(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell)


TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but high above the quiet streets, on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions -- Guy Noir, private eye.


GK: I was in my office, I'd been there all week, chained to my radio, unable to move, waiting for news from Florida, it was like a Shakespeare play, The Tragedy of George II.

TR (RUSSIAN): You must get outside. Exercise, Mr. Noir. You look pallid.

GK: My neighbor at the Acme Building, Dr. Ouspenskaya, was worried about me and kept dropping in with cabbage soup and pork dumplings.

TR (RUSSIAN): Election fraud. It's nothing to get upset about.

GK: But I couldn't help it. Every time I heard that guy on the radio, I got all riled up inside.

SS (ON RADIO): Governor Bush, what's your objection to counting the votes in Florida?

TR (BUSH, ON RADIO): Well, it's just not as simple as that. Depends on what you mean by "count". Also what you mean by "in". And "the". What are "the votes"? I think we need to proceed in an orderly way. That's been my position from the beginning, that we shouldn't rush into this until we know what the outcome is going to be.

SS (ON RADIO): But there seem to be fourteen thousand uncounted ballots and about fifteen thousand questionable absentee ballots that local officials allowed Republican workers to come in and fill out. What do you say about that?

TR (BUSH ON RADIO): Electoral reform is an issue that I intend to study very closely as President and I've asked my brother to head up a presidential commission to look into this. We're not going to be rushed into some (CLICK OF RADIO)----

GK: Awwwwww. What can you do? (SCRAPE OF CHAIR, SLOW PACING ON FLOOR) So stunning. People stealing an election in broad daylight. It just takes your breath away. The best margin Bush could hope for was 537. That was the high water mark. He could've had a statewide recount but he had a hunch down deep in his loafers that Gore had more votes than he cared to know about. So Bush draws the line in the sand at 537 and he sets out to win the thing through obstruction, and count on the forgetfulness of the American people and everybody looking forward to Christmas. And even if a judge did do the right thing, the Florida legislature is prepared to nullify the votes of six million people and name a Republican slate of electors. And then you've got a real constitutional crisis---- (KNOCKS ON DOOR) Yeah! Come in, the door's unlocked.

TK (TEEN): I brought your paper, Mr. Noir.

GK: Oh, thanks, Wendell. Maybe I better take my medication before I read it.

TK (TEEN): Something wrong, Mr. Noir?

GK: Yeah. The Republicans are stealing the White House. They're betting that a groundswell of inertia will sweep Mr. Bush into office, and that in six months we'll forget about it.

TK (TEEN): That's twenty-five cents, Mr. Noir.

GK: Can you break a twenty, Wendell?

TK (TEEN): No, I can't.

GK: Okay, then how about I pay you tomorrow?

TK (TEEN): I think I've heard this before, Mr. Noir.

GK: See you tomorrow. (BRIDGE) Shakespeare is the one who could do this story justice. Shakespeare knew about men with weak minds and big ambitions. Shakespeare would've done great things with George W.


Hark, Cheney. See yonder where the Duke of Powell
Doth advance across the lawn, well-garbed in
Garments of sport, so as to lend
A casual air to larceny.
A pleasant demeanor, smile and deign not to speak.
Smile and stay behind the ropes.
Let distance make us statesmanlike, and soon
We shall ride in stately triumph to the Capitol and
With comely modesty allow the crown
Descend upon my curly head. (BRIDGE)
GK: I couldn't bear to hear more on the radio, so I headed across the street to the Five Spot (DOOR OPEN, JINGLE, CLOSE, FOOTSTEPS) and there was Jimmy behind the bar, listening to the radio-----

TR (BUSH, ON RADIO): I think the American people are ready to move on. The American people are tired of all this bickering. The fact is that Dick Cheney and I are going to be the next president and vice-president of the United States.

SS (ON RADIO): Which of you is going to be which?

TR (BUSH, ON RADIO): I don't understand the question.

GK: Hey, Jimmy---- do you mind? Shut it off. (CLICK OF RADIO) Thank you. I need a break. I've been thinking about nothing but Florida for two weeks.

TR (JIMMY): Care for an orange juice?

GK: No. Gimme the usual.

TR (JIMMY): One martini with a soybean coming up. (SFX. POURING, SHAKING, POURING)

GK: Burns me up to see this election being stolen out from under our noses, Jimmy.

TR (JIMMY): Awwww. The Republicans are hungry to get in. You can't blame em. Eight years.

GK: Fair elections are nothing to take lightly, Jimmy.

TR (JIMMY): It's over.

GK: Fair elections are what distinguish us from those republics run by fat guys with a chestful of medals.

TR (JIMMY): It's history.

GK: It's a lousy way to start your administration. You can look as presidential as you can, but the smell does not go away.

TR (JIMMY): A year from now, nobody's going to care.

GK: His lawyers down in Tallahassee and that legislature and his brother, they're writing the guy's political epitaph. It's the epitaph of tyrants down through history. He Didn't Dare Let The Votes Be Counted. That's it. Short and sweet. He Didn't Dare Count the Votes.

TR (JIMMY): Awwwwwww.

GK: What do you mean, awwwwww??

TR (JIMMY): What would history be without scoundrels? Huh? There'd be no Anglican church, no America, no Shakespearean tragedy. Henry the Eighth was a jerk. But he gave us the Book of Common Prayer. Henry Frick cheated the steelworkers left and right, but he gave us the Frick Museum.

GK: So what is Mr. Bush going to give us?

TR (JIMMY): Hard to say.

GK: For what he's doing in Florida, he owes us the Louisiana Purchase, the theory of general relativity, and the Mona Lisa. And a cure for the common cold.

TR (JIMMY): Here's your martini.


SS: A dark night in the city that knows how to keep its secrets, but a light shines on the 12th floor of the Acme Building -- Guy Noir, Private Eye. (THEME UP AND OUT)

(c) 2000 by Garrison Keillor