPHERD is herded out of the briefing room amidst a chorus
of “Mr. President” ‘s.

CUT TO:

INT. THE WHITE HOUSE CORRIDOR – DAY

SHEPHERD walks away from the briefing room with ROBIN. JANIE
joins him.

ROBIN
That was my fault, sir. We should
have prepped you for that.

SHEPHERD
There’s nothing that needs prepping.
A.J., let’s meet with the leadership
after we meet with the Security
Council.

ROBIN
“Newsweek” is begging for ten minutes
today. Any ten minutes you got.

SHEPHERD
Nobody gets ten minutes today.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S PRIVATE OFFICE – NIGHT

SHEPHERD sits at his desk, is on the phone. A TELEVISION
NEWSCAST is doing a report on Congressional reaction to the
events of the day. ROB RUMSON is talking.

SHEPHERD
Lewis, tell the speaker to wait.
I want to talk to him. No, I’ll be
right down.

RUMSON
…Last night, the price of his
liberal programs was raised to
include the blood of 22 American
soldiers.

He hangs up. On the TV, we see a quick sound bite from RUMSON.

RUMSON
…Mr. Shepherd’s read a lot of
books, but you didn’t need a Harvard
degree to see this comin’ a mile down
the road.

SHEPHERD
I went to Stanford, you blowhole.

RUMSON
The fat that our Commander-in-Chief
has not served one day in uniform–

SHEPHERD clicks off the TV and then stares at

A SLIP OF PAPER THAT SAYS “SYDNEY”

CUT TO:

EXT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

BETH (V.O.)
This box just says “Miscellaneous.”
Is this bedroom miscellaneous or
kitchen miscellaneous?

INT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

SYDNEY and BETH have been getting SYDNEY moved in. BETH is
holding a carton.

BETH
Sydney?

SYDNEY
Why did I have to kiss him?

BETH
You kissed him?

SYDNEY
Yeah.

BETH
You didn’t’ tell me that.

SYDNEY
I kissed him.

BETH
Where?

SYDNEY
On the mouth.

BETH
(exasperated)
Where in the White House?!

SYDNEY
In the dish room.

BETH
The dish room?

SYDNEY
The China Room.

BETH
Then what happened?

SYDNEY
He had to go and attack Libya.

BETH
It’s always something.

SYDNEY
I’ve gotta nip this in the bud. This
has catastrophe written all over it.

BETH
In what language?! Sydney, this man
is the leader of the free world.
He’s brilliant, he’s funny, he’s
handsome, and he’s an above-average
dancer. Isn’t it possible our
standards are just a tad high?

The PHONE RINGS–

SYDNEY freezes.

The PHONE RINGS again.

BETH
(continuing)
Answer the phone.

SYDNEY
It’s him.

BETH
Answer the phone.

SYDNEY
He’s gonna ask me to come over
there.

BETH
Answer the phone.

SYDNEY
I don’t want to go over there.

BETH
Answer the phone.

SYDNEY

All right. But I’m gonna end it
on the phone. I’m not gonna go
over there.
CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

SHEPHERD opens his door, revealing SYDNEY. Agent COOPER is
letting her in.

SYDNEY
I just came over here to tell you
why I can’t see you anymore.

SHEPHERD
(to COOPER)
Thanks, Coop.

SHEPHERD closes the door.

SYDNEY
Look, I know you’ve had a tough
day.

SHEPHERD
Not as tough as some. You want a
drink? Lemme take your coat.

But SYDNEY doesn’t take her coat off.

SYDNEY
Mr. President, this isn’t gonna work.

SHEPHERD
Sure it will. You button the top
button, and it doesn’t fall off
the hanger.

SYDNEY
That’s not what I…

SHEPHERD
I didn’t think so. Listen…

SYDNEY
I’ve really enjoyed the time we’ve
spent together, but this has
catastrophe written all over it.
Please, Mr. President, don’t pursue
me outside the political arena.

SHEPHERD
Well, I have no intention of pursuing
you inside the political arena, so
that leaves everything out, and
that’s unacceptable to me.

SYDNEY
If I were on your staff, I would tell
you that the absolute worst thing you
can do coming into an election year
is to open yourself up to character
attacks, and the fastest way to do
that is to prance around like the
playboy of the Western world.

SHEPHERD
Let’s clear up a couple of things.
Number 1: I seldom prance.
Number 2: I have no intention of
engaging in a character debate, and
Number 3: You’re not on my staff.

SYDNEY
Yes, of course, but if you’ll follow
the immutable–

SHEPHERD
Why is that, by the way?

SYDNEY
Why’s that?

SHEPHERD
Why aren’t you on my staff?

SYDNEY
You can’t afford me.

SHEPHERD
How much do you make?

SYDNEY
More than you do, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
The name’s Andy. How much money do
you make?

SYDNEY
What the hell does it matter how
much money I–

SHEPHERD
You would raise your voice to the
President?

SYDNEY
I’m only thinking about the health
of your Presidency. You think this
morning’s press conference was the
end of it? Bob Rumson’s gotta be
drooling over this.

SHEPHERD
Are you attracted to me?

SYDNEY
I beg your pardon?

SHEPHERD
I asked if–

SYDNEY
(of course she is)
That’s not the issue–

SHEPHERD
Well, I tell you what. Let’s make
it the issue. Let’s try something
new, ‘cause I know that most couples,
when they’re first getting together,
are inclined to slam on the brakes
because they’re concerned about Bob
Rumson’s drool.

SYDNEY
You’re not most people.

SHEPHERD
You know what your problem is?

SYDNEY
What’s my problem?

SHEPHERD
Sex and nervousness.

SYDNEY
Sex and nervousness is my problem.

SHEPHERD
Yes. Last night when we were
looking at the different place
settings in the dish room, I
realized that those place settings
were provided by the First Ladies.
And I’ll bet none of those First
Ladies were nervous about having
sex with their President husbands.
And you know why?

SYDNEY
No, but I’m sure you’ll explain it
to me.

SHEPHERD
I will. Because they weren’t
presidents when they met them. Not
the case here.

SYDNEY
Ahhhhhh.

SHEPHERD
You see what I’m getting at?

SYDNEY
Yes. May I use your bathroom for a
moment?

SHEPHERD
Sure. It’s right through there.

SYDNEY
I want to freshen up.

SHEPHERD
As you pass through, you’ll see a
large closet on your left. And if
you feel comfortable, hang up your
coat, and when you come back I’ll
have fixed up a drink, we’ll sit on
the couch, and I will explain to
you my plan.

SYDNEY
You have a plan? Don’t make me
wait. You’re on a roll.

SYDNEY disappears into the BATHROOM/DRESSING ROOM area.
SHEPHERD keeps talking as he goes to the bar and makes a
couple of drinks.

SHEPHERD
(speaking up)
Okay. You’re attracted to me, but
the idea of physical intimacy is
uncomfortable because you only know
me as the President. It’s not always
gonna be that way, and the reason I
know that is because there was a
moment last night when you were with
me and not the President, and I know
what a big step that was for you.
So, Sydney, I’m in no rush. Here’s
my plan: We’re gonna slow down.
When you’re comfortable, that’s
when it’ll happen.

SYDNEY comes back into the room…she’s wearing one of
SHEPHERD’s dress shirts and nothing else. She walks toward
him.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Perhaps I didn’t properly explain
the fundamentals of the “Slow Down”
plan.

SYDNEY
You explained it great.

She moves closer to him.

SHEPHERD
(pause)
Are you nervous?

SYDNEY
No.

SHEPHERD
Good. My nervousness exists on
several levels. Number 1 — and
this is in no particular order —
I haven’t done this in a pretty
long time. Number 2: Any expectations
you might have, due to the fact that
I’m, you know…

SYDNEY
The most powerful man in the world?

SHEPHERD
Exactly, thank you. Just so you
remember that’s a political
distinction that comes with the
office. I mean, if Eisenhower were
here instead of me he’d be dead by
now. And number three…

SYDNEY
(gently)
Andy…

They’re both standing, facing each other…

They gently kiss. They just stay with it until it becomes
easier and better and exactly what they want.

RUMSON (V.O.)
Does New Hampshire want traditional
American values back in the White
House?

CROWD
Yes!!

CUT TO:

INT. AN ELKS LODGE – NIGHT

A crowd of 300 or so is being whipped into a frenzy.
Rumson’s bringing it home under a campaign banner
proclaiming: THE PRIDE IS BACK — BOB RUMSON.

RUMSON
Does New Hampshire want the pride back?

The CROWD goes nuts upon hearing Rumson’s signature phrase–

CROWD
Yeah!!!!!!!

RUMSON
My name is Bob Rumson. And I’m
running for President.

And as the CROWD loses its mind, we

CUT TO:

EXT. WHITE HOUSE – DAWN

CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S BEDROOM – MORNING

It is very early, and SHEPHERD is still asleep. As we PULL
BACK, WE REVEAL that he is alone in his bed. The PHONE RINGS.

SHEPHERD picks it up–

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Yeah…put him through.
(listens)
Lewis, it is 5:00 a.m. You gotta
get yourself a life, man.
(listens)
Yeah…all right.

He hangs up the phone and looks around the room, only to
notice SYDNEY is tiptoeing around in the dim light, trying
to quietly dress herself and gather up her things. SHEPHERD
watches this odd spectacle for a moment before he says–

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Sydney?

SYDNEY turns around.

SYDNEY
Hi.

SHEPHERD
What are you doing?

SYDNEY
I wanted to leave the building before
the press corps got here.

SHEPHERD
I have those same thoughts every day
of my life. Say, you know Lewis
Rothschild, don’t you? Well, he’s…

SYDNEY
Sure. Boy, Lewis’d go nuts if he
knew I’d spent the night.

