Deadline
Daniel In The Lion's Den

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Heathen: D | Grade It Now!
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Who Am I? I'm Jean Valjean!

Nikki sighs. What she wouldn't give to print this out and spank Minton with it. "It's good," she says, suggesting "Sympathy for the Devil" as the headline. Wallace likes that idea.

Si, however, is less than thrilled. "This is left-wing drivel. I'm not gonna print that," he decides. Nikki says she'll quit if it doesn't run, but Si isn't sympathetic because she was hot for the "half-assed crusader." Wallace stands up and says he's with Nikki, and that he'll walk too if the piece doesn't appear. Hildy thirds it, and at Wally's urging, Brooke stands up and says, "My name is Spartacus, too." What are they, the Four Musketeers? Where are the other people who need to make this decision -- assistant managing editors, section editors, etc? Si just stares. "Mutinous bastards," he growls. Eventually, he agrees to let it run, but only if they excise the line about Andrieson and the cheerleader "because I say so." Wallace grins. "Irrefutable reasoning, sir." They leave.

The next day, Benton's column runs. As he grabs a paper, Benton hails Clyde, our favorite redneck. Benton wonders if Clyde is mad that he defended a war protester. "No, it sounded like he done got screwed," Clyde says, more or less. Clyde then tells a long story linking his childhood games to actual war, after which we're all supposed to realize that there is no heroic "right" side in battle. Instead of feeling enlightened, I end up wanting to spit-shine my rifle down by the watering hole, with a pint of moonshine and some hearty chew to see me through 'til morn. Maybe that IS enlightenment. Maybe Buddha's filling a spittoon as I write.

Circle of News. Someone pitches Nikki the story of a fireman in Queens saving a little kid. There's no photo to go with the story, so Nikki tells them to give Mets tickets to both of them and cover that with a photographer. Wallace walks in and hands Brooke a wire story, which she reads aloud -- it seems federal prosecutors are pushing two counts of social-security fraud on O'Hare, trying to add as much as fifteen years to his sentence because he posed as Daniel Minton. Brooke hands Benton the rights to the follow-up story, which is mighty gracious of her given that she had exactly no jurisdiction over the original piece. Nikki orders everyone out of the meeting and stares somberly at the table. Wallace stays, giving Nikki a little-boy fat-lipped mock pout, but it doesn't make her laugh, so he quietly gets up and leaves her alone. Nikki sits in silence, brokenhearted and cradling her face in her hands. Fade to black.

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