Bugliosi: From Manson To Bush
Vincent Bugliosi- A Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and author.
Charles Manson- Convicted killer, cult leader, and pop culture icon.
Irving Kanarek- Manson's gruff defense attorney.
John Conyers- First Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Lamar Smith- Second Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Third Chairman, Secretary, Guests-Non speaking extras in House Judiciary Committee meeting.
Setting: January, 1971. A Los Angeles County Courthouse holding cell. The trial against Charles Manson is
nearing it's conclusion. The cell entrance is a barred door located upstage right. A wooden table rests between
three chairs in the center of the cell. Papers, legal documents, and a pencil are placed on top of the table.
(At Rise, Charles Manson sits center stage at the wooden table, handcuffs around his wrists, wearing a blue
prison jumpsuit. His attorney, Irving Kanarek paces back and forth around the room. Manson speaks directly to
MANSON: (To Audience) Howdy, folks! I'm Charles Manson. It's January 24th, 1971. Three days before the
jury reads out my guilty verdict. There ain't a chance in hell I'm beating the rap, this time. I'm a guy got nothing to
lose. (He breaks his connection with the audience and begins speaking to Kanarek) Hey Irv! Can you stop it with the
this and the that, and the pacing back and forth? It's starting to grate on me a little bit to a lot.
KANAREK: Charlie, as your attorney, I think it's my duty to tell you that what you're doing right now is a big mistake.
MANSON: Big mistake for who, Kanarek? For you? For your career?
KANAREK: Any attorney would say it's a bad idea for the accused to speak to the prosecutor before the trial is over.
Anything you say to him is admissible.
MANSON: Hey. It's just a friendly chit-chat. Nothing more. Besides, there's not a whole lot I can say to the guy that
won't fuck me over any more that you already have.
KANAREK: Excuse me? I'm not the one who tried to stab the judge with a pencil.
MANSON: Oh that's right. I did do that, didn't I?..(Manson picks pencil up off the table with his two cuffed hands,
and holds it up) You got any more legal advice for me, Irving? Cause I got another pencil, right here.
(The barred door opens automatically, and prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi enters a moment later. He carries a briefcase.
Manson immediately acknowledges his presence)
MANSON: Bugliosi! Come on down! Thanks for stopping by! I'd get up, but when I get up, people get nervous. And I
don't feel like making anyone nervous today.
BUGLIOSI: Yeah, what can I do for you Charlie? I've got a busy evening ahead of me.
MANSON: Why don't you join me at the table, here. Like we're equals and what-not. (Bugliosi sits down at the table)
I'm glad you could make it, Counselor. I just wanted to congratulate you for a job well done.
BUGLIOSI: The trial isn't over yet. We still have our closing arguments tomorrow, and who knows how long the jury's
going to take.
MANSON: I wouldn't worry about it too much. Especially with the likes of Kanarek here, running the defense like a
bumbling idiot. You're going to win this case, brother. I can feel it. You should be proud. You've been a pit bull in that
courtroom everyday. And you played fair. I admire that.
BUGLIOSI: Well.Thanks Charlie, I appreciate that.. And I agree with you about Kanarek running the defense like
a bumbling idiot. But I don't understand the encouragement. If I win, you loose. You realize this, don't you.
MANSON: No shit? Is that what happens? Really? Vince, did it ever occur to you that maybe I'm okay with that.
Maybe what's right, in the grand scheme of all things, is that you win this case. And maybe, just maybe, I care about
justice as much as you do.
BUGLIOSI: Wait a second. What are you saying here, Charlie? Are you saying you're finally willing to stop playing
games in court and come clean about your role in the Tate-LaBianca murders?
KANAREK: (Interjecting) No, no, no! That's not what he's saying, Counselor! And you better not be recording any of this
conversation without my client's knowledge!
MANSON: Hey Kanarek! What do you say you go grab me a cup of coffee, huh? You want anything, Vince?
BUGLIOSI: No. I'm fine.
MANSON: Vince is good. I need coffee. Thanks.
(Kanarek pauses in frustration for a moment, before walking towards the door and rapping his hands on the bars)
KANAREK: Guard! (The barred door swings open) He's not changing his plea, Vincent! (Kanarek turns back around
and exits. The barred door swings closed once more.)
MANSON: The man's a complete fucking simpleton. But he's sure as shit, right as rain on the head, with that one. There
ain't no way I'm changing my plea, Vince. That's not what I meant. Sorry to disappoint you. What I meant, is that your win
may not necessarily my loss.
BUGLIOSI: Oh, you're not going to tell me you actually want to die, are you Charlie? What, has that been your plan all
along? To be crucified at the hands of an immoral society? It makes sense, considering the whole Jesus image you've
tried to paint for yourself.
MANSON: I didn't do that, Rolling Stone magazine did that.
