To Live and Write in LA

Fools on the Hill

(Originally published on Blogcritics.org)

fools002“Finally, something liberals and conservatives can agree on.”

No such thing, you might be thinking, especially in the current hyper-volatile pre-election atmosphere. You might be even more skeptical when you find out this claim comes from a Hollywood script entrepreneur.

But you’d be wrong.

My initial contact with Jerrol LeBaron was because I had scripts to sell and he has a unique way of doing it. But before anybody is a writer, they are a citizen of their country. Jerrol didn’t like what he saw happening in Congress and state legislatures and he came up with a radical idea: Legislators should read a bill before they vote for it.

Seems kind of like an obvious proposition, but in the wake of Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous remark about the health care bill, that “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it”, Jerrol discovered that hardly any legislators were reading any bills.

What he decided to do about this and why it is important is the theme of Fools on the Hill, a film by writer/director Jed Rigney (The Delicate Art of Being SingleNon Sequitur) and Jerrol LeBaron.

Jerrol LeBaronThe film documents Jerrol’s efforts to have a bill requiring legislators to read a bill before they vote for it passed in North Dakota. Why North Dakota? You’ll have to see the film. But between segments of Jerrol’s almost one-man effort to turn-around a century of legislative malpractice (presented in black and white, so we can feel his pain), we meet the people who validate the argument that this is something liberals and conservatives can agree about.

Dean Cain

Dean Cain

In interviews revolving around the damage not reading the bill can do, we see extremes such as Rick Perry supporter (and former Superman) Dean Cain agreeing with Democratic and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. (St ElsewherePineapple Express). Talk about strange bedfellows: other unlikely combinations agreeing with Jerrol on his crusade are the Heritage Institute with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Wall Street Journal with National Public Radio.

No, this is not science fiction.

The film also suggests that final versions of bills be made available to citizens for a certain number of days before they are voted on. This would have been impractical before the Internet. Now, it should be a no-brainer.

Ed Begley Jr

Ed Begley Jr

If you are a taxpayer, you should see this film to find out what is happening to your tax dollars. The scandalous behavior of politicians on both sides of the aisle that are detailed here are mind boggling. You may remember the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, but what about the billion dollar airport with only eighteen flights per week. There’s more.

As a film maker you should see this film because it is an engaging, creative documentary done on a small budget. Also, there is clever usage of two short cuts of James Stewart from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, illustrating that the problem Jerrol is trying to solve has been around for a while. Perhaps they should have titled it Mr. LeBaron Goes to Bismarck.

To find out more about the film, check its website. To help with the effort to make legislators responsible for their votes, check out Honor in Office.

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An exploration of film and filmmaking