Quotes / The American President

Janie: The 10:15 event has been moved inside to the Indian Treaty Room.
President Shepherd: 10:15 is American Fisheries?
Janie: Yes sir, they're giving you a two hundred pound halibut.
President Shepherd: Janie, make a note; we need to schedule more events where somebody gives me a really big fish.
Janie: Yes sir!
President Shepherd: Janie, I'm kidding.
Janie: ...Of course, sir.

Janie: Mr. Rothschild asked to have a moment with you this morning, sir.
President Shepherd: Is he upset about the speech last night?
Janie: He seemed... concerned.
President Shepherd: Well, it wouldn't be a Monday morning unless Lewis was concerned about something I did Sunday night.
[Elevator doors open]
Lewis: You skipped a whole paragraph.
President Shepherd: And Monday morning it is!

Lewis: Mr. President, I really do believe—
President Shepherd: Lewis, however much coffee you drink in the morning, I want you to reduce it by half.
Lewis: I don't drink coffee, sir.
President Shepherd: Hit yourself over the head with a baseball bat?

Janie: Happy birthday, Laura!
President Shepherd: [Loudly] Laura, happy birthday! [To Janie] I should send her flowers.
Janie: You already did, sir.

President Shepherd: Three years ago we were elected to the White House by one of the narrowest margins in history. Today, Kodak here tells us sixty-three percent of registered voters think we're doing a good job.
Leon Kodak: [Jokingly] Wait a sec. You- You wanted me to poll registered voters?
President Shepherd: The poll also tells us what we already know. We don't get our crime bill through Congress, those numbers are gonna be a memory. So starting today, we're shifting it into gear.
Robin McCall: Can I tell my morning press gaggle that gun control is—
A.J. MacInerney: Crime control, Robin. Gun control means that we're wimps and we're soft on crime.

Lucy Shepherd: What'cha got behind your back?
President Shepherd: I have a little surprise for you.
Lucy: Is it a dirt bike?
President Shepherd: [Chuckles] No. [Hands her a thick book]
Lucy: Is it a really old seventh-grade textbook of yours that you're gonna make me read cover to cover and discuss at dinner and drive me crazy with it's—
President Shepherd: Well, I'm not comfortable with the "really old" part, but everything else you said was true.

President Shepherd: Luce... take a look at this book. This is exciting stuff. It's about who we are, and what we want. Read what it says on the first page!
Lucy: "Property of Gilmore Junior High".
President Shepherd: The next page, Luce.
Lucy: "We the people... of the United States... in order to form a more perfect union—
President Shepherd: Now ya see what I mean, it grabs you right off the bat; this is a page turner!
Lucy: [Smiles in a way that says "sure, dad"] I can't wait.
President Shepherd: Well good, because its possible this subject may come up at dinner tonight.
Lucy: Do you see it as part of your job to torture me?
President Shepherd: No, just one of the perks. See you tonight, honey. [walks out]
Lucy: [Plays "Hail to The Chief" on trombone - poorly]
President Shepherd: [shakes head, smiling]

A.J.: Goodnight, Mr. President.
President Shepherd: A.J.
A.J.: Yes, sir.
President Shepherd: When we're out of the office... alone... you can call me Andy.
A.J.: ...I beg your pardon?
President Shepherd: You were the best man at my wedding for crying out loud, call me Andy!
A.J.: Whatever you say, Mr. President. Goodnight sir.
President Shepherd: ...Goodnight, A.J.

Sydney: [To guard] Hi; I'm Sydney Ellen Wade—
Susan: He just needs your driver's license.
Sydney: —I'm from Virginia—
Susan: He doesn't care.
Sydney: —I'm here for a meeting with Mr. MacInerney—
Susan: He doesn't need to know that.
Sydney: Forgive me! This is my first time at the White House. I'm trying to savor the Capra-esque quality.
Susan: He doesn't know what Capra-esque means.
Guard: Yeah I do. Frank Capra. Great American director, It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,... Sydney Ellen Wade of Virginia, knock 'em dead.

