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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Poster

Quotes

Jefferson Smith: You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that.

Jefferson Smith: I guess this is just another lost cause Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for and he fought for them once. For the only reason any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule. Love thy neighbor. And in this world today of great hatred a man who knows that rule has a great trust. You know that rule Mr. Paine and I loved you for it just as my father did. And you know that you fight harder for the lost causes than for any others. Yes you'd even die for them. Like a man we both knew Mr. Paine. You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well I'm not licked. And I'm gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these. And the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me.

[he collapses]

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Jefferson Smith: I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.

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Jefferson Smith: Well, what do you expect me to do? An honorary stooge like me against the Taylors and Paines and machines and lies?

Clarissa Saunders: Your friend, Mr. Lincoln had his Taylors and Paines. So did every other man who ever tried to lift his thought up off the ground. Odds against them didn't stop those men. They were fools that way. All the good that ever came into this world came from fools with faith like that. You know that, Jeff. You can't quit now. Not you. They aren't all Taylors and Paines in Washington. That kind just throw big shadows, that's all. You didn't just have faith in Paine or any other living man. You had faith in something bigger than that. You had plain, decent, everyday, common rightness, and this country could use some of that. Yeah, so could the whole cockeyed world, a lot of it. Remember the first day you got here? Remember what you said about Mr. Lincoln? You said he was sitting up there, waiting for someone to come along. You were right. He was waiting for a man who could see his job and sail into it, that's what he was waiting for. A man who could tear into the Taylors and root them out into the open. I think he was waiting for you, Jeff. He knows you can do it, so do I.

Jefferson Smith: What? Do what, Saunders?

Clarissa Saunders: You just make up your mind you're not gonna quit, and I'll tell you what. I've been thinking about it all the way back here. It's a forty foot dive into a tub of water, but I think you can do it.

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Jefferson Smith: [His voice very hoarse] Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!

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[after all the other Senators walk out]

Jefferson Smith: Oh, Mr. President, we seem to be alone. I, I'm not complaining for a social reason; it's just, I think it'd be a pity if these gentlemen missed any of this, and...

[Clarissa starts waving from the visitors gallery, and making hand signals]

Jefferson Smith: And, uh...

[he grabs the rule book]

Jefferson Smith: I, I call the chair's attention to... to, uh... Rule 5 of the Standing Rules of the Senate, Section... Section 3. "If it shall be found that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present" - and that looks like me - uh, uh, "may direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to request, and if necessary compel, the attendance of the absent Senators." Well, Mr. President, I so direct.

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Senator Joseph Paine: Let me go! I'm not fit to be a senator! I'm not fit to live! Expel me, not him! Willet Dam is a fraud! It's a crime against the people who sent me here - and I committed it! Every word that boy said is the truth! Every word about Taylor and me and graft and the rotten political corruption of my state! Every word of it is true! I'm not fit for office! I'm not fit for any place of honor or trust! Expel me, not that boy!

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Jefferson Smith: Either I'm dead right, or I'm crazy!

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[the filibuster begins]

President of Senate: The Chair recognizes... Senator Smith!

Jefferson Smith: Thank you, sir.

Clarissa Saunders: Diz, here we go.

Jefferson Smith: Well, I guess the gentlemen are in a pretty tall hurry to get me out of here. The way the evidence has piled up against me, I can't say I blame them much. And I'm quite willing to go, sir, when they vote it that way - but before that happens I've got a few things I want to say to this body. I tried to say them once before, and I got stopped colder than a mackerel. Well, I'd like to get them said this time, sir. And as a matter of fact, I'm not going to leave this body until I do get them said.

Senator Joseph Paine: Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

President of Senate: Will the Senator yield?

Jefferson Smith: No, sir, I'm afraid not, no sir. I yielded the floor once before, if you can remember, and I was practically never heard of again. No sir. And we might as well all get together on this yielding business right off the bat, now.

[laughter from the gallery]

Jefferson Smith: Now, I had some pretty good coaching last night, and I find that if I yield only for a question or a point of order or a personal privilege, that I can hold this floor almost until doomsday. In other words, I've got a piece to speak, and blow hot or cold, I'm going to speak it.

