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"Thank You For Smoking": Father Teaches Son About Moral Flexibility

Thank You For Smoking is about the shameless tactics of pro-cigarette lobbyists and their efforts to both protect and promote the tobacco industry.

Lobbyist Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) and his 12-year-old son Joey are having a conversation as they walk through a Santa Monica amusement park.

"So, you go to an office, then you go on TV to talk about cigarettes. Then you fly out to L.A. to talk to some guy who works with movie stars. What is that?" asks Joey.

"That's my job. I'm a lobbyist," Nick answers.

"I know, but did you study to do that?"

"No, I just kind of figured it out."

"Then can't anyone just do that?"

"No, it requires a moral flexibility that goes beyond most people."

"Do I have flexible morals?"

"Well, let's say you become a lawyer, right? And you were asked to defend a murderer. Worse than that—a child murderer. Now, the law states that every person deserves a fair trial. Would you defend them?"

"I don't know. I guess every person deserves a fair defense."

"So do multinational corporations."

"So, what happens when you're wrong?"

"Well, Joey, I'm never wrong."

"But you can't always be right."

"Well, if it's your job to be right, then you're never wrong."

"But what if you are wrong?"

"Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate, and I'm defending vanilla. Now, if I were to say to you, 'Vanilla is the best flavor ice cream,' you'd say—"

"No, chocolate is."

"Exactly. But you can't win that argument. So, I'll ask you, 'So you think chocolate is the end-all and be-all of ice cream, do you?'"

"It is the best ice cream. I wouldn't order any other."

"So it's all chocolate for you, is it?"

"Yes, chocolate is all I need."

"Well, I need more than chocolate. And for that matter, I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom and choice. And that is the definition of liberty."

"But that's not what we're talking about."

"But that's what I'm talking about."

"But you didn't prove that vanilla is the best."

"I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right."

"But you still didn't convince me."

"I'm not after you. I'm after them." (He points to the people around him.)

Elapsed time: DVD scene 10; 00:37:15 – 00:39:44

Rated R for language and some sexual content

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