A.J.: ...Now the President is willing to go it alone on this, but he's asking for, and frankly he's expecting the full support of the GDC.
Sydney: The President's expecting our full support.
A.J.: Yes, he is.
Sydney: The President's dreaming, A.J. The President has—
Susan: SYDNEY—
[President Shepherd walks in behind Sydney, but motions for A.J. to remain seated]
Sydney:critically misjudged reality. If he honestly thinks that the environmental community is going to whistle a happy tune, while rallying support around this pitifully lame mockery of environmental leadership, just because he's a nice guy and he's done better than his predecessors, then your boss is the Chief Executive of Fantasyland!
President Shepherd: Let's take him out back and beat the shit out of him!
A.J.: Good morning Mr. President, how are you today?
President Shepherd: Couldn't be better. My apologies for the interruption; A.J. suggested I come by and say hello. You wouldn't be Sydney Ellen Wade by any chance, would you?
Sydney: [mortified] Mr. President, I'm... uh... don't know what to say. I... I'm speechless.
President Shepherd: All evidence to the contrary.

President Shepherd: Sydney?
Sydney: Yes sir?
President Shepherd: You have a second?
Sydney: Uh... Of course.
[They walk into the hall]
President Shepherd: I thought maybe we might talk in private, someplace less intimidating? [loudly] Janie? [to Sydney] This is Janie Basdin, my personal aid; Janie would you show Ms. Wade to the rec room, please.
Janie: This way.
President Shepherd: I'll be with you in a sec.
[Janie shows Sydney into the Oval Office]

President Shepherd: [walks in through side door] Sorry to keep you waiting.
Sydney: Mr. President, I—
President Shepherd: Is it all right if I call you Sydney?
Sydney: Of course. Mr. President—
President Shepherd: Have you ever been in the Oval Office?
Sydney: Ahh, ah, I've just been on the regular tour. Didn't make it through...
President Shepherd: I hear its pretty good.
Sydney: Mr. president, what you saw in there was nothing more than vanity run amok. I was trying showing off for a colleague who doesn't think very much of me. It would be a real injustice for you to hold the GDC accountable for my behavior today; on top of which, I am monumentally sorry for having insulted you like that.
President Shepherd: ...Are you under the impression I'm mad at you?
Sydney: Well... ah—
President Shepherd: Sydney, seldom does the day go by when I'm not burned in effigy.
Sydney: Not by a professional political operative standing thirty feet from he Oval Office!
President Shepherd: Nah, I'll grant you that.

President Shepherd: Listen, um... Are you hungry? I skipped breakfast; you wanna... have a doughnut? Coffee or something?
Sydney: [narrow-eyed stare] Sir, I'm a little intimidated by my surroundings; and yes, I have gotten off to a rocky and somewhat stilted beginning, but don't let that diminish the weight of my message. The GDC has been at every president for the last decade and a half, that global warming is a calamity; the effects of which will be second only to nuclear war. The best scientists in the world have given you every reason to take the GDC seriously, but I'm gonna give you one more. If you don't live up to the deal you just made, come New Hampshire we're gonna go shopping for a new candidate. [turns and stalks to the door]
President Shepherd: You can't do that, Sydney.
Sydney: With all due respect, Mr. President, who's going to stop me?
President Shepherd: Well if you go through that door, the United States Secret Service. That's my private office.
Sydney: Ah.
President Shepherd: You have to go out that door. Over there.

President Shepherd: Two ball in the side. [sinks it cleanly]
A.J.: Nice shot, Mr. president.
President Shepherd: "Nice shot Mr. President" You won't even call me by my name when we're playing pool?
A.J.: I will not do it playing pool, I will not do it in school. I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am.
President Shepherd: At ease, A.J., at ease!

A.J.: Also, Sydney Wade called.
[Shepherd fumbles shot; A.J. raises eyebrows]
President Shepherd: Sydney Wade?
A.J.: She wanted to apologies one more time for her behavior. 'Scuse me, sir. [clears throat] Three in the side.
President Shepherd: Did she say anything about me?
A.J.: Ms. Wade?
President Shepherd: When she called.
A.J.: Did she say anything about you?
President Shepherd: Well no, it was just that we had a... nice couple'a minutes together. She threatened me, I patronized her, we didn't have anything to eat but, ah, I thought there was a connection.
A.J.: 'Scuse me, sir. Thirteen in the corner.
President Shepherd: She didn't say anything about me?
A.J.: Well no sir, but I could pass her a note before study hall.
President Shepherd: ...Well tell me this. Hypothetically—
A.J.: I feel a nightmare coming on.
President Shepherd: What would happen if I called Sydney Wade and asked her to be my date at the state dinner on Thursday evening?
A.J.: ...You're not serious.
President Shepherd: Don't I sound serious?
A.J.: The President can't just go out on a date.
President Shepherd: Well why not? Jefferson did, Wilson did. Wilson was widowed during his first term, he met a woman named Edith Galt, he dated her, courted her, and married her. And somewhere in there he managed to form a League of Nations.
A.J.: Mr. President... This is an election year. If you're looking for female companionship, we can make certain arrangements that will ensure total privacy—
President Shepherd: I don't want you to get me a girl, A.J.; what is this, Vegas?!
A.J.: No sir, this is the White House.
President Shepherd: And I'm talking about something that is in no way a conflict with my oath of office. I'm a single adult! I met a woman who I'd like to see again socially. Now how is that different from what Wilson did?
A.J.: The difference is, he didn't have to be president on television. You said it yourself a million times. If there'd been a TV in every living room, sixty years ago, this country does not elect a man in a wheelchair.

