West Wing
The Hubbert Peak

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The Widow's Peak

Pan up from a shiny shiny car hood. (That's a bonnet to our U.K. readers.) Josh is standing there, in jeans and with a new haircut that really brings out his receding hairline. A salesdude asks if Josh is there to check out the Prius he's looming over. Josh says that hybrid cars are "the wave of the future." Unfortunately, he does not say it in that deep resonant announcer voice in which all statements about the future should be made. Josh looks at the sticker and expresses surprise over the alleged 60 m.p.g. in the city and the 51 m.p.g. on the highway. I'm surprised too, but that's just because my Consumer Reports 2005 Buying Guide just arrived in the mail, and it says that the Prius averaged 44 m.p.g. in the magazine's tests. Salesdude technobabbles about the wonders of hybrid technology, and then starts to talk about how gas prices are "at an all-time high." But know-it-all Josh has to interrupt him to explain that, adjusted for inflation, gas prices were much higher in 1981. ["Which is why they should be raised again, to lower oil use and encourage consumers to buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Yes, I read The New Yorker." -- Wing Chun] And that while prices were equivalent to today's prices in the '50s, they were higher when compared to average household income. Salesdude is a bit flabbergasted at Josh's command of facts and figures, but Josh explains to him that he works at the White House. Salesdude tries to tell Josh that owning a Prius would be a great statement for a public official to make ["that's why I plan to get one when we have to get rid of our Jetta -- that, and I like lording things over people, and feeling superior" -- Wing Chun], but Josh tells him that the positive symbolism is pretty much wiped out by the fact that the car is not made in the U.S. Now, I work for unions, so I have those concerns, but I really think that wouldn't be a problem for someone who works for a president who supports free trade as much as Jed does. Josh is a bit peeved that the dealership is asking for $3500 over the sticker price, but that's explained by the fact that there are seven hundred people on a waiting list, which amounts to an eight-month wait. Josh turns down the offer of a test drive, but then he sees something outside the window. It's an enormous red SUV (one that's actually made by Ford, according to the ever-reliable JustJoshin). Josh asks if he can test-drive that.

Josh is outside the dealership, waiting for Salesdude to get the planet-killer. A happy family is just picking up their Prius. Josh congratulates the father (because clearly, he's the only one who had anything to do with purchasing the car), and the dad gets all preachy, telling Josh that it's time for individuals to do something about fuel efficiency, since the government obviously won't. Josh makes a tut-tut noise about Congress, but the father tells him that Bartlet hasn't done a thing about it either. Just then, Salesdude calls over and tells "Mr. Lyman" that the SUV is ready for him. Josh looks sheepish (a good look for him -- he should try it more often), and from the look on the dad's face, he knows exactly who Josh is. Josh walks over to the land whale.

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West Wing

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