Volume 1, Issue 1
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SEASON 1
Pilot
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Game Time
Technical Corrections

   
The Sterling Review - Technical Corrections
By Johnny Betts

Email Johnny with all your feedback (johnny_betts@hotmail.com)

Episode: Technical Corrections
Rating: 6.8
Share: 12.0
Timeslot Ranking: 2nd
Overall Ranking: 43rd

The ratings dropped again, and "Mister Sterling" fell out of 1st place in its timeslot. This may look like cause for concern, but keep in mind that "America's Funniest Home Videos" (the number one show in the timeslot) was a special "winner gets $100K" episode. Hey, I'm justifying it however I want, thank you very much. Plus, MS's rankings jumped the next week, but I'll discuss that in the next review. No need to panic just yet. Let's go.

Let me start off by saying that I am going to point out parts in the show that COULD have been directly influenced by the writers reading my reviews. "But Johnny, these episodes were probably written well before you wrote your reviews." True, but they can be edited! Yeah, it's probably not the case, but it's the main motivation I now have to continue with the reviews. I haven't received that all-important email from Josh yet, so I've gotta do something.

Also, in case any writers or cast members are reading, I'm going to shamelessly point out areas where they can give me shout-outs (shouts-out?) in the episodes. Y'all remember how David Letterman was consistently using his show to try to get Oprah to let him be on her show? It's kind of the same thing. Let's hope I have more success than Dave. For example, I'm BEGGING the writers to have somebody, anybody refer to Sterling as "Wild Bill Sterling" before it's all said and done. Not only would that give me great joy, but it'd also be a nice homage to Josh's Young Riders character. Should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Oh, and if anybody's reading, my good friend Aimee lives in L.A. and would gladly head over to the studios to play a part as one of Sterling's love interests, and my good friend Amy C. is preparing to take the bar exam and would be more than happy to serve as a legal advisor for the show. Johnny Betts - helping make dreams come true.

Bill, Tommy, and Jackie are all together. Tommy tries to explain the concept of "technical corrections" to Bill. Whenever a tax bill is written, there are always mistakes that pop up that need to be corrected. Imagine that. The mistakes usually are not found for about a year. Bill's a little concerned that his first vote will be about something he doesn't understand. Tommy's explanation that no one understands technical corrections does not provide Bill with any comfort. Doesn't provide me with much comfort either. Let me guess, it'll cost more money to make the technical corrections, right? Hey government, would you PLEASE LEARN TO KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF MY POCKETS?!?!?! Thanks.

Jackie's on the phone and makes mention of "Star Wars." They mention "missile defense," but we know they're really trying to lure George Lucas into making a cameo on the show. What they need to do is try to use the show to get Lucas to cast Josh as a Han Solo-type character in the next Star Wars. Why not just let him play Han Solo's father? That's the type of character the new Star Wars movies are missing. Maybe Lucas will direct an episode of "Mister Sterling." I'm looking forward to the episode where Sterling must address a Senate Council consisting of Wookie and Greedo delegates.

Anyway, some "time agreement" has been reached and it looks like Bill's first vote will be on missile defense. They get in the elevator, and Tommy tells Bill the Dems are circulating a pledge to not cut Medicare. Without reading the pledge, Bill blindly signs it. For all Bill knows he just signed away his first child to Arthur the Evil Fundraiser. Come on Bill, AT LEAST READ THESE THINGS BEFORE YOU SIGN THEM!

Jackie gives Bill his dental card and his business cards. When Bill asks what he's supposed to do with them, Jackie tells him they'll work wonders in single bars. Yeah, I'm sure someone who looks like Josh Brolin would need help in that area. Riiiiiight. I'm pretty sure all he has to do is say, "Yo ladies, chisel-jaw's in the hizzouse!" and most the ladies would swoon. Notice how Bill doesn't say, "Singles bars?? But I've already got a girlfriend! What on earth would I be doing in a singles bar?!?!?! This no makey sense!" Yep, Angela is being pushed further and further from our minds.