There’s a KNOCK on the door.

SHEPHERD
…on his way up.

SYDNEY
What?

SHEPHERD
Come on in, Lewis.

LEWIS comes in–

LEWIS
‘Morning, Mr. President. Hi, Sydney.

SYDNEY
Hi, Lewis. Well, Mr. President,
thank you for taking the time to go
over those fossil fuel numbers. I’ll
just get my coat, and be on my way.

SHEPHERD laughs at SYDNEY’s purposely lame try–

SHEPHERD
(to LEWIS)
What’s the situation?

LEWIS
They’re camped out at every exit.

SYDNEY
Who? Who’s camped out?

LEWIS
The press.

SYDNEY
The press is camped out?

LEWIS
You shoulda taken a cab, Sydney.

SYDNEY
They know my car?!

ROBIN enters.

ROBIN
Good morning, Mr. President. Hi,
Sydney. I came over as soon as Lewis
called.

SHEPHERD
Thank God.

ROBIN
I think the important thing is not
to make it look like we’re panicking.

SHEPHERD
See, and I think the important thing
is actually not to be panicking.

A.J. KNOCKS on the open door and walks in.

A.J.
Good morning, Mr. President. Good
morning, Ms. Wade. I see everyone’s
getting an early start today.

LEWIS
How do we exit Sydney from the
building and what do we say to the
press at that point?

ROBIN
We need a diversion.

SYDNEY
A diversion.

ROBIN
You understand that by diversion
I’m not saying we set the White
House on fire.

SHEPHERD
No, please, let’s do.

LEWIS
Can I state very clearly that I
can’t be party to anything illegal.

A.J.
Good for you, Lewis.

LEWIS
Say what you want, but it’s always
the guy in my job that ends up doing
eighteen months in Danbury Minimum
Security Prison.

SHEPHERD
Rest easy, Lewis. We’re not creating
a diversion.

ROBIN
No diversion.

SHEPHERD
(to SYDNEY)
We’ll have somebody take you home.

A.J.
Esther’s over in my office. She’s
got the station wagon outside.

SHEPHERD regards A.J. for a moment…clearly the man planned
ahead.

LEWIS
Okay. Good. Now, the press
statement.

SHEPHERD
(to SYDNEY)
Sydney, when you leave here, you’re
gonna run into reporters and
photographers. Your picture’s gonna
be taken every day, and you’re gonna
be asked questions every day. Answer
them, don’t answer them — it’s
entirely up to you. The White House
has no official position except to
say “no comment.”

ROBIN
No comment?

SHEPHERD
The White House doesn’t comment on
the President’s personal life.

LEWIS
We can’t just leave it at that, sir.

SHEPHERD
I tell you what, Lewis, we just did.

LEWIS
But, sir…

A.J.
(the meeting’s over)
Thank you, Mr. President.

LEWIS, ROBIN and A.J. say their “Thank you, Mr. President”‘s
on the way out …

A.J.
(continuing)
Sydney. Esther’ll be in my office.
You take your time.

SYDNEY
Thanks, A.J.

A.J. leaves…

SHEPHERD
I’m sorry about all this. We’ll do
it better next time.

SYDNEY
I’m no expert, but I thought we did
it pretty good this time.

SHEPHERD
No, I mean…

SYDNEY
I know. I had a good time.

SHEPHERD
Me, too. I’ll call you. I’ll be in
Panama, but I’ll call you.

SYDNEY
I’d like that.

SYDNEY gives him a good-bye kiss…

SYDNEY
(continuing)
Bye.

She exits the bedroom.

SHEPHERD
All right…okay…this is good.

CUT TO:

A SERIES OF SHOTS – DAY/NIGHT

AS we move through a series of quick DISSOLVES, all M.O.S.,
we HEAR in VOICE-OVER the sounds of American’s electronic
media — network news, news magazines, gossip shows, talk
radio, political round tables, etc. — dissecting the
“Girlfriend Factor.”

INT. FOSSIL FUEL WAR ROOM – DAY

SYDNEY and the TEAM are in full gear. Lisa rips off another
vote on the tote board, making it “14 Votes in 51 Days.”

REPORTER #1
Sydney Ellen Wade, the political
strategist who accompanied President
Shepherd to last week’s state dinner,
reportedly spent the night at the
White House as a guest of–

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CRIME BILL WAR ROOM – DAY

The tote board reads “8 Votes in 45 Days.” KODAK is pointing
to a spot on an electoral map to emphasize a point to a young
INTERN.

REPORTER #2
The President returned from Panama
this evening after a three-day tour
through Central America. His first
order of business: An intimate
supper with Sydney Wade at a romantic
Georgetown bistro.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. BISTRO – NIGHT

SHEPHERD and SYDNEY are sharing what seems to be an intimate
candlelit dinner. We PULL BACK TO REVEAL a restaurant packed
with SECRET SERVICE, and PRESS outside police barricades,
shooting through the windows of the restaurant.

REPORTER #3
Conservative and religious family
organizations are starting to smell
blood in the water as–

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LUCY’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

Lucy is giving a little trombone recital for SHEPHERD and
SYDNEY. SYDNEY cheers madly at the end of the piece, giving
Lucy a big hug for her effort.

RADIO GUY (V.O.)
All right, caller, you’re on the air.

CALLER (V.O.)
Dan, what about Lucy Shepherd? Is
anyone concerned about this little
girl? Can we now finally have a
serious debate about family values?

EXT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – DAY

SYDNEY exits her apartment and is once again hounded by the
press.

SCHLOCK TALK SHOW HOST (V.O.)
We’re gonna take a commercial break.
When we come back, we’re gonna meet
a junior high school classmate of
Sydney Wade’s, who says–

CUT TO:

EXT. NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, CITY HALL – DAY

Rumson’s getting the pride back into a couple of hundred
innocent bystanders.

SHOWBIZ REPORTER (V.O.)
…Showbiz Weekly was in Hollywood
for the star-studded gala. Also on
tonight’s program: Day 15 of the
Sydney Watch. Is the world’s most
eligible bachelor off the market?

EXT. GDC BUILDING – NIGHT

SYDNEY exits the building and is mobbed by the press.

JOHN McLAUGHLIN TYPE (V.O.)
Political polling analyst Ed Earl,
with the President’s job approval
taking an eight-point dip from his
personal best of 63 percent three
weeks ago, should the White House be
concerned that the Girlfriend Factor
has left Shepherd vulnerable to the
kinds of character questions he was
able to avoid three years ago?

ED EARL (V.O.)
Well, if they’re not concerned, they
sure oughta be.

RADIO GUY

INT. PRESS BRIEFING ROOM – DAY

ROBIN is hearing a question she’s been asked 88 times
already. She keeps her cool as best she can and merely
shrugs her shoulders and shakes her head “no.”

JOHN McLAUGHLIN TYPE (V.O.)
Columnist Cynthia Skyler, how much
will this new wrinkle affect his
ability to put together a win on his
crime bill?

EXT. MANCHESTER RAMADA – NIGHT

Establishing shot of the Ramada.

EXT. A SUITE AT THE MANCHESTER RAMADA – NIGHT

Rumson and his STAFF are buzzing about amid room service
tables and late-night take-out as STU enters the room with
a manila envelope in his hand.

RUMSON
(into phone)
I agree a hundred and ten percent,
Mrs. Harper. That’s why I’m up here
in the dead of winter talkin’ about
it with you folks.

Rumson is signaling for an AIDE to take over his phone call.

RUMSON
(continuing;
into phone)
That’s very generous of you, ma’am,
and I’m gonna take that money off
your hands right now.

He hands off the phone–

RUMSON
(continuing)
What do you got for me, Stu?

STU
Call me Santa Claus, Senator.

Several TOP AIDES join this slightly confidential conversation.

STU
(continuing)
She’s got an FBI file.

RUMSON
Shit, Stu, my mother’s got an FBI
file.

RUMSON starts to walk away when STU pulls an 8$B!_(J10 photo from
the manila folder.

STU
I’ve got art.

RUMSON comes back. STU hands him the photo.

STU
It’s a demonstration outside the
Department of Commerce. The
picture’s old, and a lot of the faces
are obscured by the smoke, but this
is Sydney right there in front.

RUMSON
(staring at the photo)
Oh man…tell me the smoke is coming
from what it looks like it’s coming
from.

STU
Yes, sir — it’s burning flag.

RUMSON gives it one last look, passes it back to STU, and
turns back to his phone.

RUMSON
(singing softly)
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

CUT TO:

INT. FOSSIL FUEL WAR ROOM – DAY

A few more young INTERNS have been added, and most are hard
at work on the phones — (“___ from the Global Defense
Council. We’re encouraging voters in your area to phone or
write your Congressman regarding…etc.”)

The tote board now reads “11 Votes in 42 Days.” David is
supervising things while SYDNEY is trying to lose her
patience on the phone.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
I understand, Congressman…Of
course you need to deliberate.
I know the fact that there isn’t
any heavy industry in your district
doesn’t make this decision any
easier. But we met three weeks ago,
and at the end of that meeting you
said that you were leaning our way
but that you wanted to sleep on it.
Since I haven’t heard from you since
then, the only conclusion I can
reach is that you haven’t slept in
21 days.

DAVID
(to SYDNEY)
Ask him about his position on
stateboard for Hawaii.

SYDNEY wads up some paper and flings it at David to shut him
up.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Harry, think like a father for a
second. Wouldn’t you like your
kids to be able to take a deep
breath when they’re 30? Thank you.
You’re doing the right thing.

She hangs up.

SYDNEY
(continuing;
announcing)
Tote board’s heavy.

The room CHEERS, knows what this means. DAVID rips off the
11, revealing 10.

