(At 8 o'clock tonight CBS will present highlights from last year's Bicentennial celebrations. We can just imagine. In fact, we prefer to just imagine).
Announcer: "CBS News presents, "Our Happiest Birthday: Great Day in the Evening: America at 201: That's the Way It Was: The Colon in the Title! A CBS News special report brought to you by Amalgamated Consolidated, Inc. - 'Our Business is Taking Over Your Business' - and by new Tickle deodorant. And now from our newsroom at his summer villa in Southampton, Walter Conkrite. . . ."
Walter Conkrite: "Good evening. 'THIS is WALter CONKrite. Well, it was just a year ago today that Americans in record numbers turned out to celebrate the founding of our nation. And if I may inject a personal note here, I would just like to say what a privilege it was for me to work tirelessly anchoring all 742 hours of CBS News coverage.
"But now it's the first anniversary of our 200th birthday - some 12 months later, some 52 weeks afterward, some 365 days since our some 200th birthday. What is America doing today? Well, we have stationed correspondents up and down the length and breadth of this great land to find out. We'll visit a warehouse in Schenectady where millions of copies of newspaper supplements that were free for the asking are stored. And we'll take a look-see at that 20-ton birthday cake now sitting in the 110 degree heat of Palm Springs. But first, let's got to Mike Malice in Scarsdale, New York . . . ."
Mike Malice: "Good evening, Walter. As you can see, I am standing in your living room where your wife and kiddies are watching you on television."
Wife: "What's happened to Walter? All I see is that insufferable Mike Malice."
Mike: "Let's try to get a word with Mrs. Conkrite."
Mrs. Conkrite: "Oh hello Mike, how nice to see you."
Mike: "And so nice to see you again, Walter's lovely wife. But tell me, Mrs. Conkrite, do you think it's right that you sit here in your cozy living room watching television while the CIA is conducting covert terrorism in Tierra del Fuego?"
Mrs. Conkrite: "Well I -"
Mike: "Isn't it true that your husband is paid $5 million a year just to sit on his duff and pass off a lot of pacifiers on the American people?"
Kiddies: "Mommy! Mommy! Who is that man?"
Mrs. Conkrite: "Never mind, dears. If I may inject a personal note here, Mike, I'd like to say I do hope Walter will stop at the 7-11 on his way home and pick up some oatmeal, some white bread and some chocolate-flavored Ovaltine. If he ever gets off the air, I mean."
Mike: "Well, Walter, one thing is certain: Underneath this seemingly peaceful scene, there is an unmistakable undercurrent of seething, turbulent unrest. Back to you."
Walter Conkrite: "Thank you, Mike, and if I may dare to be so bold as to inject a personal note here, I would just say that only in America could you go on national television and exercise the right to freedom of speech that way. No sir, there's no KGB beating down doors and dragging off dissenters in this great land of ours."
"We'll be back with the Moromon Tabernacle Choir after this word from new Stay-Fresh, Sugar-Free, No-Cling Panty-Hose."
Walter Conkrite: "And now let's go to Salt Lake City. Utah, the Mormon Tabernacle, and cuddly Charles Gestalt."
Charles Gestalt: "Well, Walter, as you can hear behind me, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is singing its famous and altogether stirring version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republican."
Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "Mine -
Charles Gestalt: "Now you may wonder why I'm talking right through their singing. That's so you can't hear a note of it and so I can get in a whole tabernacle full of homespun homilies and pot-pie philosophy that I've been saving up for just such an occasion.
"You know, Walter, there's a piquant proletarian poetry to the rich, rugged anthens and bustling ballads of this tough old land of ours. It stirs the sad old soul and makes the tired old heart grow, oh, an extra old auricle or two. What was it old Henry Waldo Longfellow used to say - "I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear. Sing, sing a song; sing it simple, to last your whole life long."
Morman Tabernacle Choir: "is marching on."
Charles: "Ah, what could be more American than this? That's the full story from the city of the big shoulders, Walter. Back to you."
Walter: "Thank you, Charles. You know, if I may venture, if I may be so forward, if I may be so terribly, terribly presumptuous - "
Voice of a cameraman: "Oh go ahead and inject your blankety-blank personal note, you old geezer."
Walter Conkrite: "I'd like to inject a personal note here. But first, let's go to Ashtabula, Ohio, and Dan Blather."
