Josh bustles into the room and announces to Donna, "The President's wheels up in an hour." "Tray tables and all," she adds, unfazed, reading something. Josh tells her to go out and lead some reporters towards the reports about Vinick and San Andreo. Oh, Josh, Bruno's not wrong about you. Vinick just dug his own grave, and that's the moment where you can't contain yourself any longer? She reminds him that he didn't want to do this, but he insists that she do it off the record, and just ask leading questions. "Once the President bear-hugs Vinick, the game is over." I'm still not so sure, since Vinick just blamed this entire mess on him, but then again, I'm the recapper and not the politician. She tells him that it will get out anyway, and asks if Santos knows what he's doing. "Just go." He insists it's the only way, and she walks out looking terribly unsure.
At the White House, Will is being asked all sorts of questions but pushes them off to head to the plane. C.J. is outside on the phone: "I can't talk about the Armenian genocide. I know it's important, but it's non-binding. Right now I only have time for things that might spontaneously combust." She hangs up and asks Will if he's ready. Will: "To fly into a massive field of radiation while the rest of the country's making hats out of tin foil?" "Yeah, that was more of a rhetorical question. You think we're flying into a massive cloud of radiation?" He responds, "I was dramatizing a point. [Wait for it…] Maybe." And with that they get into separate Suburbans.
When Donna enters the room where the press is, a reporter says without looking up from her computer, "I thought you weren't talking to the press today." Donna wonders if she could interest her in some rumblings, but the woman doesn't really care, since this is "the biggest political story in six months." Donna's confused, and the reporter clarifies that she's talking about Vinick's history with the San Andreo plant. I can almost see the light go on over Donna's head. "Make your quote good, and it will be front page, column six." Donna nods slowly and drawls, "Yeeeah. Not talking to the press today," and leaves. To me this seems completely obvious, like she was about to spill the very same thing herself, but a lot of this hour has confused me.
Air Force One, 8:15 AM. C.J. announces that Vinick would like a moment with Bartlet. They politely say hello, and Vinick thanks him for bringing him along on the trip. "Standard protocol," Bartlet says without looking up from his papers. Vinick thanks him anyway, doing almost the little kid shuffle of I-know-I'm-in-trouble-will-you-just-say-it? He says he thought they should coordinate their press statements. "You're expecting me to bash myself too?" Vinick goes on the defensive: "That wasn't aimed at you." "'Federal regulators?' Bartlet asks. "I think a few of them work for me." Vinick defends his statement with, "With all due respect, two broken valves and a radiation leak say some of them should look for other work." Bartlet, having gotten up from his seat, turns on Vinick. "Where's your bill to improve federal oversight?" Leading the Senate committee, why hasn't he worked on this himself? Vinick charges that Bartlet had eight years to work on this, Bartlet shoots back that Vinick had 25. In Glark's words, BOO-URN. They argue, Bartlet that there's a huge risk, Vinick that there's risk in everything, citing the fact that people get into car accidents every day. Bartlet retorts, "And when they do, they don't tell you to stop eating produce three states away!" Vinick wants to know an alternative. Solar power is a fraction of the power at a much higher cost. OPEC costs are already too high. Bartlet's point, after staying up all night trying to avert a colossal disaster, is that he knows the regulation is a problem, but he believes nuclear power is not an alternative, and is not safe, no matter what. "We could barely evacuate a town…" at which point C.J. enters. The second team was able to close the valve. "The crisis is over for now." However, the engineer who had fallen into the coma has died. She'll prepare a new call sheet for Bartlet to contact the family. "Two copies of that call sheet," he says, looking pointedly at Vinick, who just looks…a little bit lost.