Adapted from Joe Klein’s novel Anonymous by Elaine May and directed by Mike Nichols, a young African-American works on the presidential campaign of a southern governor who has a political wife but is a womanizer.
Howard Ferguson (Paul Guilfoyle) explains how Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) shakes hands with his right hand and then uses his left hand to touch the elbow, forearm, shoulder, or hand to show he cares in different ways. Stanton shakes hands with black Henry Burton (Adrian Lester) and says he met his grandfather, admired him, even hitch-hiked to Washington to hear him speak. Ferguson tells Henry he is glad he is coming on board, but Henry says he only said he would meet with him. Henry asks why he is up there when he is only a southern governor nobody has heard of. Ferguson says he is very interested in adult literacy. Stanton introduces the librarian Miss Walsh (Allison Janney) to Ferguson and Burton. She leads them through the school to the library. She trips on the stairs but holds on to the rail.
Stanton is sitting at a table in the library talking to people. An African-American tells how he was illiterate and was passed along. He tells how at graduation he was embarrassed when he received a “certificate of attendance.” He says his mother cried. Stanton gets up and puts his hand on his shoulder and thanks him for sharing that. Stanton says his Uncle Charlie was a hero in World War II at Iwo Jima, and President Truman gave him the Medal of Honor. When he got home, people asked him what he wanted to do. Charlie turned down jobs because he couldn’t read and was embarrassed. He says he did not have the courage of what they are doing right there. He could not admit that he needed help learning to read. Stanton says he understands what they are doing. He says this is why he spends time working on adult literacy. He is weeping and thanks them for allowing him to visit them today. They applaud. Henry tells Daisy Green (Maura Tierney) they should get him out of there, but she says he likes it.
In the bedroom Burton’s girlfriend March Cunningham (Rebecca Walker) is sitting on the bed and says he is going to go work for Stanton. Henry says he was just going to meet him and talk to him about working for him. She asks how he could leave Adam Larkin to work for a cracker who has done nothing for blacks in his own state. He is getting dressed and says he could say the same about Larkin. She says he is only a black Congressman, but he will do things. Henry says he did not like working for Larkin. She says Stanton wants to use the grandson of a civil rights leader to get black votes. He says that is funny. She asks him to come work with her at The Black Advocate because they are never disillusioned. He kisses her goodbye and says they can talk later.
Arlen Sporken (Ben Jones) welcomes Henry and tells him he is Stanton’s media consultant. Ferguson says they are going to win. Sporken asks Henry if he thinks Stanton has the cujones to win. Stanton says they are big, but they are glass. Miss Walsh comes out of the bedroom, and she and Stanton thank each other awkwardly as she is leaving. Henry agrees she has an excellent program. Stanton takes a call from his wife and says they got stuck there but made real progress with the teachers. He is eating a sandwich and realizes he forgot a meeting and asks Uncle Charlie (J. C. Quinn) if he knew about the meeting. Henry meets Uncle Charlie, but he implies Stanton is the master of the rest of the story. Stanton says his eardrum hurts and tells Susan not to go. He pleads with her and then hangs up and says they had better go. Stanton asks where the plane is and says they are leaving. Henry tells him he came to talk to him and has to teach a class in the morning. Stanton tells him they can talk on the plane and to call in sick.
On the plane to New Hampshire Stanton is sleeping with his head on Henry’s shoulder. They get off the plane. Stanton kisses Susan Stanton (Emma Thompson) and introduces her to Henry Burton. She says she met him when he was a child, and she says that his grandfather was a great man. She adds that Jack Stanton could be a great man if he wasn’t faithless, thoughtless, disorganized and undisciplined. He asks why she is making this a big deal, and she says first impressions matter. She says this is New Hampshire, and these people don’t know him. She says they came to meet him, and he did not show. She had to talk to the democratic leader about fly-fishing and now has to go do it with him. She is angry and says he is messing up in his usual way. They have only been doing this for a month. She says their only chance to win here is to be perfect. He caresses her breasts and sings to her as they walk. She says that is not funny.
