Jennifer Johnson: Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?
Sharon: Diversity and opportunity.
Lewis: Freedom and freedom... so let's keep it that way.
Will McAvoy: The New York Jets.
Moderator: No, I'm going to hold you to an answer on that. What makes America the greatest country in the world?
Will McAvoy: Well, Lewis and Sharon said it. Diversity and opportunity and freedom and freedom.
Moderator: I'm not letting you go back to the airport without answering the question.
Will McAvoy: Well, our Constitution is a masterpiece. James Madison was a genius. The Declaration of Independence is, for me, the single greatest piece of American writing...
[Professor keeps staring]
Will McAvoy: You don't look satisfied.
Moderator: One's a set of laws and the other's a declaration of war. I want a human moment from you... what about the people? Why is America...
Will McAvoy: It's not the greatest country in the world, professor. That's my answer.
Moderator: You're saying...
Will McAvoy: Yes.
Moderator: Let's talk about...
Will McAvoy: Fine.
[Turns to Sharon]
Will McAvoy: Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he
[gestures to Lewis]
Will McAvoy: gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn't cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don't like liberals? Cause they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so god damn always?
Will McAvoy: [Turns to Lewis] And with a straight face, you're gonna tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The UK. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia... Belgium! has freedom... 207 sovereign states in the world, like 180 of 'em have freedom.
Will McAvoy: [Looks at Jenny] And, yeah, you... sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know. One of them is: There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number 4 in labor force and number 4 in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defense spending - where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies. Now, none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the FUCK you're talking about!... Yosemite?
[Stunned silence; Jenny looks deeply humiliated]
Will McAvoy: ... It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws - for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advanced, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world's greatest artists AND the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it. It didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed... by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
[looks back at the professor]
Will McAvoy: Enough?
Charlie Skinner: I'm a marine, Don! I will beat the shit out of you! I don't care how many protein bars you eat!
Charlie Skinner: I was in a bar in Da Nang...
Will McAvoy: Just now?
Charlie Skinner: 1969. I was embedded with the 144th Artillery for UPI, and I was sitting there with a warm Coke watching a beautiful Vietnamese woman doing an exotic dance right in the middle of everybody. A beautiful, beautiful woman, and I thought to myself "I will never know what it is to be with a woman like that." And at that exact moment, the woman spun twice, teetered over, and fell right into my lap. That was a story about how sometimes some things just fall into your lap.
Will McAvoy: You're the spokesperson for Halliburton.
Nick Warren: And I came on this program voluntarily.
Will McAvoy: I don't have subpoena power, everyone comes on this program voluntarily.
Will McAvoy: What does winning look like to you?
Mackenzie MacHale: Reclaiming the fourth estate. Reclaiming journalism as an honorable profession. A nightly newscast that informs a debate worthy of a great nation. Civility, respect and a return to what's important; the death of bitchiness; the death of gossip and voyeurism; speaking truth to stupid. No demographic sweet spot; a place where we can all come together.
Don Keefer: Oh, blow me.
Will McAvoy: I want you to not use that language in front of women and forever not suggest that image to me.
[Mac has changed the title display from "News Night with Will McAvoy" to "Vertigo Medicine with Will McAvoy"]
Will McAvoy: I'm at least glad nobody's invented a way to digitally store images and upload them to a free website where anyone can see them.
Mackenzie MacHale: *Has* someone invented a way to digitally store images...
Will McAvoy: [shouts] YouTube! YouTube! Take it down!
Mackenzie MacHale: Well, now you're just a crazy guy shouting "YouTube"!
Charlie Skinner: You were unreachable! Only one person knew where you were.
Will McAvoy: It was you!
Charlie Skinner: For a long time I've wanted to watch the news on my TV at night. Then it occurred to me: I run a news division.
Will McAvoy: [Speaking about Mackenzie] She's indifferent to ratings, competition, corporate concerns, and, generally speaking, consequences.
Mackenzie MacHale: You know what you left out of your sermon? That America is the only country on the planet that, since its birth, has said over and over and over that we can do better. It's part of our DNA. People will want the news if you give it to them with integrity. Not everybody, not even a lot of people: 5%. And 5% more of anything is what makes the difference in this country. So we can do better.
Will McAvoy: I'm thinking... Yeah, that whole speech did nothing for me.
Don Keefer: You'll interview some good candidates.
Will McAvoy: Don, please. I'll replace you in fifteen minutes.
Mackenzie MacHale: I've come here to produce a news broadcast that more closely resembles the one we did before you got popular by not bothering anyone, Leno.
Will McAvoy: I think Jay and I would rather be employed, if it's all the same to you.
Mackenzie MacHale: It's not all the same to me, you punk. I've come here to take your IQ and your talent and put it to some patriotic fucking use.
Moderator: There was a short piece on Vanity Fair's website by Marshall Westbrook, you probably saw it, where he calls you the Jay Leno of news anchors. You're popular because you don't bother anyone.
Will McAvoy: Yeah.
Moderator: How do you feel about that?