Jackie gives Bill his license plate, but Bill doesn't have a car. He admits to having a motorcycle. Jackie makes a comment about how that takes the "L.A. cool guy" to the extreme. Whoa. You folks realize what this means, don't you? If you'll recall, in the review of the first episode I said, "right now I'm hopping on my motorcycle to show everybody how cool I am" in reference to Bill. Now Jackie comments on it. I don't think it's too extreme to go ahead and say that Johnny Betts is INFLUENCING THE WRITING ON THE SHOW! I'd like to thank the writers for this shout-out. I hear ya! It's all coming to fruition.

Bill says if he could afford something with four wheels, air bags, and a roof then he'd have it. What? He can afford a motorcycle but not a car? Whatever. Ever heard of a used car? It's not like he's riding a dirt bike. From what I remember it was a fairly nice motorcycle. The guy acts like he's living on food stamps. Seriously, how on earth are we supposed to believe he couldn't afford a car? I can barely get past this point and move on to the rest of the review, but I'll do it just for all my fans reading this review. Speaking of which, I'd like to personally thank all five of you right now.

Bill gets to the Senate floor and sits at the end of the "horseshoe." Jackie informs Bill that he can probably afford a car now because he's making over $140K. Bill acts surprised and comments on being rich. I like how he quips that he might buy a gas-guzzler. I'm surprised Tommy didn't jump up and start trying to convince him to buy one of those wimpy electric cars. But would Bill really not know how much his salary was? Isn't that something he'd find out upon taking the job? I know I'd be asking what the salary was BEFORE I took the job. Did Bill do ANY homework before accepting the Senate position?!?!

Jackie then asks him who is paying for his hotel. Bill claims he thought the Senate was. Jackie says nope and asks how much the room is costing him. For some reason Bill has no idea. And it's not a room; it's a suite. A big one. Bill sure is a clueless wonder in this episode.

So Bill goes from Superman to super naive in a single bound. I would NEVER assume that somebody else was paying for my hotel room. I'd be getting facts before I did anything. Why in the world would Bill not verify who would be responsible for the cost of the room? It provides for some good humor, but I just don't understand how he could be so clueless. NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING! The guy solves differential equations in his head but doesn't have the presence of mind to verify who is paying for his hotel suite AND how much it costs.

Bill asks Jackie if she has a couch that he could use as a bed for a little while. Jackie rightfully tells Bill that she has a reputation to protect. Bill explains that nothing would be happening, but Jackie points out that the Washington Post wouldn't see it that way. Come on Bill, WAKE UP! The media would be all over that! "Hey Jackie, if we took a shower together then it'd save money and you wouldn't have to pay more on your water bill just because I was staying with you for a little while. What do you think?"

As Bill is checking out of the hotel Jackie gets a call from Evil Arthur. Bill wonders if HE has a couch. Bill must be desperate if he's willing to sleep in Satan's lair. Bill asks how much he owes for the room and the clerk says "17." A shocked Bill asks, "$1700???" The clerk laughs evilly. It was one of those, "Muha ... muhaha ... MUHAHAHAHA" laughs. Bill should've punched the guy. I would've totally marked out if he had.

Turns out the cost was $17,212.38!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOA! That includes taxes, phone, laundry, PPV movie ... but Bill says the PPV movie is a mistake. Oh, whew, that'll save him $20. Bill's sleeping on the linen sheets? Those cost a pretty penny it seems. Bill says they gave him a room Lincoln slept in, and he claims he thought it was a free upgrade for a new senator.

I can understand how you may THINK that could be the case at first, but there's this little thing called ASKING JUST TO MAKE SURE!!!!!!!!!

Bill and Jackie discuss a few more things. Tommy has too many kids running around to be able to spare a couch. Bill doesn't have a credit card that can cover the costs. And Bill's dad has no money? This guy is supposed to be one of the most popular former governors of California and he has no money? Riiiiiiiiiight. I'm sure he's being paid a pretty nice pension. Plus, the guy could be making a ton of money doing the whole "former governor speech circuit." Maybe Daddy Sterling's been feeding an alcohol/gambling/fast women addiction for the past few years and that's why he has no money. Heeeeey, maybe that explains why he looks like he's 104 years old. He WOULD look like James Brolin, but he's been living hard and fast the past few years and has aged quickly.

