SNL Transcripts: Tom Hanks: 10/08/88: Bush-Dukakis Debate


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 14: Episode 1

88a: Tom Hanks / Keith Richards

Bush-Dukakis Debate

Peter Jennings…..Tom Hanks
Diane Sawyer…..Jan Hooks
Sam Donaldson…..Kevin Nealon
Michaek Dukakis…..Jon Lovitz
George Bush…..Dana Carvey
David Brinkley…..Phil Hartman
Dan Quayle…..Jeff Renaudo
Marilyn Quayle…..Nora Dunn

Peter Jennings: Good evening. I’m Peter Jennings, in Los Angeles awaiting the start of the second and final presidential debate between Michael Dukakis and George Bush. As you may know, the League of Women Voters withdrew their sponsorship of this debate, citing unreasonable demands by both candidates. In fact, one of the conditions of the Bush camp requires us to tell you what’s on other channels. On HBO is “The Sensuous Nurse”, starring Ursula Andress and Udo Kier; on Showtime, “The Making of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'”, an entertaining look at this summer’s blockbuster hit; and on ESPN, a repeat of the LSU-Georgia Tech Southeast Conference showdown. And the Democrats have asked us to announce that C-Span will be rerunning the Bentsen-Quayle debate at 4 a.m. Eastern time. Well, this debate is about to start, so let’s go to the moderator – Diane Sawyer.

Diane Sawyer: Good evening, I’m Diane Sawyer of “60 Minutes”. Welcome to the second presidential debate between Vice-President George Bush and Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis. Gentlemen.

[ Bush and Dukakis enter the arena, the taller Bush immediately patting an angry Dukakis on the head. Bush stands behind his podium. Dukakis, too short for his podium, raises himself via a hidden scissorlift – now, up too high, he lowers himself to an optimum height. ]

Diane Sawyer: Our panel of questioners are Elizabeth Dowd of theCleveland Plain Dealer, Sam Donaldson of “ABC News”, and syndicated columnist Carl Rowen. The first question goes to Governor Dukakis, and will be asked by Elizabeth Dowd.

Sam Donaldson: [ waving frantically ] Governor Dukakis!! Governor Dukakis!!

Michael Dukakis: Sam.

Sam Donaldson: Your leadership style has been described as technotronic, cool, emotionally dead. Even your closest admirers admit that sometimes you are distant and aloof, a bit of a cold fish. Pundits are saying that one of the reasons you trail in the polls is that you are uninspiring, and seem totally devoid of passion.

Michael Dukakis: What’s the question?

Sam Donaldson: Well, I suppose the question, Governor, is do you have the passion necessary to lead this country?

Michael Dukakis: [ unemotional ] Sam, that kind of asperation to my character, quite frankly, makes me – well, there’s no other word for it – enraged. Maybe I shouldn’t say that in the heat of the moment, but I can’t control myself. I apologize for flying off the handle. And I’m just sorry my kids had to see me like this.

Diane Sawyer: Mr. Bush. Rebuttal?

Sam Donaldson: [ interrupting ] Mr. Vice-President!! Mr. Vice-President!!

George Bush: Sam.

Sam Donaldson: Do you really think SDI, or Star Wars, will work? Do you really think it’s possible to create a shield that would prevent any or all nuclear missles from striking the United States?

George Bush: I’m glad you asked me that, Sam.. because tonight I can reveal something that’s just been declassified. The key to SDI, to the whole concept, is a Time Machine. It’s a beautiful idea. Let’s say the Soviets launch a surprise attack, and a few of their missiles do get through our floating network of particle beam lasers. Then we use the Time Machine. We go back in time, before the surprise attack. It’s defensive, it’s clean, and it’ll save our kids in the event of a Russian first strike. Now, who could be against that?

Diane Sawyer: Governor Dukakis?

Michael Dukakis: Well, if such a Time Machine were possible, I’dlike the vice-president to explain why we haven’t been visited already by time travelers from the future. You can’t tell me that responsible members of a future government of the United States wouldn’t, with access to a Time Machine, come back to reverse some of the mistakes – cockamamie mistakes – made by this administration. Of course they would! This idea is ridiculous! Spending billions and billions on a Time Machine whose very existence defies logic is, in my mind, lunacy.

George Bush: Well, Mr. Massachusettes, Harvard Yard Braniac. You may prove to yourself that it’s impossible, but I think I’m like most Americans who’d rather see a Time Machine with an American flag on the side, and not a hammer and sickle.

[ the audience applauds ]

Diane Sawyer: Please, as I warned you before, hold down your reaction. It will only come out of your candidate’s.. [ a tub of popcorn is thrown at her – she holds back her tears ] That was uncalled for. Next.. Sam Donaldson, with a question for Governor Dukakis.

Sam Donaldson: Vice-President Bush, there are millions of homeless in this country – children who go hungry, and lacking in other basic necessities. How would the Bush administration achieve your stated goal of making this a kinder, gentler nation?

George Bush: Well, that is a big problem, Sam, and unfortunately the format of these debates makes it hard to give you a complete answer. If I had more time, I could spell out the program in greater detail, but I’m afraid, in a short answer like this, all I can say is we’re on track – we can do more – but we’re getting the job done, so let’s stay on course, a thousand points of light. Well, unfortunately, I guess my time is up.

Diane Sawyer: Mr. Vice-President, you still have a minute-twenty.

George Bush: What? That can’t be right. I must have spoken for at least two minutes.

Diane Sawyer: No, just forty seconds, Mr. Vice-President.

