It's A Wonderful Bill

(with deep apologies to Frank Capra)

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Scene 14: Christmas Eve, inside Bedford Falls Town Hall. Senator George Bailey confronts an angry mob of constituents protesting his vote on the new health care bill.

MAN #1

Come on Bailey, you can’t hide forever! Let us in!

WOMAN #1

Yeah, what is this mandatory insurance nonsense? Stop cowering behind that podium George! We want answers!

crowd erupts into shouting

GEORGE BAILEY

Now now now, everybody calm down, see? If you’ll, well, see, just let me explain…

MAN #2

You should’ve explained these death panels before we elected you! Let’s get ‘em!

WOMAN #2 (shaking pitchfork)

Yeah!

MAN #3

Hey, pipe down youse mugs, let the man talk. It’ll be 15 minutes before the tar is hot enough to pour. Out with it Bailey!

GEORGE BAILEY

Well well, thank you for that Pete. Now folks, see, you just gotta understand how Washington works. Remember how you, you sent me there to bring back free things to Bedford Falls, like free heath care and jobs and that new George S. Bailey retractable midnight basketball court for the high school gym?

MAN #4

Hey Bailey, do know how many kids drowned at the prom last year from that stupid thing?

GEORGE BAILEY

Well, now now now, Clem, sure a few kids drowned. But look at all the jobs it created down at the Potter Retractable Basketball Floor factory. And that’s my point. Now, see, down in Washington there’s a whole Senate full of regular guys like you and you, and me, and we represent thousands of places just like Bedford Falls. And all of those places want their own jobs and healthcare and retractable basketball courts. And it turns out all of this costs money, so we have to get, well, revenues…

WOMAN #3

You mean taxes?

GEORGE BAILEY

Well, yeah, Helen, if that’s how you want to put it. See, we put all those revenues in a, a, a, big pile there in Washington, and then we start making deals and such, to make sure we can all bring some home. Sometimes we run out, and have to make up for it with other fees…

MAN #2

You mean taxes? Why don’t you get it from Old Man Potter?

WOMAN #2

Yeah! Get it from Potter!

GEORGE BAILEY

Now, now, I hate old man Potter just as much as the rest of you. Maybe more. He lives in that cold old mansion up there on Beacon Hill, while you’re getting laid off and trying to make ends meet. It just isn’t right, and that’s why I organized the big ACORN march against him last year. But I’m telling you, even if we confiscated every penny he has, we couldn’t pay for your free universal health care. That’s why we have to charge you for some of it, and make sure you don’t use too much. But don’t worry, I sent my top trade representative Uncle Billy over to China to get a payday loan for the rest.

WOMAN #5

But won’t we have to pay them back?

GEORGE BAILEY

Well, Marge, yeah, technically, but only until you’re all dead. After that it’ll just be your kids.

MAN #4

Stop your malarkey, Bailey! Keep your ridiculous health care bill. We want our money back!

CROWD

Yeah! Give it back!

GEORGE BAILEY

Now now now, Clem, let’s take it easy there. Sure it’s your money. And yours, Violet. And yours too, Reverend Larson. It’s everybody’s money, and belongs to everybody. Especially me because I’m a Senator. We need that money to make the deals to make the legislation to make sure you get the things you want. Now if you’ll all be patient, I’m sure that Uncle Billy will be getting back from Peking any time now…

MAN #1

I’ve heard enough of this! Let’s get ‘em!

CROWD

Yeah!

MAN #2

Tar’s ready!

GEORGE BAILEY

Gulp!

George runs flailing through the snowy streets of Bedford Falls, the torch-weilding mob in hot pursuit

*************

Scene 15: A bridge outside Bedford Falls. George, breathless, peers dead-eyed into the icy river 100 feet below.



GEORGE BAILEY

I… I wish I was never elected!

George swings his leg over the side of the bridge, but he is tackled by a kindly old stranger



CLARENCE

Phew, that was a close one, George. I thought for sure you were a goner!

GEORGE BAILEY

Who… who are you? How did you know my name?

CLARENCE

Well that’s a mighty interesting question, Senator Bailey. I guess you could say… well, let’s say I’m sort of your protector. Clarence is the name. Clarence Odbody.

GEORGE BAILEY

You mean some kind of guardian angel? From heaven?

CLARENCE

Yessir, straight from lobbyist row on K Street. But I’m not an official angel as yet. Before I can earn my wings I have to stop you from this fool idea of yours. Honestly, George — political suicide? It’s just plain sinful.

GEORGE BAILEY

Did you see that crowd? Have you seen my approval ratings? This town would have been better off if I had never been elected.

CLARENCE

Stop saying such a thing! Do you really feel that way George?

GEORGE BAILEY

I, I, I, I… yeah! Well, see, yeah! See.

CLARENCE

Alright George, I’ll grant you your wish. But you may not like what you see.

swirling screen, blaring staccato strings



GEORGE BAILEY

Where, uh, where are we Clarence?

CLARENCE

Don’t you recognize it, George? It’s Bedford Falls.

