The immigration Trial of Tarjei Straume



The scene is the same court of law as decribed in Act One. Upstage Center are two enormous, elevated thrones where Justice sits, without blindfold, with young Mercy on his right hand side. Above these thrones are the winged cherubs, now seven in number.
Otherwise, the court room is exactly as in the first Act, and the audience is the same. There is no jury. When the curtain goes up, however, the audience has not been admitted. The Magistrate is speaking with Jerry Falwell, Richard Nixon, Tarjei Straume, and Uncle Sam. A security guard is watching the door.

Curtain Up

Magistrate: Mister Straume, are you prepared to plea bargain on Reverend Falwell's conditions?

Straume (to Nixon): Richard, what's going on?

Nixon: The jury voted in your favor, but Uncle Sam here won't give an inch. He is clinging adamantly to his prerogative to keep you out.

Uncle Sam:
You're the one who's turning my judicial branch into a circus, Richard. Just take a look at that happy horseshit you arranged up there (pointing to Mercy and Justice). Justice without blindfold! And a male! With Mercy and seven cherubs! (Shaking his head.) Get'em out of here. This is my country and my court with my laws. Blindfold Justice at once and give the son of a bitch a sex change! Two cherubs are enough. Get the other five out.

Magistrate: Very well, Uncle Sam. (To Mercy:) We have been very pleased with your presence, but I'm afraid you have to leave and take five cherubs with you.

Mercy, looking very sad, exits quietly with five cherubs. On her way out, Falwell reaches out to pinch her luscious buttock, but Uncle Sam stops him.

Nixon (to Straume): Our only chance now is the power and goodwill of the President.

I wish you were still President, Richard.

Nixon (with a deep and nostalgic sigh): So do I, son. So do I.

Magistrate: You see, Mister Straume, the incumbent Republican administration has a vested interest in the approval rating among Reverend Falwell's..... huh ..... fans.

Falwell (licking his lips with a smile): The faithful sheep of the Lord's loyal servant.

Magistrate: Well..... yes, so we have to accept the Reverend back in this court, regrettable as it may be to you, Mister Straume.

Nixon: What this means, Tarjei, is that you'll have to publicly confess your sins and renounce your evil ways as a born again Christian.

Straume (gawking at Nixon in disbelief): You didn't.....

Nixon: No, but my good and close friend Chuck Colson did. And Falwell is a tough plea bargainer.

Falwell (patting Straume friendly on the shoulder): Lay your problems on God's shoulders, and He'll find a way.

Uncle Sam (rising, donning his star spangled hat): This is bullshit, Jerry, and you know it! I won't stand for it! I don't want this drug pusher on my territory!

Nixon: Sit down and take off your hat! (To Straume:) You see, if you want to be an American against Uncle Sam's wishes, you need the Reverend as well as the President and myself as your allies.

Straume (shrugging in surrender): OK.

Falwell (giving Straume a Bible): Welcome to the club, Brother Tarjei. Here's the Falwell Edition of the Holy Scriptures, with all my footnotes and commentaries. I've autographed it for you.

Straume (accepting the gift): Thank you, Reverend. Thank you, Jesus.

Falwell: Praise the Lord.

Uncle Sam: Jerry, what the hell got into you?

Falwell: Well Sam, I took your advice and had a terrific holiday in Nevada. When I heard that Nixon was appealing to the President, I knew I had to do something. Then God gave me a jackpot on a slot machine while He told me that He needed Straume as His servant in His plan to save America from your mistakes, Sam.

Uncle Sam (indignantly): You're turning on me, Jerry. What were you saying at first about saving me from this subversive drug pusher?

Falwell: You're the one who turned on the Lord when you refused to accept His Holy Scriptures as the law of the land!

Uncle Sam (clenching his fist): You'll regret this! I'll have your tax exempt operation investigated, and I'll see your holy ass in my personal federal pen!

Falwell (with an arrogant smile): That won't work, because all my books are clean and wide open.

Uncle Sam: Including what you just dropped at the brothels and casinos in Nevada?

Falwell (still smiling): The Lord gave His loyal servant a cash jackpot that covered all expenses.

Uncle Sam:
You son of a bitch.