Bill tries to pack, but Jackie says he can't leave until he pays for the room. Jackie wants to hold a fundraiser to pay for his hotel room. Sheesh, is that such a good idea? She says it's a perfectly legal use of campaign funds. It may be legal, but it also opens this HUGE can that's filled with something I like to refer to as worms. I can see the headlines now: "New Maverick Senator Pays for Lush Hotel Suite (including linen sheets) With Campaign Funds." Do you think that'd go over well? Don't think so. And thankfully, Bill says he doesn't want lobbyists paying for his hotel suite. Unfortunately, when he asks for a cheaper room (preferably their cheapest), the clerk smugly says nothing else is available. Am I the only one who wants to see the hotel clerk slapped upside the brain?

Peon Meanwhile, Peon MALICIOUSLY slams a dolly with a bunch of food on it into Laura's knee. We're supposed to think it's an accident, but we know that Peon THE PSYCHO STALKER did it on purpose. Is it just me, or has Peon been bulking up a bit since I made comments about his small stature? Check out the pic and tell me what you think. The writers ARE listening!! Although it's kind of weird that Peon's head is a different color than his body. I hope this isn't a sign of steroid abuse!

Hey writers, you can give me a nice shout-out if you show Peon working out in the gym. I think they're already setting it up. I'll explain in a little while...

Peon and Laura argue a little bit. Well, Laura tries to talk about Sterling and Peon just goes "rowr." He wants Laura to move out of the house, but she refuses to do it. As well she should. Who does this guy think he is, Mr. Roper? Mr. Furley?

My good friend Rhi made a keen observation. When Josh is finally asked to host Saturday Night Live (anybody from SNL reading???), they should definitely have a "Mister Sterling" skit, and Peon can be played by none other than Chris Kattan. Next time you watch SNL then be sure to note the resemblance.

Jackie tracks down Peon. Apparently Bill was gonna go home to CA for the weekend, but those plans have changed. What do you want to bet that before the show is over we see Bill on the phone with his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend explaining why he can't come home?

Jackie wants Peon to get the "Roll Call Real Estate Listings" from Laura before they go to press. Is it gonna help to have them a whole day early? Will this really help Bill beat somebody to a house? Peon turns into a 7th-grader and says he's not talking to Laura. Jackie pretty much tells him to grow up and do it. Her method is a little more subtle than mine. She flowered it up by saying he'll get an "A" for loyalty, blah blah blah, whereas I would've just flushed his head in the toilet until he agreed to do it.

Jackie gets a call from Bill. Hahaha, he had gotten lost again. That's cute. Just adorable. Jackie mentions the fundraiser again, but Bill says no. He heads to a Senate meeting.

He sits next to Kate Robertson from Nevada...

INTERESTING NOTE ALERT!

Kate Robertson is Lawrence O'Donnell's wife. Everybody knows who LD is, right? *a Peon fan in the back raises her hand and says she doesn't* Oh, well, he's the creator of the show. *the Peon fan politely says 'thank you'* You're welcome.

Bill and Kate start chattin' it up. "Chatting what up, Johnny?" Um, I don't know, a storm I guess. "Oh, OK, thanks for the clarification." Any time. Kate tells Bill that he owes him. He doesn't know why, but he likes the sound of that. Bill likes the older women, huh? Hey Bill, WHAT ABOUT ANGELA?!?!?!?!?!?! All of a sudden he's flirting with a woman 20 years his senior and poor Angela is as forgotten as Hootie and the Blowfish. I would've said, "as forgotten as the Spin Doctors," but I'm afraid they're SO forgotten that most of you would've been scratching your heads and saying "Who?" I guess it would've really hammered home my point though.

Kate explains to Bill that because of him she's been pushed up a notch in seniority. Now she'll be a chairwoman in only 25 years. Bill asks what he gets for that, and little Ms. Swinger asks, "What do you want?" Holy older ho, Batman, she wants her some Bill Sterling! And if by some miracle Lawrence O'Donnell is reading this review I'd just like to say that the "holy older ho" comment should not be taken seriously. Kate Robertson is a fine Senator whom Bill would be lucky to share a fling with. She may be in her 50s, but BOY DOES SHE NOT LOOK IT! No sir, she's classy, stylish... "Hey Johnny, I think the point is made, Mr. O'D probably isn't going to be contacting you anytime soon." Oh, all right. Well, if Josh is reading then let me just comment on how BEAUTIFUL Diane Lane is! Have y'all seen her in "Lonesome Dove"? Whoa mama! And Josh, I read the latest People Magazine, I know you have email!

