Voila! Finally, the Lions For Lambs script is here for all you fans of the Robert Redford movie. This puppy is a transcript that was painstakingly
transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of the movie to get the dialogue. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and all that jazz, so if you have any corrections, feel free to
drop me a line. At least you'll have some Lions For Lambs quotes (or even a monologue or two) to annoy your coworkers with in the meantime, right?
And swing on back to Drew's
Script-O-Rama afterwards -- because reading is good for your noodle. Better than Farmville, anyway.
Lions For Lambs Script
Roadside bombs have claimed
the lives of eight US soldiers in Iraq.
Four troops were killed when an explosion
struck their vehicle north of Baghdad,
while an airman was killed
by another roadside bomb in Tikrit.
Two soldiers were killed
and three wounded
when their unit was struck
by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
The death of an eighth soldier
from a non-battle-related cause
is under investigation.
At least 3,555 members
of the US military have died
since the Iraq War started
back in 2003.
10:00am Eastern Standard Time
Senator Jasper Irving's Office
One more. That's it.
Thank you very much. Here's my card.
- Thank you for coming in.
- Thank you, sir.
He's ready for you now, Ms Roth.
- The senator.
- Ah, good morning, Janine.
Only good thing about morning
is it ends at noon.
Please, sit down.
Would you like some coffee, tea, water?
- No, thanks.
- It's terrific to see you.
- Thank you.
- Thanks for coming in.
- Marcia, could I have coffee?
I read the story you did
on the rise of image consultants in politics.
- You did?
- I thought it was a good story, actually.
It was a different angle.
Are we waiting for your PR pit bull or...?
No. Just you and me.
No one to intercept your trick questions.
One-on-one time. Wow.
You first called me the future of my party.
I'm returning the favour.
- It was just how I saw it eight years ago.
- Well, nonetheless, grateful.
Considering the state of your party,
how do you know the tag isn't pejorative?
- Cos I got 77% of the vote.
- Oh, yeah. How could I forget?
- You're aware I'm doing this time line...?
Yeah, you're doing a detailed time line
on the war on terror.
If it's like every other time line
that's come out this year
it'll be the opening salvo of a much larger
retrospective of mistakes made.
- Or it could just be a simple list of facts.
- From which you all will pick and choose.
- You don't trust us.
- I trust you.
- And that's why we're here.
- To discuss what, exactly?
To see if you'd like to write an honest-to-God
story again, instead of reminding
the few paying attention that we've been
fighting a tough war for six years.
Who gets the Peabody for that?
What's the story?
It's about a new plan
going into motion in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan? A new plan?
A new plan that will win both the war
and, as cliché as this might sound,
the hearts and minds of the people.
- What is it?
- I won't be at liberty to tell you everything.
- National security.
- But enough so you might write a story
about what we're doing
in Afghanistan now -
not six years ago, but now -
and how those efforts
can culminate into actual victory.
- What is this?
This is my honest effort
to keep the press better informed
and to change the subject
from the past to the future,
and talk openly about ways of fixing them,
step by step.
How much time do we have together?
I have till 11.
The whole hour? Wow.
You all must be panicked.
Oh, no, no, no, no. We're determined.
6:30pm Afghan Standard Time
Bagram Air Force Base
- Finch, you and your boys good?
- Roger that, sir.
- How's that knee?
- Ready for that hike.
- Glad to hear it. Rodriguez?
- All up, sir.
All right. Good. I want you to take notes,
I want you to ask questions. Good news first.
Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been
whittled down to small wolf packs.
Do not believe
everything in the papers.
We've pounded the enemy
into something much smaller
and more impotent than when
we first got here. That's good.
The bad news. We have yet to step
on their throats. We've yet to close.
The longer we don't, the harder it gets.
Remember your Von Clausewitz.
Never engage the same enemy
for too long or he will...
- Adapt to your tactics.
- He will adapt to your tactics.
That is correct. Case in point,
INTSUM is reporting
that al-Qaeda in the Badakhshan province
is attempting to open up a new front.
- Locals can't handle the fight?
- That's the problem.
Nobody up there is strong enough
to fight this enemy
and Karzai sure ain't gonna let
any of these guys go home now.
Why is the enemy doing this now?
Enemy is bent on establishing themselves
as a legitimate fighting force for the people.
Sir, where are these guys comin' from?
They're asking families
to give up their sons.
If they don't, the sons are executed
in front of the families. That's number one.
Number two is Iraq. Qaeda and the Tali
are starting to funnel battle-tested fighters...
- Funnel through where, though, sir?
- I can't tell you. I ain't gonna answer that.
Cos you already know too much.
So jihadi and Wahhabi terrorists
are moving through Shiite territory, sir?
Suffice it to say the enemy
is getting stronger and uglier.
It is time for us to get back into their kitchen,
put our foot on their throats.
You are going to air-assault
into the Badakhshan province.
You will set up an operating camp
at Pamela Left, the forward operating point,
an 8,000ft peak offering
360° views of the valley below.
The enemy is gonna want it
just as badly as we do
so we've been ordered to take it first
before the snow thaws.
Check your maps.
There's a suitable LZ. You all got that?
- Roger that, sir.
- You'll set up camp. You'll set up comms.
You'll set up sat links. You will wait
and, if fortunate enough to engage the enemy,
you will introduce them to the full measure
of America Mean. Clear?
We're being pushed awfully fast here,
aren't we, sir?
A California University
7:00am Pacific Standard Time
Professor Stephen Malley's Office
You want it closed or...?
What's your guess, Todd?
This is unethical,
making me bring you coffee.
- No more than makin' me look at that shirt.
- Ho, ho, Doc.
This here's a genuine Reyn Spooner.
This was 89.99. Or was it 69?
- Oh, yeah? Well, I take it all back, then.
- Yeah, please.
So, why'd I ask you to come in
this early with a gift?
Well, you know,
my sporadic absences.