Falwell: Besides, I got the sheriff to close down some of those brothels, which has earned us very good publicity and multiplied our donations from Moral America. When the Lord giveth, He giveth in plenty. My cup runneth over.

Uncle Sam: So you're a man of God, a Christian soul. What about those poor girls you put out of work, did you ever think of them?

Falwell (very smug and still smiling): They all fell on their knees and gave their lives to Jesus. They're in our congregation now, laboring for the Lord.

Nixon: In what capacity, may I inquire?

Falwell: They're prepared to obey the Lord in all His commandments.

Nixon: And if the Lord wants His servant to have his own secret harem as a tool to seduce his competition?

If the command comes from the Lord..... Why are you trying to trick me, Brother Richard? We're waving the same flag now.

That's right, Reverend. I'm sorry. (To Uncle Sam:) What got into you, Uncle Sam? I thought you agreed that my client's plea was a just one.

Uncle Sam (with an angry growl): Don't try to push me around. You stopped the best war I ever had and made me lose the sucker. You terminated the draft. It's because of you I can't get any wars off the ground these days.

Nixon: No, it's because Congress hit us in the head with that War Powers Act.

Uncle Sam: Bullshit. It's your fault. It's all your fault. Everything's your fault. Ask anybody.

Nixon: I did my best to help you. Now I feel sorry for you.

Uncle Sam: Son of a bitch.

Nixon (to Straume): Never mind him, kid. Come here. (Walks Downstage Right with Straume, away from the others.) Uncle Sam's got his back up, I'm afraid, but Jerry Falwell is ours. Never trust that preacher. He's a snake, but he's ours.

Straume: What do you mean?

Nixon (pulling a small tape recorder from his pocket): Here's everything he said about his Nevada vacation.

Straume (suppressing a triumphant outburst): You.....

Nixon (very warm): This is not just any tape recorder, Tarjei. This is a Tricky Dick Special. He'll fear this more than he fears the Lord.

Straume (deeply impressed): Wow!.....

Nixon (half whispering): Don't breathe a word. It's our ace in the hole. I guarantee you that Falwell will play ball all the way. Our way if need be.

Straume: Then I won't have to confess that conversion!

It's too late to call that off. Besides, it's a good gambit. Remember, you're not a liberal. You're an archconservative. God has made you see the Light in the Right.

(adjusting to the idea): God has made me see the Light in the Right. OK.

Nixon (patting Straume's shoulder): You've got it, kid.

Magistrate (as Nixon and Straume return): All set, everybody?

Falwell and Nixon nod.

Uncle Sam: Wait a minute. With Jerry goin' turncoat, who's prosecuting?

Magistrate: You are, Uncle Sam. You're the only reason Mister Straume is not an American. You with your Section 212 (a) (23) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Uncle Sam (walks up to Straume, white with rage): If you ever put your dope-stinkin' foot on my territory again, it'll be over my dead body! Or yours!

Nixon (putting his hand on Straume's shoulder): Easy, kid. Don't talk back to him. You have to be a citizen to do that. (To Uncle Sam:) Sammy, you're an absolute ass today! I don't know why, but you're behaving like a jerk! Now you apologize to my client and sit down before I write a very ugly book about you!

Uncle Sam (reluctantly): I apologize, Mister Straume. (Sits.)

Magistrate: Uncle Sam, when we begin, I can't accept any expletives about dope hippies or anything like that. Just stick to your section in the law, OK?

Uncle Sam (pressured): OK.

Magistrate: Everything is set. Let them in.

The audience trails in: Downey, Swaggart, Hefner, McClaine, Donahue, etc. the same old crowd, with Johnny Carson and his audience off Upstage Right. No jury is present. Three White House aides enter the jury box, however, where they set up a complete monitoring and communications system replete with recorders, cameras, telephones, cables and faxes. An NBC crew comes in and sets up cameras and microphones all over the courtroom. Everybody gets makeup. Bright lights.

Nixon (to Straume): Listen, Falwell is getting his circus, and you're his dancing elephant. Trust me, Tarjei: If he gets out of control, I'll use my weapon on him: The Tricky Dick Special. OK?

Straume (with a forced smile): OK.

Magistrate (hitting the gavel): The court is in session. Ladies and gentlemen, you notice that the jury is no longer required. They have all signed a petition to the White House for Mister Straume's official Americanization.