DAVID
How’s this?

SYDNEY
That’s better!

Everyone gets back to work as SYDNEY and DAVID speak among
themselves.

DAVID
Hey, Syd, I saw on your schedule
you’re gonna meet with McSorley,
McCluskey and Shane.

SYDNEY
Yeah, the Motown Three said they’d
give me 30 minutes next week.

DAVID
Sydney, these are people who
represent people who make cars for
a living.

SYDNEY
Yeah.

DAVID
Cars, you understand, run on gasoline.

SYDNEY
Hey, I know it’s a long shot, but if
I can get one of them, it’ll be a
huge payoff in visibility.

DAVID
Well, if we’re gonna try, we should
do some prep work. You wanna order
in?

SYDNEY
I can’t work tonight. I’m having
dinner at the White House. We can
start early tomorrow.

DAVID
Okay. I’m having lunch at the
Kremlin, so we’ll have to, you know,
start real early…

SYDNEY
(exciting)
Good night, David.

DAVID
…in order for me to catch the
morning plane to Moscow.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE WEST WING – DUSK

The President’s motorcade sits in its formation, engines
running, waiting for its passenger.

CUT TO:

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – DUSK

JANIE and a couple of AIDES are in a familiar routine, doing
their last-minute scrambling to get the President out the
door so that he doesn’t fall behind his usual “45-minutes-
behind-schedule” schedule. SHEPHERD is on the phone at his
desk.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Douglas, does the N.R.A. have
videotapes of you playing golf with
Satan? We’ve already softened the
assault weapons. We’re leaving the
SKS, the mini 14, and about 250 other
types on the street. I mean, how
much pull can one lobby–

JANIE catches SHEPHERD’s eye and makes a subtle gesture to
her wristwatch.

SHEPHERD
(continuing;
into phone)
–Yeah, look, we’re gonna continue
this tomorrow. I’m late for the
party fund-raiser. I’ll be sure
and put in a good word for you,
by the way.
(listens)
Okay.

He hangs up.

JANIE
You’re incredibly late.

They head to door as A.J. enters from the other side of the
office.

A.J.
Mr. President. I just got off the
phone with the Federal Mediator in
St. Louis. Management just walked
away from the table. The baggage
handlers, pilots and flight
attendants are getting set to walk in
48 hours.

SHEPHERD
I studied under a Nobel-Prize-Winning
economist. You know what he taught
me?

A.J.
Don’t have a airline strike at
Christmas?

SHEPHERD
Yeah. I’m going to St. Louis.

A.J.
You can leave straight from the fund-
raiser. Janie, get him outta here.

SECRET AGENT #4
(sotto)
Liberty’s moving.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE WEST WING – NIGHT

SHEPHERD is getting into the limo when LEWIS and ROBIN hurry
out to catch him.

ROBIN
(calling)
Sir…

JANIE
He’s incredibly late.

SHEPHERD
(to LEWIS and ROBIN)
Hop in. We’ll talk in the car.

As they do they’re told, and the motorcade gets on its way.

CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S CAR – CONTINUOUS

LEWIS
We’ve got a small problem.

ROBIN
(meant for LEWIS)
It could’ve been a small problem.
It’s now at the very least a medium-
sized–

LEWIS
Robin sees it as a problem. I see it
as a opportunity.

ROBIN
It could’ve been an opportunity
if we’d caught it…

LEWIS
We caught it.

ROBIN
At 5:45. Five-forty-five doesn’t do
me any good, Lewis. Five-forty-five,
network news is in makeup.

LEWIS
You’ve got 14 people working for you.
Did any of them–

SHEPHERD
Guys, do I have to be here for this
meeting?

LEWIS
I’m sorry, sir. It’s the evening
news. It was buried as the third
story–

ROBIN
–It’s got a bullet.

LEWIS
Sydney was at a protest rally where
they burned a flag.

SHEPHERD
(pause)
Today?

LEWIS
About 13 years ago.

ROBIN
Outside the Department of Commerce.
Anti-apartheid.

SHEPHERD
Let me see if I’ve got this: The
third story on the news tonight was
that someone I didn’t know 13 years
ago, when I wasn’t President,
participated in a demonstration where
no laws were being broken in protest
of something that so many people were
against it doesn’t exist anymore?
(beat)
Just out of curiosity, what was the
fourth story?

LEWIS
See, I think it’s important, when we
deal with it, that we–

SHEPHERD
Don’t deal with it.

LEWIS
Excuse me?

SHEPHERD
They’re trying to get us to swing at
a pitch in the dirt. No one ever
wins these fights. It’ll go away.

LEWIS
I’m not sure that’s the wisest–

SHEPHERD
Aw…hell!

ROBIN
See, it’s already distracting you.
Why don’t you let A.J. and Lewis–

SHEPHERD
No, you reminded me, I’m supposed to
have dinner with Sydney tonight.

CUT TO:

INT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

SYDNEY and BETH stand in front of a full-length mirror.
SYDNEY’s holding a dress to herself to check it out.

SYDNEY
It’s terrific, Beth. I love it.

BETH
I can’t believe I’m loaning you
clothes. I thought you owned every
piece of clothing there was.

SYDNEY
Work clothes. I always have dinner
at the White House wearing a suit.
I thought a dress would be nice.

BETH
Go ahead, try it on. I brought
earrings, too.

The PHONE RINGS. SYDNEY answers it–

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Hello…
(listens)
I’m just trying on dresses. How do
you feel about leather?

CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERD’S CAR – NIGHT

SHEPHERD’s on the phone to SYDNEY.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
I feel terrible, but I have to
cancel our date tonight.

SYDNEY
Another woman?

SHEPHERD
No, I’ve gotta go to St. Louis and
avert a massive airline strike.

SYDNEY
Boys, if I had a nickel for every
time I heard that one.

SHEPHERD
Thanks for understanding. I’ll call
you tonight

SHEPHERD hangs up the phone.

SHEPHERD
Boy, I hate doing that. She was
trying on dresses.

LEWIS
I tell any girl I’m going out with to
assume that all plans are soft until
she receives confirmation 30 minutes
beforehand.

ROBIN
And they find this romantic?

LEWIS
Well, I say it with a great deal of
charm.

SHEPHERD sees something out the window and gets excited.

SHEPHERD
Look! Look! There it is! Carmen’s
House of Flowers! We gotta stop.

LEWIS
What?

SHEPHERD
I gotta get her flowers.

LEWIS
Here?!

ROBIN
Now?!

SHEPHERD
I broke our date. This is what men
do.

ROBIN
It’s not what men do. I know no men
who do that.

SHEPHERD
Coop, I’m gonna hop out at that
flower shop.

AGENT COOPER
You’re gonna hop out, sir?

LEWIS
No, he’s not hopping. Sir, no
hopping. Stay in the car. I’ll get
the flowers.

SHEPHERD
Then it’s not personal.

LEWIS
Let the agents do a security sweep.
We don’t know who’s in there.

SHEPHERD
You think there’s a florist who’s
planning an assassination on the
off-chance that I’d be stopping by?

LEWIS
It’s possible.

SHEPHERD hops out of the car. AGENT COOPER trails after him.

CUT TO:

EXT. STREET – IN FRONT OF FLOWER SHOP – NIGHT

SHEPHERD’s sudden decision sets off a chain reaction of
Secret Service activity to accommodate the change of plans.

INT. CARMEN’S HOUSE OF FLOWERS – NIGHT

A high school GIRL is behind the counter, talking to a friend
on the phone. Her back is to the door when SHEPHERD walks in
with a couple of SECRET SERVICE AGENTS scrambling to keep up.
SHEPHERD begins surveying the various flowers that are behind
the glass.

GIRL
(into phone)
At the basketball game…

SHEPHERD
Excuse me–

GIRL
No, at the game. I’m telling you,
Kiki wasn’t even there.

SHEPHERD
Excuse me–

GIRL
(to Shepherd)
I will be right with you.

The GIRL notices, and the receiver falls from her hand as
she stares in disbelief.

SHEPHERD
(to the GIRL)
Hey, I don’t know if you’re the
one I talked to on the phone…
Virginia, dogwood, the President
…any of it ring a–

And apparently it does, because the GIRL faints and falls to
the floor.

SHEPHERD
Same girl. She remembers me.

AGENT COOPER
She’ll be fine.

RUMSON (V.O.)
Yes, and I’m glad to see ol’

Andy’s got himself a girl.

APPLAUSE and appreciative LAUGHTER from a CROWD as we

CUT TO:

INT. MEMPHIS GRAND HYATT – NIGHT

RUMSON is speaking to a black-tie fund-raiser for the
REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP ALLIANCE.

RUMSON
(continuing)
Never mind she’s the hired gun of
an ultra-liberal political action
committee.

The crowd’s getting into it–

RUMSON
(continuing)
Never mind that the President takes
the Fifth anytime a reporter has the
temerity to ask a question about a
woman in a position to exert enormous
influence over a huge range of issues.

A wave building–

RUMSON
(continuing)
Never mind that this woman’s idea of
how to unwind at the end of a tough
day is by getting together with her
ACLU pals and setting American flags
on fire…

CUT TO:

INT. PRESIDENTIAL SUITE/ST. LOUISE HILTON – NIGHT

The RUMSON FAMILY glows from a TELEVISION in the corner.
LEWIS and ROBIN react to the news highlight reel of that
day’s screw-up.

ROBIN
(to herself)
No reaction from the White House.

SHEPHERD’s off in a corner, talking on the phone. The
Presidential Suite has been turned into the St. Louis Oval
Office for the night as STAFFERS zigzag around room service
tables during the late-night preparations.

INT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – SAME TIME

SYDNEY
(into phone)
What do Lewis and Robin think?

