Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a bachelor, playboy congressman from Texas who is known in power circles as “Good Time Charlie” for his habits of showing up in hot tubs with strippers and cocaine. Beneath this exterior, however, lies an extraordinary mind. Charlie is a man with a deep sense of patriotism and a passion for the underdog. Surrounding Charlie is his longtime friend, patron, and sometime lover named Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts). Joanne is one of the wealthiest women in Texas and a virulent anti-communist. Joanne believes that the American response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan is inadequate at best and she prods Charlie into having the U. S. government do more for the Afghan freedom fighters. To do this, Charlie enlists the help of blue-collar CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Together, the three of them—Charlie, Joanne and Gust—travel the world to form unlikely alliances among the Pakistanis, Israelis, Egyptians, arms dealers, law makers and a belly dancer.