Sounds like the title of a book
about your semester so far, doesn't it?
That's good, yeah.
Yeah... I don't know, Doc.
I just... I've never ever been
this busy in my life.
- What with?
- Well, just, like, all my other classes.
- This is your major.
- And there's also a young lady, too.
Is this the one that you jockey to sit next to
when you do come to my class?
- What else keeps you busy?
- President of my fraternity.
- Hey. Hail to the chief.
- Oh, come on, now.
You were in a house, right?
Gotta remember how busy it can get.
With the four-day weekends
and 30-minute study sessions.
- That's not what I mean.
- You asked me what I remember.
You don't think school should be as social
as it is academic? Getting two educations?
I think if you can't balance the two
you shouldn't be here.
I also think most of the kids
that argue that
are the guys with the 2.4s trying to justify
30 grand a year for all those Cs.
OK, my friend.
You've aced a lot of the exams
you've shown up for,
but you've only been
to eight classes this semester.
Now, that'd be a hall of fame run
if we only met once a week.
So attendance is part
of my grade all of a sudden?
Would you take a solid B
for the rest of this semester?
No plus, no minus,
just a straight blue-collar B?
I'll get that to you.
Right here. Right now.
It's no bullshit.
- A B for what?
- For not coming to another class.
For not writing or reading
one word I assign to you.
For not signing up for any more of
my classes for the rest of your time here.
A B for nothing, huh?
- You nod yes and this meeting's over.
- Half the class would kill for that deal.
- But I'm not meeting with any of them.
- I think I know what you're doing.
There's another deal. Two parts.
Both non-negotiable. First part,
you show up every day,
every class from here on out.
And second, you let me tell you about
the last two kids I had that gave me hope.
Maybe that'll explain
why I called you in this morning.
We're just fluttering.
Base turn to follow.
- You got the reaction time of a foetus.
- There we go.
- Friendly skies.
How can you be more afraid
of clouds than bullets?
Cos I'd rather take a bullet than a fall.
You think you fast?
This is a very high-minded goal
you've set for yourselves.
But this goal for the future of Afghanistan
is just a lot of hot air
unless we solve the military problem first.
Our Special Forces soldiers
are going to take the high ground
in key positions throughout Afghanistan
before the snow thaws.
And the military part
has to come first why?
Because only after
we've eradicated the enemy
can we then get down to the true work
of keeping this new democracy breathing.
- So it's basically kill people to help people.
- No. That's not what I said.
I said "the enemy".
Don't take that out of context.
Sorry. I was just trying to boil it down.
In 2002, I remember
you said something like:
"The Taliban's back is forever broken",
then big applause.
"Mission accomplished." Writ small.
Because we now know the enemy
with broken backs can still crawl
and we know that the enemy learned
their lesson from that first backbreaking.
So you're taking it for granted
there's gonna be a second backbreaking.
Would we be having this meeting
if I didn't?
Is this how the rest
of the hour's gonna go?
I'm just asking questions.
Senator, can you just give me one example
of the enemy having learned a lesson?
They've woken up to the fact
that we're fighting on two fronts.
And history does tend to punish
that kind of hubris.
So we're launching this new strategy
using the military as the opening punch.
Now, taking the high ground is key.
Whoever takes it
owns the ability to observe,
the prerogative to attack,
and the opportunity to preside.
- So... preside?
- It's why the Romans built forts.
Establish a constant presence
or you have constant violence.
So we're gonna be there for good,
I said "constant", not "permanent".
We have to have the same determination
as these insurgents or they'll outlast us.
This security allows us to build
schools and clinics...
- But where is NATO in all this?
- Good question. Where are they?
We can't wait for them to decide,
so we put this new strategy into motion now.
And why now? Why not a year ago?
Two years? Three years?
Two reasons. First reason,
the satellites and drones
are not nearly as omniscient
as they're marketed to be.
Anybody knows that.
You just Google "Predator".
- The second reason's ugly.
- Ugly? Is that code for "off the record"?
For the time being, yeah.
- Iran? What are they doing now?
Outside of building nuclear weapons,
talking to North Korea,
and telling Israel they don't know
what a real holocaust looks like?
They're allowing Wahhabi insurgents
to hike from Iraq to Afghanistan
- using the most direct route possible.
- Across the countryside of Iran.
- Is that confirmed?
- By their denials.
- Proof there truly is a new axis of evil.
- Oh, wow.
1300 years of murder between the Sunnis
and Shiahs getting back-burnered now
so they can kill more Americans
in more places.
Are we still off the record?
Because this really is... this is a story.
Do you see what I'm saying?
These radicals are uniting against us.
We need to remind the American people
who their enemies are.
You have proof they are uniting against us,
or are you saying there may be potential...?
how frightening a development this is.
This is a significant threat to the security
of our nation and you can quote me on this.
Now that Iran has nuclear potential,
we simply cannot...
When you say "nuclear", it sounds like
the same kind of fear-mongering...
Your position affords you the luxury
of that opinion. Mine does not.
It is my responsibility, it's part of my job
description to protect the American people,
and that is why we put
this new strategy into motion now.
So when does it start?
Ten minutes ago.
Copy that. I'll let him know.
- Heads up.
- Sir, we're two minutes out.
Two minutes! Lock and load!
- That's an old AA right there.
- Anti-aircraft gun on the ridge.
It's all good, sir.
Drones took pictures last night.
It's an old rusty 23-millimetre
with spiked barrels.
Good eye, though.
Rusted and spiked. Inoperable.
Spiked. By whom?
Point is, it can't shoot.
An old AA gun that can't shoot
can make for a nasty trap.
Sir, I see this kind of junk from the air
all the time.
That's why we call this place
What direction? What direction?
We are taking fire. Mayday! Mayday!
Give me your finger. Give me your finger.
Turn towards it. Turn towards it.
Turn towards it.
- What are their names again?
- Ernest and Arian.