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Brutus and Cassius? They want me to
get into the character debate and mix
it up.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Lewis and Robin are very smart.

SHEPHERD
(to LEWIS and ROBIN)
Sydney says you guys are really
stupid.

SYDNEY
(shouting through
the phone)
I didn’t say that!

SHEPHERD
(to LEWIS and ROBIN)
She’s questioning your loyalty.

LEWIS
Hell, I question it all the time.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Wait a second, here comes my favorite
part.

He’s referring to RUMSON on the TV.

RUMSON (V.O.)
My name is Bob Rumson, and I’m running
for President.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
It’s a good thing he cleared that up,
‘cause the crowd was gettin’ ready
to buy some AMWAY products.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
His number are climbing.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Sydney, his number have nowhere to
go but up.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
What about yours?

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
We’re fine. We’ll be back up in the
60’s once I get the votes for the
crime bill.
(beat; into phone)
Say, what’re you doing this weekend?

SYDNEY
(into phone)
I’ve got some work I was gonna bring
home. Why?

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
The negotiations are going pretty
well here. It looks like the
nation’s going to keep on flying.
Lucy’s sleeping over at a friend’s
house Saturday night.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
What’d you have in mind?

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
Have you ever been to Camp David?

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Camp David? Sure. I used to go
there all the time, but then they
changed chefs and…

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
It’s sass, right? You’re sassing
me.

SYDNEY
(into phone)
Yes.

SHEPHERD
(into phone)
I’ll have a car pick you up Saturday
morning.

CUT TO:

EXT. CAMP DAVID – DAY

Scattered STAFF and MARINE PERSONNEL hold their hats to their
heads against the wind that MARINE-1 kicks up as it touches
down on the helicopter pad.

CUT TO:

INT. HELICOPTER – CONTINUOUS

SYDNEY, nose pressed against the window, is drinking it in.
SHEPHERD is finishing up a crossword puzzle.

SYDNEY
Do you ever get used to helicopters
dropping you off at your front door?

SHEPHERD
How many “e”s in “kaleidoscope”?

SYDNEY
I guess you do.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

SHEPHERD and SYDNEY are lounging in front of a fireplace,
having hot cups of something alcoholic. SYDNEY is reading a
book. SHEPHERD is running through satellite TV channels,
searching for something.

SYDNEY
Oh good God.

SHEPHERD
What?

SYDNEY
I’m looking at your college
transcripts. This isn’t human.
Nobody gets this many “A’s.” You
were like a Stepford student.

SHEPHERD
Are you still reading that ridiculous
biography?

SYDNEY
Actually I finished Andrew Shepherd:
Road to the White House. Now I’m onto
Shepherd: The Early Years.

SHEPHERD
Seven-trillion-dollar communications
system at my disposal, you’d think
I’d be able to find out if the
Packers won.

SYDNEY
(re the book)
Oh, Andy…C-minus in Women’s
Studies?

SHEPHERD
Yeah…that course wasn’t about what
I thought it was gonna be about.

SHEPHERD has landed on a news station.

NEWS ANCHOR #!
(on T.V.)
…for his routine physical exam.
Doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital
pronounced President Shepherd in
excellent health.

SHEPHERD
Who cares? Let’s see some scores.

NEWS ANCHOR #2
(on T.V.)
While the President spent the day at
Camp David, G.O.P. presidential
hopeful Robert Rumson continued his
attacks on President Shepherd’s
character. During the Saturday
morning news program Capitol
Review with Kenneth Michaels,
Senator Rumson suggested that GDC
political director Sydney Ellen Wade,
whose personal relationship with the
President has been causing the White
House headaches over the past two
months, may have traded sexual favors
for key votes in the Virginia State
Legislature while lobbying for the
Virginia Teachers Association.

The NEWS PROGRAM goes to the segment showing RUMSON and
MICHAELS on that morning’s show. SHEPHERD and SYDNEY sit and
watch…knowing they’re about to take a punch…powerless to
stop it…

MICHAELS
(on T.V.)
Wait a minute, Senator–

RUMSON
(on T.V.)
I’m not saying–

MICHAELS
(on T.V.)
–‘cause that’s a heck of an
accusation to make, and–

RUMSON
(on T.V.)
I’m not making an acc– let me be
very clear. I’m not making an accusation.
I am saying when we hear one thing,
we dismiss it. We hear two, we dismiss it.
But when several, several well-
respected members and former members of
the Virginia State House–

MICHAELS
(on T.V.)
Can you give us names?

RUMSON
(on T.V.)
–each of their own accord, comes to
me and expresses concern over the
woman standing next to — I don’t even
know, do we call her the First Mistress?
When several–

SYDNEY
My God. He’s making this up as he
goes along.

SHEPHERD
I’m so sorry about this, Sydney.

SYDNEY
Oh, man. My father heard that.

SHEPHERD clicks off the T.V.

SHEPHERD
You gotta tell him to turn a deaf ear.

SYDNEY
My father doesn’t have a deaf ear.
He hears fine out of both. So do I.
So does my sister, so do my friends.
You’re the only one who seems to–

SHEPHERD
Sydney, I can’t challenge the school
bully to a fight just because he
picked on my girlfriend.

SYDNEY
I’m not asking you to. I can take
care of myself. This isn’t about me.
How can you keep quiet? How do you
have patience for people who claim
they love America but clearly can’t
stand Americans?

SHEPHERD
I have one more election left, Sydney.
I don’t have the luxury of losing my
patience.

SYDNEY
I want to say something, but I’m
gonna fumble it a little bit, so I’d
just like you to wait till I’m done
before you respond. I’m in love with
you. I’m certain of it. And I want to
be with you more than anything. But
maybe things would be better for you
if I disappeared for a while.

SHEPHERD
Things will be better when I pass a
crime bill. And Sydney, if you
disappeared, I’d find you.

He goes to kiss her, she responds.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SOUTH LAWN – NIGHT

The official White House Christmas Tree is glimmering for the
TOURISTS.

CUT TO:

INT. RESIDENCE – NIGHT

An informal Christmas party is underway with maybe 20 GUESTS,
some of them familiar faces.

SHEPHERD and a GREEN-BLAZERED MAN

GREEN BLAZERED MAN (GILL)
Mr. President, militant women are out
to destroy college football in this
country.

SHEPHERD
Is that a fact?

GREEN BLAZERED MAN (GILL)
Have you been following this
situation down in Atlanta? These
women want parity for girls’
softball, field hockey, volleyball…

SHEPHERD
If I’m not mistaken, Gill, I think
the courts ruled on Title 9 about 20
years ago.

GREEN BLAZERED MAN (GILL)
Yes sir, but now I’m saying these
women want that law enforced.

SHEPHERD
Well, it’s a world gone mad, Gill.

LEWIS, KODAK and ROBIN stand huddled with cups of eggnog…

KODAK
The country has mood swings.

LEWIS
Mood swings? Nineteen post-graduate
degrees in mathematics and you
explain going from a 63 to a 46
percent approval rating in 5 weeks
on mood swings?

KODAK
Well, I could explain it better, but
I’d need charts and graphs and an easel.

ROBIN
Fellas, we haven’t slept in three
years. Can’t we forget work for one
night and take this moment to enjoy
each other as friends? It’s
Christmas.

LEWIS
(pause)
It’s Christmas?

KODAK
Yeah, you didn’t get the memo?

AT THE BUFFET TABLE

KID #1
‘Cause your father’s President, does
he automatically get to be on money?

LUCY
I honestly don’t know.

KID #2
I think only if he’s a really good
President.

A.J. spots SYDNEY as she walks through the doorway and comes
over to her. She seems a bit agitated.

A.J.
Hey, Sydney, Merry Christmas.

SYDNEY
Merry Christmas, A.J.

A.J.
Where you been?

SYDNEY
I got stuck on DePont Circle. I can
never remember which lane I’m
supposed to take. Then I got cut off
by this idiot cab driver who starts
screaming at me like it’s my fault.

A.J.
Syd, relax. It’s Christmas.

SHEPHERD joins them.

SHEPHERD
Hi, Syd. Get stuck on DuPont Circle
again?

SYDNEY
It’s not funny. I hate that place.
Can’t you declare it a Federal
Disaster Area or something?

SHEPHERD
I’ll look into it.

A.J.
What were you doing up on the Hill,
anyway?

SYDNEY
Ahhh…I had a terrible meeting
today. Totally lost my cool with
McSorley, McCluskey and Shane.

SHEPHERD
You went to see the Motown Three?

SYDNEY
I pitched ‘em the hill.

A.J.
(beat)
On its merits?

SHEPHERD
The woman knows no fear. She’d lobby
the Carolinas to the American Lung
Association.

SYDNEY
It was a disaster.

A.J.
You’re in good company. I sat with
‘em a week ago. They told me there
was nothing on the President’s
domestic agenda they were more
committed to defeating than the crime
bill.

SYDNEY
Well, congratulations, fellas, you’re
outta the cellar. McSorley told me
the only thing on the President’s
domestic agenda they were more
committed to defeating than the crime
bill was the fossil fuel package.

This catches SHEPHERD and A.J. by surprise–like accidentally
drawing to an inside straight.

A.J.
You’re kidding, right?

SYDNEY isn’t aware she’s said anything of particular
consequence.

SYDNEY
No, I’m not kidding. It’s funny that
he used the same words.

A.J. and SHEPHERD are trying to study the situation without
giving anything away.

A.J.
Yeah…

SHEPHERD
I don’t think the Pep Boys know too
many words.

SYDNEY
I’m gonna get a drink and shake this
off. When I come back, I’ll have
Christmas spirit.

SHEPHERD
(beat)
Okay.

SYDNEY
Is something wrong?

