''The Distinguished Gentleman'' is a 1992 comedy film starring Creator/EddieMurphy as [[NamedAfterSomebodyFamous Thomas Jefferson Johnson]], a professional {{con man}} from Florida who discovers that he [[OneSteveLimit shares part of his name]] with a [[OutWithABang recently deceased]] Congressman. When he learns that people will give him money to run for office and money to vote for things, and he gets to keep it all, "Jeff Johnson" embarks on the biggest con of his life.

When he arrives in Washington, though, he discovers that he's small potatoes compared to the corruption that is endemic to politics, and his [[EveryoneHasStandards long-buried conscience]] leads him to embark on another con: to expose the ''real'' fraud in America.


* AlterKocker: Johnson claims to have learned [[YiddishAsASecondLanguage his fluent Yiddish]] from old Jewish folks on the beaches of Miami, and pretends to be such a person while campaigning in a Jewish neighborhood. In one meet-and-greet, he flatters an old Jewish lady by talking to her in Yiddish.
* BlackComedy: While the obvious comedy is a black man scamming his way into Congress by pretending to be a popular, dead, white guy, there is a much darker and more serious use of satire when he gets there and sees just how corrupt the place is.
* EngineeredPublicConfession: Johnson's scheme is to get the crooked Congressmen to discuss their backroom deal in front of a video camera, then [[spoiler:play it back in front of a full session of the House of Representatives]].
* EveryoneHasStandards: While Johnson is not evil, he is unquestionably a criminal. Then he goes to Washington and meets the ''real'' criminals. This horrifies him so much that he decides to expose them at the cost of his own career.
* GreenAesop: The cancer victim's mother who accosts Johnson believes that high-voltage power lines near their neighborhood are responsible and wants him to vote for an environmental bill regulating them. This triggers his long-dormant conscience and starts him down the path of redemption.
* HoneyTrap: Johnson's [[TheCon basic scam]], seen in the opening, is to bait a prominent man with illicit sex, then have the woman's "husband" or "lover" show up and blackmail him with exposure -- an old con known as the "badger game". Johnson takes it a step further by showing up in the guise of an FBI agent and arresting the "con artists". He'll hustle them right off to jail, but the mark is going to be subpoenaed as a witness. This, of course, is exactly what the mark doesn't want, so he "bribes" Johnson to keep his name out of the press.
* KansasCityShuffle: Johnson's specialty. Both his normal con and [[spoiler: the EngineeredPublicConfession he sets up]] are this in a nutshell. His HoneyTrap is effective enough, but then he comes in and "catches" the other two members of his group, explaining the con to his mark and letting them think that they're in control again. [[spoiler: In the confession, he causes the chairman and lobbyist to panic by claiming to have taped their earlier conversation, even ''bringing the camera into the room with him'', and acts defeated when they discover it's a bluff. Of course, he doesn't mention that this camera is ''rolling''...]]
* JerkassFacade: At first, Johnson treats being in Congress as a lark and happily acts like what he thinks a stereotypical Congressman should be, voting frivolously, dissing constituents, and sucking up to lobbyists. Then it starts to hit home that he's toying with real people's lives.
* LittlestCancerPatient: The event that finally breaks through Johnson's JerkassFacade is when a cancer-stricken child and her mother show up in his office. It takes this for him to realize that he was elected to represent people who place their hopes and dreams in him.
* MagicalSecurityCam: {{Averted|Trope}} and PlayedForLaughs -- Johnson places his video camera right out in the open, but sideways so that his marks won't realize it's turned on. [[spoiler:Then everyone has to tilt their heads when he plays it back until someone gets the bright idea to turn the TV on its side.]]
* MeaninglessMeaningfulWords: Johnson's acceptance speech consists of mindless, shamelessly plagiarized drivel that the crowd eats with a spoon.
* NamedAfterSomebodyFamous: Johnson's mother named him "UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson" in the hopes that he'd accomplish something important in his life. Ironically, he actually does.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: The first time he votes, Johnson doesn't even bother to find out what it's for, since he's having too much fun just being in Congress. On a whim, he pushes "No". Then he encounters a public tour whose guide asks him about his vote and confronts him with the knowledge that it was a welfare bill. Oops.
* OneSteveLimit: {{Invoked|Trope}} by Johnson when he realizes that he shares a name with a recently deceased Congressman. As long as he doesn't show any pictures of himself, people will just tick off the box on the ballot.
* OutWithABang: At the same party where Jefferson Johnson (the protagonist) is pulling his con, Jeff Johnson (the Congressman) has a heart attack while boffing his secretary.
* PyrrhicVictory: To expose the crooked Congressmen, Johnson must admit to being a crook himself, presumably ending his career, although the ending leaves open the possibility that he might survive this.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney:
** In a darkly satirical take on the trope, a lobbyist helps Johnson pick his positions by telling him about the money that various interest groups will offer him for espousing them.
** The back-room deal that Johnson exposes involves influence peddling and bribery: a Congressman selling his vote against the environmental bill in exchange for illicit campaign donations.
* ViewersAreGoldfish: {{Invoked|Trope}} by Johnson, whose campaign counts on the fact that people are used to voting for "Jeff Johnson" and won't remember that he died.
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: Johnson is utterly flabbergasted to discover that Congressmen (some of them, at least) are getting elected by people who have absolutely no idea about the awful stuff they pull behind the scenes.
* VoiceChangeling: Everybody in Johnson's group is skilled at this, especially Johnson himself, who is shown putting on no fewer than five different voices while campaigning for office.
* YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Johnson learned it on the beaches of Miami as a kid, and he uses it in his campaign to attract the Jewish vote.
* YouRemindMeOfX: When Elijah Hawkins calls Tom out on his con-artist ways, Tom is about to make typical snarky remark, [[OOCIsSeriousBusiness but stops.]]
--> '''Tom:''' You know, just then you reminded me of my father. ... He used to say I was a scumbag, too.