Strapped for cash, Homer and Bart thumb their way through "A Child's Garden of Cons" in search of the road to easy money.
The episode opens with the Simpson family eating at the Springfield Dinner Theater. Bart buys a magic kit and as the family drives home, a sturgeon falls from the sky (from the Russian space station Mir), damaging the car. Bart offers to pay for the damages by making money from his magic act, but it doesn't make enough. Homer is displeased with Bart and abandons him to walk home.
People seeing Bart's dilemma give him money to get a taxi home. Homer gets the idea to trick people to give him and Bart money. They take up grifting, and choose to continue doing so after earning enough money to fix the car. Grampa joins in the grifting to help Homer and Bart con the Springfield Retirement Castle, but Homer and Bart are arrested by a member of the FBI.
When they arrive at the police station, the man lets Bart and Homer turn themselves in. Once they go inside their cell, the FBI member is revealed to be a grifter and he steals Homer's car and the money they took from the old folks. Bart and Homer lie and say that the car was stolen by a foreign loner with wild, bushy hair; the next day, Groundskeeper Willie is arrested for stealing Homer's car.
During the trial, Homer is led by the lawyer to implicate Willie. Once Willie is convicted and given his sentence, he goes berserk. After Willie shoots Seymour Skinner, Homer finally tells them that Willie didn't steal his car and he and Bart were conning people and someone else stole it. It is then revealed that the trial was a trap in order to make Homer confess to his grifting. Skinner used a blood pack to look like Willie shot him. The man who stole Homer's car is an actor named Devon Bradley. Everyone in the courthouse was involved in the prank, except Willie. Then Otto bursts in and declares "Surf's Up!" and everyone goes surfing as the episode finishes.