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Episode 3: A Few Letters, One Story

The story of Michael Collins and his effort to spread the word on voting, civic participation, and his relationship to the issue of Bill Clinton’s accountability.

Original Script

Let’s start with this. In any given week, there are probably between 100 and 125 political journalists covering the 2020 election,

Depending on which week you’re interested. And it is a challenging task to juggle two assignments in a row. Even seasoned reporters like us can occasionally fall into this trap.

But even seasoned reporters like you’ve got to stick to your knitting patterns. We’re dealing with a bit of a paradox in this age of instant gratification.

And sometimes, we make bad picks.

I’m going to make a pick.

I’m going to pick Clinton.


Fuck you.



This is a bad pick.

Pick. This is a pick.

This is a pick.

We’ll see who he is.

That’s it? Oh, no, no.

Oh, no. This is a really bad pick.


This is somebody who’s not good at picking.








Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Don’t pick.

It’s just too difficult.

O.K. So let’s get to it.

Michael Collins, please respond.

And there’s a sweet 16-year-old whose name still doesn’t come up for this print.

I’m just going to type it now.

Do you want to read?

Uh-huh, of course.

What’s that?

A few letters, one story.

He’s got a lot of letters. What’s that story?

A story in The Washington Post.

O.K., this is a story?



The story of Michael Collins.

O.K., Michael Collins had been born in New York City. He lives in Washington, D.C.

He’s a senior at Stuyvesant.

And then he went to Brooklyn College.

And he was a Rhodes scholar.


And he wanted to be a prosecutor.

But he ended up dropping out. And his family moved around a lot.

And he had a lot of trouble finding a job.

And he had a lot of trouble getting a job.

Which is really hard.

I’m not that smart.

So he does a lot of volunteer work.

Like what?

He does a little bit of everything.

I’m not that bright. I’m not that pretty, right?

Or he’s an artist.

An artist.

An artist.

An artist.

He does a lot of volunteer work.

Like what?

He makes videos.

Every once in a while, I make a video.

To raise awareness and to introduce people to something important.

Or he makes art.

I made a few videos for my high school, my high school art class.

He’s making these videos to educate himself about what was going on in the world of politics.

And vote.


Voting is hard, Michael. And he wants you to know how hard it is.

Voting is really hard. And he wants you to know we can make change, and we can make our voices heard.

And he’s trying to get to the point where he can be an active participant in that process.

And let’s face it, Michael, you’re never going to be any good at it if you just try. You’re never going to be anywhere near that effective unless you try. So why not just engage and engage and educate yourself?

That’s exactly right.

Let me tie this back into the issue of accountability. One of the first instances of accountability that I remember seeing was Bill Clinton.

He was impeached by the House in December of 1998.

I got the call from the White House that morning. And I went to the White House, and I said, Mr. President, I’m sorry we failed you. And he said to me, Mr. President, I know that this is not the right way to go about things. You can take a lot of heat for something that was not even your decision.

I can’t tell you how much of the pain that I was feeling then was being driven by the realization that I was not going to be able to get this done.

So he’s trying to get to a place where that’s his responsibility.


And he told me that story.

That’s right.

It’s a weird feeling.

We’ll be right back.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

It’s Wednesday, August 24.

I feel like I am in a pornographic film.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a major intersection in Hong Kong on Tuesday to voice their anger over a report by the International Monetary Fund about Hong Kong’s airport. It’s not just Hong Kong. It’s Hong Kong. It’s mainland China. I am the island. I am a colony. I am one country, two countries, China. [CHINESE]