Jack is driving the car and says the teacher was inspirational. Susan asks Henry about her, and he says she was a pretty typical school-board bureaucrat. Charlie says they got the apartment on a six-month sublet and will have more privacy and can store stuff. Jack says he is there to become known, not for privacy. He turns on the television and complains there is no cable. He says you can’t run for president of the US without CNN and rants on. Susan hits him in the back of the head with the keys and tells him it is 4 in the morning and not a good way to impress their neighbors. He says he is leaving there tomorrow because they don’t have to go this cheap. Susan offers to make some tea for Henry. Jack tries to close the room divider to the bedroom and gets frustrated.
In the kitchen Susan asks Henry why he quit Larkin but then realizes he can’t talk about his old boss to his new boss; but he says he does not have a new boss yet. He chokes on the hot tea, and she cools it down for him, saying people learn from experience how not to get burned. He asks if people ever learn that, and she says not the best people. She closes a room divider. Henry says Adam taught him a lot, but it was all the same. He says no one ever voted for them because it was right. He says they would win, but the President would veto it, leaving them with a moral victory. He admits he dropped out. She asks why he is there and asks for the truth. He wants to work with someone who actually cares and says it could not always have been like it is now. He says she had Kennedy, but he didn’t. He never heard a President mention destiny or sacrifice without thinking bullshit. He says it may have been bullshit with Kennedy too, but people believed it. He wants to believe it and be a part of history. She says that is what they are about.
Henry calls March from a coffee shop at her office and tells her not to hang up. He says this guy could be the real thing. He could be so incredible that she would work for him. He says he actually likes these people and is worth the risk. Daisy tells Henry to help her get Jack out of there because they have a fund-raiser in thirty minutes. March calls him a bastard and says she waited for him all night, and she hangs up. Henry is calling again, and Ferguson brings him a bag of things from a drugstore. Henry says he says he can’t go to Mammoth Falls without clothes. Ferguson asks for his keys and says he will have Daisy pack some things. Henry asks why he can’t pack them, and Ferguson says by Wednesday he will be in Mississippi. They have to set up a campaign headquarters in Mammoth Falls. Susan is leaving and tells Henry she thought he was supposed to be telling them to hurry. Henry tells her he is not sure and that he has never worked on a presidential campaign before. She says neither have they. She says history is made by the first-timers, puts her hand on his shoulder, and walks off.
In the new campaign headquarters Henry asks where the state party people are, and a red-headed woman says they are tied up with congressional races; she says they are it. He tells them to get the national committee lists of donors and a complete database on voting records of every candidate so that they can set up a rapid response operation. The woman asks how they do that, and he asks if they have any special skills. One man says he speaks Hebrew.
Henry is trying to teach the red-head how to put together the voting database. He shows Jennifer Rogers (Stacy Edwards) a candidate announcement and tells her to put the information on 500 leaflets and hand them out. Henry tells the man to call only the orthodox and conservative synagogues and talk to the rabbi in Hebrew. Henry sees Terry following a woman trying to get her to take a leaflet. He goes out and tells him to hold them out, not stalk people. Jack calls to him, and Henry goes over to the car. Jack introduces him to the top strategist Richard Jemmons (Billy Bob Thornton). Henry says they don’t have much staff yet, but Jack says what they have is choice.
They meet at a restaurant, and Jack hugs the black chef Willie (Tommy Hollis). At the table Richard talks about his mother. He gets angry because they are cutting her up now. Jack hugs him to comfort him and sings to him “You Are My Sunshine.”
