"There are kids down there, Madame President." Roslin's willful: "There's children on every ship in the Fleet," she says, ignoring the spirit for the letter. He presses. "The children work in the refinery. They're 12, 15 years old..." She fights him again: "There have been families aboard the refinery ever since its beginning, and others were picked up after the Cylons attacked the Colonies." Ever since, the parents have been passing their knowledge on to their children, to keep the Fleet moving, to get everybody onboard working. "Perfectly normal," she says, and in that context it is. "It is not ideal. I know that," she spits. "But there is nothing ideal about this Fleet." He points out how the jobs are being inherited, which is a valid science fiction trope. But. But, add that to the emerging aristocracy issue Cally sees happening for some reason named Baltar, and the more legitimate question which is suddenly central to the episode: what if there's no Earth? What if we're not storing up riches in Heaven? What if there's no Gods, and Earth is a lie after all? What then? This is why Communists are atheists: what if this is all there is? What if we keep running, forever? The lines we draw in the salt now, the systems we put in place now, aren't just preserving the Colonies as they are, they're creating the Colonies as they will be. The responsibility isn't just to preserving democracy and the spirit of the Colonies while in a time of war, but making allowances for what happens if this never ends. If all we have left are rough spots, what then?
I've never wanted Earth to be a lie so bad in my whole life. "What if it's ten years? So I train my son to be a deckhand because that's what I am, and that's all he can ever be? Is that the future we want?" She pauses, and either accepts the truth of it or ignores it entirely, depending on how she's feeling about the Earth issue today. Her smile is sad, and accepting, and loving, and strong. "That's a really good point. Tory? I want you to make a list of everyone in the Fleet who has a work history appropriate to the refinery. Factory workers, mechanics, whatever you think. Give it to the Chief. And I want you to hold a public lottery, and we will take people from other vessels, and we will put them on shifts in the refinery. How's that, Chief?" She's getting too good at this. He's right, but she can still swallow his truth inside her own: move resources around to solve the problem. Except they're not "resources," they're people, and we're back where we started, and Chief thinks like a mechanic so he doesn't catch it either. I don't think she's doing evil yet, but I do think she's dicking with him because of how forests work: they're made of trees. He leaves and they thank each other; when he leaves she goes steely. Telling them they have choices is the same thing as giving them choices, isn't it? When even she can tell he's got a point, why not give in -- in precisely the way where you lose nothing? But the tylium keeps rolling.