BUGLIOSI:..And let me guess. Helter Skelter commences in the wake of your execution, right? I had suspected that
was your plan from time to time. But I never thought you'd have the guts to actually go through with it. Listen
Charlie, get this through your head. You're not Jesus. When you're executed, the world will keep right on spinning, and
your followers will slowly dwindle away. But you may still have the chance to save yourself. Don't do this just prove a
point. Plead guilty, and throw yourself at the mercy of the court.
MANSON: Ha Ha Ha! Oh Boy! Ha Ha! Come on, Vince. You and I both know that Death Penalty shit won't
stick. State Supreme Court's ruling on it next year. They're going to repeal the Death penalty. Most likely my sentence
will be reduced to life in prison. And I'm okay with that. It's a win-win for both of us.You're putting me right where I want
to be, Vince. Spent most of my life in jail already, so thank you kindly for taking me back to my home sweet home. I got
a roof over my head, three meals a day. What I need freedom for? I got all the freedom in the world. It's right up here.
You can't lock that up. (Pause) Ohhhhh! Your little system is flawed. What a shocker!
BUGLIOSI: Hmm. Interesting. I'm sorry, what am I still doing here, talking to you?
MANSON: Look Vince, I respect you.
BUGLIOSI: You respect me?
MANSON: I respect you. More than you realize.
BUGLIOSI: Well Charlie, if you really respect me, maybe you can do me a favor and send out a word to your little family
on the outside to stop harassing me and sending death threats to my home.
MANSON: Alright, I got nothing to do with that. Squeaky Fromme has been in charge of the family since I got locked up.
I got no influence on the outside.
BUGLIOSI: You have no influence? That's bullshit, Charlie and you know it. You tell them to do something, they do it.
MANSON: Do you ever worry about getting old, Vince?
BUGLIOSI: I was talking about the threats I've been receiving.
MANSON: What are you going to do when this case is over?
BUGLIOSI: I don't think that's any of your business.
MANSON: Just hear me out, okay. You've been putting your heart and soul into this case for the past year. Probably
working seven days a week, from six to midnight, am I right?
BUGLIOSI: Five to midnight.
MANSON: That's a whole lot of work to ensure the conviction of one person.
BUGLIOSI: Five people. Don't forget about Sadie, Tex, Patty, and Van Houten. I'm handling all the cases.
MANSON: And when you succeed, you'll get a nice pat on the back, write a book about it, and then what?
BUGLIOSI: On to the next case, I guess.
MANSON: You really think any other case is going to match the excitement of this one?
BUGLIOSI: That's not why I'm a prosecutor, Charlie. I don't look for cases that excite me or boost my popularity. I'm
presented with a crime. I review the investigation. I ensure that justice is served. That's it. My only real motivation is to
keep dangerous criminals like you off the streets.
MANSON: You know, you call me a dangerous criminal. The family calls me Daddy. Some people call me Jesus.
Rolling Stone calls me the king of the counterculture. The Establishment calls me the Devil. But none of them know
who I really am.
BUGLIOSI: Who are you really, Charlie?
MANSON:....NobodyI'm nobody. I'm a bum. A tramp. A hobo. I'm a boxcar and a jug of wine. And
that's my point, Vincent. All of your hard work, late nights and time spent reading law books, and bickering with defense
attorney muckity-mucks, and for what? Just so some fucking derelict can manipulate the system to his own advantage.
BUGLIOSI: And also to ensure that that fucking derelict doesn't brainwash more kids into going out and murdering
innocent people. Oh and also to bring justice for the deaths of Sharon Tate, Jay Bering,
MANSON: You're missing the point, Vincent
BUGLIOSI: Voytek Frowkoski, Abigail Folger
MANSON: Vince, you're missing the point
BUGLIOSI: Steven Earl Parent.
MANSON: Are you missing you point, or is the point missing you?
BUGLIOSI: Rosemary and Leno LaBianca..
MANSON: You're missing the point.
BUGLIOSI: Well what is your point, Charlie? Because the longer I listen to you talk, the more I think you're just trying to
fuck with me, and I really don't have any time for that.
MANSON: My point is this, my little Italian fiddley-dee. I've watched you a lot during this case. You're high-caliber. Like
a shotgun. The judge would have thrown any other prosecutor out on their ass by now. But you're succeeding. What
you're doing is historical. It's important. The first high-profile trial in American judicial history where a person is convicted
of first-degree murder without even being present at the scene of the crime.
BUGLIOSI: You didn't need to be present at the scene of the crime, Charlie. Don't give me that "Technically, I never
killed anybody" crap, okay.
MANSON: Technically, I never did.
BUGLIOSI: You ordered it out.