In the campaign office Terry tells Henry how he gave out 200 leaflets. Ferguson comes in, and Henry asks where his clothes are. Ferguson says that Daisy was sidetracked to Washington because she works for Sporkin. Henry asks what he is doing there and asks if Jack has any chance. Ferguson sees Richard trying to invite a local volunteer to his hotel room. She says he is crushing her originals she is going to copy. He talks about his snake and pulls down his zipper. Burton goes over, and the woman says she never saw one that old before. People laugh and applaud. Ferguson tells Richard to park his mustang back in the garage, and they walk off together. Henry follows them into the office, slams the door, and pushes Richard’s feet off the desk. He calls Richard a redneck and asks if he ever heard of Anita Hill. Richard says he knew she was cool. Richard calls Henry an elitist honky who went to Hotchkiss. He is proud to be a redneck and says Henry just looks black. Daisy and Jack come in with Henry’s clothes. Jack eats a donut and says they have a very important dinner with Governor Ozio’s son because word is that Ozio is looking for someone to endorse.
They eat ribs at the same outdoor restaurant with Jimmy Ozio (Robert Cicchini). They plan to meet his father in his hotel suite before his speech on Tuesday at seven.
Jack is driving the car with Henry in the backseat and berating Susan for not briefing him on Governor Ozio’s speech. He tries to make a call on his cell phone, gets a recorded message, and throws it out the window. He tells them to get him Howard. She tells him to stop the car, and he slams on the brakes.
The three are looking in the bushes for the phone. Susan finds it. Henry answers it, and Jack indicates he is not there. Henry says Ozio in a magazine interview blasted Jack about his state and says he has not done anything.
At a staff meeting Ferguson tells Jack he has to hit back. Ferguson says that Ozio is 24 points ahead of them. Richard says Ozio is being stupid recognizing Jack’s presence in the race. Jack says he will not go negative. Susan says it is self-defense, and he refuses.
Henry is watching TV in his room and gets a call from Jack who tells him to take some time off. He suggests he get laid and invites him to spend Thanksgiving with him and Susan.
Jack carves the turkey in the yard, and Henry asks Daisy who all these people are. Susan introduces him to her old friend Lucille Kaufman (Caroline Aaron) from New York. She asks Henry to help Jack improve his clothes. Jack introduces him to his son and a southern doctor with a white beard. Jack dances and pulls Richard on to the dance floor. Daisy asks Henry to dance.
Mamma Stanton (Diane Ladd) summons Jack and Susan, and they all sing “You Are My Sunshine.” Daisy gets a call and announces that Ozio dropped out.
At the first debate in the Democratic presidential primary the staff is watching on TV at the headquarters. Senator Charles Martin talks about health care for all while conserving. Henry sees March in the audience. Governor Bart Nilson says he can remember when being a Democrat meant more than giving people a safety net but giving them a ladder to climb back to dignity. Jack says that a lower deficit means that families will have lower mortgage rates. He agrees they need to provide jobs. Nilson asks him what he is against, and Jack says he is against doing nothing while people are suffering.
After the debate Susan tells Jack that he took the debate. March Cunningham introduces herself to him and asks if he was arrested during the Vietnam War. He says no, and she asks if he was arrested in Chicago. He admits that he was accidentally detained and then released. She asks how he was released, and he says they realized it was a mistake. Henry tells them to go ahead and that he will meet them. He asks March why she is there. She is trying to find out who Jack is because her friend works for him. He tells her not to do this, but she thinks he would be interested too. She says he called a US Senator to get him released and then had the mayor of Chicago expunge his record. He says so what. She asks if he is not concerned he was so manipulative that he went to the Chicago mayor who busted the heads of the protestors. He says Stanton was never a radical; he is a politician, and so he got his record expunged. She asks if he wants to work for a man who only cares about getting elected. He mocks working for someone who fights the good fight and lets a Republican get elected. She asks what the difference is. He says he knows the difference between a man who believes what he believes and lies to get elected and one who does not. He says he will take the liar, and she asks how he did this to him. He asks why she is making him the devil. He asks her to get to know him by spending a few days with him. He says he misses her, but she thinks he hit on her to get good press for Stanton. He walks away.