Dan Blather: "Well, Walter - Can you hear me, Walter?"
Walter Conkrite: "Yes, Dan, go ahead. Can you hear me?"
Dan: "I can hear you, Walter. I was just wondering if you could hear me."
Walter: "I can hear you, perfectly, Dan."
Dan: "Are you sure?"
Walter: "Say, when does your contract come up for renewal, Dan?"
Dan: "Well, Walter, as I was saying, I'm here in Ashtabula. Ohio, a typical American town, and it's obvious that, no sir, the people here haven't forgotten the Bicentennial. Oh, there's no parade, no picnics, no decorations on the street. In fact, almost everybody's indoors watching this on TV. And yet, Walter, there's something unmistakably in the air."
(Just then Dan Blather is hit by a typical American tomato, which splatters his $500 suit).
Walter: "What was that, a tomato?"
Dan: "Yes, Walter, but it means nothing to a tough newsman like me. I've covered race riots, I was up here in Dienbienphu, I've been through assassinations and Watergate and congressional hearings into violence on television. They can't scare me! All right, who threw that?"
Walter: "Are you injecting a personal note, Dan? Well, let's go to Morley Safer and Heywood Hale Balloon at the first annual White House - Congressional softball game."
Morley Safely: "Well Walter, as you can see, the game has ended in a deadlock, or rather a hammerlock, because as you can see something of a fistfight has broken out on the field. It started early in the first half of the first inning and, well, boys will be boys, eh Walter? Oh, there've been a few bumped heads, broken bones and compound fractures, but all in a spirit of good clean fun. Wouldn't you say so, Heywood Hale Balloon?"
Heywood Hale Balloon: Well you know, Morley, there's nothing quite so exquisitely aquiline as a well-played game of American baseball. Why, those men on the field exhibit all the eclat of a Mondrian mural, the elan of a Monteverdi madrigal, the je ne sais quoi non of a fin de siecle fresco . . . "
Morley: "Exactly, Heywood, and say, how about these hot dogs!"
Heywood: "Ah, the hotdog - as American as apple pie - a delicacy to be savored with all the rue de la paix of a Chateau Neuf du Pape, all the - ".
Walter: "I think that will do, boys. Let's go to Roger Dudd on the U.S.S. Garbage Scow."
Roger Dudd: "Walter, I'm standing at the best possible spot to watch Operation Sail, if it were being held this year. As you know, it was held last year, but if anything happened here, Walter, we'd have a perfect view of it."
Walter: "Well that's wonderful, Roger, because as you know our cameras missed most of Operation Sail when it was actually held. Now, folks, we've criss-crossed and hopscotched around the country for a look at Americans a year after the Bicentennial, but the question remains, what does it all mean? For the answer, as always, we go to an excutive vault on the 49th floor and Eric Soberside."
Eric Soberside: "The rhetoic and the bombast are over. The politicians and the bureaucrats have flexed their pontifical oratory. We've heard the platitudes and the pomposities. Now we have to settle down, draw a deep breath, and contemplate. America is 201 years old. Some countries are older. Some countries are younger. Some countries haven't even come into being yet. Other countries have fallen by the wayside. The question remains: "What does it all mean?" Back to you, Walter."
Walter: "Thank you, Eric, as usual you've managed to put it all in a nutshell. But now, let's go - let's go - let's - THIS is Walter Conkrite. THIS is WAK - "
Floor manager: "Aw-oh; Walter's running down again."
Walter: "Day-zee, day-zee, give me you answer, do . . . "
A Voice from Beyond (the studio): "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the President speaking. Yes, the President of CBS! Walter Conkrite, who is now his 934th consecutive hour of coverage, has has a slight malfunction. There is no need to be alarmed. Troops are standing by to restore order in case of panic in the streets. Technicians are working on Walter at this moment and should soon have the problem rectified."
Walter Conkrite: "I'm half cray-zee, all for the love of you . . .
Voice: "We invite you to be with us tomorrow night when CBS News presents, 'The Fifth of July, 1977: The Day After the Day A Year After the Day: Anatomy of an Anatomy.' And now if CBS may inject a personal note hre - "
Walter Conkrite: ". . . it won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a - oh, where am I? Oh yes. THIS is Walter Cronkite, and THAT's the WAY it is. For CBS News, to all a good night . . . "