Anyway, some woman is reading a whole bunch of stuff out loud. The Chairman (when he takes a break from deciding whether he wants a hair cut or to do a CNN interview) periodically asks, "How much does it cost?" For this one particular item the chick says "next to nothing" in regard to something that costs less than $100 million. Bill expresses my opinion when he acts surprised that less than $100 million is considered "next to nothing." He asks Kate what the money pays for, and she tells him that until they get to know each other he needs to tell her when he's joking.

Afterwards, Tommy tries to explain that the technical corrections cost money. Bill figured that the government wasn't supposed to collect the money in the first place, that's why they're correcting mistakes, right? Apparently not. Tommy never claimed it made sense. And you know, it really doesn't. Is this the way the government really works? If so, then I'm REALLY mad at how my tax dollars are being spent.

Tate Donovan Bill heads over to talk to some skeleton. Oh, that's not a skeleton; it's just Tate Donovan the lobbyist. Did he contract AIDS and lose about 50 pounds since he was last on the show? Unbelievable. If his face sunk in anymore then he'd officially be Seal.

*all 8 people reading this review moan in unison*

Tate introduces Bill to George McGraff (or something like that) - the president of the National Brotherhood of Aerospace Labor. Never heard of it. George tries to thank Bill for voting to fund SDI, but Bill informs him that he plans on voting against it. Good job, Bill. Voting against missile defense in times like this. Way to endear yourself to the voters.

Bill says the missile defense doesn't work. Tate Donovan explains that recent tests have been successful, but Bill writes them off as being "rigged." So Bill didn't think to clarify who was funding his hotel suite, but he knows the ins and outs of missile defense tests? Bill goes on to say that if a terrorist hits us it's gonna be with a bomb in a suitcase, not missiles, therefore, it's a waste of money. Did Bill pay attention to September 11? Does anybody have any doubts that if Bin Laden had nuclear weapons he'd use them against us? I think by now we should know better than to say, "it could never happen."

George isn't going to argue with Bill about the test results. He just calmly explains that the SDI contractors are in California and a lot of jobs are going to be lost if SDI doesn't pass.

Bill's needed in the Senate hearing room. Mr. Fancy Pants gets to sit in the chairman's seat. The chairman is glad Bill took the majority leader's seat on the finance committee. The chairman explains that the maj leader always wanted to take control of the steering wheel, and well, Mr. Chair didn't like that. Besides, he always wanted someone from CA on the committee. He tells Bill, "we'll be partners." Man, that's just disgusting.

Oh look, there's Peon asking Laura for the Roll Call real estate listings for "a friend." She asks if they're for Sterling. Oh please don't let him move in with Peon, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease! Laura tells Peon she'll email him the listings. Hey Laura, you need to be emailing Johnny Betts some feedback on the reviews!

The chairman has to leave, so he asks Bill to take over for him. All he has to do is ask "How much will it cost" every 20 minutes or so and he'll be fine. Bill picks up the gavel and stares at it. Tommy stares at Bill. I'm sure there's some Aristotelian implication here but I can't figure it out.

Benedict Jackie is talking to Evil Arthur. She acts surprised that "George Clooney" wants to run for Senate, but Arthur explains that it's not THAT George Clooney. However, he thinks the name alone will give them an extra 10 points. He explains that he thinks at least 10% of the people are stupid enough to vote just because they think it's the actor George Clooney.

Did y'all hear George Clooney's loud sobbing the other day? He was crying like a banshee because some Turkish critic found his movie "Solaris" to be boring. He actually called the guy a jerk because he didn't like the movie. So George can make fun of people with Alzheimer's, but he can't take criticism about one of his movies? Give me a break.

Jackie asks how crazy this guy is, and Arthur says "not a bit." Um, he gave $300 million to THE RAINFOREST! As long as little babies are dying of cancer then in my book a $300 million donation to rainforests IS crazy. Just watch folks, in a future episode Arthur will throw in a comment about how in addition to the rainforest, Clooney gives lots of money to cancer research. It'll be a future Johnny Betts shout out.