Henry comes into a bedroom and tells Daisy and Richard that they are in trouble. Richard asks why The Black Advocate is covering Stanton. Henry says it is personal. Richard says he was the only president on the stage tonight. Now everyone is going to go after him. They are going to have to deal with the war, drugs, and women, which is the killer. He says Henry has to talk to him about that. Henry says Richard is the strategist, but he says Henry is the body man. Daisy suggests they could talk to Susan, but Richard says they cannot ask her who Jack is plugging so they can do spin control. She says they might as well quit if they are too chicken to protect him. Richard says they will set up a meeting.
Susan brings Lucille to the meeting, and Richard says it is private. Susan says Lucille is one of her closest friends and asks what the crisis is. After a long pause Richard tells a story about someone shitting in the woods with a boar coming at you. He asks what you do. Susan says no one knows what he is talking about. Henry says the boar is the press. Richard says the boars may ask about marijuana, Chicago, or a woman may come forward. Lucille and Daisy say that will not happen. Richard says they don’t want to get trapped like Hart. He says if it is from the past, they can deny it. Susan asks what they would do. Daisy says they can be prepared by knowing the facts and then can fight back. Richard says they need to do research to find out, and Susan says they would investigate their lives. Lucille says that is the media’s game, and they should campaign about the future. She asks if the doves represent the people, and they say no. Susan says she wants Libby Holden because she knows them, and they trust her completely. Lucille asks if she is out of the hospital. Susan says she was Jack’s chief of staff twenty years ago, but she had a breakdown. Susan says she is stable now, and Richard says she is putting the whole campaign in her hands. Susan and Lucille go out.
Henry is welcomed back to the campaign headquarters. Libby Holden (Kathy Bates) arrives and tells Lucille she will not let her fuck up this campaign.
In the office Libby is meeting with Henry and Lucille and tells them she wants a safe house and the volunteer Jennifer she points to who is smart. They ask her about Chicago, and she says it is a paper trail and not a problem. Henry says there may be other things, and she mentions Cashmere McLeod. Henry asks who that is, and Lucille says she was Susan’s hairdresser; but Libby says she was Jack’s porkpie. She says Jack fucks around and has enemies. Lucille says she has no proof and no credibility, but Libby says she is the tip of the iceberg. She says Jack has poked his pecker in some sorry trash bins and that they have to stop him. She says they have to crush them and sweep them up; they can call her the “dust-buster.”
Daisy is driving a car and talking with Henry and Richard about how they can handle the Cashmere issue. They go into a bedroom, and Henry says maybe it isn’t true.
TV news reports that Cashmere has alleged a long-term affair with Jack Stanton, and they also report that he was arrested in Chicago in 1968. Richard says she was paid for the story. Susan says Jack did not screw Cashmere. She asks what they should do about 60 Minutes. Sporken suggests he do all the interviews, and they discuss it.
Jack is sitting in a donut place, and Henry comes in. Henry says Jack looks tired and suggests he may want to go home. Jack says they can still win it if he keeps the folks in mind.
Henry is in bed with Daisy and answers the phone. Libby tells him that Cashmere has tapes. She tells him to get Jack and Susan and go back to Mammoth Falls, and she hangs up.
Henry goes to a hotel room, and Jack lets him in. Susan gives Jack the phone and finishes dressing. Henry tells Jack this can’t wait, and Jack hangs up. Henry tells them about the tapes of him talking on the phone to Cashmere, and she is going to play them at a press conference tomorrow. Jack says he is sorry, and Susan asks how bad it is. She asks Henry to excuse them, and he goes out.
Henry is at a bar watching Jack and Susan on TV. People there talk about Jack. When asked if he had an affair with Cashmere, he says he is not going to dignify that trash in these times. He says they had some hard times in their marriage, but they worked them out. Susan holds his hand and says she does not think this is fair because she is still here. He says that politically he will work through tough times and stick. She says he will bust his butt working for the American people. Daisy calls Henry and asks how people are taking it. He says it went well, but they would like to see her hair longer.
