Next thing you know, Gaines is meeting by a fireside with some guy who must be Turner, along with Josh and Toby, in some room at the White House I don't recognize. Got a lotta schmancy gold and china tchotchkes, though. Gaines: "So you're saying you'll ask Democrats to trim benefits over the next twenty years, raise the retirement age over the next sixty years, and give up on this issue forever?" Turner replies, "If I can tell them that you'll settle for small, optional private accounts on top of Social Security, and raise the income limit on Social Security taxes." Toby interjects, "We protect FDR's legacy and admit changes have to be made to save it." Gaines asks, "What about political cover?" Josh says, "We call off the stunts. The DNC won't use this deal against any Republican who votes for it." Oh, they're in the Mural Room. Never got a good look at the mantel before. Gaines glances at Turner. Toby asks about the chances that this will pass the House. Gaines: "A lot of Republicans would like to end the demagoguery on this issue. They'll be grateful that you approached me with a deal." Turner takes a swig of his drink and says, "Actually...to sell this to Democrats...I have to say you approached me first." Gaines says that's a dealbreaker: "If it looks like a Democratic setup...." Turner complains, "I can't look like a fig leaf for some risky scheme to shred Social Security." Gaines says they're saving it, not shredding it. Toby and Josh look at each other wearily as Gaines and Turner bicker predictably. Man. Can we just get Kang and Kodos in here? God, I'm sick of Republicans and Democrats.
Oval Office. Josh and Toby are meeting with Leo and POTUS. Leo grouses, "Closest we've been to a deal in twenty years and it breaks down over who he approached first?" Isn't that always the way? Isn't there always some petty little face-saving shit getting in the way of accomplishing anything? Josh explains the optics, which don't really need explaining. Leo comments, "Hard enough caving on principle without looking like you're caving on principle." Josh reminds them about the problem with Polk. Hasn't that guy filed his story by now? What time is it, anyway? Where are those frickin' title cards when you actually want to know what time it is? Jed, having ruminated on the problem with his superior intelligence, announces: "We don't take credit." Leo: "What?" Jed suggests that they not take credit at all. Toby: "It's the only way." Jed: "They approached each other." And people are going to buy that? I wouldn't. Jed continues: "Bipartisan down the line. No one can say I'm setting anyone up." Leo: "Mr. President, a victory like this comes along once in a generation." Josh adds, "We'll have practically saved the New Deal and no one will even know we were in the room." Toby: "We'll know. And if we don't do this...." He sighs deeply. "If this system collapses, which is what'll happen...if we go back to bread lines, if growing old in American means growing poor again, we'll know that, too." Josh reminds Jed, "There is no such thing as an invisible legacy, sir." Leo further belabours the point: "You'd have to know you'd be giving it away." I think he gets that. Yeesh. Jed cocks his head slightly and says, "All day we've been talking about my legacy, my portrait, what's going to be carved on my tombstone...." He doesn't say what they've decided but I'm betting it includes a discourse on the Latin name for the common earthworm. Jed has a radical suggestion: "Maybe we pay a little more attention to what's being rendered, and the rendering takes care of itself." There is almost nothing about this storyline that's plausible, from beginning to end. It's especially ridiculous that Toby continued to keep it a "secret" even when Leo and Josh were asking about it so directly. The whole thing felt like an attempt to ape some of the atmosphere and tension of "17 People," but it just doesn't get there.