SHEPHERD
No, I was…I was thinking about–
nothing.

SYDNEY
I’ll be back in a minute.

She goes off.

A.J.
Did what I think just happened, just
happen? Did the GDC’s political
director just tell the President and
the White House Chief of Staff that
there are three votes on the crime
bill that can be bought by stickin’
the fossil fuel package in a drawer.

SHEPHERD
No, the GDC’s political director
didn’t tell us anything. Sydney Wade
told her boyfriend and her
boyfriend’s best friend that she had
a lousy day.

A.J.
It doesn’t change the facts, Mr.
President. If Sydney gets her 24
votes and we’re three short, there’s
some maneuvering to be done.

SHEPHERD
I made a promise, A.J.

A.J.
You made a deal, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
I made it with Sydney.

A.J.
You made it with the GDC.

SHEPHERD
Yeah, well, this is all academic
anyway. We’re not going to need
those votes.

A.J.
If your approval rating drops any
more, things are gonna get tight.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. A WASHINGTON WATERING HOLE – NIGHT

LEWIS sits with a Congressman’s aide.

LEWIS
I’m hearing rumors that your boss
is wavering on the crime bill.

AIDE
You can’t believe rumors, Lewis,
you know this town.

LEWIS
That’s what I wanted to hear.

AIDE
I’ll tell you, though. My boss is
starting to waver on the crime bill.

INT. A POSE WASHINGTON RESTAURANT – DAY

A lunchtime crowd is doing business over white wine, oysters
and cobb salads. SYDNEY, a CONGRESSMAN, and his LEGISLATIVE
AIDE are going at it.

CONGRESSMAN (PENNYBAKER)

Sydney, everybody cares about the
environment during a phone survey.
On election day, nobody gives a
damn. That’s, that’s why you have
a job.

SYDNEY
Congressman Pennybaker, on election
day, people give a damn about what I
tell them to give a damn about. And
that’s why I have a job.
(offering the bread
basket)
Did you want another roll?

CUT TO:

INT. FOSSIL FUEL WAR ROOM – DAY

DAVID is on the phone–

DAVID
(to the INTERNS)
She got Pennybaker.

VOICE
All right! Good job!

DAVID rips off the top sheet of the tote board, which now
reads “5 Votes in 14 Days.”

DISSOLVE TO:

CONGRESSMAN MILLMAN’S OFFICE – DAY

MILLMAN is walking on a treadmill while LEWIS stands by.

LEWIS
Congressman, it was our understanding
that we had your support.

MILLMAN
Hey, look, I like your boy. Always
have. But for God’s sake, kid,
does the woman have to spend the
night?

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. FOSSIL FUEL WAR ROOM – DAY

INTERNS photocopying, clipping, stamping, crunching numbers,
drinking coffee…DAVID is on an extension, listening to
SYDNEY’s final pitch over the phone.

The tote board reads: “3 Votes in 5 Days.”

SYDNEY
(into phone)
We’ve got the full backing of
the White House, Katherine.
(listens)
Yes, at 20 percent. Three more votes
and the President sends it to the
Hill.
(listens)
Katie, 10 years from now any cars
with an internal combustion engine
is gonna be considered a collector’s
item. Come on board, we’ll make your
Volvo a classic.

CUT TO:

INT. ROOSEVELT ROOM – DAY

LEWIS and KODAK, each with an AIDE, have been meeting with
two CONGRESSMEN and their AIDES.

LEWIS
Congressman, the assault weapons
are gone.

KODAK
The bill is priced to move, see.

CONGRESSMAN
The bill isn’t the issue, fellas.
I’m facing a serious challenge in
November, and the President’s
coattails aren’t what they used
to be.

KODAK
The President’s coattail’s are gonna
have room for you, Congressman, you
leave that to us.

AIDE
We left that to you people, Leon,
and the President’s in a free-fall.

KODAK
I wouldn’t say he’s in a free–

CONGRESSMAN
I just can’t give you my vote.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. A.J.’S OFFICE – DAY

LEWIS and KODAK stand in front of A.J.’s desk.

LEWIS
The well is drying up. The
President’s gotta make a move or
we’re gonna die fast and quiet.

KODAK
What if I do a new poll? We give
him detailed public opinion.

LEWIS
And we put Sydney in the new model?

A.J. hesitates.

LEWIS
(continuing)
A.J., it’s meaningless unless we ask
him about Sydney.

A.J.
Fine. Do it.

CUT TO:

EXT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

The street’s been temporarily closed to traffic, and SECRET
SERVICE AGENTS man the sidewalk. The PRESS and ONLOOKERS
form a small crowd, kept well at bay by police barricades.

INT. SYDNEY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

SHEPHERD and SYDNEY are finishing up dinner.

SHEPHERD
This was delicious. Thank you. Is
there any left?

SYDNEY
(taking his bowl)
Tons. I didn’t think you liked it.

SHEPHERD
Are you kidding me, of course I did.
But actually it’s not for me. The
agent who checked the food thought
it was delicious, and I sort of told
him I’d bring him some if there was
any left.

SYDNEY
So you didn’t like it.

SHEPHERD
No, I loved it.

SYDNEY
You’re lying.

SHEPHERD
No, I’m not.

SYDNEY
You are. I can tell when you’re
holding something back. You do a
thing with your face.

SYDNEY pops a bottle of port and pours two glasses.

SHEPHERD
When have you seen me do a thing
with my face?

SYDNEY
Two days before I met you. You
gave a speech for the Daughters
of the American Revolution. I was
there.

SHEPHERD
You were?

SYDNEY
You remember the speech?

SHEPHERD
Vaguely.

SYDNEY
“American can no longer afford to
pretend that they live in a great
society.”

SHEPHERD
Ah.

SYDNEY
There was supposed to be something
else after that, wasn’t there?

SHEPHERD
How did you know?

SYDNEY
I told you. The face.

SYDNEY hands him a glass. They clink glasses and sip.

SHEPHERD
Wow…what’s the occasion?

SYDNEY
You’re looking at a lady who’s two
votes shy of the promised land.

SHEPHERD
Two votes?

SYDNEY
I got Pennybaker. That got me Cass
and Zimmer.

SHEPHERD
(beat)
That’s great, Sydney. I mean it.
That’s great work.

SYDNEY
Well, I’m not there yet.

SHEPHERD
Look, no matter what happens, you
have every right to be proud of
yourself.

SYDNEY
I’ll be proud when I see you sign
the bill.

SHEPHERD
Yeah, well…

SYDNEY
Andy.

SHEPHERD
Yeah?

SYDNEY
You’re doing that thing with your face.

CUT TO:

EXT. OLD EXECUTIVE OFFICE BUILDING – DAY – EAST

A light rain is falling.

CUT TO:

INT. CRIME BILL WAR ROOM – DAY

KODAK sits at his desk staring at a computer printout. LEWIS
is nearing the end of a phone conversation that isn’t going
well. He’s pacing around with the phone…desperate and
intense.

The tote board reads: “1 Vote in 2 Days.” ROBIN enters.

ROBIN
(to KODAK)
How’re the numbers?

KODAK
Bad.

ROBIN
How bad?

KODAK
Forty-one. Character across the
board.

ROBIN
Who is Lewis on with?

KODAK
Jarrett. He’s trying to keep his
finger in the dam.

LEWIS
(into phone)
You’re supposed to be a United States
Congressman, for the love of Christ.

ROBIN and KODAK appear in the doorway, sensing a surprise
development. LEWIS is losing it on the phone.

LEWIS
(continuing; listens)
But you’re not gonna stay at 41.
The numbers are gonna be go back up.
(listens)
But they’re gonna go back up.
(listens)
George…
(listens)
Congressman…
(listens)
Congressman Jarrett…
(listens)
George, it’s crunch time. It’s
personal. This is one of those
moments. It’s just you and the
President. Now that’s it gonna
be?

LEWIS looks over at ROBIN and KODAK …his face telling the
story.

LEWIS
(continuing)
Yeah.
(listens)
Yeah.
(listens)
Hey, George? Can I tell you
something? We’re gonna win this
thing. We’re gonna get the votes
and we’re gonna win. And after we
do, I mean that very night, I’m
gonna go to Sam & Harry’s, I’m gonna
order a big steak, and I’m gonna make
a list of everybody who tried to fuck
us this week.

ROBIN and KODAK are trying to get their friend from setting
fire to a bridge out of pure frustration.

ROBIN
(a whispered shout)
Lewis!

LEWIS
(into phone)
Vote your conscience, you chicken-
shit, lame-ass–

LEWIS hangs up the phone. He takes a deep breath, slumps
down in the nearest chair, and looks up at ROBIN and KODAK.

There’s a long silence before LEWIS says–

LEWIS
(continuing)
We lost Jarrett.

KODAK
(beat)
I hope so. ‘Cause, you know, if
that was an “undecided,” then we
need to work on our people skills.

LEWIS picks up the phone and punches in a few numbers. Even
before that line starts ringing, he picks up another phone
and punches in a different set of numbers.

LEWIS
(into the first phone)
Karen, it’s Lewis. Could you hunt
down Congressman Quincy for me. I
need to talk to him right way.

CUT TO:

INT. OVAL OFFICE – DAY

SHEPHERD stands in front A.J., LEWIS, ROBIN, and KODAK.
JANIE is somewhere in the background.

A.J.
We lost Quincy, too.

SHEPHERD
Did he give a reason?

LEWIS
He thinks your numbers aren’t likely
to rebound.

KODAK
We’re three votes down again, sir.

There’s a pause before …

KODAK
(continuing)
Mr. President, as of this morning,
Sydney only needed one more vote.
The Motown Three have gotta be
scared blind. I don’t think there’ll
be a better opportunity.

