Bruno still can't find any mention of the damning Vinick connection, and is starting to seem baffled by Josh. Bob is relentless, wanting Vinick to make a statement in order to get the debate coverage off the news. Bruno is still holding out for Josh to blow his proverbial wad, so that they can condemn an attack. He also thinks that the president will say, "Accidents happen." His reasoning is that since this happened during his term, he'll feel like he needs to say that, which will then protect Vinick's views.
1:28AM, and Bartlet is sitting with his head in his hands. He asks C.J. if she's spoken to the Red Cross, which she did 20 minutes ago. He tells her that they need more potassium iodine for the shelters, and she assures him it's already done. He's clearly feeling guilty for sending in the engineers, and grasping at anything else he can come up with that will be helpful. It turns out he's at the table in the sit room, and they get an announcement about the valve. The engineers have opened the valve; however, the other valve is still stuck and continuing to send steam into the auxiliary building. Harry points out he didn't ask them to fix that since they'd been in there 17 minutes, two longer than originally planned. Unfortunately, C.J. and the FEMA head point out that the danger of explosion is still too high, and that it's better to go with the guys who are in there than expose two more engineers. It's another five to ten minutes. After much worried staring around the room, Bartlet tells Harry to ask them to try and open the other valve. Just then, Kate enters and asks for the President. He and C.J. follow her out of the room.
The polls have apparently just closed in Kazakhstan. Hold on a second -- at 10:28 they were under two hours from opening. And now, at 1:28, they're closed? Do people only get to vote in a neat, hour-long window in Kazakhstan? I know this timeline makes it all the more dramatic, what with the nuclear accident, but I'm still confused. ANY-way, the Russian incumbent, Tarimov, has been declared the winner. Bartlet sighs, muttering, "Please tell me they counted the votes first." A weary-looking Kate reports that there's already harassment and beatings taking place, and Bartlet notes that since the election barely held the Chinese off from attacking, these results could cause an outright attack. At the same moment, C.J. is handed a note and says, "We've already got 'em. A pro-democracy riot's broken out in the Kazakh capital." At that moment, the voice on the radio in the sit room says that the engineers cannot get the second valve open.
In Vinick's office, he finishes that story by telling Bruno that they pulled the engineers out after 32 minutes, but still didn't stop the leak. Vinick and Bruno begin to argue about making a statement. Vinick understands that Bruno wants him to get Bartlet to say the magic words, "accidents happen," but he insists that he cannot wait until then to make any sort of statement. Vinick agrees with Bob that he needs to speak before he gets on the plane. "This wasn't a failure of nuclear technology. This was a regulatory screw-up." Bruno, speaking menacingly through his teeth, shoots back, "You point fingers now, and it will look like you are trying to avoid taking any responsibility for this." Vinick shoots back his arguments for nuclear power, and his frustration that "Every time they show that debate clip, it looks like I ran into that plant myself and spilled uranium on the floor!" Bruno, yelling now: "Santos is gonna hit us! You have to wait! That. Is how. We change. The story." Game of chicken, indeed. Vinick is still big-picture, that there are 31 states with nuclear plants, and depending on this evacuation, California might not even be an issue any more. (That calls for a "heh.") He knows that his voting for the plant "is out there, like a ticking time bomb. We can't control the politics of this. Not even close." He concedes that he'll talk to Bartlet about what he's saying, but as the California Senator, he's also going to make his own statement. You know what I've liked about this episode? Just seeing the candidates stick to their guns about what they want to do. Whether I agree or disagree, it's been nice to see actual conviction.