Senator Joseph Paine: Will the Senator yield?

President of Senate: Will Senator Smith yield?

Jefferson Smith: Yield how, sir?

Senator Joseph Paine: Will he yield for a question?

Jefferson Smith: For a question, all right.

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Jefferson Smith: Boy, you should have been there!

Clarissa Saunders: I know, it was a wonderful party, and your suit went over big, and she looked beautiful, and when you left she said, "Thank you, Mr. Smith," but it was the way she said it, you nearly fell through the floor. Horseradish!

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Clarissa Saunders: They're not letting what Jeff says get printed in the state. Now if I give you a raft of it over the phone, can you print it up and spread a billion copies? Swell! Get ready to take this down, Mrs. Smith.

Ma Smith: Boys, everything about Jeff, get pencils and paper.

Clarissa Saunders: Alright, here we go.

Ma Smith: All ready, Clarissa.

Clarissa Saunders: She called me Clarissa. Okay Ma! JEFF TELLS TRUTH, SHOWS UP TAYLOR!

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Senator Joseph Paine: I wish to ask my distinguished colleague, has he one scrap of evidence to add now to the defense he did not give and could not give at that same hearing?

Jefferson Smith: I have no defense against forged papers!

Senator Joseph Paine: The Committee ruled otherwise! The gentleman stands guilty, as charged. And I believe I speak for every member when I say that no one cares to hear what a man of his condemned character has to say about any section of any legislation before this House.

President of Senate: Order, order, gentlemen.

Jefferson Smith: Mr. President, I stand guilty as FRAMED! Because section 40 is graft! And I was ready to say so, I was ready to tell you that a certain man in my state, a Mr. James Taylor, wanted to put through this dam for his own profit. A man who controls a political machine! And controls everything else worth controlling in my state. Yes, and a man even powerful enough to control Congressmen - and I saw three of them in his room the day I went up to see him!

Senator Joseph Paine: Will the Senator yield?

Jefferson Smith: No, sir, I will not yield! And this same man, Mr. James Taylor, came down here and offered me a seat in this Senate for the next 20 years if I voted for a dam that he knew, and I knew, was a fraud. But if I dared to open my mouth against that dam, he promised to break me in two.

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Diz Moore: [dictating into phone] In protest, the whole Senate body rose and walked out.

Clarissa Saunders: No! No, not that straight stuff. Now listen, kick it up, get on his side, fight for him! Understand?

Diz Moore: You love this monkey - don't you?

Clarissa Saunders: What do you think? Now listen, go to work. Do as I tell you.

Diz Moore: [into phone] Throw out that last, take this. This is the most titanic battle of modern times. A David without even a slingshot rises to do battle against the mighty Goliath, the Taylor machine, allegedly crooked inside and out. Yeah, and for my money, you can cut out the "allegedly."

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Senator Joseph Paine: He can raise public opinion against us - if any part of this sticks...

James Taylor: Aah, he'll never get started. I'll make public opinion out there within five hours! I've done it all my life. I'll blacken this punk so that he'll - You leave public opinion to me. Now, Joe, I think you'd better go back into the Senate and keep those Senators lined up.

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[when Smith is announced as the newly appointed Senator]

James Taylor: I want you to let the ballyhoo boys loose, plan a celebration, and declare a holiday.

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[last lines]

Clarissa Saunders: [shouts] Yippee!

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Clarissa Saunders: When Foley died, why didn't I clear out? How many times have you heard me say "I'm fed up with politics and I"... No, I let him talk me into staying. Secretary to a leader of little squirts! Why? Because I need the job and a new suit of clothes!

Diz Moore: Would you settle for a husband?

Clarissa Saunders: Mmm, I sure would!

[suddenly realizes he's referring to himself]

Clarissa Saunders: Huh?

Diz Moore: You know my old standing offer. Diz Moore, poet of Washington correspondents.

Clarissa Saunders: [smiling] Oh, that again.

