Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington quotes

35 total quotes (ID: 793)

Clarissa Saunders
Jefferson Smith
Jim Taylor
Others
Senator Joseph Paine


[After verbally attacking Smith] I hit him from the floor with everything I knew...[looks away]..I haven't got the stomach for this anymore.


Mr. President. I have risen to a difficult task to say that out of evidence that has come to my attention, I consider Senator Smith unworthy to address this body...Senators, I have conclusive evidence to prove that my colleague owns the very land described in his bill. He bought it the day following his appointment to the Senate. And he's holding it, using this body and his privileged office for his own personal profit! Accordingly, I offer a resolution for an immediate inquiry by the Committee of Privileges and Elections as to the fitness of my colleague to continue to sit in this chamber.

Gentlemen, I have lost all patience with this brazen character. I apologize to this body for his appointment. I regret I ever knew him. I'm sick and tired of this contemptible young man and I refuse to stay here and listen to him any longer. I hope every member of this body feels as I do.

[After Jefferson Smith collapses during his filibuster] I'm not fit to be a Senator. I'm not fit to live. Expel me! Expel me! Not him. Every word that boy said is the truth! Every word about Taylor and me and graft and the rotten political corruption of our 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!

[when Smith is announced as the newly appointed Senator] I want you to let the ballyhoo boys loose, plan a celebration, and declare a holiday.

Well what do you want me to do? Stand around like you chumps and let that drooling infant wrap that Willet Creek Dam appropriation around my neck! Not me, ha, ha, ha. Either he falls in line with us and behaves himself or I'll break him so wide open they'll never be able to find the pieces.

Our steam-roller methods are getting too hard for your sensitive soul. Is that it? The Silver Knight is getting too big for us. My methods have been all right for the past twenty years, Joe. Since I picked you out of a fly-specked hole in the wall and blew you up to look like a Senator. And now you can't stand it.

If he even starts to convince those Senators, you might as well blow your brains out, you know that, don't ya? This is the works, Joe! Either we're out of business or we're bigger than we ever were before. We can't miss a trick. We can't stop at anything until we've smashed this yokel and buried him so deep...

Senator: I didn't like this boy from the beginning. But most of us feel that no man who wasn't sincere could stage a fight like this against these impossible odds.

H.V. Kaltenborn: [Announcing on the radio] 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 they can't see at home. DEMOCRACY IN ACTION.

H.V. Kaltenborn: [Announcing on the radio] ...It is the most unusual and spectacular thing in the Senate annals. One lone 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 can't go on much longer. And all official Washington is here to be in on the kill.

Clarissa Saunders: Do you mind if I give you a rough idea of what you're up against?
Jefferson Smith: No. Nope. Go ahead.
Clarissa Saunders: Well, Senator has a bill in mind, like your camp...Now, what does he do? He has to sit down first and write it up - the why, when, where, how, and everything else. Now that takes time.
Jefferson Smith: But this one is so simple.
Clarissa Saunders: Oh I see, this one's simple.
Jefferson Smith: Yeah, and with your help...
Clarissa Saunders: Oh, I'm helping, yeah. Simple and I'm helping, so we knock it off in record-breaking time of, let's say, three or four days.
Jefferson Smith: Oh, a-a day.
Clarissa Saunders: [incredulous] A day?
Jefferson Smith: Yes, just tonight.
Clarissa Saunders: Tonight. I don't mean to be complaining Senator, but in all civilized countries, there's an institution called dinner.

Clarissa Saunders: You get to your feet in the Senate, 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 sit the bill down, look into it, study it and report to the whole Senate. You can't take a bill nobody ever heard about and discuss it among ninety-six men. Where would you get?...Now days are going by, Senator. Days, weeks! Finally, they think it's quite a bill. It goes over to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote. But it has to wait it's turn on the calendar...That's the order of business. Your bill has to stand way back there in line unless the steering committee thinks it's important.
Jefferson Smith: What's that?
Clarissa Saunders: ...Do you really think we're getting anywhere?
Jefferson Smith: Oh yes Miss Saunders. Now tell me, what's the steering committee?
Clarissa Saunders: A committee of the majority party leaders. They decide when a bill is important enough to be moved up toward the head of the list.
Jefferson Smith: Well, this is!
Clarissa Saunders: ...Where are we now?...Oh yeah, House. More amendments, more changes and the bill goes back to the Senate. If the Senate doesn't like what the House did to the bill, they make more changes. If the House doesn't like those changes, stymied.
Jefferson Smith: So?
Clarissa Saunders: So they appoint men from each House to go into a huddle called a conference and they battle it out. Finally, if your bill is still alive after all this vivisection, it comes to a vote. Yes sir, the big day finally arrives [pause] and Congress adjourns. [The smile on Smith's face droops.] Catching on, Senator?
Jefferson Smith: Uh huh. Shall we start on it right away or order dinner first?

Jim Taylor: Anything that benefits the state is mighty important to me. Owning a lot of its industry, newspapers, and other odds-and-ends. Now if I felt that you had the welfare of the state at heart like I have, I'd say you were a man to watch. Now what do you like? Business? If you like business, you can pick any job in the state and go right to the top. Or politics? Huh? If you like being a Senator, there's no reason why you can't come back to that Senate and stay there as long as you want to. [Smith rises slowly and confronts Taylor eye-to-eye.] If you're smart. Now you take the boys here, or Joe Paine. They're doing all right. They don't have to worry about being re-elected or anything else. They're smart. They take my advice.
Jefferson Smith: [in an incredulous tone] You mean you tell these men and Senator Paine what to do?
Jim Taylor: Why yes. Joe Paine has been taking my advice for the past twenty years.
Jefferson Smith: You're a liar.

Clarissa Saunders: I see. When you get home, what are you gonna tell those kids?
Jefferson Smith: I'll tell 'em the truth. Might as well find it out now as later.
Clarissa Saunders: I don't think they'll believe you, Jeff. You know, they're liable to look up at you with hurt faces and say, 'Jeff, what did you do? Quit? Didn't you do something about it?'
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 whoever tried to lift his thought up off the ground. Odds against 'em 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. Their 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, every day, common rightness. And this country could use some of that. Yeah - so could the whole ****-eyed 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 'em 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 thinkin' 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.
Jefferson Smith: Clarissa, where can we get a drink?
Clarissa Saunders: [slapping his knee] Now you're talkin'!