Wait. Like, master race - Aryan?
He spelt it with an i instead of a y.
What's your point?
- If you looked up "irony", huh?
You know, a guy named Arian,
he could only be...
What difference does that make?
Stay focused on the American part.
All right. So they played ball, huh?
It was the only way
they could afford to come here.
Scholarship athletes. You wanna come up
with two guys more different than me?
You know, professors aren't teachers,
OK. So what do you sell?
You, to you.
But, you know, you don't...
you don't have to do me any favours, Doc.
- And why is that, Todd?
- Why don't you have to do me favours?
Why don't you care any more?
I cared before
because I showed up to your class?
You not only showed up, you got involved.
You read everything I assigned. You were
hungry. You leaned into those lectures.
You went for the jugular in every debate.
Why not any more?
I already answered you.
A lot of things, girls...
Bullshit. Come on.
Hey, Todd. Come on.
I don't want to hurt your feelings.
Hey, we... we got an hour.
Don't waste a second worrying about
my feelings. I'm not worrying about yours.
Thanks. You should write Hallmark cards.
OK. Go on.
- Say it.
- All right, all right.
Political science, Doc.
outside of the psychology
behind how much shit
voters will swallow before they notice?
The science part,
it's really only about how to win.
Not how to govern, not how to
make anybody better, just how to win.
No matter how stupid
or two-faced or criminal you look.
Give me an example.
OK. Like presidential candidates now.
They announce their candidacy
by standing in front of an audience
and saying they will not run for president.
You know? Yeah.
What is that shit?
- It's as old as time.
- No, I don't think so, cos...
OK, you had me when we were
studying the old philosophers.
The Greeks... I mean, Doc, you... you had me.
They were awesome.
somewhere you lost me. I don't know.
- Have you ever been to Greece?
No, otherwise you'd know their government
makes ours look like a vision of the future.
Well, isn't that my point?
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. If they can't
fix things, what is Todd Hayes gonna do?
I'm gonna pay my taxes.
I'm gonna obey traffic lights...
I was thinking about something bigger.
Something bigger? Bigger like what?
Like, be a congressman bigger?
- Well, that's bigger.
- Oh, yeah. Super.
I get to be one of those turds in DC -
and I do mean pure pieces of shit -
who make our laws?
I get to be a doughboy
who parts his hair like everyone else?
The guy who never says anything
though he never stops talking.
Do I get to be the guy
who lectures you on morality
while a page
jacks me off under the table?
Oh, yeah, please.
The guy who funnels away a million and
bawls like an evangelist when he's caught.
And how many never get caught, Doc?
Hey, if that's something bigger than being
a good Joe with a good job, fuck it.
Yeah, that's where you lost me.
You almost convinced me.
- Almost convinced me.
That you really know
what you're talking about.
You're great with words, Todd.
But what would make 'em better
is if they had a heartbeat.
If they were rooted
in any kind of experience,
if you had knocked on doors, licked
envelopes, been to a damn public rally,
just put yourself on the line in any way.
that's putting myself on the line?
Infinitely more than just talking.
Pamela Left is hot.
- How hot?
- Chinook took hits from small arms, RPGs.
They have dead and wounded,
and didn't land at the objective.
- Where did they land?
- Three kilometres south.
Chopper's fucked for good,
two men missing.
- Missing? Lead with that. Who's missing?
- Finch and Rodriguez.
Consensus is that they fell out
over a small ridge short of the planned LZ.
No guessing on
whether or not they survived.
You fucking idiot.
How bad are you?
Bad! Can you get to me?
I'm stuck. My leg's jammed.
I'll launch the rescue chopper.
Vector 'em halfway
between Pamela Left and us.
We won't put them in that gauntlet.
Put them in a holding pattern until
we know what's going on. See anything?
I don't know for how long. Cold front's still
coming. G2 says it's packing big snow...
I want to see as much as I can
for as long as I can.
- ETA on a fast mover?
- I got a Warthog
that'll take 20-25 minutes to get out there,
but the margin of safe...
I would love to talk to the motherfucker
that said this mountaintop was secure.
Afghan terrain demands that small teams
establish forward operating points.
I've heard of forward operating bases,
but not forward operating points.
- "Point" sounds smaller than "base".
- Because it is.
- What? Just, come on, say it.
- Sorry. No. I... I... I just...
It also sounds like Pentagonese for "bait".
Janine, it's not like we're putting
one or two guys on the mountain here.
- All right. But small is how we fight now.
- Says the man in the air-conditioned room.
This is the fight that we're in,
and unfortunately civilisations do not
sustain themselves through non-violence.
What does that mean? Are you going to
forgo diplomacy in the state department?
We were attacked.
You do not respond to an attack
Bin Laden's idea of diplomacy
is not filming the beheadings.
Saddam violated 16 UN resolutions
and the UN responded
by issuing 30-plus stern statements
condemning his behaviour.
All the while, France, China and Russia
continued to trade with him under the table.
And didn't we also
arm Saddam in the '80s?
- But here we are now.
- Yes, here we are now.
Don't you think it's critical to examine...?
How and why is not the issue now.
We have to move forward.
We're fighting a brand of evil that thinks
the last 1300 years of human progress
is heresy punishable by violent death.
Now, if you don't feel
that should be wiped from the...
I'd like to see Bin Laden
dead and gone as much as anybody,
but I don't understand how you cannot want
to look at the past, not think it's critical.
What is critical, what is relevant,
is the implementation
of a new strategy that will win this war,
a war we cannot lose.
- But we're not winning it.
This new strategy can change that.
How about a strategy
to bring the troops home?
- So leave?
- That's not an option?
OK. Let's... let's play this out.
We walk, and Afghanistan
reverts back to the Taliban.
Only now the Taliban has metastasised
into something more vicious and potent
because they're now 2 and versus the superpowers.
They'd butcher people who voted, who were
stupid enough to put their faith in our word.