Diz Moore: I'd cherish you - and I'd stay sober.

Clarissa Saunders: Oh, Diz, you're a wonderful egg. I don't know, maybe if I saw you once with your hair combed or something...

[Diz sheepishly finger combs his hair]

Clarissa Saunders: [laughs] No, I don't even think that would do it.

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Senate Minority Leader, Barnes: [Watches as Smith reads a note passed to him from the gallery] Does the gentleman wish to yield?

Jefferson Smith: Yield? Oh, no. I feel fine! The Constitution of the United States!

[Barnes throws both hands high in the air, turns away from Smith, then brings his arms down hard on his desk in frustration]

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Flood - Newsman: Have a drink, Senator!

Sweeney Farrell - Newsman: It'll taste better than the truth.

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Senator Joseph Paine: I know how you feel, Jeff. Thirty years ago - I had those ideals, too. I was *you*. I had to make the decision you were asked to make today. And I compromised - yes! So that all these years I could stay in that Senate - and serve the people in a thousand honest ways! You've got to face facts, Jeff. I've served our state well, haven't I? We have the lowest unemployment and the highest federal grants. But, well, I've had to compromise, had to play ball. You can't count on people voting, half the time they don't vote, anyway. That's how states and empires have been built since time began. Don't you understand? Well, Jeff, you can take my word for it, that's how things are. Now I've told you all this because - well, I've grown very fond of you - about like a son - in fact, and I don't want to see you get hurt. Now, when that deficiency bill comes up in the Senate tomorrow, you stay away from it. Don't say a word. Great powers are behind it, and they'll destroy you before you can even get started. For your own sake, Jeff, and for the sake of my friendship with your father, please, don't say a word.

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Nosey: [First lines]

[On the phone]

Nosey: Senator Samuel Foley. Dead. Yeah. Yeah. Died a minute ago. Here at St. Vincent. At the bedside was state political sidekick, Senator Joseph Paine. Yeah.

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Chick McGann: Relax, Happy. Stop havin' kittens.

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Senator Joseph Paine: Jim, suppose we don't try to go through with this Dam? Suppose we postpone it until next session of Congress? Or, drop it altogether?

James Taylor: Oh, that'd be a crime, Joe. After all the work we've put in on it? Getting buried in this deficiency bill - as nicely as you please. Having it approved. It's rolling along. It was like taking candy from a baby.

Senator Joseph Paine: Is it worth the risk of a scandal?

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James Taylor: I think we've got your man - Horace Miller.

Governor Hopper: Horace Miller!

Chick McGann: A born stooge! Why, ole Horace will preform like a trained seal.

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Governor Hopper: But, Jim, if I throw a party man, like Horace Miller, in the face of those people...

James Taylor: For reasons I can't go into now, it's got to be Horace Miller. Do you understand? I've given you the man, now make out your ticket.

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Governor Hopper: I won't let you stand there callously and perhaps wreck my whole political future!

James Taylor: Your political future? Why, I bought it for you. I gave it to you as a present and I can grab it back so fast it'll make your head swim! You've got a nerve to sit there and worry about your political future, when we're in a spot like this!

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Governor Hopper: Well, forgive my abysmal ignorance, but I don't know this Jefferson Smith from a hole in the ground.

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Governor Hopper: That settles it! I will not be attacked and belittled by my own children in my own home! Oh, my nerves are strained to the breaking point!

Mrs. Hopper: Oh, Hubert.

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James Taylor: A Boy Ranger? A squirrel chaser to the United States Senate?

Governor Hopper: Listen, Jim, a simpleton of all times. A big eyed baby. Knows Lincoln and Washington by heart. Stands at attention in the Governor's presence. He even collects stray boys and cats.

James Taylor: He does what?

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James Taylor: Chick, turn the ballyhoo boys loose. Its the greatest appointment ever made. Give a banquet and declare a holiday.

Governor Hopper: A star spangled banquet!

Chick McGann: Wow!

