It's a West Wing-free week on The West Wing, as we watch the two campaigns struggle to control the agenda. Vinick tries to throw Santos off his stride by focusing on immigration issues, calling for a doubling of the Border Patrol, praising and condemning citizen vigilantes patrolling the border, and introducing legislation to create a guest worker program. He also draws Santos into an "I voted for it before I voted against it" trap by bringing up the Central American Free Trade Agreement. But things aren't perfect for Vinick -- he gives Santos another opening on security issues by canceling an appearance at the VFW, leaving the field open for Santos (an actual V of an FW) to make a speech to the group. And Vinick gets caught lying to a representative of a right-wing religious group about the judges he would appoint, potentially creating a rift with this important bloc of voters. But Vinick's biggest loss is personal, as a long-time Latino staff member decides that he can't be involved in the campaign against the first Latino nominee for President, and resigns.
"Beltway Arnie" Vinick is wrapping up a campaign speech at a rally in Missouri. It's a Monday, according to the subtitle. As he emerges from auditorium, with Secret Service agents and an aide in tow, he is greeted by, and shakes hands with, the delightfully multicultural staff of the hotel. We see that pedeconferencing is truly a bipartisan habit, as Vinick's aide hangs up his cell phone and tells Vinick that Santos has moved up two points in the latest tracking poll. Hey, the aide is played by William Russ, a.k.a. the dad from Boy Meets World. Between him and Patricia Richardson (a.k.a. the mom from Home Improvement), Vinick's campaign is a veritable treasure trove of sitcom parents. A Secret Service agent opens the door to the men's room and tells Vinick that it's "the secure room." Which makes me think that a bunch of agents must have gone over every surface in the bathroom with bug-detecting equipment. Glamorous!
In the restroom, a man introduces himself to Vinick. I hate when that happens. His name is Charles Frost, and he's going to be giving Vinick his daily intelligence briefing. Vinick asks him if he's with the Agency or the NSC; he's actually an Agency employee assigned to the NSC. Vinick asks him, "You mind if I multitask?" And then he walks up to a urinal. Charles Frost looks in the other direction and doesn't say anything. Vinick turns his head around and tells Frost to go ahead with the briefing. Man, I hate talking to people while they're peeing. It happened all the time where I used to work, and I just don't get it. I mean, I know you're standing there peeing in front of everyone, but I still think it's kind of a private moment. Anyway, enough of my neuroses. Frost starts describing a situation in Kazakhstan. The scene ends before we hear any water striking porcelain.
Bruno's in the back of a limo, telling someone that Vinick should resign his Senate seat "so he can't be forced into any more difficult votes." Yeah, because that worked so well for Bob Dole. (Who, I know, doesn't exist in the show's universe, but still -- it's a dumb idea.) Bruno is speaking on the phone with Sheila (formerly known in these recaps as "Jill"), played by the aforementioned Patricia Richardson. She thinks that if Vinick quits the Senate, he'll be breaking his promise to California voters to serve out his term. Bruno tells Sheila that they've already got enough problems with Vinick's voting record. Vinick has just now entered the limo, and he tells them that he's proud of his voting record. Well, I should hope so. It's really the only thing you've got to show for yourself if you're a legislator. Vinick thinks that quitting the Senate would just look like a cheap stunt. Bruno tries to argue with him, but Vinick shuts him down: "Forget it! I'm not quitting the Senate." Bruno tries again, and Vinick asks Sheila, "Will you please tell Bruno, when I make a decision, that's the end of the discussion." Sheila refrains from pointing out that she doesn't need to tell Bruno that, because he's sitting right next to Vinick and heard what he said. Sheila tells Vinick that his next stop is the Fraternal Order of Police, where he's going to give the "stump plus." That is, the stump speech along with "Homeland Security, the death penalty, a little extra law and order." The television in Vinick's limo shows an MSNBC clip of Santos in his flight suit striding across the tarmac, and Vinick asks if they're ever going to stop showing that clip. Bruno tells Vinick, "That's what I call a stunt." Vinick thinks it's a pretty great stunt. Sheila reminds Vinick that he'll be surrounded by uniforms at the F.O.P., but Vinick thinks it doesn't really matter since he won't be wearing one.