Saturday Night Live Transcripts
Season 26: Episode 1
First Presidential Debate
Jim Lehrer…..Chris Parnell
Al Gore…..Darrell Hammond
George W. Bush…..Will Ferrell
Announcer: Live, from the Clark Athletic Center at the University of Massachusetts, the first Presidential Debate. Here is moderator, Jim Lehrer.
Jim Lehrer: Good evening. I’m Jim Lehrer. Welcome to this, the first of three debates between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore. Now, let’s meet the candidates. [ Gore and Bush step out, shake hands, then stand behind their respective podiums ] Before we begin, I have been asked by the Bush campaign to announce that, for the next three hours only, viewers in the states of Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania have the option of free Pay-Per-View, courtesy of the Republican National Committee. On Channel 62, “The Perfect Storm”, with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, the film Mike Clark of USA Today called “The perfect movie”. On Channel 63, the grandeur beauty and savagery of ancient Rome came to life in “Gladiator” with Russell Crowe. [ Al Gore sighs ] “Gladiator. A hero will rise.” Care for something just a bit naughty? On Channel 64, ten Penthouse Pets join forces with ten Playboy Playmates to find the perfect Hustler centerfold, in “Miss Killer Body 2000”. Contains nudity. [ George W. Bush nods his approval ] With that out of the way, let’s begin the debate. Mr. Vice-President, during this campaign, you have frequently called the Bush tax plan a “risky scheme”. Why?
Al Gore: [ speaking slowly and in broken syllables ] Well, Jim..Governor Bush and I have two ve-ry diff-er-ent plans to of-fer tax re-lief to American families. In his plan, the wealthiest 1% of Americans would receive nearly fif-ty per-cent of the ben-e-fits. My plan, Jim, is diff-er-ent. Rather than squand-er the su-plus on a risky tax cut for the wealth-y, I would put it in what I call a.. “lock-box.”
Jim Lehrer: Governor Bush, your response?
George W. Bush: I don’t know what that was all about.. but I’ll tell you this: “Don’t Mess With Texas!”
Al Gore: I didn’t mess with Texas!
Jim Lehrer:Governor Bush, I listened very carefully to the Vice-President’s remarks, and I honestly do not believe he messed with Texas. Now, Governor Bush..
Al Gore: [ interrupting ] Jim. May I ust say that in myplan, the “lock-box” would be used only for Social Security and Medicare. It would have two different locks. Now, one of the keys to the “lockbox” would be kept by the President; the other key would be sealed in a small, metal container and placed under the bumper of the Senate Majority Leader’s car.
Jim Lehrer: Governor Bush, the next question is for you. Two weeks ago, at a meeting of the Economic Club in Detroit, you said the following: “More seldom than not, the movies gives us exquisite sex and wholesome violence, that underscores our values. Every two child did. I will.” What did you mean by that?
George W. Bush: [ clears throat ] Pass.
Jim Lehrer: Perhaps if you could see it on a monitor?[ the exact phrase appears on the monitor for Bush to read ]
George W. Bush: [ reads monitor ] Pass.
Jim Lehrer: Really? No idea what that could mean?
George W. Bush: Could be.. education?
Al Gore: Jim? I believe what my opponent in-tend-ed to say, wasthat all too often the ex-plic-it sex and whole-sale violence in filmsundermines our values.
George W. Bush: [ snaps finger ] Bingo! That was it! That was it!
Al Gore: I happen to agree with Governor Bush on that, and I commend him for it. But let me add something in my plan. The “lock-box” would also be camoflauged. Now, to all outward appearances, it would be a Leatherbound edition of Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. But it wouldn’t be. It would be the “lock-box”.
Jim Lehrer: Governor Bush, this question is for you, and it concerns foreign policy. Last week, in Serbian elections we saw the apparent defeat of President Slobodan Milosevic by challenger Vojislav Kostunica. Yet, Milosevic refused to step aside. As President, would you apply pressure on Milosevic, and openly aid Kostunica and his Novia Serbskaya party? Or, by working with neighbors, such as Karadon Ragonovic of Croatia, Istivan Kajnoinsy of Hungary, or Anton Paslagaros of Greece?
George W. Bush: [ clears throat ] Well.. first of all, I think that any instability in that first country that you mentioned, is troubling.. and clearly the second guy who you spoke of, he beat the first guy. Now, personally, I favor seeking the diplomatic help of the person I’m gonna call “Guy #3”. But I’m not going to pronounce any of their names tonight, because I don’t believe that’s in our national interest.
Jim Lehrer: Vice-President Gore?
Al Gore: Jim, let me here tonight issue a warning to the enemies, or potential enemeies, of the United States: you may think you know the location of the “lock-box”. Maybe you do. Or maybe that’s a decoy. Or a dummy “lock-box”. Only the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, myself and Tipper are gonna know for sure.
Jim Lehrer: Which beings us to our final question. Governor Bush, both you and the Vice-President have offered plans to provide prescription drugs for the elderly. What makes your plan superior?
Al Gore: Jim, I’d like to interrupt here and answer that question as if it were my turn to speak. Jim, let me tell about a friend of mine. [ holds up a picture of an elderly woman ] Her name is Etta Munsen. She’s 94, she’s a widow living on Social Security in Sparta, Tennessee. Etta was born with only one kidney. She also suffers from poilo, spinal menengitis, lung, liver, and pancreatic cancer, an enlarged heart, diabetes, and a rare form of styctic acne. Now, several recent strokes, along with an unfortunate shark attack, have left her paralyzed and missing her right leg under the knee. Just last week she woke from a coma to find that, due to a hospital mix-up, her left arm had been amputated, infected with syphillis, and then reattached.
Jim Lehrer: Mr. Vice-President, we are short of time..
Al Gore: As you can imagine, Jim.. Etta’s prescription drug bills are staggering. They run to nearly $113 million a day! And she tells me that some weeks she has to choose between eating and treating her Lyme Disease. Now, under my plan, Etta’s prescription drugs would be covered. Under my opponent’s plan, her house would be burned to the ground. And that is wrong. That is just wrong!
Jim Lehrer: Governor Bush? Response?
George W. Bush: I believe that some of those figures may be in-ock-urate.
Al Gore: Jim, what you just heard from my opponent is an attack on my integrity and my character. And I will not reply in kind. Instead, I will take those remarks and tuck them away, away in a tiny “lock-box”, where all bad thoughts go.
Jim Lehrer: Well, that brings us to the close of tonight’s debate. Each candidate will now give a brief closing statement.
Al Gore: Jim, may I make two closing statements?
Jim Lehrer: I’m afraid not. In fact, we are almost out of time, so I will instead ask each candidate to sum up, in a single word, the best argument for his candidacy. Governor Bush?
George W. Bush: Strategery.
Jim Lehrer: [ stunned ] Vice-President Gore.
Al Gore: “Lock-box”.
Jim Lehrer: This concludes the first debate. Thank you, and “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”