ROBIN
The press is expecting an
announcement on the crime bill by
the Sate of the Union.

KODAK
If you agree to stick 455 in a drawer
until after the elections, they’ll
give you the three votes.

ROBIN
(beat)
And we declare victory, sir.

SHEPHERD
We said as a last resort.

KODAK
We’re there, sir. The State of the
Union is 48 hours away.

SHEPHERD
No. Come on. There’s gotta be three
votes someplace else.

KODAK
There isn’t.

SHEPHERD
Bullshit, Leon. There’s gotta be
somebody we haven’t–

KODAK
There isn’t, sir.

SHEPHERD
Storch.

KODAK
I beg your pardon?

SHEPHERD
What about Storch?

A.J.
Mr. President–

KODAK
Storch is a “no.”

SHEPHERD
Wagner.

KODAK
No.

SHEPHERD
Sobel.

KODAK
No.

SHEPHERD
Clark.

KODAK
No.

SHEPHERD
Not that Clark, the one from
Indiana.

KODAK
(pause)
That one too, sir.

SHEPHERD is stopped.

A.J.
Mr. President, I think we have to
do it.

SHEPHERD
She is one vote away, A.J. It’s
important legislation that for the
first time has a legitimate chance.
I think she deserves every possible
opportunity to–

LEWIS
She? You meant “it,” didn’t you,
sir? You meant the “important
legislation” deserves every
opportunity.

A.J.
Lewis, shut up.

There’s a horrible silence in the room. SHEPHERD has locked
eyes with LEWIS.

SHEPHERD
You got something to say to me?

LEWIS
Respectfully, sir. I think we should
examine the new poll for more than
its value as a box score.

SHEPHERD
Examine what? They don’t like that
I’m going out with Sydney.

LEWIS
It’s not that simple, sir. I think
this poll helps bribg a murky problem
into specific relief.

SHEPHERD
Whose problem we talking about,
Lewis? Yours? You worried about
your job? This poll isn’t talking
about my Presidency. This poll is
talking about my life. Two hundred
and sixty-four million people have
decided–

LEWIS
Mr. President, two hundred and sixty-
four million people don’t give a damn
about your life. They give a damn about
their own.

A.J.
All right, that’s enough.

LEWIS
Mr. President, you’ve raised a
daughter almost entirely on your own,
and she’s terrific. What does it say
to you that in the last seven weeks,
59 percent of this country has begun
to question your family values?

A.J.
The President doesn’t answer to you,
Lewis.

LEWIS
Oh yes, he does, A.J. I’m a citizen,
this is my president, and in this
country it is not only permissible to
question our leaders, it is our
responsibility. But you already know
that, Mr. President, because you have
a deeper love of this country than
any man I’ve ever known, and I want
to know what it says to you that in
the past seven weeks 59 percent of
Americans have begun to question your
patriotism?

SHEPHERD
Look, if people want to listen to Bob
Rumson–

LEWIS
They don’t have a choice! Rob
Rumson’s the only one doing the
talking. People want leadership.
And in the absence of genuine
leadership, they will listen to
anyone who steps up to the
microphone. They want leadership,
Mr. President. They’re so thirsty
for it, they’ll crawl through the
desert toward a mirage, and when
they discover there’s no water,
they’ll drink the sand.

SHEPHERD
(evenly)
Lewis, we’ve had Presidents who were
beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent
sentence with two hands and a
flashlight. People don’t drink the
sand, ‘cause they’re thirsty, Lewis.
They drink it ‘cause they don’t know
the difference.

The room is slightly stunned by what their President has just
said.

SHEPHERD picks up the polling data and heads to the door…

SHEPHERD
(continuing; on his
way out)
Make the deal.

CUT TO:

INT. THE FOSSIL FUEL WAR ROOM – DAY

SYDNEY, SUSAN, DAVID, INTERNS and STAFFERS are having a
little office celebration. Champagne flows from paper cups.
Streamers and balloons adorn the tote board, which reads 0
Votes in 1 Day.

SUSAN, maybe a little drunk, has concerned SYDNEY.

SUSAN
I want to go on the record and
apologize for my attitude toward you
since your arrival.

SYDNEY
I didn’t notice. Was there an
attitude?

A PHONE RINGS, and one of the staffers takes it. SYDNEY
tries to rejoin the party, but–

SUSAN
I think I have a lot of pent-up
hostility.

SYDNEY
Well–

SUSAN
I wonder who I can blame it on.

SYDNEY
I’m not really qualified to–

SUSAN
‘Cause I’ve been blaming it on my
mother and my ex-husband, and that
hasn’t been working.

DAVID
(approaching SYDNEY)
Leo needs to see you.

SYDNEY
Tell him to get over here. It’s a
party.

DAVID
He needs to see you in his office.

SYDNEY
It can’t wait?

DAVID
He just got off the phone with
MacInerney. There’s been a
development.

SYDNEY holds for a moment…then heads out the door and we

CUT TO:

INT. A CORRIDOR IN THE RESIDENCE – LATE AFTERNOON

TROMBONE MUSIC comes from LUCY’s bedroom as SHEPHERD rounds
the corner.

INT. LUCY’S BEDROOM – LATER AFTERNOON

SHEPHERD pops his head in.

SHEPHERD
Sounds good.

LUCY
It’s progressive.

SHEPHERD
I’ll say.

LUCY
Hey, Dad, what’s wrong with Sydney?
You guys have a fight?

SHEPHERD
(beat)
What do you mean?

LUCY
She seemed pretty–

SHEPHERD
You saw her?

LUCY
She’s here.

SHEPHERD
Where?

LUCY
In your room. Why is she mad?

SHEPHERD
Don’t worry about it.

LUCY
Were you a dork?

SHEPHERD
Practice your music.

LUCY
If you were a dork, you should say
you’re sorry. Girls like that.

CUT TO:

INT. SHEPHERED’S BEDROOM – LATE AFTERNOON

SYDNEY is going through the closet in search of something.
The door opens, and SHEPHERD steps in, perhaps a little
tentatively. He doesn’t see SYDNEY at first.

SHEPHERD
(calling out)
Syd?

SYDNEY comes out.

SYDNEY
Have you seen a gray cableknit
sweater?

SHEPHERD
A grey…sweater? No. I called
you at the office, but…

SYDNEY
It’s Beth’s. I wore it here one
time, and I didn’t want to leave
it.

SHEPHERD
Where were you going?

SYDNEY continues her search.

SYDNEY
I’m going home, and then I’m going
to Hartford.

SHEPHERD
Connecticut?

SYDNEY
Yes. Do you know if it was sent with
your dry cleaning by any–

SHEPHERD
What’s in Connecticut?

SYDNEY
Richard Reynolds’ campaign. He may
be able to get me a job.

SHEPHERD
When did you decide to get a new job?

SYDNEY
Not long after Leo Solomon fired me
from my old one. Beth’s gonna kill
me. She loves that–

SHEPHERD
Why did he fire you?

SYDNEY
Total failure to achieve any of the
objectives for which I was hired. I
told him he was being unreasonable.
After all, I did get to dance with
the President and ride in Air Force
One a couple of times. But you know
those prickly environmentalists.
It’s always gonna be something with
them. If it’s not clean air, then
it’s clean water. Like it isn’t good
enough that I’m on the cover of
People Magazine.

SHEPHERD
I’ll call him.

SYDNEY
You’ll call him? You mean you’ll
call him yourself? Personally?
It’ll come from the President?
That’s a great idea. I think you
should call Leo and make a deal. He
hires me back for, say, 72 days. I
go around scaring the hell out of
Congress, making them think that the
President’s about to drive through a
very damaging and costly bill.
They’ll believe me, right, ‘cause I’m
the President’s Friday Night Girl.
Now I don’t know if you can dip into
this well twice, especially since
I’ve lost all credibility in politics,
but you never know, I might just be
able to pull it off again. I might
be able to give you just the leverage
you need to pass some ground-breaking
piece of crime legislation — like a
mandatory three-day waiting period
before a five-year-old can buy an Uzi.
Fuck the sweater — she’ll have to
learn to live with disappointment.

She starts to exit

SHEPHERD
What do you think went on here today?

She stops.

SYDNEY
I know exactly what went on here
today. I got screwed. You saw the
poll, you needed the crime bill,
you couldn’t get it on your own,
so I got screwed.

SHEPHERD

The environment got screwed. Nothing
happened to you today, Sydney.
Governing is choosing. Governing is
prioritizing. I’ve made no secret of
the fact that the crime bill was my
top priority.

SYDNEY
Well then, congratulations. It’s
only taken you three years to put
together crime prevention legislation
that has no hope of preventing crime.

SYDNEY heads out the door–

SHEPHERD
(stopping)
Sydney. Please. I don’t want to
lose you over this.

SYDNEY
Mr. President, you got bigger
problems than losing me. You just
lost my vote.

And SYDNEY is out the door…

…we HOLD on SHEPHERD, looking like a man who’s taken a lot
of punches to the heads…

CUT TO:

INT. THE POOL ROOM – NIGHT

A rack of billiard balls explodes from the break.

A.J.
Hartfort? What’s in Hartford?

SHEPHERD
Richard Reynolds’ district office.
She’s thinking of running his
campaign. Four in the corner.

SHEPHERD gets down over the ball–

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Hartford. The insurance capital of
the world. Have a good time, Syd.

SHEPHERD smacks the ball, BULL’S-EYE.

A.J.
Listen. I’m gonna have Janie clear
your schedule for the weekend. You
need to get some rest.

SHEPHERD
You handling me, A.J.?

A.J.
No, sir.

SHEPHERD
Good. 14 in the side.

SHEPHERD gets down over the ball…

SMACK!!!

