Monday, November 10, 2014

a million dollars a minute

On the flight back to the U.S., Congressman Wilson tells his assistant Bonnie:

"I want the CIA in my office at ten o'clock.  Assistant Deputy Director or higher.  Tell them that if I don't see someone at 10:00, I'm gonna start docking their allowance at a rate of a million-dollars a minute.


INTERIOR.  CIA room at Langley.  Gust Avrakotos is listening to information about the Afghans' progress against the invading Soviets and there's a film going. ...

AGENT PATRICK -- "The AKs, RPG-7 grenade launchers, and 82-millimeter mortars are coming into Pakistan by air and sea, and then trucks take them to the Afghan border."

AGENT WELLS -- "Then we take them across on mules, which are running a little more than we thought..."

After some explaining and expounding on the various costs for mule-transport, Avrakotos asks, rhetorically and impatiently, if Afghanistan might one day think about building some [flipping] roads...

-- "Gust."
-- "Yeah?"
-- "I got something for you."


Next scene, Avrakotos is sitting in Congressman Wilson's outer office, his impatience leavened by the polite, cheerful atmosphere and the polite, cheerful, and attractive women going about their work.

Wilson enters, everyone's greeting him -- "Welcome back!"-smile- -- he moves through the office area and arrives at Avrakotos -- "Who are you?"

RECEPTIONIST -- "This is Gust Avrakotos.  He's come up from Langley to bring you the information that you wanted."


She pops out from one of the doors -- "Yes sir?"

-- I said Assistant Deputy Director or higher.
-- I know, sir.  I called...

AVRAKOTOS -- "No, Assistant Deputies don't come to the Hill without a subpoena.  I'm the guy you want to talk to, Congressman.  I'm on the Afghan desk."

-- "You're on the Afghan desk?"
-- Yeah.
-- Well, I wouldn't be too proud of that.  I just got back from there.
-- Oh, I know.  And that's a hell of a flight, too.  That nine hours' flying time against the jet stream.  Probably had to stop in Brussels, plus the time difference.  I'd be a little grumpy myself.

Wilson gives him a slightly more scrutinizing glance.

Wilson -- I ain't grumpy because of the flight.

Gust -- We want to give you this, 'cause we know you like single malt.

It's called Talisker, and it's mentioned in a Robert Louis Stevenson poem, The Scotsman's Return from Abroad.  "The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Isla or Glenlivet!"

Wilson pauses.
-- Who are you again?
-- Gust Avrakotos.
-- Have Bonnie come into this meeting.

MARLA -- Yes, sir.

Wilson -- What's the gift for?

-- It's from the Afghan desk.  For doubling the budget for the mujahideen.

-- Oh.  Well, thank yah.
-- It was nothing.
-- Well, it's a nice bottle of Scotch.  Must've been hard to get.
-- No, doubling the budget was nothing.  I mean, 10 million dollars for covert ops against the Russian Army is meaningless.  What are you, an infant?

[Here he is "getting slapped around" again, only this time not by a "Pakistani vaudeville team"...]

Wilson -- Now, you hang on just one second!  I don't remember your name.

-- Gust Avrakotos.

-- Gus Avacadoes.

-- Yeah.

-- Okay, you mind if I call you Gus?
-- Yeah, well, my name's Gust with a "t" but I don't care.

(Wilson's shifted his petty annoyance at having his budget-doubling activities disparaged as being not enough, back into his serious annoyance with the "stonewall" attitude he ran into at the foreign embassy, which he honestly did not understand...) 

He speaks to Avrakotos strong and firm, with an accent of restrained outrage:
"Fifteen hours ago, I offered Harold Holt the keys to the safe, okay?  I stood there in the office in Islamabad and I said, 'How much do you need?' and I was apparently annoying him.

{Charlie Wilson's War.  2007.  Mike Nichols.  Aaron Sorkin.}


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