Josh meets with Thiele. The whole storyline seems to be an excuse to give Swimtern something to do, so let's just cut to the chase: Josh accuses Thiele of grandstanding, embarrassing POTUS, and being a holdout just for the media attention. He says it will make Thiele look "eccentric, like some kind of goofball crank." Josh holds the President's support for Thiele this term over Josh's head and tells him to swallow his petty animus. All I can say is that I'm glad Josh isn't discussing the swallowing of petty animus with Amy. Or Donna, for that matter. Thiele's problem is he doesn't think Russell's good enough, and he knows the staff thinks the same thing, and he knows how Josh got rolled on Berryhill. He talks about putting someone second-rate in office, second in line to a President with a serious health problem: "You want to be embarrassed about something? Be embarrassed about that." He gets up and leaves. Josh looks at Swimtern, who just makes a "Well, how about that?" face. ["Josh should be embarrassed about that waste of space, too." -- Wing Chun] Josh leaves.
The senior staff members (well, not Will) arrive for a meeting in the Oval Office. C.J. is informed that the North Koreans have cancelled the pool spray at the rehearsal, because Jai Yung Ahn doesn't like people around when he's rehearsing. Josh arrives, and Leo inquires about Thiele. Josh says he's going to need a Plan B. Jed begins by asking whether the speech introducing Russell is finished; Toby says that Will is doing last touches. Jed asks Toby to help him out. Toby thinks Will's got it under control. Jed says he was having some trouble, and asks Toby to look it over and punch it up. Toby agrees.
C.J. says that at the briefing today, reporters were asking about the economy and she felt like she was tapdancing. Leo saw it and thought she was fine; Josh calls it "extremely deft." C.J.: "As much as I appreciate your attempt to compliment me out of my point, I'm starting to feel a little self-conscious about our lack of vocabulary to describe the economy." Jed: "Didn't she get the bagel memo?" Josh says, "You could argue the President's got a responsibility to do it: Setting a positive tone conceivably helps to bring about positive results." C.J. says it's not that she wants to don a shroud (though I'm sure girlfriend could work a shroud like nobody's business) but she thinks the Pollyanna act is wearing thin: "Sir, I'm worried that at some point, avoidance starts to look like maybe we just haven't noticed. We run the risk of appearing out of touch, like one of those Presidents who doesn't know the price of milk." Leo and Jed look uncomfortable. C.J. asks, quite seriously, "Sir, do you know the price of milk?" Jed admits, "Not precisely." C.J. says that she doesn't, either: "Do any of us?" Silence, minimal head shaking. I lose it and shout at the TV, "That's because none of you ever goes home! Jesus!" How the hell would they know the price of any consumer commodity, other than maybe dry cleaning? Man, I know the price of milk and we almost never buy it. Jed sighs and suggests that they get on a "language plan for talking more realistically about the economy." Jed moves on to the meeting he had that morning with the economic advisors: "Everybody's got a magic lever they want you to push. I've studied economics all my life, but in this job, only a fool is ever certain. You don't push any one lever. You want to push a little on them all." Josh: "'From every theory in moderation....'" Jed: "Exactly." So...now Josh thinks Donna's as bright as the Nobel prize-winning POTUS?