The gist of this meeting is Arthur wants to pry Jackie away from Sterling (as he later explains to the maj leader) and have her be Clooney's campaign manager. He says that if Clooney wins the race, then they'll want Jackie to be the Presidential campaign manager in CA. She'll be paid whatever she wants, and she can move back to CA and be close to her family. Oh man, Arthur is pure evil. He then asks Jackie how her grandmother is and if she was ever able to afford a nursing home. Wheeeew, that's cold (pronounced "tha's cole")! If Jackie is so smart how can she not see how he's just trying to evilly manipulate her? Going with the whole "how's your sick and elderly grandmother" routine is just hitting below the belt. For good measure Arthur wants Tommy to be the issues director.

Honestly, I'm surprised that Jackie just sat there like Anna Nicole Smith caught in the headlights and doesn't seem to realize Arthur is just trying to pull her away from Sterling.

Back at the Senate hearing, Tommy is telling Bill that the chairman is trying to send a message. He wants everybody to think he actually wanted Bill on the committee. Meanwhile, chicky is reading a whole bunch of boring stuff so Bill asks, "How much does it cost?" She asks whether he means the 10-year or 5-year budget window. Hahaha, I love how he sheepishly says, "Um, both." Tommy just puts his head in his hand. Funny scene.

After the meeting, Tommy tells Bill that the SDI results are getting better. Sterling's secretary tells him Angela called. He goes to the office to call her. TOLD YA! Tommy tells Jackie that Bill's gonna vote against Star Wars. WHY?!?! Don't you want to find out what ultimately drives Anakin to the dark side??? Come on, Bill, give George Lucas a chance! Jackie's obviously a big Star Wars fan because she jumps up and runs to Bill's office.

Bill's talking to Angela. He claims he's gonna try to get back to CA next weekend. Yeah right. He doesn't want her to come visit him until he has a place to stay. Jackie interrupts and Bill has to let Angela go. Jackie gets all up in Bill's face and starts laying the smack down. Does he want to make her job impossible? Her job is to make sure he stays Senator, but it's hard to do that when Bill always does the opposite of what people tell him.

She admires that he doesn't want lobbyists to pay for his hotel room; she can accept that. But he's gonna have to start conducting fundraisers, and he's gonna have to start playing politics. SDI is a CA project, and Bill can't vote against a CA project. It'll pass anyway, so it's going to look bad if he votes against it. Bill says he doesn't want to make a political calculation every time he has to vote for something. Jackie doesn't want that either, but she says he has to pick his fights and SDI is not his fight. If he doesn't want to be a serious player then they all might as well just all go home now.

Jackie then snaps her fingers in a zig zag motion, circles her head around, and storms out of the office. ROWR! Look at those scratch marks all over Bill! Actually, I gotta give Jackie credit for her impassioned speech. This is the most animated we've seen her. It was no doubt motivated a little by the offer Arthur has made her.

Uh-oh, Arthur calls for Tommy. Things are heating up! Especially for all you ladies out there. Why's that? Because we see Mister Sterling in his office doing push-ups in a tight t-shirt. He supposedly doesn't have time for the gym. Ohhhhh, looky there, a reference to the gym! Yep, it's just a matter of time before we see Bill walk into the gym and laugh at Peon trying to bench press the bar.

Bill and Jackie head over to the U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union to try to obtain a loan. Bill has no stocks, no bonds, no securities, and no real estate. And he only pays $987/month for his sweet beachfront property? Now let me note that this is a small bit of proof that the writers are obviously reading the review. One day I ask about Bill's beachfront house and the next the writers are giving us an explanation. Bill explains the low price as being "rent controlled." I don't buy it. If Bill was paying only $987/month for a beach house in L.A. then he made a wrong choice moving to Washington to be Senator.

The Credit Union chick tells Bill that non-security personal loans usually take 5 to 7 days to process, so he should get his loan by Wednesday. Bill and Jackie explain that they need it faster, so the chick says she'll try to get it by Monday. Nope, they need it NOW! Chick explains that Monday is really pushing it. So Bill tells her she'll need to add an extra $9000 to the loan then. I'm assuming that Bill and Jackie's strong-arm tactics got him the money quickly.

Senator Kate passes Sterling in the hall and has a short discussion regarding his opposition to Star Wars. She's supposed to change his mind, but she's not interested. Bill asks why she isn't going to try to twist his arm. His vote isn't really needed. She's gonna save her good stuff for something important. Besides, she prefers the original Star Wars "with Han Solo and Darth Vader." Jackie tells Bill that Kate doesn't even take him seriously enough to lobby him.