Call it not only the end of hope
for millions of Afghans
but the end of American credibility,
the end of America
as a force for righteousness in the world.
When we're forced to go back
in a couple of years - quote me on this -
we'll square off against a shattered Iraq,
a hopeless Afghanistan and a nuclear Iran.
How many troops are we gonna need then?
You'll be adding some zeros.
May I speak freely?
You're about to implement
another new strategy
regardless of the human cost
or the financial cost because you predict...
We thought deeply about the human cost
when we planned this strategy.
What were your estimates?
What I can say is that this strategy
has patience and determination at its core.
It ensures that it puts our fighting men
in spots where they can kill the enemy,
so that we can then go about
rebuilding that country.
And if it takes ten years, we stay.
We do whatever it takes.
"Whatever it takes."
Whatever it takes.
Then why did it take three years
to up-armour our Humvees?
They're up-armoured now...
Add-ons don't provide the same protection,
Senator, you know that.
Why does the president insist on spending
billions on subs and fighter planes
that are useless in this kind of war?
- What do you think I'm working on?
- And why did we send 150,000 troops
to a country that did not attack us, and
one tenth that number to the one that did?
How many times are you people
going to ask the same question?
- Till we get the answer.
- OK. Here goes...
- Iraq was almost a First World country.
- "Was" is the operative tense.
We took it quick
because we had numbers.
Afghanistan was, is, and always will be
the definition of rugged Third World.
Big numbers have bogged down there
before Alexander became "The Great".
We took Iraq? How did I miss that?
Militarily, we did.
We made mistakes.
that should never be forgotten.
But six years ago, who could have known
what to do or when to do it
after watching our jets
fly into our buildings?
Do you remember how petrified we were
at what our enemies might do for an encore?
And how all at once
everything was at risk?
Families, friends, the kindergartens...
the rivers and bridges, nuclear plants.
Do you remember how terror coloured
that next morning in shades we'd never seen?
And tens of thousands have died since
because of that fear,
and the mistakes it inspired.
But the question I'm left with,
the question that keeps me up at night,
because I have to answer it,
is what do we do now?
My God. They're moving in.
- They're alive.
- It's just snow blowing.
- Watch my flank.
- Give me the A-10 pilot. I want an ETA.
- They just said 18 minutes.
That was seven minutes ago.
I want to talk to the pilot now.
Sir, the rescue bird is in its holding pattern
waiting for your word.
All right. So, what,
Ernest and Arian, they volunteered?
Is that a question or an accusation?
- All right. It's just a question.
- Yes, they volunteered.
They're adrenaline types.
They like it extreme...
Ernie and Arian aren't adrenaline types.
What I was talking about was fearless,
but willing yourself to the next step.
It's courage, right?
But of the real kind.
What are you afraid of, Todd?
Most everybody's afraid of not getting a job,
or moving in with their parents,
or student-loan payments looming.
Yeah, that scares me.
Or the voice in your head
that keeps asking awful questions:
"Should I be doing more with my gifts?"
"Am I making the most out of my time
here on this planet?"
I think everybody
asks themselves those questions.
A lot of us are afraid of the answers.
Do you remember the second or third
lecture you ever had with me,
when I called you out of the blue?
You sat to the side where most of
you guys sit when you don't want to talk.
close enough to have commitment,
but just far enough away where I can't...
see you to call on you.
It's called embarrassment.
You asked what I thought about the reading.
- I just said I didn't do the reading.
- But on reflex.
No excuses, no bullshit, honest.
- I was just terrified.
- But you willed yourself to the next step.
And do you remember the subject we were
discussing, what that reading was about?
You try to block embarrassing moments out.
It was about that clinic
they were opening up on Adams.
They were passing out
clean, free needles to addicts.
A class of 80 people
thought that was a good idea.
They thought, "Yeah. Stop the spreading
of disease and cut crime a bit." You said...
Look, if we're gonna spend tax dollars,
our tax dollars,
to help people
break the law in a safer way,
why don't we have a designated
drunk-driver lane on the highway too?
- It's a bigger problem than IV drug use.
- The same logic.
- You're talking economics.
I'm talking economics,
and I'm also talking about safety.
You didn't even read the assignment.
- No, I didn't, but I can still think.
- He's right.
Yeah, well, I can kick a hornets' nest
with the best of them.
Yeah, but the kid who didn't
read the assignment and admitted it
becomes the centre of one of the most
interesting debates I've ever been a part of.
Where did that kid go?
So you think that the number of troops
that we have in Afghanistan now is enough?
I do. And a big part of why we're able
to do more with less in Afghanistan,
outside of the precise intel
that we have in the area,
is the superior nature
of our Special Forces.
These guys are pros.
It really reminds me of Abrams in '68.
- Yeah. Remember?
- How long ago was that?
- "Can't get the Vietcong in big fights
so we'll send out smaller groups
they can't resist ambushing."
"At least we'll be fighting." 58,000 names
say that strategy didn't work out so well.
What is your problem with evolution?
With capable platoons of Special Forces
soldiers surgically ferreting out the enemy?
- Again, platoons are small.
- Again, small is the point.
Abrams. What, do you TiVo
the History Channel?
'68 was my first year reporting.
It was my college newspaper.
- Liberal rag?
I never lost my taste for it.
- Yeah, you were six.
But reading at a sixth-grade level.
40 years in this racket.
You don't have to say
the duration out loud.
40 years means you should have enough
salt to know that we're at a tipping point.
The American people need to understand
it is not only our choice to stop
these insurgents but our moral obligation.
We simply cannot allow
their form of evil and terror to spread.
And through precise military action
we will take the essential first step.
First step? But what have we been doing
for the past six years, Senator?
World War ll took less than five.
I gotta see your leg.
See if it's compounded.
- Don't black out.
You need a tourniquet.
- Push through, brother. Push through.
Nothing debatable about it.