After a plane trip Henry arrives at the house and is welcomed by Jennifer and Libby. She kisses Jennifer goodbye and tells Henry they will take her truck. She drives, and he asks her how Jack and Susan were when they worked for McGovern in Florida. She says they were golden, and she sings along with the radio and tells Henry to sing too. She parks the car. A man welcomes them into his house. He is prepared to record the press conference. On television a bald man introduces the tapes that were recorded on Cashmere’s phone machine just before Thanksgiving. Cashmere McLeod (Gia Carides) says that Governor Stanton seduced her, and she has the tapes to prove it. Jack’s voice asks if it is possible to get laid, and he says he is too horny to think straight. Libby asks how he could be so stupid. The man looks at the recording and says where there could be breaks. Henry tells him to play it back, and he explains that this was taken from a phone call Jack made to him and was edited together. He says they got him, but Libby says only he has her and asks how they are going to prove it. Henry asks how they can get away with it. Libby says he is black and must have had a privileged life. She says she will get them somehow. She asks the man if he can record Ted Koppel and Larry King on their cell phones if she finds out where they are this weekend. He says he could track them. She leaves with Henry.
In the truck Libby is talking on a phone to Jack and tells him he is not innocent just because the tapes were phony. Henry reminds her that she is talking on a cellular phone. She says she knows who did it and will get it done.
Libby breaks the window out of a door and goes into an office and asks if he has Cashmere on the line. He says no, but she accuses Randy Culligan (Brian Markinson) of recording his friend’s conversations. He says Jack is putting the state on the map. She takes out a pistol and points it at him. She says he ambushed Jack Stanton, and he is going to admit it or die. He says she is crazy. She admits that, and he says Henry will go to jail too; but he says he does not know anything. She pushes him down into a chair and tells him to write it out in long hand. She threatens to shoot his nuts off and says she is a lesbian who does not mythologize the male sexual organs. She knows he is on retainer to The Flash and that he did it. She says he did not make do with what Jack did, but he embellished it. She says he has to do it now and cocks the gun, and he says okay. She tells him what to write about.
The campaign staff members watch TV as Daisy is Larry King’s guest on CNN and plays a tape of him. He admits it was him, and then she reads the written statement made by the attorney Randy Culligan explaining how he edited Jack’s voice and paid Cashmere for the story for The Flash for money. She said it must be harder than that to smear an innocent man. Larry asks how she got his cell phone. The people at the Stanton campaign celebrate. Jack stands on the balcony and thanks them all for sticking with them through this. He says they don’t have much time; but with God’s help they will get done what needs to get done. He says they are still here. He kisses and hugs Susan.
On television Bill Maher talks about Stanton who asked for a little trim and longer bangs. On another show a man asks media consultant Linda Feldstein if anyone survives one of these feeding frenzies. She says maybe; but this is the first thing many people will hear about Stanton, and you have to figure he is history. Richard gets so angry he throws things at the TV.
People have gathered to meet the Democratic candidate Stanton. The fly fisherman introduces him. Jack asks how many have found work since that factory closed. He talks about his mother who worked. He knows how hard it is to be looking for work. He says he will tell the truth that no politician can re-open their factory because they are living in a new world now. He says jobs go where they are cheap. He says they have to learn new skills so they can compete. He says he will work to make education a lifetime thing. He knows he has taken hits in this campaign. He asks them to consider what they want and then pick their candidate on Tuesday. They applaud.
Henry and Daisy are lying on a bed in their clothes. He says he may not be able to take it if he loses. She says if he loses, maybe they can go away for a while to see if their sex will hold up without the campaign. Richard comes in and lies down on the bed next to her. He asks why they like his room, and he suggests working with Henry as political consultants. Henry says they may be pros, but he is emotionally involved.
While watching television Susan tells Henry that the experts are saying they are dead. With 15% of the vote in a TV station predicts that Lawrence Harris will win. Richard says New Hampshire is his own state. The news reports that Stanton is still campaigning, and they predict he will be a close section. The campaign says they are alive, and they cheer.