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Governor Hopper: It is in that spirit that we gather here tonight, to acclaim and wish God's speed to Senator Jefferson Smith!

[Crowd roars]

Jefferson Smith: Thank you. I-I I-I can't help feeling that there's been a big mistake somehow.

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Jefferson Smith: I can promise you one thing, I'll do nothing to disgrace the office of - the United States Senate.

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Jefferson Smith: I suppose, Mr. Paine, when a fellow bucks up against a big organization like that, that one man by himself can't get very far, can he?

Senator Joseph Paine: No.

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Bill Griffith: Welcome, Senator. The wildlife around here is a little different from what you're used to - they wear high heels.

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Jefferson Smith: Things sure happen fast around here, don't they?

Chick McGann: Yeah, you'll have to get yourself out of low gear, Senator.

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Chick McGann: This way, Senator. Where is he? Hey, Senator? Why, I told that cookie to - Come on! Let's find him. Hey, Senator? Senator Smith?

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Clarissa Saunders: Diz, what do you think? Daniel Boone's lost.

Diz Moore: No?

Clarissa Saunders: Lost in the wilds of Washington.

Diz Moore: Well, if your boy friend's gonna blaze trails, I'm going over to the Press Club.

Clarissa Saunders: Aw, stick around. He might want us all to put on short pants and go out hiking. You wouldn't want to miss the exercise.

Diz Moore: Every time I think of exercise, I have to lie right down until the feeling leaves me. Say, wouldn't it be funny if he was lost?

Clarissa Saunders: The Boy Ranger? Oh, he'll show up. He must have a compass with him.

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Diz Moore: Eight to five, little boy blue is plastered.

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Jefferson Smith: I-I-I don't think I've ever been so thrilled in my whole life. And that Lincoln Memorial! Gee whiz. That Mr. Lincoln, there he is. He just lookin' right straight at you as you come right up those steps. Just - just sitting there, like he was waiting for somebody to come along.

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Diz Moore: I'll see you later, Saunders. I gotta go out and drink this over.

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Clarissa Saunders: I'm still asking myself, what is he? Animal, vegetable or mineral?

Diz Moore: Maybe he's an oyster.

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Nosey: I'll make it right with you.

Clarissa Saunders: What do you mean right?

Nosey: What do I mean? I tell you what I'll do. World Series. A pass. A pass! In a month it will be worth fifteen bucks.

Clarissa Saunders: Well!

[Smiles]

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Female Reporter: Now, Senator, tell me, what do you think of the girls in this town?

Jefferson Smith: Gosh, I, down at the station, four of 'em came up and kissed me when I got off the train.

Female Reporter: Oh, were they pretty?

Jefferson Smith: Pretty - that Miss Susan Paine, she's about the prettiest girl I ever did see.

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Senator Joseph Paine: How'd it happen?

Clarissa Saunders: Look, I merely took him home. I didn't tuck him in and give him his bottle. That's McGann's job.

Senator Joseph Paine: McGann just phoned - out of his mind. Smith's gone again. Do you know where?

Clarissa Saunders: Yes, he went up to Mount Vernon to give himself a patriotic address.

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Senator Joseph Paine: Now, then, Saunders. You stop this nonsense and go back to Smith's office and go to work and get him to the Senate by twelve o'clock.

Clarissa Saunders: Look, Senator, I wasn't given a brain just to tell a Boy Ranger what time it is.

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Clarissa Saunders: Look, when I came here, my eyes were big blue question marks. Now, they're big green dollar marks.

Senator Joseph Paine: Smart, girl, eh. All right. Finish this job properly and you get a handsome bonus. And by properly, I mean keep Smith away from anything that smacks of politics.

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Pageboy Richard Jones: Here you are Senator. Not a bad desk either. Daniel Webster used to use it.

Jefferson Smith: Daniel Webster sat here?

Pageboy Richard Jones: Give you something to shoot at, Senator. If you figure on doing any talking.

Jefferson Smith: Oh, I'm just gonna sit around and listen.

Pageboy Richard Jones: That's the way to get reelected!

