Blog by Richard Heagy
SCENE: United States Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., office of Rick Perry, Energy Secretary.
(The telephone rings and PERRY answers)
CALLER: Rick Perry?
CALLER: This is Al.
PERRY: Al who?
CALLER: Al Gore.
PERRY: I’ve heard the name somewhere.
GORE: Former Vice President of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize winner, as well as a Grammy Award and an Academy Award.
PERRY: I was just kidding.
GORE: I recently saw your interview online with the Prime Minister of the Ukraine.
PERRY: Rather embarrassing.
GORE: The most interesting part was making fuel with a mix of home-brewed alcohol and pig manure based on an invention by the Ukrainian President.
PERRY: You don’t have to remind me. I wish people would forget about it.
GORE: Well, you’re lucky that there’s one person who did not forget.
PERRY: Who is that?
GORE: A pig farmer in Tennessee.
PERRY: Are you sure you are Al Gore?
GORE: Absolutely. Ask me anything about climate change and global warming.
PERRY (to himself): Oh God, if I let him start on global warming I’ll be on the phone for hours.
(PERRY looks at his watch)
PERRY (to GORE): That’s OK. I believe you. You said something about a pig farmer.
GORE: Yes. He has a son at MIT.
PERRY: Good for him.
GORE: That’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
PERRY: I know that.
GORE: You’ll never guess what his major is.
PERRY: Probably not.
PERRY: That’s a great story – Son of an American pig farmer gets a degree in chemistry at MIT.
GORE: That’s not the story.
PERRY: What is it, then?
GORE: The son came home for summer vacation and of course had to help out on the pig farm. The rest of the time he was on the internet or his smart phone. He saw your interview with the Prime Minister of the Ukraine and showed it to his father.
PERRY: You mean the interview with the fake Prime Minister of the Ukraine.
GORE: Of course, but the farmer asked his son if it was possible to make fuel out of moonshine and pig shit.
PERRY: Obviously not.
GORE: The farmer has a cabin in the mountains in Tennessee and outside is an old-fashioned still where he makes moonshine.
PERRY: Is that legal?
GORE: Only if you have the right licenses.
PERRY: I take it that he doesn’t.
GORE: We’ll skip over that for now.
PERRY: Where is this going?
GORE: It’s going to help the environment and make somebody rich.
PERRY: You mean the pig farmer?
GORE: No, his son the inventor.
PERRY: Don’t tell me that he can produce fuel by mixing moonshine with pig shit.
GORE: He’s done it.
PERRY: Then I guess anybody can do it.
GORE: Not at all. He tested mixing different kinds of moonshine from all over Tennessee with pig shit from his father’s farm, but nothing worked except when he used the moonshine from his father’s still. The local water has something to do with it.
PERRY: How much has he produced?
GORE: Not that much. He needs a grant of about $250,000 to produce more fuel and do proper testing, enlarge the still and get the proper licenses.
PERRY: You mean a grant from the Department of Energy.
GORE: That’s why I’m calling.
PERRY: Thanks to the President, our research grant programs have been suspended and may be terminated.
GORE: All of them?
PERRY: I’m not sure.
GORE: Just think; if this is a success it will make monkeys out of all those people who laughed at you because of the fake telephone interview.
PERRY: That would be nice, very nice.
GORE: $250,000 is not that much when you think about the overall benefits to the world.
PERRY: That’s true. Maybe I could squeeze the money from somewhere in the budget, but I need to see some evidence that this is a viable project and inspect the still and understand the process.
GORE: The still has to be expanded but you can see it in operation, and meet the farmer and his son.
PERRY: What are the names of the farmer and his son?
GORE: Not over the phone, with the number of leaks in Washington these days.
PERRY: Of course not. What was I thinking?
GORE: I don’t want to mention the name of the area or the airport so I will have tickets delivered to your office, for your signature only. Will Saturday work?
(On Saturday morning PERRY takes an early flight on a propeller airplane to a small town in Tennessee, where he is met by the FARMER in a pickup truck. They drive for a half hour or so until they arrive at the farm, located at the end of a dirt road in a wooded area with rolling hills)
PERRY: Where’s GORE?
FARMER: He’s inside.
(Once inside PERRY meets the FARMER’s son, the CHEMIST, and they find GORE in the kitchen)
GORE: Glad you could make it. I see you have already met the CHEMIST.
PERRY: You look a bit different from the last time I saw your photos. Your beard and mustache are a little longer but it looks like you lost some weight.
GORE: Yes, but not easy.
FARMER: Shall we take a look around the farm? You might want to take off your shoes first and wear some boots.
(Now wearing boots, they tour the farm, see pigs foraging in the woods, and learn how pig shit is collected)
CHEMIST: I guess you would like to view the still now?
PERRY: Yes, I want to take a look.
(They hike through the woods, with the trees getting closer together, until they come to a run-down looking log cabin. The still is outside, behind the log cabin and the CHEMIST demonstrates how it works; then they go inside the log cabin)
PERRY (to CHEMIST): I want to understand how this conversion process works.
CHEMIST (to PERRY): Taste this.
(The CHEMIST hands PERRY a Mason jar of moonshine. PERRY tastes it and reacts)
PERRY: Quite strong.
CHEMIST (to PERRY): Take a whiff of this.
(The CHEMIST holds a small container of pig shit up to PERRY’s nose, and PERRY jumps back. The CHEMIST mixes some moonshine with pig shit and places it into a strange looking machine, which begins to turn inside and emit strange noises)
FARMER: This takes a while. Why don’t you city folks sit down and we’ll have something to eat.
(They sit on benches at a wooden table as the FARMER prepares and serves breakfast—eggs over easy, grits with gravy, hash-browns and Spam. The CHEMIST offers GORE and PERRY a glass of moonshine, but PERRY politely refuses)
PERRY: Thanks, but I’ve got to keep a clear head to verify this process. Black coffee would be good, though.
(They take their time eating and finish just as the machine makes a loud noise and shuts off. The CHEMIST then extracts a strange looking liquid—the fuel—and places it into a small air compressor to demonstrate that the fuel works)
PERRY: Seems like it works, but obviously it needs to be tested on a larger scale.
CHEMIST: We’ll start immediately when we get the Department of Energy’s grant.
(The CHEMIST gives PERRY instructions on where to send the funds, c/o the FARMER, addressed to general delivery at the nearest post office. Later, the CHEMIST drives GORE and PERRY to the airport in the FARMER’s truck. PERRY departs for Washington and GORE excuses himself as he has a later flight to a different location)
GORE: That went rather well.
CHEMIST: Yes. You did a fine job impersonating Al Gore.
GORE: Well, I have been acting for many years and I do bear a resemblance to Al Gore.
CHEMIST: Please thank the casting agency.
GORE: Are you really majoring in chemistry major at MIT?
CHEMIST: Chemistry was my high school major. Now I am working as a magician.
GORE: You certainly did a fine job with the demonstration.
CHEMIST: We’ll split the money three ways when it arrives.
(PERRY thankfully gets off the shaky prop airplane and walks through the terminal in Washington. Everyone seems to be in a hurry and a tall clean-shaven man bumps into him)
PERRY: You look kind of like Al Gore, without the beard and mustache.
GENTLEMAN: I am Al Gore.
PERRY (slapping his forehead): Oh shit.
GENTLEMAN: Excuse me?