President Shepherd: This is not the business of the American people.
A.J.: With all due respect sir, the American people have a funny way of deciding on their own what is, and is not their business.

President Shepherd: She didn't say anything about me?
A.J.: Well, she did say you were taller than she'd thought you'd be.
President Shepherd: Well that's something.

Sydney: [on phone] No Richard, no! No, I don't wanna hear your Andrew Shepherd impersonation.
Beth Wade: I wanna hear it.
Sydney: [on phone] ...I'm hanging up now, Richard. ...Ah, tonight I was gonna go to bed early and wake up when there's a new president. [hangs up, sighs] The president must think I'm a third-rate jerk.
Beth Wade: No, if he thinks you're a jerk, I'm sure he thinks you're a first-rate jerk.
Sydney: I tell you one thing, boy, I regrouped! You gotta give me that. I pulled it together at the end. I stood in the middle of the Oval Office and I made it absolutely clear that from now on he who doesn't take the GDC seriously does so at his peril!
Beth: And then you walked out the wrong door.
Sydney: Are you going to be throwing that at me the rest of my life?
Beth: That's my current plan, yes.

[apartment phone rings]
Sydney: Ah. That's gonna be Leo Solomon, he said he'll call at nine. [picks up phone] Hello?
President Shepherd: Yeah, hi, is this Sydney?
Sydney: Leo?
President Shepherd: No, this is Andrew Shepherd.
Sydney: [disbelievingly] Oh, its Andrew Shepherd! Yeah, you're hilarious, Richard. You're just a regular riot.
President Shepherd: No, this isn't Richard, this is Andrew Shepherd.
Sydney: Oh, yeah, I'm so glad you called, because I forgot to tell you today what a nice ass you have; I'm also impressed that you were able to get my phone number given the fact that I don't have a phone. Goodnight, Richard.
President Shepherd: No, this isn't Richard— [Sydney hangs up] [Shepherd stares at the phone] This used to be easier.

[apartment phone rings]
Sydney: I don't believe this!
Beth: You want me to deal with him?
Sydney: No way! I may choke in front of Shepherd; Richard Reynolds, I can handle. [picks up phone] Hello?
President Shepherd: Sydney?
Sydney: Are you learning impaired?
President Shepherd: Listen, do me a favor; hang up the phone.
Sydney: ...What?
President Shepherd: Hang up the phone, then dial 456-1414. When you get the White House operator, give her your name, and tell her you want to speak to the president. [hangs up]
Sydney: Oh my god... This isn't happening to me.
Beth: What's going on?
Sydney: No, it's not possible I did this twice in one day. [dials phone]
Operator: Good evening, the White House. [Beat] Hello?
Sydney: Hi! My name's Sydney Ellen Wade; I'd like to, ah—
Operator: The President's expecting your call, ma'am, I'll put you right through. [beep] [click]
President Shepherd: Hello.
Sydney: Mr. President. Um, I— I— I'm— sure there's an appropriate thing to say at this moment, um; probably some formal apology for the "nice ass" remark would be in order, I just... I don't quite know how to word it.
President Shepherd: Nah, it's my fault, I shouldn't have called you at home. Should I call you at the office tomorrow?
Sydney: No, no! Of course not! I mean yes, you can call me anytime you want. It— this is fine, right now is fine. When I said of course not I meant, y— You know what, the hell with it. I'm moving to another country.