Uncle Sam: Then why are we wasting our time here?

Nixon: We're going to force you, with a little help from the President, to give my client a U.S. passport and accept him as a citizen.

Uncle Sam: Never!

Nixon (moving up close to Uncle Sam's face): We'll see! We'll see!

Uncle Sam: I don't need another disgrace to my flag just like you've always been! And your mama!

Audience reaction. Angry shouts from Downey's mob.

Magistrate (pounding the gavel): Knock it off all of you! And that ghetto talk won't get you anywhere, Uncle Sam. Mister Falwell, please explain to this court why you, after having prosecuted the defendant, now recommend that the President intercede for him.

Falwell: My dear brothers and sisters, let's talk about The Good News you all know from The Old Time Time Gospel Hour The Good News about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has the power to change the worst sinner's heart and make a new servant for His holy cause. Let me introduce to you such a new Christian soul, a new born baby: The defendant, Tarjei Straume!

An overwhelming applause fills the courtroom and thirty million TV-homes as Straume rises and takes a deep and humble bow. Swaggart and his friends are sobbing and weeping profusely, hugging each other and praising God.

Magistrate: Mister Falwell, what's all this?

Falwell: A revival, your honor. God's holy circus. We're on national television, and the President is watching. (To Straume): Please tell America what Jesus has done for you.

Straume (a little bashful, clearing his throat): Well, huh.... well.... I was a sinner. I was a liar and a cheat. I used drugs. I was a hippie and a liberal.

Falwell: A political liberal?

Straume: Yes.

A communist, an anarchist, and a secular humanist?

Straume: Yes.

Falwell: You were a card-carrying member of the A.C.L.U?

Straume: Yes.

Falwell: Did you also fool around with liberal theology?

Straume: Yes.

With astrology and reincarnation?


With rock'n'roll, drugs and sex?


Falwell: And you used obscene language?


Falwell: And you watched HBO?

Straume: Yes.

Falwell: And you were sexually active?

Nixon: Objection, your honor. My client is being humiliated, intimidated, and coerced.

Magistrate: Objection sustained. Are you a Jesuit, Reverend? This sounds perilously like the Inquisition.

Falwell: Well, the defendant wants to be a citizen of God's country, and in order to make an omelet you have to break some eggs.

I still won't stand for the destruction of my client's personal dignity, Reverend. Especially not on live national television.

That dignity of yours will only keep you out of Heaven, counsel. You can't be saved by Jesus unless you're stripped naked. You have to break down and cry in desperation.

So you can gloat over it in front of millions of people? No way.

Falwell: In that case I see no reason why my Christian audience out there should re-elect the President unless he declines to help your client.

Nixon: Your honor, may the Reverend and I approach the bench?

Magistrate: All right. Come on over.

Nixon gives Straume a knowing wink as he and Falwell confer quietly and inaudibly with the Magistrate. Falwell reappears dumbfounded and pale, but when he regains his voice, he cannot conceal a quick blush.

Falwell: I don't want anyone to misunderstand my last remark. Of course it's our holy duty to support God's man in the White House in 1992, a man who is obviously going to help this brave Norwegian servant of the Lord who has left all his sins behind and given his life to Jesus. Brother Tarjei, tell us about Jesus.

Straume: Well.... huh.... Jesus forgave all my sins and saved me. He made me see the Light in the Right. My hippie liberalism with drugs and sex was really Satan having a strong hold on my soul. When Brother Jerry brought Jesus into my life, I found a completely new way of looking at things at politics, for instance. I believe in strict laws, tough enforcement, a strong and active military establishment, respect for the flag, hard work, no free lunch for anybody, apple pie, the girl next door, honor to our dear Uncle Sam, small town values, and the safe re-election of President George Bush. And, of course, The Ten Commandments, The Sermon on the Mount, picking up the cross and following Brother Jerry and Jesus Christ.

Uncle Sam (rising, donning his star spangled hat, walking up to Straume): Bullshit! If I bought that line of hogwash from you, I wouldn't be fit to run and own the most powerful government ever! Jesus and apple pie my ass, what are you trying to pull?

Nixon (stepping in between Straume and Uncle Sam): If you were fit for your job, Sam, the country wouldn't be in such a mess now, would it? You blame it on us Presidents, but you're the one who screws things up. Now sit down, and take off your hat!

