From Alex Z. Rogers on
By Alex Rogers
EXCERPTS FROM THE NEXT EPIC PRESIDENTIAL BIOPIC: WARREN G. HARDING Hollywood, why do we have another movie about Lincoln reaping the critical acclaim when we as a nation have yet to honor Warren G. Harding with a single appearance on film or television? I aim to change that with my script for HARDING, ALSO A PRESIDENT. WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE OFFICE – DAY WARREN G. HARDING, having just won an unprecedented landslide victory, gazes out over the white house lawn from his window. He sees a country still recovering from a long and bloody war in Europe, a nation adjusting to Prohibition, a nation rife with labor unrest between unions and industrialists. Harding straightens his back, as if girding himself for the trials ahead, and promptly walks into the office closet to have sex with a secretary. HARDING Let’s make history. WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE OFFICE – DAY Warren G. Harding is seated at his desk, looking grave. The Secretary of State stands at the opposite side of the desk. HARDING How bad is it? SECRETARY Bad sir. They’re calling it a scandal. A Teapot Dome scandal. HARDING My God. SECRETARY This is probably the worst Teapot Dome scandal the country has ever seen. HARDING How could this happen… I pressed for naval disarmament, goddamn it! SECRETARY How could I forget that? How could anyone forget that? Harding goes over to his liquor cabinet for a quick drink to steady his nerves. He then remembers he doesn’t have a liquor cabinet because it’s Prohibition and alcohol is illegal. HARDING Shit. INT. WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE OFFICES – DAY Warren G. Harding is strangling his old friend, Charles Forbes. HARDING You double-crossing bastard! Another guest rushes in and saves Forbes’ life. GUEST My God, Mr. President! Why did you nearly kill Charles Forbes? Who is Charles Forbes? HARDING Well, you see, after I established the Department of Veteran Affairs- GUEST Never mind, actually. I don’t want to know. INT. WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE OFFICES – DAY Warren G. Harding signs an amendment to the Farm Loan Act of 1916. HARDING History will not soon forget our actions today. CUT TO Harding asleep at his desk, dreaming. He wakes up with a start. HARDING That Farm Loan Act of 1916 dream again. INT. JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER’S MANSION – NIGHT 81-year-old John D. Rockefeller, the great oil baron, sits in a giant plush chair eating dates. This is all happening while Warren G. Harding is president. INT. WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE OFFICES – DAY Warren Harding stands near his desk. The Secretary of State and his doctor stand nearby. DOCTOR Sir, you cannot go to Alaska. It’s not a place any president has ever visited before. HARDING Then who will they send man? There are no other presidents! SECRETARY But we just don’t know what the consequences could be. You could die! Harding walks over to the fireplace, the flames reflecting off his face. Is that the furrowed brow of hesitation or grim perseverance? HARDING Ready my train. DOCTOR But sir, you’re heart- HARDING I said, ready my train! Tears form in the eyes of the Secretary, who historically was not prone to crying. SECRETARY Mr. President. Both the doctor and Secretary give a salute. INT. WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE OFFICE – NIGHT Mrs. Warren Harding stands near her husband’s desk. The Secretary of State and Director of the Budget Bureau. DOCTOR The president is dead. MRS. HARDING How did he die? SECRETARY As he lived. DOCTOR Or maybe a heart attack. Mrs. Harding girds herself. She will not cry. MRS. HARDING Gentlemen. I must go bury my husband, the man who gave us the Shepperd-Towner Maternity Act. SECRETARY Yes. That. Mrs. Harding leaves the room. After a moment, the doctor and Secretary of State breathe a sigh of release. SECRETARY God that woman is ugly. DOCTOR The ugliest first lady I have ever seen. The two men then solemnly divide up the remaining bootleg whiskey hidden in Harding’s desk.