President Shepherd: What did you mean when you said that you didn't have a phone?
Sydney: Oh, I just moved to Washington over the weekend, and my apartment isn't ready yet, this is my sister's apartment... come to think of it, how did you get this number?
President Shepherd: How did I get the number, that's a good question. Um... I don't know, probably the FBI.
Sydney: Oh the FBI. Sure! Cause... If you wanna find someone and you're the President, that's who you'd call!
President Shepherd: You know who else is good at that.
Sydney: Uh... CIA?
President Shepherd: Well yeah, but I was thinking of the, Internal Revenue Service; they have these computer files that, uh... Well, I [cough] should stop stalling. Um, as you probably know the French have elected themselves a new president, and we're having a formal state dinner at the White House and I was wondering, and uh, you're under no obligation at all but I thought it might be fun and I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go! With me, and uh... that's it, that's why I was calling.
Sydney: [expression of intense confusion]
President Shepherd: Sydney?
Sydney: [...]
President Shepherd: Sydney, Congress doesn't take this long.

Sydney: ...Mr. President. You have asked me to join you in representing our country. I'm honored, I'm, equal to the task, I won't let you down, Sir!
President Shepherd: Ah, Sydney, this is just dinner, we're not going to be doing espionage or anything.
Sydney: No, of course! I'm a little, um... ah... What do I do? [nervous laugh] I mean, you know, where do I go, I mean, would you- will you, meet me, should I—
President Shepherd: I'm gonna have a very nice woman named Marsha Bridgeport call you, and she's the White House Social Secretary and she's gonna help you with anything, You, Want. Now - when she calls you, and tells you her name is Marsha Bridgeport, it'll help if you give her the benefit of the doubt.

[Lucy is putting her dad's tie on him]
Shepherd: That's, that's a little tight, Luce.
Lucy: Its supposed to be tight! It's supposed to make you look regal.
Shepherd: Is it supposed to cut off the blood flow to my face?

Shepherd: You know I'm a little nervous.
Lucy: You'll be fine! Just be yourself.
Shepherd: Be myself.
Lucy: Yeah and um... complement her shoes.
Shepherd: ...Her shoes.
Lucy: Yeah. Girls like that.
Shepherd: ...'Kay. Thanks.

A.J.: Sydney, come on in. You look beautiful!
Sydney: Thanks. I have no idea what I'm doing here.
A.J.: I promise you there's no hidden agenda. This is my wife Esther, you know each other.
President Shepherd: Sydney! [walks over] Andrew Shepherd; we spoke on the phone.
Sydney: Yes sir. I remember.
President Shepherd: 'Scuse me one minute. [walks away]
Esther MacInerney: The President told me how you to met, Sydney. I think it's priceless.
Sydney: I don't know what happened. One minute I was calling him a mockery of an environmental leader and the next I'm minute I had a date.
Esther: Men like being insulted by women, makes them feel loved, don't ask me why.
President Shepherd: When we get to the bottom of the stairs I've gotta do a thing, but you'll be escorted to—
Sydney: They took me through it.
President Shepherd: Ah, good.
Sydney: Do you do this often, sir?
President Shepherd: Well this is actually only our second state dinner! The, first one was for the emperor of Japan... who died shortly after, so we stopped having them for a while just in case.
Sydney: No I, I meant do you go out on, do you often...
President Shepherd: Do I date a lot?
Sydney: Yeah!
President Shepherd: No! How 'bout you?
Sydney: Me? Well, lately I seem to be going out on a lot of first dates.
President Shepherd: Well then you're experienced at this?
Sydney: Oh, yeah, you can ask me anything.
President Shepherd: Well how are we doing so far?
Sydney: It's hard to say at this point, so far its just your typical first date stuff.
[They reach the bottom of the stairs. Cameras flash and a band starts playing]
President Shepherd: Damn, and I wanted to be different from the other guys.
Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen! The President of the United States! Accompanied by... [continues speaking]
President Shepherd: [to Sydney] Oh, by the way; nice shoes.