In a helicopter Daisy says Harris could take Florida unless Jack starts hitting him, but Jack says he is not going negative. Susan says they have to defeat Harris.
In an ad Harris says that he fought in the Korean War but Stanton was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, and he tried to cover up his anti-war arrest record. Jack tells his staff that he will kill the son of a bitch.
Jack is wearing a yamaka while telling seniors he does not agree with Harris’s proposal to study reducing Social Security payments to decrease the deficit. He implies he stands with Israel more than Harris does.
Henry is on the phone about the Rainbow Coalition, and the chef Willie knocks and comes in. He came because his daughter is going to have a child, and she says that Jack Stanton is the father.
Henry hurries and finds Jack in a men’s room. Jack says they are leading. Henry tells him what Willie said. Jack asks who knows and what he wants, and Henry says he did not tell anyone else. Jack says Henry has to go back to Mammoth Falls because if this gets out, he is finished. Henry says he needs to know the truth, and Jack says he did not father that child. He says Henry will never have to be ashamed of this campaign.
Henry goes to the restaurant with Ferguson and meets Willie. Ferguson tells Willie that Jack wants a test made as soon as possible to determine who is the father of the child. Willie says that his daughter has not said a word to anyone. Ferguson says that Jack will help provide for the baby because Willie is his friend; but they must determine who is the father of that child. He must understand their position.
Ferguson is driving, and Henry asks him to pull over. Henry vomits by the side of the road.
Radio show host Izzy Rosenblatt (Rob Reiner) introduces his guest Jack Stanton as a JFK lookalike. Jack says his mother’s favorite act in Las Vegas is Wayne Newton. Izzy says Senator Harris is on the phone. Harris says his mother is dead, and he says Stanton should not be saying that he is going to cut Social Security. Jack tells Harris it is in his campaign book. Harris says they can’t keep spending money, and Jack says he wants to raise the cost of living adjustments.
The campaign staff is celebrating this when a man comes in and tells them to turn on CNN which reports that Harris suffered two heart attacks. They think about it, and there are only two days before the primary. Jack says they are going back to Mammoth Falls and that Daisy is to pull the negative ads.
At a meeting Jack says he could have been more gracious. Lucille says Harris accused him of sleaze. Susan gets a phone call and leaves the meeting. Henry and Ferguson stare at a black woman talking to Susan outside.
Henry leaves the meeting, and Richard asks why he was staring at Willie’s wife. Henry says nothing is going on, and they leave in a car.
Henry answers his door, and Susan comes in and slaps him. She mentions the test and asks when he was going to tell her. She cries and falls on the floor. Henry hugs her.
Jack on television says he wishes Harris a speedy recovery, and he will not talk about victory or defeat but asks for prayers for Senator Harris. Brad comes in, and Susan asks for the New York numbers. He says Stanton is at 22 and comatose Harris is at 18. Henry comes in, and Susan asks for his input on New York. They see Mrs. Harris on TV saying that her husband obviously cannot continue his campaign. She introduces Florida’s Governor Fred Picker (Larry Hagman) who says he will try to continue what Harris was doing and give the American people an honest choice. He says he is going to donate a pint of blood. Richard says he will run but that they should be patient and wait until he comes out.
Larry King asks Picker what he is going to do, and he says he is just going to talk straight.
They watch TV as Charlie Rose asks Picker why he quit politics in 1978. Picker admits he had personal problems. He says he neglected his family, and his wife fell in love with another man. He tried to salvage his marriage. Richard says he was awesome.
Henry in bed answers the phone, and Libby tells him she knows about the paternity test. She says a magazine offered Willie $250,000, but he threw them off the property. She stashed him in another county. She is angry at Jack, and Henry says he is not the father. She says Cashmere made these things possible.
During a meeting a consultant asks Jack about the paternity case. He says he gave blood, and they are waiting for the results. Jack asks why he needs to campaign in New York. Susan says he has to, and he says they will kill him. She says it will only feel like it, but he will survive.