Arthur and Tommy talk. Arthur's doing his best to convince Tommy to jump on the George Clooney bandwagon. Tommy will be the issues director, he'll direct the legislative agenda, he won't have to move to CA, and he can name his price. Arthur mentions how Tommy has three college educations to worry about in the future. Tommy asks if Clooney has any positions. Arthur says yes, he cares about the environment. Other than that he's a blank canvas. Wow, glad to see he really stands for something. Arthur invites Tommy to dinner tomorrow. Clooney and the maj leader will join them.

Peon delivers a new set of real estate listings to Bill. These are kind of expensive. Bill's expenses are piling up. He needs new suits, new clothes, new shoes, etc. But he refuses to buy cuff links. HE HAS HIS LIMITS! Bill asks about cheaper areas to live. Tommy mentions some HUD properties, but Jackie scoffs at the idea of a Senator living in an area as dangerous as Southeast Washington. But hey, Sterling was Wild Bill Hickok; do you really think he's scared? Bill asks how cheap it is, and Tommy says it's free.

Bill and Tommy visit the rundown HUD properties. Tommy tells Bill that the property has to be owner-occupied. Tommy was about to tell Bill how long he had to bring the property up to code, but they were interrupted by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Oh, and Bill also has to pay a token dollar for the property. Tommy said it was FREE! THE LIAR!

After Bill and Tommy look through the dump, the secretary asks Bill what he thinks. He pulls out a dollar and says he'll take it. Tommy was stretching it a bit when he said this was "free." Bill immediately becomes responsible for the property taxes. And what about water and electricity? Looking at the house it looks like it'll need to be rewired. When exactly is Bill gonna have time to completely renovate this dump? I'm telling you, that place better not be looking like Stately Wayne Manor within the next couple episodes or I will NOT be happy.

Oh, and if anyone cares, this is part of some Community Rebuilding Program that was founded by Tommy.

Here's the vote regarding SDI ... STERLING VOTES 'AYE!' Jackie is watching it on the TV screen. She looks like she's about to cry. Instead, some sentimental music starts playing and she calls Arthur's office and leaves a message of "No thanks." Big surprise.

Bill tells Tommy that he just voted for something he's opposed to, now what? Just a couple of more hours of boring stuff, he votes, then they're out of there. Kate tells Bill that she's taking credit for flipping him on Star Wars. Works for him. He wants to know how she ended up in the Senate. She explains that she used to anchor the 6:00 news in Vegas, she was fired because she was too old, and she sued. She won a settlement, an amount that she isn't SUPPOSED to mention, but Bill talks her into doing something she isn't supposed to and she reveals she won $7 million. She figured she'd find a job where she was never too old. As she says this she looks over at some really old Senator sleeping, hahaha. You know, if I just won $7 million I think the LAST thing I'd do is run for Senate. Come on, Kate, LIVE! TRAVEL THE WORLD!

All this "boring stuff" that's being read on the Senate floor is what is referred to as the "pay for." Bill asks how they're paying for the technical corrections. Kate explains that they're shaving a little off Medicare.

Outside the Senate floor, Bill tells Tommy that he signed a bill to not cut Medicare. Tommy says the pledge was for next year's budget, and only 1% of the Medicare budget would be cut. Bill still isn't happy. He tries to get Peon involved, but Peon cowers and begs to stay out of it. Tommy explains that the only things under the jurisdiction of the committee are taxes, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They won't cut Medicare next year because it's an election year. Bill says he can't vote for it, and Jackie tells Tommy she won't fight him on this one.

Bill informs the chairman that he's gonna vote against the technical corrections because he's not happy with the "pay for." The chairman tries to explain that EVERYBODY votes for technical corrections. It's the most routine piece of legislation.

Meanwhile, Tommy and Jackie discuss Arthur trying to get both of them to hop aboard the Clooney bandwagon. Tommy asks when the Dem party became the billionaire boys club.

The chairman tells Bill that he'll look silly if he votes against technical corrections, but choices are never easy. I'm surprised he didn't say something about how if you choose not to decide then you've still made a choice.

