"Coward! Monster! Vicious brute!" These are the dulcet tones of character actress Dana Ivey, and she's reading a bit of anti-liquor verse at a local temperance rally. The rest of it, pious and judgy (though also with an eye on the public good) though it may be: "Friend to thief and prostitute. Conscience dulled by demon rum. Liquor, thy name's Delirium!" Applause rings out from her audience, composed entirely women, but for one man: Mr. Nucky Thompson, county treasurer, doing his best to appear grave and keep his eyes from rolling too visibly. Dana Ivey welcomes Nucky ("the honorable Enoch Thompson") takes the podium -- in front of one banner that reads "Lips That Have Touched Liquor Will Never Touch Mine" -- and proceeds to give a speech of such clear-eyed horseshit, I'm tempted to elect him right now. Don't care what office; I hear the great state of Delaware will accept just about anybody, let's make this happen. Nucky's speech is I guess supposed to be another screed against the demon rum, and while this story of a boy whose father was ruined by alcohol and abandoned his family does meet that standard, the thrust of Nucky's tale is the boy. The boy who struggled and scraped and suffered, only to scrounge a meal full of wharf rats (Temperance Ladies: "GASP!") for his family. But they survived. The boy survived. And he grew up to be the man who stands before them today, looking shorter, paler, and with more of a Peter Lorre thing going on than you'd expect out of your charismatic local demigod, but he'll do. Nucky closes his nominally anti-booze speech with a plea for women's suffrage that is the 1920s equivalent of a windmill slam dunk.
From the back of a room, a young-ish guy -- Jimmy -- watches Nucky and seems to be taking this all in in spite of himself. In fact, as he walks with Nucky to the car afterwards, he tells his boss that he ate some desperate stuff but never rats. Nucky turns around and tells Jimmy what the rest of us could've: he should never let the truth get in the way of a good story. That's good advice, wouldn't you say, historical accuracy on TV nitpickers?
Jimmy then drives Nucky down to the boardwalk, where carnival barker types advertise showgirls on the street and the staggering masses wander from one attraction to the next. Around the corner, a New Orleans-style marching band -- in very classy blackface -- leads a mock-funeral procession for a giant bottle of whiskey. I'd say "Fun's over," but nobody seems all that worried about it. Well, maybe this guy pushing a baby carriage full of scotch down the boardwalk while his wife carries their baby.