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The year is 2005 and Horace Budge has just left Peoria, Illinois, for New York City with a useless degree in animal husbandry and $750 in his pocket, determined to become the next George D. Sax, famous local son and inventor of the drive-thru banking window. Instead, he ends up in the front seat of a Washington, DC-bound Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme driven by Daryl Ellis Fard, a lifelong grifter and non-stop raconteur whose only personal luggage is a Martini shaker.

Their mission: to peddle a miracle livestock elixir Budge has been tinkering with on Capitol Hill as a pick-me-up for sluggish army mules deployed to the Hindu Kush.

The obstacles: anything that can be brought forward in the name of ethics, the law or common sense. Plus Fard's breakfast Martinis, a couple of shady associates who keep running afoul of the law, various past creditors and a 12-year-old child genius bent on destroying Budge's budding romance with smoldering wallflower Alice Whist.