MANSON: Ah Ha! There it is! Ordered it out. That's what I'm talking about Vince. Your entire case against me
hinders on one principle: If one person gets in front of a group of people and convinces them to carry out a crime, the
speaker is the one who is at fault.
BUGLIOSI: Everyone involved in the crime is at fault.
MANSON: But, in order for justice to be truly served, the speaker must be exposed.
MANSON: Well no one exposes the speaker like you, Vince. And this brings me to my next question: Don't you think
there are bigger fish-sticks to fry in this world?
BUGLIOSI: Oh for crying out loud! You're not going to lecture me about corruption in the government, are you? Believe
me, I know way more about government corruption than you do. I see it everyday and I can't stand it. I don't need you to
point it out to me. And if I had more free time in the day, I'd devote it to ensuring that public servants don't manipulate the
MANSON: But you're too busy punishing small time crooks and hippies.
BUGLIOSI: It's not just that. Corrupt government officials have more protection. They cover their tracks better and they
have people who can help bail them out of tight spots.
MANSON: So small time crooks and hippies are easier to prosecute. Is that what you're saying? You want a
sure thing. What, are you afraid to take risks?
BUGLIOSI: Fuck you, Charlie. The case I took against you and you're little gang was the furthest thing from a sure
thing you can imagine. Other D.A.'s ran from it. My superiors advised me to walk away. And there's still no
guarantee it's going to hold up. So fuck you. I'm done. You're just putting words in my mouth now. Clearly, you called
me here to play more games. (Getting up from chair) See you tomorrow at the closing arguments. I'm going to make
sure the jury goes into that room knowing what kind of animal you are. (Heads toward the barred door) Guard, I'm all
through here! (Barred door swings open.)
MANSON: Hey Bugliosi! (Bugliosi stops and turns back to Manson) When it comes down to it, putting my pathetic
skinny ass behind bars isn't much of a legacy. Especially for a man of your potential. But most likely, it's what history will
remember you for. Don't you want more than that? If David lost to Goliath, he'd still be known as more than just a
shepherd who kept lions out of the valley.
BUGLIOSI: I'm not sure if that's true..You're a very strange man.
(Bugliosi stands in the doorway for a moment, than turns around and walks out. The barred door slams shit. Manson
sits by himself for a moment, then begins singing as the lights slowly fade to black. End of Scene 1)
Setting: July 25, 2008, House Judiciary Committee meeting. At rise, First Chairman John Conyers, is seated at the high
chair of the raised table, located center stage. A microphone is placed in front of him. Second Chairman Lamar Smith
sits to his right, slightly lowered. A Third Chairman sits to Conyers' lower left, while a Secretary sits at a table on the
stage,in front of the Third Chairman. Seated at a table on the floor downstage left, is Vincent Bugliosi, appearing thirty-
seven years older than the previous scene. He also has a microphone placed in front of him, in addition to his briefcase,
legal documents, papers, and a few books. Several Guests are seated in rows of chairs, directly behind Bugliosi. One chair
is left empty. The lights have come up only enough to see silhouettes, and all onstage are in a tableau freeze.
(Charles Manson enters offstage left, under a spotlight, and makes his way down center. He is still in handcuffs and,
like Bugliosi, he too has aged thirty-seven years. Aside from his spotlight, all is dark and still around him.)
MANSON: (Speaking To Audience) So, we flash forward thirty-seven years. I'm still in jail, locked up tight. Getting old.
But what about Bugliosi? Well, he's old too. Still busy though. Did he ever take my advise? Well, back in 2008, he took
a little trip to Washington D.C
(The tableau behind Manson suddenly comes to life. The spotlight disappears, lights come up onstage, and Manson is
cut off by Chairman John Conyers)
CONYERS: Please be seated. This meeting of the House Judiciary Committee will now come to order.
(Manson observes for a moment, looks back at the audience, heads over to the empty chair and sits down. No one
notices his presence, even when he speaks. He observes the scene with a strong fascination. Conyers continues.)
CONYERS: The topic of today's hearing will be on limits of Executive Power. We'll proceed to opening up the floor to
our first speaker. We're pleased to welcome Vincent, uh, Bugliosi, who'sGive me the book..(Third Chairman
hands Conyers a book)Uh, who's the author of several timely books. I think this is his latest one..(Holds book
up)..Uh, "The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder." Uh, and he of course is a well known former Los Angeles
County Deputy District Attorney, uh, remembered for his prosecution of Charles Manson in 1970.
MANSON: Did you hear that? He just said my name! Me! I'm Charles Manson!
(No one hears or notices anything Manson does. His commentary is not a physical part of the scenic.)
CONYERS: ..He's still been very active and we welcome his appearance before the committee today.