…but instead of the cue hitting the ball, it’s A.J.’s palms
slamming the cue against the table.

A.J.
But I sure as hell will if you don’t
start gettin’ your head outta your ass.

SHEPHERD
Excuse me.

A.J.
Lewis is right. Go after this guy.

SHEPHERD
Has he lied?!

A.J.
What?

SHEPHERD
Has Rumson lied in the last seven
weeks?

A.J.
Has he lied?

SHEPHERD
Other than not knowing the difference
between Harvard and Stanford, has he
said something that isn’t true? Am
I not a Commander-in-Chief who’s
never served in the military? Am I
not opposed to a Constitutional
amendment banning flag burning? Am
I not an unmarried father who was
sharing a bed with a liberal lobbyist
down the hall from my twelve-year-old
daughter?

A.J.
And you think you’re wrong?

SHEPHERD
I don’t think you win elections by
telling 59 percent of the people that
they are.

A.J.
We fight the fights we can win.

SHEPHERD
Don’t–

A.J.
You fight the fights that need
fighting!

SHEPHERD
Is the view pretty good from the
cheap seats, A.J.?

A.J.
I beg your pardon.

SHEPHERD
It occurs to me that in 25 years I’ve
never seen your name on a ballot.
Why have you always been standing a
pace behind me?

A.J.
Because if I hadn’t been, you’d be
the most popular history professor
at the University of Wisconsin.

SHEPHERD
Fuck you.

SHEPHERD’s tossed his cue stick and is heading out…

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Have Lewis put the final drafts of
the State of the Union and the Crime
Bill announcement on my desk in the
morning.

A.J.
Yes, sir.

SHEPHERD gets to the doorway…stops…turns around…

SHEPHERD
If Mary hadn’t died…would we have
won three years ago?

A.J.
Would we have won?

SHEPHERD
If we’d had to go through a character
debate three years ago, would we have
won?

A.J.
I don’t know. But I would’ve liked
that campaign. If my friend Andy
Shepherd had shown up, I would have
liked that campaign.

SHEPHERD looks away…nods absently…

SHEPHERD
(pause)
Yeah.

SHEPHERD exits, leaving A.J. alone as we

CUT TO:

INT. WHITE HOUSE CORRIDOR – NIGHT

A series of shots showing SHEPHERD walking down the corridor
to the dish room, then walking down a long corridor which
contains a series of paintings of various presidents. Then
sitting alone in the Oval Office, lost in thought…

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. RESIDENCE DINING ROOM – EARLY MORNING

SHEPHERD and LUCY are eating breakfast in silence, neither of
them very happy, each with their own problems. A nearby T.V.
MONITOR glows with the live coverage of ROBIN’s morning press
briefing.

Finally…

SHEPHERD
You’re not hungry?

LUCY
This is oatmeal.

SHEPHERD
Yeah.

LUCY
We never have oatmeal.

SHEPHERD
It’s good for you.

LUCY
I’m from Wisconsin. I need food.

SHEPHERD
You’re not from Wisconsin. I’m from
Wisconsin. You’ve lived in
Washington your whole life.

He glances toward the T.V. screen. ROBIN’s standing up there
doing what she’s been told: “No comment…No, this President
is not participating in character debates…” He mutes the
volume.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
How are you doing in your
Constitutional debates?

LUCY
We’re done.

SHEPHERD
You’re done?

LUCY
We ratified it last week.

SHEPHERD
Oh…well…that’s good. Why didn’t
you tell me?

LUCY
It’s not a big deal, Dad.

SHEPHERD
Okay, I give up. I don’t care why
you’re not happy in social studies.
I care about why you’re not talking
to me about why you’re not happy in
social studies.

LUCY
Dad, I’m perfectly–

SHEPHERD
You’re not perfectly happy. You
don’t think I know when something’s
bothering you?

LUCY
Damnit, Dad!

SHEPHERD
Hey!

LUCY
You know–

SHEPHERD
Talk to me.

LUCY
Look–

LUCY winds herself up. It would appear she’s about to burst.
She’s about to say the hardest thing she’s ever had to say in
her life–

LUCY
(continuing)
–sometimes when you talk, you say
things I disagree with.

SHEPHERD is stunned and totally confused…

SHEPHERD
Almost every time I talk, I say
things you disagree with.

LUCY
I mean politically.

SHEPHERD
(pause)
Politically?

LUCY
Yes.

SHEPHERD
(pause)
What do you mean?

It just starts spilling out in a stream–

LUCY
Yes. Okay. Yes. Sometimes, I mean,
I’m not sure. You know a lot more
than I do — but still, I have these
feelings, and I don’t think they’re
wrong. Like, okay, for instance, I’m
not so sure it’s all right to burn a
flag. I mean, it really bothers a lot
of people, and I don’t know why you
think it’s okay. I hear Senator
Rumson talk, and some of the things
he says sounds right to me, and I
think, “God, am I like Bob Rumson?!
I mean, Dad thinks he’s a jerk. Dad
hates this guy!
Why am I agreeing with him” And then
I think, “Well, maybe I’m not really
like Bob Rumson, but maybe I’m not
like Dad either.” But the point is
I’m the President’s kid, and people
pay attention to what I say, and if
I say something different from what
you say, it’ll be embarrassing for
you. So I can’t just get up in social
studies class and say whatever I want.

SHEPHERD is silent…totally blown away…he had absolutely
no idea…

He stands up slowly and moves toward her…LUCY doesn’t know
what’s coming…

SHEPHERD
(quietly)
Stand up please.

LUCY gets up slowly…

She’s never seen her father like this…

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
I want you to pay very close
attention to what happens now.

SHEPHERD knees down, cups her daughter’s face in his hands,
and gently kisses her forehead. He pulls her to him and
holds her in a tight embrace…

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
In your lifetime, you will never
embarrass me. It could never happen.
You’re not the President’s daughter,
Lucy, you’re mine.
And no one’s gonna vote me out of
that job. You’re my daughter, and
everything else is a distant second.
(more)
School is for you, Lucy. You say
what you want. The only thing you
have to do to make me happy is
come home at the end of the day.

LUCY squeezes her dad tight…they hold the embrace for a
long moment.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
One more thing. I don’t dislike
Senator Rumson because of his
political views. And even if you
voted for everything he would vote
for, that wouldn’t make you like him.
There’s a fundamental difference
between you and the Bob Rumsons of
the world.

LUCY
What’s that?

SHEPHERD
The difference is that he says he
loves America. Saying you love
America is easy. What takes
character — and this is what you
have–

SHEPHERD trails off, realizing he’s about to quote Sydney…

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
What takes character is loving
Americans.
(beat)

And now it’s as if SHEPHERD is waking himself up from the
longest trip of his life…

…he looks over at the T.V. monitor…”No comment”…
“No, I don’t know how many other ways I can say it. The
White House isn’t getting involved in…”

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Luce, I gotta go.

LUCY
Dad, is everything all right?

SHEPHERD
Everything’s fine. I’m just a little
late for work.

He heads for the door, shouting out as he goes–

SHEPHERD
Somebody get my daughter some food!
The girl’s from Wisconsin, for cryin’
out loud!

And he’s gone as we…

CUT TO:

INT. THE PRESS BRIEFING ROOM – EARLY MORNING

ROBIN is on her last drops of energy and patience.

REPORTER #4
Robin, will the President ever
respond to Senator Rumson’s
question about being a member of
the American Civil Liberties Union?

But instead of hands going up, the PRESS CORPS suddenly
stands. ROBIN turns to see SHEPHERD stride in and step up to
the podium.

SHEPHERD
Yes, he will. ‘Morning.

ROBIN
Good morning, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD takes the podium. There’s a palpable BUZZ in the
room as video operators adjust their equipment, etc. People
starts to stand.

SHEPHERD
That’s all right, you can keep your
seats. For the last couple of
months, Senator Rumson has suggested
that being president of this country
was, to a certain extent, about
character…

ANGLE – ROBIN

who’s picked up the receiver from a wall phone and punches in
four numbers.

She turns in to the wall to shield her conversation from the
rest of the room.

ROBIN
(into phone)
Lewis…call A.J. and come on down
here…I don’t know, but
something’s happening.

SHEPHERD
…and although I have not been
willing to engage in his attacks on
me, I’ve been here three years and
three days, and I can tell you
without hesitation: Being President
of this country is entirely about
character.

