Will follows C.J. to ask about possible budget mistakes. When C.J. is surprised that he already read the eight hundred pages, he admits that he didn't, "but Lucy Benoit did." She's a new reporter at the Times, replacing some guy named Jack, who has "shingles." Poor C.J. -- everything is changing, even that which isn't supposed to. She's stunned that shingles could cause an early retirement, but it seems they're shingles of the "tax fraud" variety. She mentions, "If I'm in the market for a cover, I think I'd pick something that's not..." "Viral?" Will supplies. She agrees. He observes, "Well, any port in a storm." She tells him, "I'm going across the street -- will you be sad you don't have a coat?" He says he'll be fine.
Continuing with Will's budget questions, there is apparently a fifty-cent gas tax proposed, and reporters are already asking questions. C.J. questions why the department heads are already leaking the budget if it's near impossible that they've read it, but it's kind of moot in the wake of the fifty-cent queries. C.J. confides that it is not a mistake, and knows that she'll be making many a person angry with a proposal like that. Will looks almost awed at her balls, and asks, "Why does the President want to stir up so much animosity two weeks before we leave office?" "Because he's old and dotty," C.J. calmly explains. Will gets it and says, "He has a reason." Yes, C.J. tells him: "But we're not ready to discuss it with the press." He assures her that he'll kill the rumors, and she repeats that it is not ready to be released. What could be up their sleeves? It couldn't be that this is another plan to try to help the transition and the country, like that whole war bluffing incident. This staff has proven nothing but that its members are insane and irrational, so I can see why everyone would assume Bartlet has lost his mind. Will is cold, and C.J. very happily has no sympathy, since she told him to wear a coat. He stops to go back, but first asks her what she thinks about some guy from Treasury. The verdict is that he's okay, other than that "his wife is younger than his daughter." I think that if that's a sticking point, it's going to shorten the list quite a bit, so let's not get crazy. Will asks what she thinks Treasury Guy's chances would be in Oregon, and although she thinks they aren't good, she gives him a couple of other names.
C.J. walks in to the President-Elect's office and says she's there to see Santos, and the embryo at the desk asks her name. She literally looks askance at the girl as she gives it, and Ronna rushes up to save the moment and introduce herself. It's funny both to hear C.J. referred to as "Ms. Cregg," and to hear Ronna be so official, since we've just seen so much of her with the Santos gang being more casual. I prefer my entire world on a first-name basis unless a last name is something spectacularly hilarious. Possibly one reason I don't work in the White House.