West Wing
Message Of The Week

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Adiós, Leon. We Hardly Knew Ye.

A handsome young man enters the limo (which I'm assuming stopped, because he's not sweating enough to have chased it down). Vinick introduces him to Bruno as Leon. Leon has a laptop computer that he opens up in order to show Vinick and Bruno a television spot that the Republican National Committee would like to run. It's a pretty typical Republican hatchet job, all black and white photos of Santos and a grim voice-over accusing him of voting for higher taxes forty-seven times. Vinick recognizes that most of those votes were probably against tax cuts, rather than votes in favor of tax hikes. As the ad winds down, Bruno asks Leon, "Is this all you guys know how to do? Attack ads?" Leon tries to defend himself, but Bruno just rolls over him, demanding to know whether the RNC has even looked at any of the ads Bruno has written for the campaign: "Anyone with half a brain...." And then Vinick interrupts Bruno to tell him that Leon is not with the RNC: "He's one of us." And I think it's interesting that Vinick seems to identify himself as being part of a group ("us") that is outside of the Republican establishment. Vinick goes on to note that Leon has run Vinick's California operations for years. Leon also informs Bruno that he doesn't write campaign ads: "I leave that for people with half a brain." Bruno doesn't apologize, but he also takes Leon's insult without a murmur. Vinick tells Leon to tell the RNC that he doesn't want to go negative, "yet." Leon says he understand that, but that they don't think that it means they shouldn't go negative. Bruno points out that the press knows Vinick has the power to approve party ads, so any negative ads from the RNC will be blamed on him. Bruno and Vinick both think the ad was a good one, but only for a candidate who is losing. Santos's recent gains aren't enough to scare Bruno into running attack ads, because Santos can't win the Electoral College vote without California (Vinick's home state), and "most of this country can't imagine Santos as President." Leon, with an edge to his voice, asks if Bruno thinks that's because Santos is Latino. Bruno: "Latino, inexperienced, you take your pick. You don't need this ad." Vinick tells Leon to tell the RNC to shelve the ad for now, but to keep it ready in the event that "Santos says one word about [Vinick's] voting record." And then Vinick emerges from the limo to the cheers of an unseen crowd. Credits. Hmmm. Only three people in the credits will actually appear in this episode.

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West Wing

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