BUGLIOSI: Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I have been told that the rules of this house dictate that
although I can quote what President George Bush said, I am forbidden from accusing him of a crime or even any
dishonorable conduct, only being allowed to use the words "Bush Administration" or "Administration Officials." This
will not make for the best of articulations, but I will do the best that I can.
MANSON: What kind of shit is that?
BUGLIOSI: In my book here, "The Prosecution Of George W. Bush For Murder," I present evidence that proves beyond
all reasonable doubt, that Bush Administration Officials took this nation to war in Iraq on a lie, under false pretenses,
and therefore under the law, they are guilty of murder for the deaths of over 4,000 young American soldiers who have
died, so far, in Iraq, fighting their war. And let's not forget the over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, woman, children, and
babies, who have died horrible violent deaths because of this war. I am fully aware that the charge I've just made is a
very serious one. But let me say that at this stage in my career, I don't have time for fanciful reveries.
MANSON: Yep. We're all getting old.
BUGLIOSI: I never, in a million years, would propose a murder prosecution of Bush Administration Officials if I didn't
believe there was more than enough evidence to convict them and that I was standing on strong legal ground.
MANSON: What if you knew you could get a book deal out of it?
BUGLIOSI: What is some of that evidence?
MANSON: That was my next question.
BUGLIOSI: Because of time constraints I'm only going to mention one piece of evidence today. I have documentary
evidence that when George Bush told the nation on the evening of October 7th, 2002, that Saddam Hussein was an
imminent threat to the security of our nation, he was telling millions of unsuspecting Americans the exact opposite of
what his own CIA had told Administrative Officials, just six days earlier in a classified report on October the 1st; that
Hussein was NOT an imminent threat.
MANSON: No shit?
BUGLIOSI: But it gets worse..
BUGLIOSI: On October the 4th, the Bush Administration put out an unclassified summary version of the classified report,
so they could give it to Congress and the American People. And this unclassified version became known as the White
Paper. And in this White Paper, which I have in front of me, the conclusion of U.S. Intelligence that Saddam Hussein
was NOT an imminent threat to the security of this country was completely deleted! Every single one of these all-important
words was taken out! So Congress and the American People never saw any of this.
MANSON: Okay. I see why you're pissed. But it's not much of a surprise.
BUGLIOSI: Since we're talking about a matter of war and peace, with the safety and lives of millions of human beings, at
that time, hanging in the balance, and with Congress about to vote in one week on whether or not it should authorize
George Bush to go to war in Iraq, what could possibly be worse, and I repeat, what could possibly be worse, and more
criminal, than the Bush Administration deliberately keeping this all-important conclusion from Congress and the American People.
How dare they do what they did? How dare they?
(Guests behind Bugliosi begin to applaud, loudly. Manson see's this, joins in stands up and cheers loudly.)
MANSON: Yeah! Fucking Aye!
(Manson remains unnoticed by everyone else)
BUGLIOSI: It'll just take a half minute or so to wrap it up. Directly because of this administration's war
(Second Chairman Lamar Smith interjects)
SMITH:Uh..I'm sorry..I'm sorry, I have to interrupt you. I'm going to ask the Chairman to make a comment or
clear the room
BUGLIOSI: May I wrap this up?
SMITH: Just a minute, please. I'm asking the Chairman a question. Mr. Chairman, you said that you would clear the
room if there was an outburst and I think there has clearly been an outburst. I'll leave it up to your discretion
CONYERS: I'm not going to clear the room, but I would, uh, ask that the guest here at the hearing, uh, to not give
any indication of approval or disapproval of any of the statements being made by the witnesses.
BUGLIOSI: Because of this Administration's war, there are well over one hundred thousand precious human beings
in their cold graves right now, as I am talking to you. Speaking metaphorically, I want you to hear, as I do, their cries for
justice. I say it would greatly dishonor those in their graves who paid the ultimate price because of this war, were you
not to refer this case to the Department of Justice. If we want this nation to become the great nation it once was, widely
respected around the world; we can hardly do this if we don't take the first step of bringing those responsible for the
War in Iraq to justice. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(All on stage freeze back in tableau as the lights dim. Bugliosi is the only person on stage who has not frozen. He
begins putting his papers back in Manson returns from offstage left and moves down center. The spotlight comes up
MANSON: (To Audience) Of course, nothing ever came of that hearing. The pump don't work when the vandals take the
handle. But it's nice to know the guy who put me in jail is trying to fry bigger fish-sticks.
(From behind Manson, Bugliosi has gotten up from the table with his briefcase. He moves downstage, locking eyes with
Manson as he goes past him)
BUGLIOSI: You didn't influence me, Charlie. Don't try and convince them you did.
(Bugliosi continues walking and exits offstage right. Manson watches him leave.)
MANSON: Looks like he's getting old, too. But at least he's still doing something he's good at. Wish I could say the
same for me.
(All lights fade to black)
End Of Play