Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Scene: a cluttered office, a fat, balding man chewing a cigar, reading a script and scowling at it. A young man steps into the doorway and raps on the door, three times, quickly.
Writer: Boss, I’ve got a great idea for a new show. It’s a political thriller, got action, intrigue, it’s great.
Boss: Yeah? Siddown and lay it out for me.
Boss tosses the script he was reading onto his desk and leans back in his chair, studying the young man. Young man sits down, butt on the edge of the seat, and leans forward, speaking eagerly
Writer: okay, there’s the guy, see? And he works for the FBI. He’s a true patriot, he hates the way the country is going and he wants to help a good candidate get elected. He makes a donation like everybody in the office, but he wants to do more. All the sudden, he finds himself assigned to investigate his favorite candidate for breaking the law. But he doesn’t want to do it, see? But he has to, see? So there’s dramatic tension.
Boss: yeah, but the law is the law. What’s he gonna do?
Writer: that’s the cool part. He interviews the candidate but he “forgets” to put her under oath. So none of her answers can be used against her, right? And there’s a suspicious death tied to the charges but he knows this candidate has a long trail of suspicious deaths and shady dealings so he’s afraid she might be involved with this one, too. So he doesn’t want to investigate that, see? But he’s torn about it, see, because maybe she really is as crooked as the rest of them. But maybe she’s not, and besides, her opponent is a real jerk. So he calls the death a “robbery gone bad” and when his boss is going to make a press announcement saying the candidate broke the law, our guy changes it to say she did NOT break the law.
Boss: wait, why wouldn’t the boss notice the change?
Writer: the boss isn’t a cop, he’s a political hack, a time-serving moron. So he goes along with the charade and the candidate gets away with the crime and stays in the election.
Boss: okay, weak, but we can work with it.
Writer: wait, it gets better! His candidate loses the election.
Boss: what the hell? How’s that help? The show’s over.
Writer: no, no, it’s just getting started. The candidate was supposed to win, see? All the polls said so. All the experts said so. She was so far ahead, she didn’t even campaign the last week, the election was in the bag. She booked a hall and ordered fireworks and had her victory speech written and when she lost, it was stunning. The talking heads on tv were stunned. The losing candidate was drunk two days, couldn’t give a concession speech. Total disaster. And meanwhile, the smug jerk who won the election is all over Twitter rubbing it in, offering her five cents on the dollar for the fireworks she doesn’t need anymore.
Boss: yeah, so? Sounds like a depressing show. Nobody wants to watch that.
Writer: Yeah, yeah, but our guy, remember him? He’s in the FBI. They see all kinds of wacko stuff, all kinds of nuts and goofballs with conspiracy theories. So he’s devastated that his gal lost and the jerk won and he’s sitting at his desk moping when he glances at this file on his desk. Some kook claims the jerk was in cahoots with the Russians to help him steal the election and he stayed in a Russian hotel where a team of hookers gave him a golden shower right on the hotel bed.
Boss: whoa, whoa, we can’t put that stuff on television. Not in prime time.
Writer: okay, so maybe we don’t show it on screen
Boss: but maybe a special episode on cable? Pay per view? Hmmmm.
Writer: yeah, yeah! Like that. And anyway, so our guy, he sees this folder and he knows it’s bullshit but he thinks “If only the public knew what a jerk that guy is.” Just then his boss walks by and says “I’m headed to brief the President-Elect, anything new I should know?” And all the sudden, on impulse, our guy hands his boss the folder and says “You might want to warn him this stuff is going around, so he doesn’t get blind-sided.” The boss, being a dope, doesn’t realize it’s a set-up, he thinks our guy is being all noble and professional, so the boss goes right along. But one of the long-term staff people in the President’s briefing sees the dossier is political dynamite and leaks it to his buddies in the press. Ka-boom, huge political outrage, our guy’s losing candidate gets cheered up, the president-elect looks like an idiot, our guy is grinning like crazy.
Boss: and then?
Writer: and then things get interesting. The losing candidate’s political party seizes on the Russian Collusion angle and demands an investigation. The new Attorney General is a another political appointee, not used to how the game is played in the bureaucracy, so he recuses himself.
Boss: excuses himself?
Writer: no, recuses. He steps aside and lets the long-term staffers handle it. And they all hate the new President. So the staffers convince the new President the only way to clear his name is to appoint a special investigator. And they recommend their old boss, who they assure him is a straight shooter, which he is – straight in your back. But the new President doesn’t know that, see, so the new President goes along with it.
Boss: inside baseball. boring.
Writer: no, wait! The special investigator hates the new President, too. And he hires a team of assistants to help him, all of them hate the new President. And here’s the best part – he decides that for his top assistant on the team, he needs the guy who knows the most about the collusion. He needs the guy who discovered the folder. He needs OUR GUY! Our guy is now the top assistant on the team investigating the new President.
Boss: okay, more interesting. Keep going
Writer: so our guy is only part of the investigation, he can’t go after the President directly. But he remembers that during the campaign, his team used a little “creative phrasing” to convince a judge to let them wiretap some people in the jerk’s campaign. And one of those people is now the new President’s aide. Our guy drops by the aide’s office to chat and just happens to ask some questions about one of the wiretapped conversations. He doesn’t tell the aide he’s under investigation, the aide doesn’t have a lawyer present, the conversation isn’t recorded, but our guy goes back to the office and dummies up some notes in the file as to what our guy claims the aide said.
Writer: so our guy walks into the special investigator’s office and says “Hey, the President’s aide lied to me. Here’s what he said on the wiretap and here’s what he told me in person. He’s a liar. We can prosecute him for lying and maybe get him to roll over on his boss, testify against the President.” So the special prosecutor is liking that and ready to run with it but our guy screws up. See, he’s married but he’s also having an affair with an FBI lawyer – that’s the love interest and we can get some steamy scenes out of that, too – and our guy sends his lover some texts bragging about his scam. But somehow the texts leak
Writer: I’m working on that. But anyway, the texts leak and the special investigator finds out our guy is bent so his testimony is worthless, but the special investigator really hates the President so he quietly reassigns our guy out of the way for a bit while he tries to finesse the aide into pleading guilty so he can get something to use against the President.
Boss: wait – what happened to our guy? I thought this show was about him?
Writer: he’s reassigned to Human Resources to lay low until it blows over. The special investigator temporarily becomes the star of the show. It’s like when the main star is pregnant so the co-star gets a few episodes, you know?
Boss: yeah, okay. Then what?
Writer: well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. But it’s great, right? It’s got everything – sex, crime, politics, drama . . . so when do we start shooting?
Boss; I gotta hand it to ya, kid, I really do. Ya got a terrific imagination. But this stuff, it’s too much. It’s over the top. One guy at the center of a conspiracy to take down the President? Nobody would ever believe it. And what the hell kind of name is Strzok? Fuggedaboutit, kid. Get the hell out of my office.
It’s only fiction if you ignore the real world.