In New York at a campaign rally they do not give Jack a chance to speak, but he says he loves New York. He and Susan leave in a van. Norman says Jack has to go to Brooklyn.
Picker speaks at a big rally and thanks the people for giving blood. He tells them to calm down, and people sit down. He says sometimes the country goes a little crazy. He says the world is getting more complicated, but politicians explain things in simple terms so that they can get them on the evening news. Then they give up and start slinging mud at each other, and it becomes like professional wrestling. This is true of the debates. He says they know how to keep them riled up. He wants to quiet things down and have a conversation on what kind of country they want to have.
Geraldo Rivera (himself) has Stanton and Picker on for a calm discussion. He begins by asking about the accusation that Jack is the father of a black girl’s baby. Jack says he knows the people and talked to her father. Picker says that is all they need to know about that. Richard says he saved Jack, and he never saw that before. Henry says maybe it never happened before and that Picker may be the real thing. Richard says Henry has TB; he is a true believer like Libby who gets upset when her candidate is not true blue.
Richard tells Henry he is taking a leave of absence. Richard says these politicians love you, and then they stop loving you. Henry says Stanton is different, and Richard says he was worth it. Richard leaves.
At a meeting Norman asks why Picker really quit in 1978.
Libby tells Susan, Jack, and Henry that what she knows about Picker is about a building project that was connected to Picker’s former wife. Jack asks her to follow it up, and she says no. She does not want to tear Picker down. Jack shows her his blood results; but he says it won’t matter that he is not the father of that baby. Susan says Picker might have used his influence, but they have to find out who he really is. Libby tells Henry to pack.
Libby is driving and tells Henry they are in limbo now, and he tells her to shut up. She says limbo is how finding out low you can go.
Libby and Henry meet Mr. Reyes by a hotel pool. He says Fred did not know that he hired his brother-in-law to get to him. He says he did not know because he was half-stoned most of the time. Libby asks on what, and Reyes says he was a cokehead. Henry says it does not fit. She asks how he kept it quiet in the governor’s mansion. He says Lorenzo Delgado knew him socially and got it for him. Now he just got out of prison. Reyes says he does not talk about Fred, but he is talking to them because they are from his campaign. He says he never should have got back in the game.
Libby and Henry go to the halfway house to find Lorenzo Delgado (John Vargas). He asks if they are from the campaign. Delgado says he had sex with boys in prison. He asks if they are Freddy’s friend.
In the car Libby says she knew it was going to be good. She says none of it is clear-cut, but it is very human. She says it is a test of us and them. She says they got the dirt, and now the test is for Jack and Susan to see what they do with it. She asks if this is what Henry wants to see too.
Jack and Susan are reading a transcript of their tour. Jack asks what they do with it. Susan suggests giving it to the Wall Street Journal through an intermediary not associated with the campaign. Libby does not think there is anything they can use there. Jack says she must be kidding. Libby says it does not meet her standards and that Henry agrees; they have a moral objection. Jack asks why she got it then. Libby says Susan was right, that he could have been a real shit. She says they don’t do this. She will guard him and defend him, but she will not hurt someone else. She says Jack told him so. She shows him an old picture of her and him in 1972. She says the point is Eagleton who had electric shock treatment. She says before that she thought McGovern would win. She told Jack that they had to get their own CIA to find the dirt too; but Jack told her that their job is to end all that and make it clean. He said if they make it clean, they will win because their ideas are better. Jack says it was a long time ago. Susan says they were young; but if they do not move on the Picker situation, two things will happen. First they will be dead. The second thing that will happen is that Picker will be destroyed by the Republicans, and she believes it would be their fault. Libby says she may be right; but they can’t do it because it is not who they are supposed to be. Susan says Reyes will not just tell his story once. Libby says that Henry and she decided that this dies here. Libby explains because she found out that Jack did not give his blood for that test but sent Uncle Charlie’s instead. She says it does not prove that he is the father, and he may not be; but it proves that he thought he might be and that he must have fucked her. That would kill his chances. Susan asks if she would do that and end his political career. Libby says Susan did not even hear and is not even upset that he fucked the 17-year-old babysitter. She says it is the one who is cheated on who goes to hell. She says it is the shit that no one ever calls Jack on because he is so special. She had done it too, and this makes it easier; but it is totally depressing. She asks what she has been doing for her entire life. She says the deal is: if he moves on Freddy Picker, she will move on him. She will destroy the village in order to save it, and she walks out. Henry walks out too.