LEWIS enters with A.J. and KODAK.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
For the record: Yes, I am a card-
carrying member of the A.C.L.U. But
the more important question is why
aren’t you, Bob? This is an
organization whose sole purpose is to
defend the Bill of Rights, so it
naturally begs the questions.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Why would a senator, his party’s most
powerful spokesman and a candidate
for president, choose to reject
upholding the Constitution? If you
can answer that question, then,
folks, you’re smarter than I am,
because I didn’t understand it until
a couple of minutes ago. Everybody
knows American isn’t easy. America is
advanced citizenship.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
You gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s
gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna
say, “You want free speech? Let’s
see you acknowledge a man whose words
make your blood boil, who’s standing
center stage and advocating, at the
top of his lungs, that which you
would spend a lifetime opposing at the
top of yours. You want to claim
this land as the land of the free,
then the symbol of your country can’t
just be a flag; the symbol also has
to be one of its citizens exercising
his right to burn that flag in
protest.” Show me that, defend that,
celebrate that in your classrooms.
Then you can stand up and sing about
the land of the free. I’ve known Bob
Rumson for years. I’ve been operating
under the assumption that the reason
Bob devotes so much time and energy to
shouting at the rain was that he simply
didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t
get it. Bob’s problem is that he
can’t sell it. Nobody has ever won
an election by talking about what I
was just talking about.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
This is a country made up of people
with hard jobs that they’re terrified
of losing. The roots of freedom are
of little or no interest to them at
the moment. We are a nation afraid
to go out at night. We’re a society
that has assigned low priority to
education and has looked the other
way while our public schools have
been decimated. We have serious
problems to solve, and we need
serious men to solve them. And
whatever your particular problem is,
friend, I promise you, Bob Rumson is
not the least bit interested in
solving it. He is interested in two
things and two things only: Making
you afraid of it and telling you
who’s to blame for it. That, ladies
and gentlemen, is how you win
elections. You gather a group of
middle-aged, middle-class, middle-
income voters who remember with
longing an easier time, and you talk
to them about family and American
values and personal character. Then
you have an old photo of the
President’s girlfriend. You scream
about patriotism and you tell them
she’s to blame for their lot in life,
you go on television and you call her
a whore. Sydney Ellen Wade has done
nothing to you, Bob. She has done
nothing but put herself through law
school, prosecute criminals for five
years, represent the interests of
public school teachers for two years,
and lobby for the safety of our
natural resources.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
You want a character debate? Fine,
but you better stick with me, ‘cause
Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your
league. I’ve loved two women in my
life. I lost one to cancer, and I
lost the other ‘cause I was so busy
keeping my job I forgot to do my job.
Well that ends right now.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Tomorrow morning the White House is
sending a bill to Congress for its
consideration. It’s White House
Resolution 455, an energy bill
requiring a 20 percent reduction of the
emission of fossil fuels over the
next ten years. It is by far the
most aggressive stride ever taken in
the fight to reverse the effects of
global warming. The other piece of
legislation is the crime bill. As of
today it no longer exists. I’m
throwing it out. I’m throwing it out
and writing a law that makes sense.
You cannot address crime prevention
without getting rid of assault
weapons and handguns.
I consider them a threat to national
security, and I will go door to door
if I have to, but I’m gonna convince
Americans that I’m right, and I’m
gonna get the guns. We’ve got
serous problems, and we need serious
men, and if you want to talk about
character, Bob, you’d better come at
me with more than a burning flag and
a membership card. If you want to
talk about character and American
values, fine. Just tell me where and
when, and I’ll show up. This is a
time for serious men, Bob, and your
fifteen minutes are up. My name’s
Andrew Shepherd, and I am the
President.

SHEPHERD exits the press room, leaving a stunned room in his
wake.

The MURMURS begin from the PRESS CORPS. They’re talking
among themselves, confirming that they just saw what they
just saw. ROBIN steps to the podium.

ROBIN
Any questions?

CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY – WEST WING – DAY

A.J. and LEWIS are following after the President.

A.J.
Well, you don’t see that every day
of the week.

LEWIS
He’s got the whole White House Press
Corps asking each other how to spell
“erudite.”

A.J.
Lewis, call the printer.

LEWIS
I know. Gotta rewrite the State of
the Union.

A.J.
Every word, Lewis. It’s a whole new
ball game. You’ve got 35 minutes.

LEWIS
Oh, good. I thought I was gonna be rushed.

LEWIS goes off in one direction. A.J. heads towards the Oval
Office.

CUT TO:

INT. OVAL OFFICE – DAY

SHEPHERD is on the phone.

SHEPHERD
I don’t want the limo. I don’t want
an escort.

A.J. enters.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
I want a plain, ordinary, non-
bullet-proof automobile. Someone
around here must have a Chevy I
can borrow. Well, find one and
meet me outside the West Wing
entrance in five minutes.

A.J.
Where are you going?

SHEPHERD
I’m going to her house. I’m gonna
stand at her front door till she
lets me in. And I’m not leaving till
I get her back.

A.J.
How’re you gonna do that?

SHEPHERD
I haven’t worked that out yet. But
I’m sure groveling will be involved.

A.J.
You’re just gonna drive over?

SHEPHERD
I’m the Commander-in-Chief of the
most powerful army in the world.
You don’t think I can drive ten blocks?

SYDNEY
Just stay away from DuPont Circle.
I hear it’s murder this time of day.

SHEPHERD doesn’t need to turn around to know who’s standing
in the doorway, but of course he does anyway.

SYDNEY
Hi, A.J.

A.J.
It’s nice to see you, Ms. Wade. If
anybody needs me, I’ll be in the
Roosevelt Room, giving Lewis oxygen.

A.J. exits.

SYDNEY
I heard your speech. I was in my
car, and it just kind of steered
its way over here.

SHEPHERD
I’m glad.

SYDNEY and SHEPHERD just gaze at each other for a moment and
smile. SYDNEY starts toward him.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Sydney, I didn’t decide to send
455 to the floor to get you back.

SYDNEY
I didn’t come back ‘cause you decided
to send 455 to the floor.

They move to kiss. It doesn’t last very long because…

LEWIS
(entering)
Mr. President, I thought you might
want to look at this. I moved Social
Security up front. Hello, Sydney.

JANIE enters–

JANIE
Mr. President, Leventhal at
Treasury wants two minutes. Hello,
Sydney.

MRS. CHAPIL enters–

MRS. CHAPIL
Mr. President — Excuse me, Miss
Wade — Miss McCall is on her way
over.

SHEPHERD
(to SYDNEY)
I’ve got some things to do.

SYDNEY
Yes, you do.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE CAPITOL – NIGHT

It’s lit up and glowing on this cold, clear night.

ANCHOR (V.O.)
We’re only a moment or two away from
the arrival of President Shepherd and
his State of the Union address.
Lloyd, you’ve served on the staffs of
several past administrations, what
kind of last-minute activity is the
President engaged in right now?

CUT TO:

INT. A VIP ROOM – NIGHT

It’s off the main corridor, and it’s being used as a green
room for SHEPHERD and his group — LEWIS, KODAK, A.J., JANIE,
and various AIDES and STAFFERS. People are buzzing around in
a last-minute flurry. SHEPHERD is fumbling with his cuff
links.

SHEPHERD
I’m having a cuff links crisis.

LUCY takes his sleeves.

SHEPHERD
(continuing; to LUCY)
I think they’ve locked.

LUCY
Hold still.

ROBIN steps in.

ROBIN
Mr. President, they’re waiting for
you.

LUCY
All done.

SHEPHERD
Lewis.

LEWIS
Sir.

SHEPHERD
Things have been a little rough
between us lately.

LEWIS
I know sir, I’m sorry.

SHEPHERD
Don’t stop what you’re doing.

LEWIS
That’s kind of you, sir, but I
realize I’ve been a little
insensitive about some personal…

SHEPHERD
No, you were right. Two hundred and
sixty-four million people don’t give
a damn about my life.

LEWIS
Just so you know I’ve never been one
of them, Mr. President.

ROBIN
This way, people. Let’s go.

SHEPHERD
(to LEWIS)
See you after.

The PEOPLE in the room start to gather their things and exit,
ROBIN handling any and all last-minute “Mr. President”‘s as
she herds people out the door.

LUCY walks past SHEPHERD. She holds SHEPHERD’s old tattered
textbook and has it opened to a specific page…

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
Whatcha got there, Luce?

LUCY
Article 2, Section 3, of the U.S.
Constitution. Executive Powers.
(reading)
“He shall, from time to time, give to
the Congress information of the State
of the Union, and recommend to their
consideration such measures as he
shall judge necessary and expedient.”

A.J.
Sounds right up your alley.

SHEPHERD looks at his old friend and extends his hand for a
deeply-felt handshake. A.J. grasps SHEPHERD’s hand and then
pulls him into a strong embrace.

A.J. whispers a shout into SHEPHERD’s ear–

A.J.
(continuing)
Give ‘em hell, Andy.

A.J. pulls away, leaving SHEPHERD to enjoy the moment without
having to speak–

A.J.
(continuing)
You’ve got 30 seconds, Mr. President.

SHEPHERD
Thank you.
(to LUCY)
I’ll see you afterward. I want a
critique.

The room clears out…revealing SYDNEY, dressed like the
First Lady she’s soon to be, sitting against the window sill.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
There’s been something I’ve been
trying to give you since our first
date. I tried a bunch of times, but
somehow I’ve always managed to trip
over my job.
(beat)
Anyay…

SHEPHERD has picked his black canvas gym bag with the gold
Presidential seal.

He reaches in the bag and pulls out a bouquet of flowers.

SHEPHERD
(continuing)
These are for you.

SYDNEY
They’re beautiful.

JANIE pokes her head in.

JANIE
Mr. President?

SHEPHERD
Gotta go.

SYDNEY
Should I stay here?

SHEPHERD
No, walk with me.

They exit into a hallway lined with Congressional STAFFERS,
SECRET SERVICE, CAPITOL SECURITY, WHITE HOUSE STAFF, and,
most prominently, A.J., LEWIS, ROBIN, JANIE and KODAK.

SYDNEY is still clutching her flowers as they near the double
doors to the House Chamber–

SYDNEY
How’d you finally do it?

SHEPHERD
(raising his voice
above the cheering)
Do what?

SYDNEY
Manage to give a woman flowers and
be President at the same time.

SHEPHERD
Well…it turns out I’ve got a rose
garden.

SYDNEY is stopped in her tracks as–

–the doors to the Chamber fly open–

DOORKEEPER
Mr. Speaker!!!…THE PRESIDENT OF THE
UNITED STATES!!!

The CHAMBER leaps to its feet in a thunderous ovation,
shouts of “Bravo!” from the gallery…

At the back, LEWIS and ROBIN and KODAK are trying to maintain
their professional cool, but it’s a moment impossible not to
get caught up in…SYDNEY is clutching her flowers with both
hands…SHEPHERD is making his way down the aisle, shaking
hands and receiving congratulations and good wishes, and we

FADE OUT.




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