They get back to the hearings, and Bill offers an amendment to the technical corrections. Since all amendments must be submitted in writing Bill hurries up and writes something on a piece of paper. Bill has a problem pledging something one day and then breaking that pledge the next. He proposes a 1% income tax on personal incomes of over $10 million. They take a vote, and everybody other than Sterling is opposed. Kate writes "roll call vote" on a piece of paper, so Bill asks for a roll call vote. Everybody scrambles, so the chairman decides to include the amendment without having a vote on it. How can he do that? Kate says he has super powers. Unh-unh! Sterling is the one with super powers!

The chairman calls for a voice vote on technical corrections. Sterling is the only person who votes, and he votes "aye." Nobody wanted to vote for a tax increase, and nobody wanted to vote against one, so this is all on Bill's shoulders now.

Afterwards, Laura asks Bill if a tax increase is politically viable. Bill claims that a 1% tax increase isn't a burden on people making $1 billion or $100 million. How does he know? Folks, this is not without its problems. Anybody ever heard of the effect of "less taxable income"? Jackie can already see the attack ads saying that Sterling's first big move as a Senator is to raise taxes. Tommy says they can just play it off as Medicare vs. Billionaire. I'm not gonna get all preachy on this subject, but here's a little parable about taxes that I'll share with you, and we'll leave it at that:

*****
A taxing story

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner.

The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this.

The first four men -- the poorest -- would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man -- the richest -- would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement -- until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut).

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."

So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six -- the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share"?

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33.

But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man, "but he," pointing to the tenth, "but he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too, ........ It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!"

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!".

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him.

But, when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late, what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill!

Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!

T. Davies Professor of Accounting Chair, Division of Accounting and Business Law The University of South Dakota School of Business

*****

Bill says he's paying for dinner. He can at least afford pizza. As Bill and Jackie keep walking, Tommy gets a call from Arthur. Tommy tells him that he's not gonna make it to the Clooney dinner. Arthur tries to convince him to come. After all, Tommy's a Dem and he works for Dems. Arthur even calls Clooney the guy they always wanted to work for. Who is that? A guy who is a blank canvas with no firm beliefs of his own? A guy with a skull full of mush waiting to be shaped and formed by others?

As some sentimental music plays and Bill marches forward down that good hall, Tommy says, "I'm working for the guy we always wanted to work for." The end.

Up next is "Human Error." In this episode Bill tries to strong-arm a lowly INS worker into breaking the law for him. Believe me, I'll have PLENTY of material to run through the shredder.

Welp, now that I've let Josh know that I know he has email I'm sure he'll feel the pressure and get in touch with me soon. I'll keep y'all updated. Unless he tells me to keep our correspondence quiet.

Let me leave y'all with a little "Johnny Betts Inspirational Story." Take it to heart and draw from the well of its wisdom whenever you need.

I learned a valuable lesson the other day. If you're wrestling or doing Jujitsu, then you want to cut your fingernails as short as possible before grappling. Mine had about a week's worth of growth on them, and the other night I grabbed a dude's uniform (pronounced "gee" with a hard "g," but I don't know exactly how to spell it, and I don't feel like figuring it out), and when I yanked his shoulders down it yanked my fingernail backwards. The top 1/4 of it was actually bent backwards, and I had to pop it back into place.

But being the Johnny Betts that I am, I wrapped a band-aid around it, went back to grappling, and choked the dude out. That's right. Some people worry about broken bones sticking out of the skin. Others fear really hard shots to the crotch. But Johnny Betts, well, he overcame a bent fingernail and he persevered. It's truly a great story of triumph over tragedy. Feel free to print this out and read it whenever you need inspiration. If you're down in the dumps or feel there's something you can't accomplish then let this anecdote fill your heart. Free of charge. It's all part of my public service.

In the immortal words of Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee, "It's something these Yankees do not understand, will never understand. Rivers, hills, valleys, fields, even towns. To those people they're just markings on a map from the war office in Washington. To us, they're birthplaces and burial grounds, they're battlefields where our ancestors fought. They're places where we learned to walk, to talk, to pray. They're the incarnation of all our memories and all that we love."

I'm Johnny Betts, this is just my opinion, you could be wrong.
Copyright 2002 Madlib Productions, All Rights Reserved

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February 24, 2003