With the warning about the following show's being for teen or adult viewers, we are treated to a stunning view of the Capitol building surrounded by a fiery pink sunset.
So the opening is a bunch of speeded-up film shots of D.C.: We've got the Capitol building under construction here, the reflecting pool there, glimpse of the Washington Monument with its neat drop-cloth thingy, you get the idea. Impressive amount of stock footage to make us forget that most of it was filmed in Toronto.
A voice -- that we'll soon come to know as Mason's -- tells us a "secret" about D.C.: "It's not just the Senators and the Congressmen who make this town go. You know who makes this place really hum? It's us, the people behind them. We're the only ones with enough energy to write the laws, run the committees, party 'til three and then do it all again the next day." I thought he said he was going to tell us a secret. That's the same story all over, no matter what the job. Mason tells us that he works for William Abbott, the senior Senator of Virginia (the real sr. Sen. of Virginia is the Republican ex-husband of Liz Taylor, John Warner) as a legislative correspondent. That means, Mason goes on to explain, that he answers phones, reads mail, "and, when the situation calls for it, run[s his] ass off." But all that blood, sweat and tears pay off when he gets to walk onto the floor of the U.S. Senate to deliver a message. Of course, his "television debut," as he puts it, is shown to us as live C-SPAN footage. "That's me, I swear it." The camera magnifies enough for us to see a blurry white man wearing a dark suit. This excites Mason, greatly: "I mean, just think, six months ago I was eating dorm food and downing Jell-O shots. And look at me now, I'm in Congress!" Excuse me, can we get a judge's ruling on this: who lives in the dorm their senior year?
Shots of downtown Washington, D.C. for the credits. I wish I lived in Toronto so I could identify all the fake scenes.
Mason, the legislative correspondent, grabs a bagel and coffee and thinks, "Gee, political life is swell," as he hoofs it to the Capitol for work. At the metal detector, a security guard checks everyone's I.D. but our hero's. He just smiles at Mason, pats him on the shoulder, and waves him through. The wait at the elevator is six politicians deep, so our inventive legislative correspondent shows ingenuity and takes the stone spiral staircase. Time for a wardrobe check. My advisors have told me that Capitol Hill is sartorially very formal. No khakis, denim shirts, mismatched pants and jacket, etc. Mason seems to pass the wardrobe scan. He's sporting a darkish suit, and, as his letter-writing heats up, he drapes his coat over the chair. Mason's supervisor drops a thick stack of letters on his desk.
Mason is incredulous: "These can't all be for us!" His supervisor replies, "Not for us. For the endangered red ring-tailed squirrel of Jackson Forest. I want three replies. Jackson one: 'I am just as concerned about the environment as you are.' Jackson two: 'My support for responsible industry is unparalleled.' Jackson three: 'Jobs, jobs, jobs, I understand and I'm working my ass off.'" Kind of takes the zing out of writing that well-thought-out, stinging letter to your Senator. Mason asks how soon the letters need to be ready, and his supervisor tells him by noon. Mason asks, "Can I get Chang?" and they both turn to an anxious-looking young intern who's holding a sheaf of papers and standing uncertainly in the middle of the room. Mason's super asks, "Chang, what are you doing?" "Robert told me to hold onto this until he got back," the intern answers. Mason asks, "How long has he been gone?" "About an hour," Chang replies. Mason and his supervisor trade looks. "Chang, you're with Mason," the super orders. Poor Chang looks frightened, but he doesn't want to disobey a superior, so he places the papers on the floor to mark where he stood for an hour waiting for Robert. Mason crafts beautifully-worded letters packed with political assurances, while his supervisor sits at his desk and gnaws on his lunch. He finishes his last letter and hits "print" just as someone announces: "Incoming!" and we see the Senior Senator of Virginia, wearing a red power tie, making his way to his offices in slow-motion with his entourage. He's ten minutes early. Mason's supervisor trundles over and demands the letters. There's nothing more calculated to incite widespread panic than to have an onion-breathing legislative aide screeching "Come on, come on!" at you. Mason tears the first letter out of his printer and hands it over. A printer error shows up on Mason's monitor and the office begins to look like a Degree anti-perspirant commercial. Mason fixes the jam and pulls out the other two letters. The Senator walks into his office, and legislative aides close up the gap left behind him. Mason's superior tries to wriggle through with his red ring-tailed squirrel letters, "Senator --" but the Senator says, "Talk to Robert," who brushes the onion-breathing supervisor off saying, "Not now," impatiently. The Senatorial entourage leaves the office, en masse and in slow motion. Don't they have rubber stamp signatures for letters like that, or are they trying to convince us that Senators and Congressmen really hand-sign letters?