Henry is driving, and Libby is writing. He invites her to come in, and she says not now. She hands him the folder to deliver and says she is not going to use it. He asks if she is giving them the blood information and letting them off the hook. She says Picker will go down anyway; they can’t save him. She wanted to see if they would turn him in, and they did not even hesitate. Henry tells her to let them sweat a little. She points to the full moon and says it is only reflected light; it needs the sun. She says she lived her life drawing light and warmth from them; without them she is bleak. She tells Henry he still has an atmosphere and tells him to find himself a life. They embrace, and he tells her to go. He asks if she knows her way from here. She says there are only two ways from here. He gets out of her truck.
Henry wakes up, hears a siren, and shouts no. He looks outside and sees the truck with police. He goes down there and tries to see Libby who has shot herself dead; but a policeman keeps him away from her. He kneels down and cries.
At a church Jack talks about Libby and her ideals. He reads a note that she wrote before she died and said she was so disappointed in him and told him to shape up. He says he is so sorry that he disappointed her. He will promise to do better. He says she lent them her courage, her warmth, and her madness. She had an amazing heart.
In the back of a car Jack tells Henry he does not see any press there. In the garden Jack gives a paper to Picker and says it is the only remaining copy of this stuff he wanted him to have so that he would know what might be used against him. Picker regrets the cocaine and says he was successful at everything except that. He says that is what messed up his marriage, though he did sleep with Lorenzo. Jack says maybe no one will find out, but Picker says he found out quickly. Picker says he was surprised his campaign took off after the blood thing. Jack says that was great politics. Picker thanks Jack for handling this in an honorable way. He hopes that when he quits that they will not hit it as hard. He is seeing a woman and will have to tell her. He does not want his boys to know about Lorenzo. He fears he will be a national joke. He says the press will find out, and Jack says they will if they think it will sell newspapers. Picker sobs, and Jack puts his hand on his shoulder and asks if he can do anything. Jack and Henry walk back to the car as Jack sings “Good Ole Boys Like Me.” Henry says he is resigning from the campaign, but Jack declines to accept his resignation. Henry says he does not like this line of work. Jack says he is making Richard campaign manager and bringing Daisy back if she will come. Henry says that is not what this is about. Jack asks what, and Henry says he failed Libby’s test. Jack says he just passed it this time and asks which grade he gets. He says he did it for Libby. Jack says this is hardball and asks Henry if he has the stomach for it. He says this is what you have to do to be President and tells what Lincoln had to do. He did it so that he could stand before the nation and appeal to the better angels of their nature. He says many play the game who are willing to sell their souls just to get the prize. Henry says he does not care; he does not like the game. Henry says he could work on voter registration. Jack asks who they will vote for. He asks if there is anyone else out there who would do more for the people than he would. Henry sees that another car has arrived, and Jack says they can talk to them together. Jack says they can do incredible things and change this whole country. He tells Henry to look him in the eye and tell him he does not want to be a part of it. Henry just looks at him. Jack asks if he wants him to get down on his knees. He says he can’t do it without him. He asks him to say he is still with him.
At the inaugural ball Jack and Susan are dancing to the “Tennessee Waltz.” Jack shakes hands with his campaign staff and gives Henry the double hand shake.
This political comedy satirizes presidential campaigns and politicians who attack each other and have to defend themselves on various personal issues. The story is fictional but obviously resembles Bill and Hilary Clinton in many ways with Richard representing James Carville. Yet the story has many differences and stands on its own as a satire of the current political climate.