Uncle Sam and Nixon both sit down.

Falwell (responding to a demanding stare from Nixon): The Moral Majority, Brother Tarjei, counsel Nixon and myself want you to clean up your act, Sam. Clean up your language and show respect for God's people. Applause from the Swaggart-camp.

Uncle Sam (in anger, to the Magistrate): They all seem to think they can bully me as they please, but that bum ain't gett'n into my country! (Pointing at Straume): I've got my Section 212 (a) (23)!! And I'm sitt'n on it!

White House Chief of Staff John Sununu bursts into the courtroom, startling the security guards who back off once they see this human pit bull in all his fury. Accidentally knocking down an NBC light, Sununu charges straight up to Uncle Sam like a rhino through the jungle, ignoring the Magistrate.

Sununu (to Uncle Sam): You're sitt'n on what?

Uncle Sam: Section 212 (a) (23) of the Immigration and Nationality Act!

Sununu: Then eat it! I'm the one who decides if Straume is to be an American! I and the President!

Uncle Sam (rising, donning his hat): No it ain't! It's my 212 (a) (23)! It's my Constitution! And it's my country!

Sununu: So he can't get a waiver. Fuck it! He can't have a visa. Fuck that too! He won't need any of that chickenshit if we decide he's an American!

Uncle Sam: You can't decide that!

Sununu (pointing his finger in a threat): Watch us, Sam. Watch us.

Uncle Sam (to the Magistrate): He can't do that, can he?

Magistrate (shrugging, shaking his head): I don't know. I don't think so.

Straume (rising, taking charge): Let's find out. (To Sununu:) You wanna do it?

Sununu (with a haughty arrogance): Why should I?

Straume (pulling Sununu Downstage Right, off the cameras and away from the microphones): Because I'm a son of a bitch just like you are, and I think we can make a deal. (To Nixon:) Richard, come over here.

Nixon joins Straume and Sununu Downstage Right, where he takes the tape out of his Tricky Dick Special and hands it over to Sununu.

Nixon (to Sununu): With this tape you have a healthy chunk of the Religious Right in your pocket. Falwell will ask his TV audience to vote exactly as you tell him, and my client is out of the circus.

Sununu (shaking Straume's hand): Welcome to America, you crazy son of a bitch.

Nixon: Now you can be a communist and an anarchist all you want. You can have a Mormon harem in Utah or a brothel in Nevada. You can join any racket on the market. You're a citizen, and with a little help from the A.C.L.U. or with the right amount of cash, you can get away with anything you want.

Straume: You mean, I've got my freedom.

Nixon: Exactly.

Straume: What about your House of Unamerican Activities Committee?

Nixon: Dissolved years ago. A bad idea. Too unamerican.

Straume: I'll try to be nice to Uncle Sam. Maybe I can butter him up.

Sununu: That won't be easy. Tomorrow the President and I will have to twist his arm so he'll sign for your citizenship. We need his signature. He is, after all, the nation. See you around. (He exits.)

Straume: There's something else, Richard. I don't have any money, so I can't pay you right now.

Nixon: Forget it, son. Just remember I'm not that bad guy people seem to think I am.

Straume: But I have an idea that could cover a lot more than your fee.

Nixon: Tell me about it.

Straume: You could help General Electric beat the Japanese competition.


Straume: Show me that tape recoprder.

Nixon gives Straume the tape recorder.

Straume: We'll have a unique photograph taken of you in silhouette with a big coat and hat so that your distinguished face is immediately recognized with that famous nose. Then we go to Madison Avenue and launch a global campaign for the fantastic TDS tape recorder!

Nixon (with joy, amusement, and wonder): The Tricky Dick Special!

Straume: Exactly. You can expand the idea into all kinds of electronic appliances, using the TDS logo: Transistor radios, beepers, computer games, cameras, calculators, you name it. Let's do it!

Well like I said, you don't have to pay me for representing you.

Straume: But I'd like to. And maybe you'll offer me a decent piece of the action.

Nixon: Yes of course, it's your idea.

Straume: Partners?

Nixon: It's a deal.

They shake hands.

Curtain Falls.

© Tarjei Straume

For more interesting stuff (also Anthroposophy) see Tarjei's Home Page at