Sydney: [quietly] Mr. President. The president and Mrs. D'Astier look bored. [cut to them staring into space] They're not talking to anyone.
President Shepherd: [quietly] They're hammered. Esther, you speak French?
Esther: Latin.
President Shepherd: [quietly] I thought you spoke French.
Esther: No, Latin.
President Shepherd: Great, next time Julius Caesar comes to town you're our gal! Sydney, I don't suppose-
Sydney: Monsieur le President, nous sommes tous habilles, nous avons ce merveilleux orchestre, une piece magnifique...comment se fait-il que les invites ne dansent pas?
President Shepherd: [quietly, to A.J. & Esther, pointing at Sydney] That's my date.
President D'Astier: Je ne connais pas la tradition en Amerique, mais dans mon pays, si les invites de Louis XVI et Marie Antoinette avaient ose danser devant le roi et la reine, ils auraient perdu la tete.
Sydney: ...Really!
Madame D'Astier: Absolument.
President Shepherd: Sydney, you didn't dissolve our trade agreements, did you?
Sydney: No, I just said we're sitting in this beautiful room, listening to the music of this, wonderful orchestra, and I wondered why no one was dancing.
President D'Astier: [in heavy French Accent] And I informed Ms. Wade that in my country, a guest at the palace of Louis XVI and Mari Antoinette, would soon find their head in a guillotine if they made the, impertinent gesture of, dancing without so much as a by-your-leave, from the king and the queen. [laughs]
A.J.: Bet no one accused Lois of being soft on crime. [all chuckle]
Sydney: There's a lesson there, Mr. President.
President Shepherd: More beheadings in the White House!
A.J.: Bob Rumson would embrace it!
President Shepherd: Yes, I'm sure he would. ...But I have a better idea. [stands up, turns to Sydney] Would you like to dance?

[Sydney and Shepherd are dancing; everyone else is watching them]
Sydney: [nervous sigh] I don't know how you do it.
President Shepherd: Its Arthur Murray, six lessons.
Sydney: [giggles] That's not what I mean. Two hundred pairs of eyes are focused on you right now, with two questions: Who's this girl, and why is the President dancing with her?
President Shepherd: Well first of all the two hundred pairs of eyes are not focused on me, they're focused on you. And the answers are, Sydney Ellen Wade... because she said yes.

President Shepherd: Janie, can you get me the number of a local florist?
Janie: I'll take care of it Sir, where do you want them sent?
President Shepherd: No, I wanna do it myself; I just, need the number.
Janie: ...I don't understand.
President Shepherd: [glances around uncertainly] ...I, want the phone number of, a florist.
Janie: ...You just, want the phone number?
President Shepherd: ...Yeah.
Janie: I don't understand Sir, is there a problem—
President Shepherd: Janie, I wanna send some flowers, I wanna do it myself, I don't wanna staff it out, I don't wanna issue an executive order, I just, want the number.
Janie: ...I'll, get it for you, right away! Sir.

[Shepherd walks into his office. Robin and Lewis are waiting for him.]
President Shepherd: Good morning!
Robin McCall: Good morning. Mr. President, we need five minutes of your time before scheduling—
President Shepherd: I'll be with you in two minutes, I just need to make a call. [Janie hands him a slip of paper] Thank you, Janie.
[He starts to dial, then slowly glances back up at Robin & Lewis. They are watching him expectantly.]
Lewis: Who are you calling, sir?
President Shepherd: I'm calling the organization of the United Brotherhood of It's Not Your Damn Business Lewis, I'll be with you in a second.
Lewis: Yes Sir.

President Shepherd: [picks up phone] Yeah, hi, good morning. How do I get an outside line? [pause] 'Kay, let's see... [dials number]
Lewis: Janie!
Janie: Yes Sir?
Lewis: What's the President doing?
Janie: I'm sorry, I'm... really not at liberty to say.
President Shepherd: Yes, hi, good morning. Is this Carmen's House of Flowers? ...Well, I'd like to order some flowers, please? ... Well tell me, what is the state flower of Virginia?
Lewis: Does this have something to do with Sydney Wade?
Janie: I'm really not at liberty to say.
President Shepherd: Well is there anybody there who might know? ...No, I'm not trying to be difficult. Uh, hang on please. [switches to intercom] Janie, what is the state flower of Virginia?
Janie: Misses Chapil, state flower of Virginia?
Mrs. Chapil: Dogwood.
Janie: Dogwood, Sir.
President Shepherd: Thank you. [switches to outside line] It's the dogwood. ... Really. Hold on please. [switches to intercom] Janie? The dogwood's a tree, it's not a flower.
Kodak: [passing by] Actually it's a tree and a flower.
Janie: Are you sure?
Kodak: Yes. What's going on?
Janie: Sir, it's a tree and a flower.
President Shepherd: [switches to outside line] The dogwood is a tree and a flower. I'd like a dozen please? ... Really, no dogwoods. How about, uh... roses. Simple, classic; two dozen?
Lewis: Janie, I'm the President's senior domestic policy advisor. It's important that I have a full understanding of—
President Shepherd: [switches to intercom] Janie, do you know where my credit cards are?
Janie: ...They're in storage in Wisconson with the rest of your personal belongings, Sir.
President Shepherd: [switches to outside line] Perhaps it would be better if you'd bill me for the flowers, I'm sure it'd be all right with your boss. ... Well I don't know if you recognise my voice, but, ah, this is the President. ... Of the United States! ... Hello? Hello!