George Bush: Really? Well, if I didn’t use the time then, I must have just used the time now, talking about it.

Diane Sawyer: No, no, Mr. Vice-President, it’s not being countedagainst you.

George Bush: Well, I just don’t want it to count against Governor Dukakis’ time.

Diane Sawyer: It won’t. It will come out of the post-debatecommentary.

George Bush: Do you think that’s a good idea?

Diane Sawyer: You still have a minute-twenty, Mr. Vice-President.

George Bush: Well, more has to be done, sure. But the programs we have in place are doing the job, so let’s keep on track and stay the course.

Diane Sawyer: You have fifty seconds left, Mr. Vice-President.

George Bush: Let me sum up. On track, stay the course. Thousand points of light.

Diane Sawyer: Governor Dukakis. Rebuttal?

Michael Dukakis: I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!

Diane Sawyer: And now, Carl Rowen, with a question for Vice-President Bush.

Sam Donaldson: [ interrupting ] Mr. Vice-President!! Mr. Vice-President!!

George Bush: Sam.

Sam Donaldson: Mr. Vice-President, wouldn’t you agree that a lot of people, after watching Dan Quayle’s performance last Wednesday, are, quite frankly, worried about his ability to step into the job of president should something, God forbid, happen to you?

George Bush: Sam, let me answer that question this way: I’m inperfect health. I job everyday. Pulse rate 43. Ticker’s fine. I pledge that I will spend more money than any president ever has on Secret Service protection. And I will go down in history as the president in the bulletproof bubble. Guys? [ a glass bubbled is lowered around Bush ] Carl Rowan, would you do the honors? [ Carl Rowan holds gun before Bush’s glass bubble ] Go ahead, aim at my heart, Carl.. [ Carl fires bullets at Bush, but the only ricochet – eventually the glass bubble is lifted back up ] So you see, there’s nothing to worry about.

Diane Sawyer: Gentlemen, let’s go to your closing statements.Governor Dukakis, you’re first.

Michael Dukakis: I am the son of Greek immigrants. My parents were little people – little swarthy people. So I understand the American dream. Yo comprende el dremo des Estados Unidos. [ repeats the phrase in Greek, French and Hebrew ] The question you have to ask yourself on November 8th is whose judgment you trust. Do you trust the judgment of a man who traded arms to the Ayatollah and used that money to fund an illegal war in Central America? Or do you trust a son of a Greek immigrant who can think and talk in complete sentences? I think the choice is obvious.

Diane Sawyer: Vice-President Bush?

George Bush: Well, let me answer some of that. First of all, I didn’t know that the money from the Iran arms sales was going to contras. I was told the money was going for the bombling of abortion clinics. Now, this election is about the future. Yes, we want change. But we are the change! Do we want to go back to the malaise days of Jimmy Carter? I don’t think so. So, once again, stay the course; we’re on track. A thousand points of light. Thank you very much.

Diane Sawyer: And thank you, gentlemen, for sharing this debate with the American public. I’m Diane Sawyer, saying goodnight.

Peter Jennings: Well, this concludes our debate, and with me is my colleague, David Brinkley, a veteran in many such debates. David what were your impressions?

David Brinkley: Well, what we saw were two men doing everything they could to avoid saying what they would do if elected. Because they know if they did, we wouldn’t elect them. But that’s nothing new, of course, Peter. Every president from Washington to Ronald Reagan has been either a liar or a fool, and usually both!

Peter Jennings: Well, David, throughout your career, you’ve been known for your cynicism, but certainly you haven’t lost that much faith in the presidency.

David Brinkley: Well, Peter, as I get older, I find I’ve lost faith in a good many things – country, family, religion, the love of a man for a woman.. I’ve reached a point where it’s struggle to get up in the morning, to continue to plow to a dreary, nasty, brutal life.. of terrible desperation.. at the end of which we’re all just food for maggots!

Peter Jennings: Food for maggots, indeed. Well, thank you, David. We have someone with us who will undoubtedly have a more upbeat interpretation of tonight’s debate – George Bush’s running mate, Senator Dan Quayle. Senator? [ little boy in a suit walks up ] Senator, just how did George Bush do tonight?

Dan Quayle: Oh, he was great! I’m really proud to be his running mate! He waxs just great! He was real presidential! He’s going to be a great president, and I’ll be the vice-president! It’s going to be great! So let’s go get ’em!

Peter Jennings: I’m sure it will be great, Senator. I’d like to ask you a question about last Wednesday’s debate. Why did you have so much trouble answering the questions about what you would do inthe event that you became president?

Dan Quayle: [ stumped ] Gee, uh.. yeah, sure..

Mrs. Quayle: [ jumps in and pulls Dan away ] Come on, honey, let’s go.

Dan Quayle: My wife!

Peter Jennings: The Senator and Mrs. Dan Quayle. Well, on that note, I think it’s time for us to go. For David Brinkley, I’m Peter Jennings. Thanks for joining us.

SNL Transcripts

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Author: Don Roy King

Don Roy King has directed fourteen seasons of Saturday Night Live. That work has earned him ten Emmys and fourteen nominations. Additionally, he has been nominated for fifteen DGA Awards and won in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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2 years ago

Trying to find an old skit…I forget the host-it was a live call to a soldier in desert storm…the ongoing joke was everyone kept saying how proud they are and how much they love him…started with mom then extends to family and finally diane sawyer (Jan Hooks) and sam donaldsonKevin Nealon) pipe in and say…we just want to say from everyone here how proud we are of you and how much we all love you…

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