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Jefferson Smith: The point is, sir, they're right. I'm just sitting in the Senate decorating a chair. Now, if-if I'm going to vote, I at least ought to try and study some of the bills that are coming up.

Senator Joseph Paine: The bills?

Jefferson Smith: Well, yes sir. Otherwise, I'm just a Christmas tiger, like they said.

Senator Joseph Paine: Jeff, these bills are put together by legal minds, after long study. Why, I-I-I can't understand ha-half of them myself - and I used to be a lawyer. Now, come on, forget it. When the time comes, I'll advise you how to vote.

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Clarissa Saunders: You're bill is ready. You take it over there and you introduce it. You get to your feet in the Senate and take a long breath and start spouting. But, not too loud, because a couple of the Senators might want to sleep. Then, a curly headed page boy takes it up to the desk where a long faced clerk reads it, refers it to the right committee,

Jefferson Smith: Why?

Clarissa Saunders: Look, committees are small groups of Senators that have to sift a bill down, look into it, study it, report to the whole Senate. You can't take a bill nobody ever heard about and discuss it among 96 men! Where would you get?

Jefferson Smith: Yeah, I see.

Clarissa Saunders: Good. Now, where are we?

Jefferson Smith: Some committee's got it.

Clarissa Saunders: Now, days have gone by Senator. Days. Weeks! Finally, they think its quite a bill. It goes over to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote. But, it has to wait its turn on the calendar.

Jefferson Smith: The calendar?

Clarissa Saunders: Yes. That's the order of business. Your bill has to stand way back there in line unless the steering committee thinks its important...

Jefferson Smith: What's that?

Clarissa Saunders: What?

Jefferson Smith: Steering committee?

Clarissa Saunders: You really think we're getting anywhere?

Jefferson Smith: Oh, yes, Miss Sauders, now, tell me, what's the Steering committee?

Clarissa Saunders: The committee of the majority party. They decide when a bill is important enough to be moved up to the head of the list.

Jefferson Smith: Oh, this is!

Clarissa Saunders: Pardon me, this is. Where are we now?

Jefferson Smith: We're in the House.

Clarissa Saunders: Oh, yeah, the House. More amendments. More changes and the bill goes back to the Senate, The Senate doesn't like what the House did to the bill, they make more changes. The House doesn't like those changes, stymied.

Jefferson Smith: So?

Clarissa Saunders: So, they appoint men from each House to go to a huddle called a caucus and they battle it out. Finally, if your bill is still alive after all this devastation, it comes to a vote. Yes sir, the big day finally arrives - and Congress adjourns. Catching on Senator?

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Jefferson Smith: My Dad had the right idea. He had it all worked out. He used to say to me, "Son, don't miss the wonders that surround you; because, every tree, every rock, every ant hill, every star is filled with the wonders of nature." And, he used to say to me, "Have you ever noticed how grateful you are to see daylight again after coming through a long, dark tunnel?" Well, he'd say, "Always try to see life around you, as if you'd just come out a tunnel."

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Jefferson Smith: It hasn't been easy, has it?

Clarissa Saunders: No complaints.

Jefferson Smith: I mean, for a woman, you've done awfully well!

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Jefferson Smith: What's your first name?

Clarissa Saunders: Why?

Jefferson Smith: Well, I, eh, everybody just calls you plain Saunders.

Clarissa Saunders: Well, I also answer to whistles.

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Diz Moore: What did you get me outta bed for?

Clarissa Saunders: Shhh. Sit tight. The show's about to commence.

Diz Moore: Do mind telling me what's about to go on around here?

Clarissa Saunders: Certainly. Now, there's the principal actor in our little play: Don Quixote Smith - man with bill. Over here, one of the supporting characters.

Diz Moore: Who?

Clarissa Saunders: That gorilla in man's clothing: McGann.

Diz Moore: Oh, you mean, puss in boots.

Clarissa Saunders: Yeah, mostly puss. Aw, another prominent character in our play, the silver night, soul of honor on a tightrope.

Diz Moore: You wouldn't be a little bit goofy, would you?