Americans, if they're going
to accept yet another new strategy,
want more than just vague admissions
of past mistakes.
Can you tell me in your own words
exactly where you think we went wrong?
Worst intel in our history.
who've never bled in a fight.
You guys had a heyday with Abu Ghraib.
That was... that was quite the meal ticket.
Have you ever bled in a fight?
- Intelligence. Six years.
- But not the infantry, right?
You know this.
I graduated first in my class at West Point.
I excelled at intelligence. Are you asking me
to apologise for an achievement?
No, no, no. I would never do that.
You know, here we are having
a high-minded debate about war and policy
and it just occurred to me.
You're not gonna be able to fit a real story
in between those "Home of the Free,
Land of the Obese" exposés
and all your network's
If I keep my fingers crossed
I might get a seven-second mention
from that focus-group-created
anchor of yours with the big hair.
It's Summer Hernandez-Kawalski?
Is... is that her real name?
What happened to you guys?
- When did you all become a windsock?
- A what?
Blows with the prevailing breeze.
When did you start confusing
majority opinion with the right one?
Sort of like when we supported
going into Iraq?
Supported? Oh, no, no, no, no.
You guys sold it. Your network led
every report about the invasion of Iraq
with the screen-sized flag,
the square-jawed saluting marine
and the bald eagle
soaring to Aaron Copland.
That's because we believed and you believed
that Iraq was a legitimate enemy.
You asked us for the benefit of the doubt
because we have troops in harm's way...
Your network provided
that benefit without a blush.
We gave it to you.
We both... Janine.
We both put our fighting men at risk.
Now, I've admitted my mistakes.
When will you?
- Call from Senator Skilken on line two.
- Thank you. Ask him to wait a second.
You know, in a sense,
we're on the same team.
We both have a responsibility.
You've already sold the war. Now
I'm asking you to help me sell the solution.
Excuse me. I have to take this call.
You could use the phone in here.
You think I wanna let you
hear me beg for money?
- Why are they waiting?
- Maybe trying to take us alive.
Figuring out how.
OK. Team one gets to set the bar.
The topic they've pulled...
"What foreign-relations theory or concept
can best be applied here at home
to greater effect?"
- Thank God it's not us.
- OK, you're up. 15 minutes, flame or fame.
- Hey. Hey!
- You OK? You ready to do this?
- I'm breathing.
Gotta forgive my boy. He's so desperate
to get my dumb ass a good grade
he's either gonna shit his pants
or swallow his tongue.
Know why they cut affirmative action?
It was his GPA.
- So, what about you, Doc?
- What about me?
Well, those who can't do, teach.
Seriously, is being a professor
doing the most with what you were given?
Are these your gifts?
You got me.
You know, 30 years ago
I had a whole different idea
about what this job was gonna be.
I was gonna publish theories
that would change thousands.
The university fathers
were gonna be so impressed
that they would offer me season tickets
on the 50 to make sure I stayed.
- Jesus. Some elaborate daydreams there.
- Aren't they?
Papers I do get published don't get read.
Students do come to me for advice,
but the school still spells
my name wrong on memos.
- So, what, are you still here for the money?
- The money? God, no. No.
I'm still here, Todd,
because I'm a selfish man.
I'm selfish for the rare times when you know
you have someone in your class
that has rare gifts to go on
and do big things on a big scale.
I realised my gifts aren't my theories but my
ability to recognise great potential in others
and maybe give them a little shove
when they need it.
You think I'm one of those people?
What do you think?
Ernest and Arian, they were able
to show you they were rare? Like, every day?
Just enough to erase doubt. No, the only
real difference between you and them
is that you're a naturally gifted student.
They had to work their asses off.
Didn't come easy for them.
And they could also hit
- Hey, I'll trade 'em, Doc.
- No, they'd trade you.
They went to these high schools
in the area where they grew up,
godforsaken places that bear
no resemblance to the schools you went to.
Metal detectors on every door,
teachers carrying Mace.
These awful places
did them not one favour.
- I saw the same thing in Vietnam.
The first guys to sign up to fight
are the ones this country doesn't treat well.
Here are Ernest and Arian
growing up in these neighbourhoods
where people butcher each other
for simple-minded shit.
"You were raised in a neighbourhood
two blocks south from mine." Bam!
"The rims on your car
are better than mine." Bam!
What do they do after scraping themselves up
and getting outta there in one piece?
Fight for the country
that ignores these neighbourhoods
unless there's a riot
or a drive-by epidemic.
On the flip side, you got kids that can take
advantage of every gift this country has.
- Like me?
- Usually they're the first ones
to take a big step back
when it comes time for volunteers.
- Are you recruiting me?
- Recruiting you?
You sold the army to Ernest and Arian
and now you're... you're trying to sell it to me.
Three guys in that photo
never came home.
One guy's in prison for life.
You wanna know what
the worst wound I ever got was?
54 stitches protesting in Chicago
after I came home.
I did just the opposite
of recruiting Ernest and Arian.
Did I like what they did? No.
Did I agree with it? No.
It broke my heart. That doesn't mean
I don't revere the reasons.
They believed the best way to change things
in this country was to go fight for it.
is the foreign-relations concept
that we would like to apply here at home.
We're pretty good with it abroad.
Our secretary of state has travelled
more miles than any in history
and we have more embassies than ever.
To your first point, isn't that
just because of easy access to jets?
And to the second, aren't there just
more countries now to put embassies in?
We can choose not to fly those jets
and we can choose
not to recognise any new country.
But choosing to do so,
I guess, is engagement.
Again, we're pretty good
with engagement outside of our country,
though we've had some big failures.
Like 9/11 and Rwanda.
Somalia. There's a communist country
90 miles outside of Miami.
We need more than 15 minutes
to talk about that.
- Yeah, well, no country's perfect.
- Every country should wanna be better.
Look, homeboy, if you cool with that,
we'd like to use the time we have left
to focus on engagement
and how we see it abroad
and we don't see the same on our streets.