GEORGE BAILEY

But but, now see, it doesn’t look anything like Bedford Falls…

CLARENCE

Of course not George. Don’t you remember I granted your wish? This is Bedford Falls… except you’ve never been elected. Let’s see what’s happening over at the High School.

George and Clarence try to enter the gymnasium.



GEORGE BAILEY

Hey, it’s locked!

CLARENCE

That’s right George. Because you weren’t around to pass your midnight basketball bill, all the kids are down at the malt shop and the library.

GEORGE BAILEY

But what about the retractable floor?

CLARENCE

It isn’t there George. Because you weren’t there to insert that earmark. And that means more than 20 men from the Retractable Basketball Floor Workers Union couldn’t contribute to your re-election fund.

GEORGE BAILEY

You’re lying!

CLARENCE

I’m afraid not George. Let’s walk downtown.

George and Clarence walk down the snowy sidewalks of Bedford Falls



GEORGE BAILEY

There’s something strange Clarence… where are all the potholes?

CLARENCE

Potholes? Without your Stimulus Bill, Bedford Falls ended up hiring their own non-union pavement contractor.

GEORGE BAILEY

I think I need a drink.

CLARENCE

Whatever you say, George. Let’s pop into Joe’s Tavern.

GEORGE BAILEY

Hey, what happened to my Smoke Free Tavern Act? Why… why.. It’s Ed! Ed Flenderson! President of the Retractable Basketball Floor Workers Union! Ed, it’s me, George! Senator George Bailey! Don’t you know me Ed? Can I count on your support for the next campaign contribution cycle?

ED FLENDERSON

Get away from me you, crazy wino! The Potter Basketball Floor Plant closed down years ago.

GEORGE BAILEY

But Ed, that means you’re out of a job…

ED FLENDERSON

What are you, nuts? After I left that dead-end job I started my own business. FlenderCo, the third biggest snow removal company in Bedford Falls. I’m my own boss, make more money, and no more splinters.

JOE THE BARTENDER

Hey, scram, you crazy hobo! Stop bothering my customers!

George and Clarence cross the street to the Malt Shoppe. George peers through the foggy glass to see teenagers reveling.



GEORGE BAILEY

There’s something familiar about that soda jerk… yeah… why that’s Tommy O’Reilly! But he was… he was…

CLARENCE

…decapitated by the retractable basketball court at prom? I’m afraid not, George. Tommy and those eight other casualties are in there right now, Lindy Hopping.

GEORGE BAILEY

But what about that big class action suit?

CLARENCE

It never happened, George. And your friends at the Bedford Falls Trial Lawyers Association never got their contingency fees.

GEORGE BAILEY

And I never got their contribution bundle?

CLARENCE

No George. Why would you? After all, you’re not a Senator.

GEORGE BAILEY

I… I… I…

CLARENCE

It’s time to move on George. Let’s go over to the Bedford Falls Police Station.

At the booking desk



GEORGE BAILEY

What are we doing here Clarence?

CLARENCE

Just wait George. You’ll see.

Two cops roll in an old man in a wheelchair, wearing a dress



MR. POTTER

Let me go! I know my rights!

COP #1

Caught him red handed, Sarge. He was trying to book a flight to Rio at the Bedford Falls Municipal Airport.

DESK SERGEANT

Good job boys! Well, well, well. if it isn’t Mr. Potter. 31 counts of illegal mortgage lending, 8 counts of embezzelment, and 28 counts of investment fraud in that retractable basketball court Ponzi scheme. Looks like you’ll be spending the holidays upstate at the Big House.

GEORGE BAILEY

Mr. Potter! Mr. Potter!

CLARENCE

Save it George. He doesn’t know you. You were never Senator, remember? You never got to use Mr. Potter as a villain in your campaign ads, he never bought you that secret vacation condo in St. Martins, and you never passed that $12 billion emergency stimulus supplement to bail him out.

MR. POTTER

Do I know you, young man?

GEORGE BAILEY

Well, yes… I, I mean no…

MR. POTTER

Say, do you think you could lend an old man $300 for bail? It is Christmas after all.

GEORGE BAILEY (rummaging through pocket)

Well, sure Mr. Potter, you’ve always helped me when I got in a jam. Let me see what I have in my emergency legal defense fund… what the heck?! Noooo!

DESK SERGEANT

Hey pal, get the heck out of here before I bust you for loitering. G’wan, beat it!

George and Clarence walk by empty welfare centers and boarded-up ACORN offices



CLARENCE

You see George, Bedford Falls is a mighty different place without you in Washington.

GEORGE BAILEY

I guess what they say is right – one man can make a difference. Clarence, but what about the heath care bill? The health care bill, Clarence!

CLARENCE

You weren’t there to vote for cloture, George. It died in committee. America never got its healthcare bill, and Bedford Falls never got that Federal Snow Museum.

GEORGE BAILEY

Take me to Doc Bradford’s medical clinic Clarence! I wanna see what happened!

CLARENCE

But George, I don’t think you’ll want to see it, it’s just…

GEORGE BAILEY

Take me there Clarence! Take me, darn it! I wanna see it, see?

CLARENCE

Sigh. Alright, as you wish.