Leo Solomon: If this [relationship] doesn't work out, the amount of time it'll take you to go from being a hired gun to a cocktail party joke can be clocked with an egg timer.
Sydney: Leo, there's no relationship, it was one night, it's done!
Secretary: *brings in large basket* Doctor Solomon? This was just delivered by a White House messenger, it's marked perishable.
Leo Solomon: The White House has sent me something perishable?
Secretary: It's for Miss Wade.
Leo Solomon: Oh, here we go...
Sydney: Oh relax Leo, I'm sure its just a formality.
Secretary: It's from him.
Leo Solomon: Of course it's from him.
Sydney: So he had some staff flunkey send me a fruit basket.
Secretary: Oh, he wrote the note himself.
Sydney: I'm sure he didn't take the time to—
Secretary: The messenger said he waited in the Oval Office for ten minutes while the president wrote the card.
Sydney: Okay, listen— It took him ten minutes to write the card?
Secretary: Apparently he went through several drafts.
Sydney: *Reads card* *giggles* *laughs*
Leo Solomon: *stony glare* [...] There's never an egg timer around when you need one.

RobinMcCall: How do you want me to handle the Sydney issue?
President Shepherd: ...The Sydney "issue"?
Lewis: Well, we should have a consensus on how the White House is gonna handle it.
President Shepherd: Well I certainly hope the Sydney issue refers in some way to a problem we're having with Australia, because if it's anything other than that...

Lewis: People want leadership, Mr. President. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert to a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
Shepherd: (beat) Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand... because they don't know the difference.

Lucy: Are you Miss Wade?
Sydney: Hi. Ah, Sydney.
Lucy: Hi, Lucy Shepherd, nice to meet you.
Sydney: Hi, nice to meet you.
Lucy: Um, my dad told me to tell you that he is on the phone with his dentist, and that I should behave myself and entertain you till he gets back.
Sydney: Hm. Your father's on the phone with his dentist?
Lucy: No, he told me to tell you he's on the phone with his dentist. He wants you to think he's a regular guy.
Sydney: *chuckles* Oh. Well who's he on the phone with?
Lucy: The Prime Minister of Israel.
Sydney: Oh. They're probably not discussing his teeth.
Lucy: I hope not. *giggles*
Shepherd: *walks in* Let Meatloaf Night begin! Hi.
Sydney: Hi. How's everything with your teeth?
Shepherd: My teeth?
Sydney: The dentist.
Shepherd: Oh! Right, right right, yeah I got a, cavity in my upper bicuspid region.
Sydney: You have a short-range weapon system outside Tel Aviv.
Shepherd: I think somebody told on me! *grabs Lucy playfully*
Lucy: *squeals and dodges*

For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: being President of this country is entirely about character. For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is, "Why aren't you, Bob?" Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, folks, then you're smarter than I am, because I didn't understand it until a few hours ago.
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.
I've known Bob Rumson for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. And wave an old photo of the President's girlfriend and you scream about patriotism and you tell them, she's to blame for their lot in life, and you go on television and you call her a whore.
Sydney Ellen Wade has done nothing to you, Bob. She has done nothing but put herself through school, represent the interests of public school teachers, and lobby for the safety of our natural resources. You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, 'cause Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league. I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer. And I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job, I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now.

Tomorrow morning, the White House is sending a bill to Congress for its consideration. It's White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a twenty percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I'm throwing it out. I'm throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and hand guns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door-to-door if I have to, but I'm gonna convince Americans that I'm right, and I'm gonna get the guns. We've got serious problems, and we need serious people.

And if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President.
President Andrew Shepherd, the climactic World of Cardboard / Reason You Suck Speech