This episode is primarily about Santos's two different running mates -- Helen and Leo. Santos is on his last visit home before the election, and Helen is not at all happy about the way the campaign is turning their life upside down. It's even worse when a tabloid publishes a picture showing a flash of Helen's thong, leaving her feeling mortified and trampy. Donna tries to give Helen some advice, but it's advice Helen doesn't really want to hear -- at least, not until she decides whether she really wants her husband to win the election. As for Leo, it's the final days of preparation before the big Vice-Presidential debate, and he's stinking up the room. Even worse, the press hears how badly he's doing. Everyone at the Santos campaign HQ is in panic mode over the upcoming debate, but in the end, Leo turns in a more than competent performance in the debate. And of course, he was the one who leaked the story to the press as part of an attempt to lower expectations. In other topical news, Will and Kate continue the slow and awkward mating dance of the lonely political geek. It ain't pretty, is all I'm sayin'.
Before the previouslies begin, Martin Sheen appears on camera: "Good evening. On December 16, we lost our good friend and colleague John Spencer. Through our shock and grief, we can think of no more fitting memorial to this wonderful man, this extraordinary actor, than to share with you, beginning tonight, the last few months of his work here on The West Wing. Johnny, it seems we hardly knew you; we love you and we miss you." I can only add that no matter what I've ever felt about this show, I always looked forward to John Spencer's work. And I will really miss that gorgeous smile.
The episode proper opens with Leo preparing for his debate. He's in a really pretty room that looks nothing like the Santos campaign HQ. Since it soon becomes clear that all of the debate prep is taking place in D.C., I can only assume the campaign rented some kind of hotel meeting space for the debate prep. Annabeth and a few other campaign folks are sitting at a conference table watching Leo, who's standing at a podium at the end of the room. Otto is standing at another podium. Leo is spouting some line about health care being broken, but he keeps second-guessing himself and the line and trying to change the words around. As a reminder of Leo's frailty, it's extremely painful to watch. He's being videotaped while he's speaking, and we alternate shots of him and shots of his face on a video monitor. Leo finally gets to the end of the line, accusing the Republicans of believing about health care, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." He interrupts himself and castigates himself for messing up the line. Annabeth is looking pretty worried. Leo screws around with the line some more and finally comes around to saying that the Republicans believe, "If it is broke, don't fix it." He doesn't think that sounds right, but Annabeth assures him that it's the line they all agreed on. Otto confirms this, and Leo seems relieved. He asks, "Anyone got a cigarette?" Annabeth points out that they just started prepping. Leo tells her, "I know. I'd like to smoke it and then have someone shoot me." Annabeth asks Otto, who is filling for Governor Sullivan, for his response. And he gives a succinct and forceful rebuttal, accusing Leo of wanting the Bartlet administration to have credit for everything good while giving blame to the Republican Congress for everything bad. Annabeth, in her role as moderator, asks Leo for a response. He seems blown away by Otto's statement, and asks for a break. But even doing that he seems dazed and confused, simultaneously asking for a break, praising Otto's performance, and complaining about the pre-canned lines they're forcing him to use.