Inside Doc Bradford’s clinic



DOC BRADFORD

That was quite a nasty spill you took on the ice, Mrs. Foster. I’m scheduling you for an artificial hip replacement Tuesday. In the meantime, stay off your feet and fill this prescription for pain relievers.

GEORGE BAILEY

Just like that? What about getting approval from the hip procedure rationing board?

CLARENCE

There is no rationing board, George. It’s completely up to Doc and Mrs. Foster.

MRS. FOSTER

Oh, bother. How much is this going to cost me?

DOC BRADFORD

Medicare will pick up most of it, but looks like you’ll have a $200 deductible.

MRS. FOSTER

Well I guess I always can skip my AARP dues.

GEORGE BAILEY

Noooooo! Hey… now, now, now, who who’s that woman over there? Why that’s… that’s…

CLARENCE

Yes, George. It’s Mary. Your Mary.

DOC BRADFORD

Mary? Mary Hatch? Your prescription is ready.

GEORGE BAILEY

Mary ‘Hatch’? Why, why, that’s Mary’s maiden name! You mean she never…

CLARENCE

No, George, she never married. Because you never became Senator, you never met her through that escort service. Mary remained here in Bedford Falls working as a simple call girl, and now she has to pay for her chlamydia drugs from her own pocket.

DOC BRADFORD

Alright Mary, I’ll renew this one more time. But I’m warning you, this is the strongest antibiotic I can find.

MARY

Can you break a $100 bill?

GEORGE BAILEY

Mary! Mary! It’s me, George! Oh, Mary, don’t you know me? Speak to me Mary!

MARY

Hey, get your hands off me you creep! I charge a sawbuck for that kind of weirdo stuff.

CLARENCE

Come on George, it’s time to leave. We have to get back to the bridge by midnight.

GEORGE BAILEY

But.. but.. I I don’t want to do it, Clarence! I want to live! I want to live, in Washington! I want to legislate! I want to chair committees and live sweet precious life wherever it takes me!

CLARENCE

Are you sure George? But what about your approval ratings?

GEORGE BAILEY

It’ll all work out, I just know it! I’ll hire the best media consultants in DC. The voters will forget all about it by November, just you see!

CLARENCE

But what if you lose?

GEORGE BAILEY

Then I’ll set up my own lobbying firm on K Street! Ten times more money and I still get to write bills! Anything to avoid coming back to this shitty one horse town!

CLARENCE

Splendid, my boy. Absolutely splendid! That’s the true Christmas spirit of the Beltway! Oh George, I think you just may have earned me wings.

swirling screen, blaring staccato strings



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Scene 16: George comes to on the icy bridge.



GEORGE BAILEY

Clarence? Clarence? Where am I? I think I better pinch myself… well how about that! I I I’m alive! I’m a Senator, I tell you! United States Senator from Bedford Falls George S. Bailey! You did it Clarence! You did it, you old lobbyist! Woo hoo!

George runs back into town, giddily skipping up the steps of the town hall, where he is spotted by the angry torch waving mob.



MAN #1

There he is! Let’s get him!

MAN #2

Hurry, the tar is getting cold!

Inside Bedford Fall Town Hall



MAN #3

Alright Bailey, say your prayers.

GEORGE BAILEY

Now, now Pete, put down that pitchfork. Let me tell you about the new agriculture appropriations bill I’m co-sponsoring.

MARY (entering the hall with their 3 children)

George? Are you alright? I’ve been worried sick about you.

BAILEY KIDS

Daddy!

GEORGE BAILEY

Oh Mary! You know me! You know me!

MARY

Well, of course I do, George. You’re my husband, and I’m your trophy wife.

GEORGE BAILEY

And your chlamydia is mostly cleared up!

MAN #3

Very touching Bailey. Now hand back our money nice and slow, or we start the tarring.

GEORGE BAILEY

Now now now now, just wait there, see. You need to be patient…

WESTERN UNION BOY

Telegram! Telegram for Senator George Bailey from Uncle Billy!

MARY

Well what is it? What does it say? Hush, everyone!

WESTERN UNION BOY

I have made success, stop. Pawned Hawaii to Chinese $1 trillion, stop. Rest of money can be printed at US Mint, stop. Health care is saved, stop. Merry Christmas Uncle Billy.

GEORGE BAILEY

Did you hear that folks? We’re saved! Free healthcare for everybody! Merry Christmas!

CROWD

Hooray! Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and ne’er brought to mind…

GEORGE BAILEY

Re-elect Bailey in ’48!

LITTLE ZUZU BAILEY

Do you hear that Daddy? It’s bells ringing.

GEORGE BAILEY

By golly you’re right, sweetie. It is bells.

LITTLE ZUZU BAILEY

Teacher says that everytime a bell rings, a Washington angel gets his wings.

GEORGE BAILEY

That’s right, that’s right.

LITTLE ZUZU BAILEY

And everytime a Washington angel gets his wings, the national debt goes up one kazillion dollars.

GEORGE BAILEY

Attaboy Clarence.

CROWD

…should auld acquaintance be forgot, in days of auld lang syne…



Fade out, credits

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