Now, we totally turned away
from the biggest problems here at home.
The best way to double the size
of the problem is to turn your back on it.
So, who knew?
America needs to do more.
- We do.
Like do away with your junior year
of high school.
There's three options instead of going
to school. A Peace Corps year abroad,
an AmeriCorps year here
in one of the 500 poorest zip codes
or an ROTC-like apprenticeship
here or abroad,
but everybody picks one
and nobody gets a note from Mom.
Oh, man, come on.
Is this another joke?
No, man. Was democracy a joke?
Was civil rights a joke?
How about every junior learns to march
in formation and we invade our neighbours?
We would get lost on the way.
73% of all California freshmen cannot
name the country that borders Minnesota.
Can you? 77% of all US freshmen cannot
name both senators from their home state.
And 50% of all eighth-graders can't write
or do math at eighth-grade levels.
And when 25% of our workers didn't function,
we called it a Great Depression.
What do we call 50%
of our students not functioning?
A Greater Depression?
Oh, and Canada borders Minnesota.
That's the smartest thing
you've said all day.
What about cost?
and unfeasible would they be?
Not as ridiculous as the nine grand we spend
per student per year. Nine grand times what?
3.8 million juniors.
That's $34 billion, man.
We spend $2 billion more now
than we did five years back.
For worse results.
Who won't wanna be part of an experience
where it's not about your race, your wealth,
not even where you come from?
Common only because we're American.
I guarantee you
that would make us better for life.
And the shame is we don't get that type
of level playing ground, not in this country,
unless there's a draft.
So I'd have to stay in school a year longer?
You've been here eight years, bro.
We could all, with all the degrees
and the money we're gonna make,
go hide in a big house with high walls.
When hasn't a big house with high walls
been the American dream?
July 5, 1776.
What about December 8, 1941?
September 12, 2001.
You don't wanna go to Harvard Law
or Stanford Business after you graduate?
You don't wanna make money?
I say bullshit.
I think it's totally hypocritical
for you to just talk this giant game.
Let's do it, man. All right.
Are they kidding?
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
Doc, you look like
you getting ulcers over there.
I've had the ulcers.
The question is whether they're bleeding.
Oh, you gotta stop thinking
that project made us enlist. It didn't.
I don't believe that.
Come on, you guys.
You two could pick
any grad school in any field.
- $200,000 in the hole when you graduate.
- Loan forgiveness programmes?
Yeah, there are programmes,
but they're not as forgiving as they advertise.
- Arian's doing a lot of talking for both of you.
- You think he did the math all by himself?
Doc, you're the one who tells us
not to live over a safety net.
I didn't think that would translate
to heading out to a war.
If I did, I would have cut my tongue out.
- You're missing the point.
Because I can't say
the army is a better gig
most students would give an arm to get into?
No, because you're not seeing
that if we did anything else,
we wouldn't be a part of the
most important things going on right now.
Doc, these events
are going to define our lives,
just the same way Vietnam did for yours.
I didn't enlist. I was drafted.
World War I,
German soldiers wrote poems
about the bravery of British grunts,
admired them, almost as much
as they laughed at the high command
who wasted those same grunts
by the hundreds of thousands.
A German general wrote:
"Nowhere else have I seen
such lions led by such lambs."
Christ, that statement
is so dead-on right now.
These starched collars that started this war,
that are running it now,
nowhere near the best and the brightest,
not even in the same galaxy.
They're the ones that, when our men
are blown to bits in the middle of a gun battle,
say shit like, "The enemy has bloodied
our nose, but we're learning from mistakes."
We agree. What's the problem?
"So what's the problem?"
What are you talking about?
We already know
how the system works.
- Guys, think. Think.
- We've thought that far ahead.
Because it's going badly
makes it even more important, Doc.
I don't... Tell... What do you mean?
We wouldn't have spent three weeks
in school on Nixon without Watergate.
If we'd killed Bin Laden on 9/12,
or if Iraqi Shiites greeted us
with a ticker-tape parade,
we would never have to think about,
"Who are these people?"
"Does religion really preach murder?"
"Do they need a dictator
to stop them massacring each other?"
The greatest military in history
can't catch three guys. Come on.
And how do you preach democracy
and still send billions to Saudi kings
who are the furthest thing from it?
- So load yourselves into the breach?
- Or sit on the bench.
The men who lead
do work when there's work to be done.
Will you step up when you're needed,
or will you just sit back
and let the other people do the lifting?
They're simple questions.
With potentially really awful answers.
Guys, trust me.
Please trust that if I thought this fight
was worth the sweat, I'd back you, I would.
But what about stepping up here,
changing policy at home?
Look, we go do this now,
then we come back and go to school.
- On the army's dime.
- Then we can do something.
Black and Mexican combat vets
with an education.
No debt to dictate what we do next.
They gotta listen to us then, Doc.
We can change things.
- Why isn't Tali rushing 'em, finishing it?
- We're worth more captured than killed.
- ETA to my boys?
- 19 minutes.
When you get there, you shoot straight.
Apprise the rescue chopper of this.
You tell 'em we've got an A-10 bomber
moving in to clean it out
but they are heading into
a still-hot LZ with exposed friendlies.
I want you to make sure this is heading
the correct way up the command chain.
You tell 'em this is not as easy
as it looks 9,000 miles away.
Janine, I'm sorry to keep you waiting.
There's a vote up now, so I...
Can I just...?
In 1991, my network, ANX,
was bought by a corporation best known
for selling soap and light bulbs.
Overnight, we went from an organisation
preoccupied with gathering news
to a business unit
preoccupied with ad revenue and ratings.
A windsock. And I knew it.
When I signed my contract, I knew it.
I thought I could keep my autonomy.
I thought that raise they gave me
meant they were still committed to,
uh, hard news, but anyway...
Janine, sit, please.
- Thank you for that.
- It's just the truth.
