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Daniel In The Lion's Den

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Heathen: D | Grade It Now!
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Who Am I? I'm Jean Valjean!

Benton calls Beth, referring to her as his "lovely and talented teaching assistant" so that we know she's a superstar and not some lowly student-slave. Whatever. She's still his lackey. "Honey, I need you to drive up to New Hampshire for me," Wallace says, sending Beth to Henniker College to enquire about Minton. Beth hangs up on Wallace after he demands that she go immediately. Wallace is confused about whether she's actually going, until he looks at his desk and sees Beth's spine sitting in his pencil-jar next to a slide-rule and a Liquor Mart Preferred Customer ballpoint pen. Yup, she went.

A librarian hands Beth the Henniker yearbooks from 1968 through 1972. Beth tells her she's seeking information about Danny Minton, and the librarian pipes up that she knew him well -- he was engaged to a townie but went to Vietnam instead of the Honeymoon Suite. "I remember when she got the news that Daniel was killed in action..." the librarian recalls. Beth's head snaps up so hard that she gets instant whiplash.

Wallace and Minton stroll down a New York street under the premise of engaging in a Ledger-sponsored revelatory "real guy" interview. First query: Mets or Yankees? Minton stalls, but under pressure he weaves one of those trite magic-of-baseball moments that involves a foul ball, a home run from a legend, James Earl Jones in a cornfield, and Dad getting so hammered that he dumps beer all over himself and the woman behind him. Question two: who is Minton's barber? He lies that he doesn't have one. Benton presses ahead. "So, you graduate from Henniker College, you go to Vietnam and die in combat...then what?" he asks cheekily. No, I mean that. His cheeks are out of control. They practically force his eyes shut when he smiles. Minton groans that Wallace is awfully thorough, then tells a story. In 1968, at Columbia University, a "big red-haired kid" called Phillip O'Hare got arrested for throwing a rock at a mounted police officer during an anti-Vietnam demonstration. The horse reared, throwing the cop, who got injured. "Up to and including that moment, [O'Hare] had never committed an act of violence in his life," Minton intones. O'Hare was sentenced to five years in prison. It dawns on Wallace that Minton is Phillip O'Hare. It dawns on Victor Hugo that Minton is Jean Valjean, and this is plagiarism. "Phillip was naïve enough to believe that what Thomas Jefferson laid down as a blueprint for civilization was brilliant beyond corruption," Minton booms. Yes, Danny, we hear the people sing. Inspector Javert -- er, Wallace -- asks again whether Minton and O'Hare are one and the same. Minton says that, off the record, yes he is indeed Phillip O'Hare. "For the record, there is no off the record," Wallace reminds him ominously. It's always very helpful, and totally fair, to point this out after someone admits something irreversibly incriminating. I guess that's how to be an investigative reporter. It's also how to get yourself sued. Memo to Wallace: use a tape recorder.

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