Clarissa Saunders: Diz, Don Quixote with bill will get to his feet in a minute and speak two important words: Willet Creek. When that happens, the sliver night will fall off his tightrope and puss will jump outta his boots.

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Clarissa Saunders: Sicking that horrible dame on him - when he's goofy about her.

Diz Moore: What dame?

Clarissa Saunders: Paine!

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Diz Moore: Better be nice to that gal. The latest poll makes her old man the party choice for the White House. She may be the next First Lady of the land.

Clarissa Saunders: Imagine reading, "My Day by Susan Paine in the neck." He isn't gonna be hurt enough as it is, she has to twist a knife in him too... jackass. "I'll turn by glamour on him, " she says.

Diz Moore: Oh, forget it. What's it to you?

Clarissa Saunders: Nothing, I'm just...

Diz Moore: Okay, okay. Then, stop worrying. I told you the dopes are going to inherit the earth anyway.

Clarissa Saunders: I wonder, Diz, if this Don Quixote hasn't got the jump on all of us. I wonder if it isn't a curse to go through life wised up like you and me.

Diz Moore: Now, look her kid. If you're going to wonder, let's go down and do it over a hunk of steak, huh? Come on, snap out of it. Drink up! Here's to bigger and better dopes.

Clarissa Saunders: And to Don Quixote.

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Clarissa Saunders: So, you wanna be a Senator, huh? You're gonna build a camp on a little creek. See this? Deficiency Bill. Section number 40. A dam going up where you think your camp's going to be. Ever hear of it? Noooo! They read all about it in the Senate today. But, you weren't supposed to hear. That's why that ritzy dame took you in tow. That's why they sent you here in the first place! Because you don't know a dam from a bathtub. Go ahead! Be a Senator. Try and mess up Mr. Taylor's little graft. But, you can't. And you can't in nine million years! Go home! Don't stay around here making people feel sorry for you.

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Jefferson Smith: Now, doggone it, there's something wrong here! I know there's something wrong! And I'm not gonna vote on that thing until I get some more questions answered.

Senator Joseph Paine: Jeff, you're fighting windmills.

Jefferson Smith: I am?

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James Taylor: I wouldn't trust you to lick a postage stamp!

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Senator Joseph Paine: Well, as I said, this is a man's world, Jeff, and you gotta check your ideals outside the door - like you do your rubbers.

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Jefferson Smith: Clarissa, where can we get a drink?

Clarissa Saunders: Now you're talkin'! Come on over to my place.

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Diz Moore: You know, that guy's batty.

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Diz Moore: Is this some of your shenanigans?

Clarissa Saunders: Shhhh.

Diz Moore: What's the matter?

Clarissa Saunders: Pray, Diz. If you know how.

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James Taylor: Hendricks, get the hoi polloi excited. Have them send protests, letters, wires, anything you like.

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H.V. Kaltenborn, Himself: [Speaking into a CBS Radio microphone] This is H.V. Kaltenborn speaking. Half of official Washington is here to see democracy's finest show: the filibuster. The right to talk your head off. The American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form. The least man in that chamber, once he gets and holds that floor, by the rules, can hold it and talk as long as he can stand on his feet. Providing always; first, that he does not sit down, second, that he does not leave the chamber or stop talking. The galleries are packed! In the diplomatic gallery, are the envoys of two dictator powers. They have come here to see what the can't see at home: democracy in action.

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Jefferson Smith: I always get a great kick out of that part of the Declaration of Independence. You're not gonna have a country these kind of rules work, if you haven't got men that have learned to tell human rights from a punch in the nose.

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H.V. Kaltenborn, Himself: [Speaking into a CBS Radio microphone] Senator Smith, has now talked for 23 hours and 16 minutes. It is the most unusual and spectacular thing in the Senate annals. One alone and simple American, holding the greatest floor in the land. What he lacked in experience, he's made up in fight. But those tired Boy Ranger legs are buckling, bleary eyed, voice gone, he cannot go on much longer. And all official Washington is here to be in on the kill.

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