How can I...?
How can I verify the results of this mission?
You won't embed press with troops?
- No. No. There's no room.
Special Forces travel fast and light. I can
provide infrared and gun-camera footage.
Oh, great. Those are always
the most popular downloads.
will come directly from me to you.
Great. Thank you.
Now let me kill the good feeling.
Forward operating points don't work.
They will work.
Have you... Has the president
contemplated surging the troops
in support of this strategy,
if it's necessary?
is stretched pretty thin right now.
Maybe you'll send kids
that didn't sign up?
A draft? No, no, no.
We don't need it.
We have everything we need
to break the enemy right now,
except the public will to do it.
That's where you come in.
How do we know
you're going to get it right this time?
You know, people are very mistrustful.
we had the whole world on our side.
Six years later we're stumbling through
one of the worst times to be an American.
hyperbole is not gonna do us...
Nobody is monitoring our patriotism here.
You have to admit, this is one of the five
worst times to fly the Stars and Stripes.
- People need...
- A win, Janine.
The people, the president, me,
we all need a win in Afghanistan.
Winning allows our public to refocus.
Winning gets Congress
back in the mood to talk instead of yell.
- It helps Afghanistan.
- Goes without saying.
And it helps your party.
We are the party that represents security,
the power that this country is known for.
The party that signals
to tyrants the world over
that the USA has the stomach
and stamina to finish our fights.
Do you want to win, Janine?
- Do you want to win the war on terror?
Yes or no?
- Yes or no?
- It's a broad...
OK. See this? This is the quintessential
yes-or-no question of our time.
Equivocation is defeat.
You stop and you're dead.
The only option for America...
- How much ammo do they have left?
- How the fuck would I know?
- Why aren't the Tali hitting them?
- To get them to empty their clips.
Keep me posted.
It's just covering fire!
Save your ammo!
I'll tell you what, I'm sick and tired, Janine.
I am sick and tired of being humiliated.
Over and over again we have allowed
our great country to be threatened
by these little tribal ragtag... gangs.
And it's going to stop.
Do you realise what we've got?
Do you realise what our capability is?
Because God knows...
breaks my heart
to ask the men and women in uniform
to risk their lives for this victory...
when I know in my gut
there is no other way to that end.
Not with this enemy.
Not with their medieval beliefs.
But the solace that I can
provide the families of our fallen,
with absolute conviction...
is that at least
their lives were about something.
Now, to tax internet transactions
or not tax internet transactions,
that is the question.
My notes, please.
- This is your strategy, is it not, sir?
- It is the product of new-school thinking.
You are the school. You have the ear of the
president more than the defence secretary.
- So if it succeeds with your name on it,
it's a great way of separating yourself out
from the rest of the pack in your party
who would like to be president.
Let me state this as loudly as possible.
I'm not running for president.
This has been a good hour.
This is a big story, and it's yours.
This is my direct number.
Call if you have any questions.
- Thank you.
- Marcia, could you come in?
- Any idea how many left?
- A dozen or more.
Phone the A-10. Tell him to make runs
until he's out of ammo.
ETA on the rescue bird is six minutes.
Put me back on with the pilot.
Can they see us?
- Is it over?
- For us if they lived!
So I'm supposed to go implement
Arian and Ernie's junior-year project,
even though that thing
sounds like a fairy tale to me?
- You gave them an A for that?
- I gave them a B plus.
- B plus. They were loose on stats.
I heard. Why don't you tell me
about students who got an A?
Cos I don't remember them right now.
So attendance is a prerequisite for you,
but grades aren't?
You're onto the secret now, Todd.
It's called potential.
That's a far better signal
of what you might do
than getting an A in some class
you might forget about in two years.
Sounds a lot like what kids with 2.4s
tell themselves to justify all the Cs.
Neither got Cs.
- Maybe both got blue-collar Bs.
- Not by quitting.
Are you happy they're over there?
Todd, I told you twice,
I did everything I could to stop them.
- But revered why they didn't?
So I'm supposed to listen to your advice,
this direction you're trying to give me,
even though the two you've been
telling me about... didn't listen?
They went ahead.
They did what they were gonna do anyway.
And maybe, just maybe,
you might be dropping the hammer on me
because of how... how rarely you find
a student you think is worth the time,
and how often, it sounds like...
you failed at getting through
once you did find those students.
Actually, the failing
started about ten, maybe 15, years ago.
You know, the truth is, Todd, I used
to knock meetings like this out of the park.
- What changed?
- You. Students sitting across from me.
Cos we're shrewd,
we see how things work,
cos we don't want to die
for these pieces of shit.
You put as much distance between yourself
and the real world as you can.
Pieces of shit -
how many times you gonna say that? -
they bank on your apathy,
they bank on your wilful ignorance.
They plan strategies around it, figure out
what they can get away with because of it.
So blame me for it all. Blame me, because
I might just want to live the good life
because I can
because I'm smart enough to.
Are you gonna blame me because
I don't wanna work elbow to elbow with you
on a goddamn collective farm?
Doc, you are sounding
a hell of a lot like my parents.
They harp on how they're
giving me a better life than they had
and then they resent the shit out of me
cos I got the nerve to enjoy it.
Todd, what good is a $90,000 Benz
if there's not only
not enough gas in the tank
but the streets and highways are decaying
to the point of becoming Third World?
If all your rants about Congress and politics
are true, Todd,
if things are really bad,
as bad as you say they are,
when thousands of American troops
are dead and more are dying as we speak,
you tell me,
how can you enjoy the good life?
Rome is burning, son, and the problem
is not with the people that started this.
They're past irredeemable.
The problem's with us - all of us -
who do nothing, who just fiddle, who try
to manoeuvre around the edges of the flame.
And I'll tell you something, there are people
out there fighting to make things better.
You think it's better to try and fail
than fail to try?
- But what if you end up in the same place?
At least you did something.
Thanks for knocking.
