West Wing
The Red Mass

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The Fortune-Cookie Candidacy

Now here's a sentence I never thought I'd utter: I'm really looking forward to see Adam Sandler's new film, Punch-Drunk Love. Truly, it's the apocalypse.

When we return, it's Sunday night, and Bartlet's stretched out on the sofa, watching a football game and grousing about the coaching as he reads stuff. I think they're in the First Bedroom. C.J.'s there. He tells C.J.: "You know, if you ask a professional athlete what the hardest thing is to do in sports, they'll all say 'hit a baseball.' But a coach once told me that the hardest thing to do in sports is to walk into your Super Bowl locker room at half-time and change the strategy that got you there 'cause it's no longer working." C.J. asks, "It's really okay that after almost every play, somebody requires medical attention?" Jed: "It's not even the number of debates, as much as the format. Two-minute response followed by a one-minute reply. That's not a debate. That's not a debate! It's a joint press conference." Agreed.

Sam arrives. Jed says, "Nice job on the Red Mass. First-rate. You don't mind if I change everything, do you?" Sam: "No, sir." Jed shows him where he's made changes. Sam: "Ah. Cute. Let's take a look." Jed continues grumbling: "It's a joint press conference. It's not necessary that the candidates be in the same room. That part's just theatre." C.J. explains to Sam that they're talking about ways to lower expectations. Sam, reading Jed's revisions, says, "I like what you did. I like the 80/20." Jed: "Be nice to be able to respond to what the other person has said, and ask them a question. And the moderator should be empowered to press for an answer, just as a judge can of a witness, or a member of Congress in a confirmation hearing."

Jed walks off into some other closet or bathroom as he gets dressed for the Mass. C.J. says, "Sam, what do you think about me writing you an urgent memo? 'I think Writchie's a more skilled debater than we're anticipating. He has, after all, debated three gubernatorial candidates and won each time.'" Sam wonders whether she means to leak the memo. She does. Sam: "I think you'll look silly." C.J.: "I'm used to that." He doesn't think it'll do much. She doesn't either.

Jed comes back out, tying his tie, and tells anecdotes about ancient Roman debates and how vital and meaningful they were. C.J. gets the idea that they should ask for a different format for the debate. Jed says that Writchie's people will never consider it. C.J. says that they might if Bartlet's camp were to give up something else they wanted. Jed: "Other than this house, we don't have anything they want." C.J. looks at Sam, who says, "Sure we do. Sure we do. We wanted five debates, they wanted none. We have exactly one thing left that they want." Jed looks at C.J.: "Wow. Isn't this exactly why casinos don't play with a one-deck shoe?" Sam says yes. Jed considers it, turning away from them and toward the TV for a moment. Charlie knocks and tells him the car's ready. Jed: "He's still running that screen pass." Jed turns around and says, "Get Toby to sign off and I'm in." Jed does a loud coat flip and leaves with Charlie.

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West Wing

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