It's 5:58 AM on Tuesday. It's pouring rain, and Charlie's waiting at the entrance for a woman who arrives in a cab. He introduces himself to a woman with a very goofy, poodle-y hairdo and escorts her through the halls of the West Wing, past the concerned glances of C.J., Josh, Toby, and Donna, in turn. Along the way, Charlie learns that her name is Claire Huddle, but there's no more chat than that. She looks pretty grim. I would too, if I were made to wear my hair like that in public. They enter the Oval Office, where Jed's waiting, reading a newspaper. Charlie introduces Claire to Jed, who says, "It turns out that it has to go to the Secretary of State." He quotes the law that says so, but adds that they'll take care of it. She walks over to him and hands him a letter. He asks why she took a cab. How does he know that? Just general Presidential omniscience? Moreover, why does he care? She says her car wouldn't start. She has to repeat it because he doesn't hear her the first time. She looks like she's going to cry. Hey, honey, take it easy. I know a good mechanic, if you happen to have a VW. I know an even better hairstylist. Jed asks if she knows what's in there. She looks like she's not sure whether it's okay to tell the truth, and he says, "It's okay." She nods gravely. Jed dons his spectacles and reads the letter, which is from John Hoynes, and says, "I hereby resign the Office of the Vice President of the United States effective 6 AM today." Credits. Well. Where the hell did that come from?
Titles inform us that it's "24 Hours Earlier" and that it's the "Morning Press Gaggle, 6 a.m." C.J. arrives, and before anyone can ask a question, she wishes Mark a happy birthday, adding, "And don't ever say I don't pay attention to these things." Mark points out that his birthday's in December. Picky, picky. C.J.: "All right, go ahead and say it then. What do I care?" They ask her questions about a Trustee's report on Medicare, a fuel efficiency initiative, and whether POTUS is going to the Children's Defense Fund dinner. Katie has a question; she's the one C.J. initially cut off to wish Mark a happy non-birthday. C.J. invites Katie to come into C.J.'s office. Katie's got a bouncy ponytail that's emanating a lot of "Girl Reporter" energy. Is that because I said her hair was getting too long? Can't be. If people paid attention to what I say about hairstyles on this show, Stockard Channing would look a lot better much of the time, and God knows poor Claire wouldn't look the way she does. Katie introduces the H!ITG! with her as Ralph Gish, the science editor of her paper. (It's John Apicella.) C.J. wonders why Science is coming to the White House. He says it's about the Vice-President. Ralph wants to know if the White House is concealing a report from the NASA Commission on Space Science and Research which contains two different pieces of evidence of water molecules on Mars. He rambles on about fossilized water molecules on the surface of Mars as C.J. points to Katie and takes her outside the office to speak to her privately. Fossilized water molecules? Can water fossilize? That doesn't sound right. Where is Frink when I need him?