What did l'enfant terrible want?
- One-on-one time. Whole hour.
- An hour? Jesus. A beating or a story?
A big new military move
launched as we sat there.
An exclusive? Damn. Details.
Let's get the basics up on the scroll
right away. What's the action?
- Janine. Hello?
- It stinks.
I mean, I don't know. I just came away
with a bad feeling. It just... it feels...
It feels? Are you being paid to investigate
your feelings? Just give me the facts.
- You know, we can't do this again.
- Do what again?
We can't just buy
the whole little programme
like we did for the run-up at the fir...
Oh, please. Stand back
while my fucking head detonates.
- This is your guy, right?
- He's not my guy.
He goes right to you. He's handing you
an exclusive. He's giving you a fucking gift.
It's not a gift. It's propaganda.
We don't have to broadcast
everything the government wants.
No, we broadcast news.
The launch of a new military move is news.
Are you feeling a teensy conscience attack
here? Isn't it a little late for that?
Come on. What is the story?
What is the move?
Are you old enough to remember
The Who? The Who.
- And young enough to listen to 'em.
- Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss...
It's the Vietnam-era thinking
and they just repackaged.
They're gonna send out small platoons,
these kids, as bait. It's the same...
No, no. That is speculation.
We do not air speculation, OK?
No, no. It's these guys.
They're so desperate for a way out, see.
They're so desperate to change the subject
from Iraq, they're so desperate for a win,
that they're listening to Irving, and I don't
blame them because, boy, he is good.
But he doesn't have a plan
for the day after the attack. No.
I mean, he'll croon about hearts and minds,
but it's all helicopters and marines.
That's what... Jesus. Anyway,
he couldn't care less about the soft stuff.
This whole thing is a strategic... it's
a lubricant to get him into the White House.
So what? So the guy's ambitious.
So what? Wait. Janine, are you letting
your politics cloud your reasoning?
I'm just trying to do my job.
Your job is to report verifiable facts
so I can put 'em on the goddamn screen.
There are none! OK?
There are no embeds up there.
We have to just take his word for it. It's just...
How can you stand it so hot in here?
But I'll tell you something.
He does have a plan for after the election.
And it's not the long, slow peace process.
No, no, no, no.
These boys have toys on the high shelf
they've not been allowed
to use for 50 years.
- He says, "I'm sick of being humiliated..."
- Don't start that nuclear paranoia bullshit.
Find out what a real
winning noise sounds like.
He said this to me. I have it. I have it.
"Whatever it takes to win."
Here it is. See? "Whatever it takes."
Great, great. Can you please just...
just calm down, OK? Calm down.
Look, it seems to me
like Irving has a plan
to go after the guys
who attacked us, OK?
Now, our viewers will believe
that's a good thing. So do I.
What happened to you, Howard?
Time was you would take a punch at anybody
if you thought it was justified.
You were good once.
Yeah, and I didn't think I'd live past 40,
either. Come on, Janine.
You can't leave me hanging out here
by myself. You just can't do that to...
Wrong. I just can't do this. You turn in
some loony, speculative, what-if story
based on what? A woman's intuition?
I expected more from you, Janine.
Yeah, you expected me
to turn in a tidy time line.
- That's right.
- If we don't do this, who's gonna do it?
This is the job! These politicians,
these journalists, everybody that says:
"Oh, well, if we'd known then what
we know now..." It's bullshit! It's bullshit.
It was all right there. We knew it,
if we had bothered to connect the dots.
But we didn't, did we?
We just rolled over, right?
So what happens
if you're wrong, Janine? Huh?
Listen to me. You're 57 years old.
You got a mother
that needs 24-hour care now.
What other network
is gonna snap you up after this, huh?
- All I'm asking...
- Just don't put me in this position, OK?
Your version of this story will never
see the light of day and you know it.
Well, I can't write the one that he gave me.
Well, I think you ought to think that over.
- Get to me!
- I'm digging!
Get to me!
Get back there, make another pass
and clean those fucking Talis out.
Read the sign.
Are we done?
Here's my last bit, so bear with me.
The decisions you make now,
bud, can't be changed
but with years and years
of hard work to redo it.
And in those years
you become something different.
Everybody does as time passes.
You get married, you get into debt.
But you're never gonna be
the same person you are right now.
And promise and potential...
It's very fickle.
And it just might not be there any more.
Are you assuming
I already made a decision?
And also that I'll live to regret it?
All I'm saying is that you're an adult now.
And the tough thing
about adulthood is that it...
it starts before you even know it starts,
when you're already
a dozen decisions into it.
But what you need to know, Todd,
no lifeguard's watching any more.
You're on your own.
You're your own man,
and the decisions you make now are yours
and yours alone from here until the end.
I'm sorry. The sign says till eight
and it's way after eight.
- Yes. Sorry.
- So, what, you don't want my decision?
Class meets again Tuesday at nine.
I'll find out then.
- OK, Muna. What...?
- The grade you gave me can't be right.
You mean a C plus? Excuse me.
Close the door behind you.
Let's see. So... Ah.
Rescue's not gonna be here in time.
Get outta here. Get outta here. Go on.
You can move. Climb down.
Not even if there was a ladder.
Not like this.
Not laying down.
Help me up.
Help me up.
- Hey, man.
You going to astronomy today?
JD's organising a Madden tourney.
- The fuck you doing up so early?
- Meeting with Malley.
Los Angeles affiliate KZDZ
is reporting that pop singer Fate
has this morning finally filed for divorce
from rapper husband Bully-Dog,
after Fate and Bully-Dog's now notorious
Pacific Rim tour last summer
when Fate was recorded
asking a Japanese reporter
how long the bus ride
from Tokyo to Beijing would be.
Up next we have our lead story...
What did you guys talk about?
Is he failing you?
- He is failing you, isn't he?
- No, he's not failing me.
What, do you already know
what you're getting?
You know what you're getting?
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