• On a hot day in 1936, Governor Willie Stark visits his hometown of Mason City.
• The governor is accompanied by his wife, Lucy, Tiny Duffy and Jack Burden who are driven by Sugar Boy.
• In a flashback to 1922, Jack Burden is a newspaper reporter and Willie Stark is county treasurer for Mason County.
• In present day 1936, Willie and his entourage visit Willie's father's farm.
• Sadie Burke, who works for Willie, gives a signal and soon Jack and Willie drive 130 miles to Burden's Landing, Jack's family home to see Judge Irwin.
• Jack's childhood friends, Anne and Adam Stanton lived with their widowed father, Governor Stanton.
• Judge Irwin had been like a second father to Jack.
• Willie wants Judge Irwin's endorsement of a man for a senate nomination.
• Judge Irwin will not endorse the man so Jack and Willie return to Mason City.
• The story flashes back to 1922.
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