West Wing
The Red Mass

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The Fortune-Cookie Candidacy

Jed and Leo are in the Oval Office. They're yapping cryptically about something that sounds like a budget-related matter -- probably the tuition exemption. Charlie brings in the senior staff. Leo: "Toby, Josh, Merry Christmas. He says let's line up the validators." Jed: "And update our résumés." Leo: "Sam, that'll be you." Toby says he can do it. Leo says, "Stay on debate prep." Jed looks at Josh and says, "What? You're doing 'the face.'" Josh describes Writchie's remarks about needle-exchange programs and abstinence and personal responsibility. Toby would like someone to ask Writchie whether he's aware that needle exchange costs $9,000 for every infection stopped, while treating a person with HIV costs $200,000. I would like that, too. Toby adds, "I would like someone to ask him where the responsibility was in the paraphernalia laws that made it a crime for someone to buy or carry a syringe which is why addicts share infected needles in the first place." Well, that's not the only reason. Leo: "All done?" Toby: "For the moment." Josh says it's only an issue if Stackhouse responds. Sam: "Will he?" Josh doesn't know. Leo, impatiently, "Will he?" Josh doesn't know, but says that if he does, they can't come out for it, because Bruno thinks that will put three states back into play. C.J. says Ohio and Michigan, and Josh adds Maine. Jed: "They've always been iffy about me in Maine, I don't know why." Josh: "It's a mystery, sir." He adds that he can't come out against needle exchange, either: "You'll alienate..." Jed: "Heroin addicts?" Josh: "Liberals." Aw, same difference. Jed says whatever, worry about it if Stackhouse pipes up. Josh says okay, but warns that he'll be very worried if that happens. Jed asks whether there's anything else. Nope. The meeting breaks up.

Toby and C.J. pedeconference. Toby, bless his heart, is still on the needle exchange: "I'd like someone to ask him about the responsibility in cutting the drug treatment that would eliminate needle-related HIV. Half of all people who get infected by HIV are getting infected by the needle. I'd like someone to ask him how he thinks the personal responsibility plan's going so far." C.J. says she'll get on it, but she wants to talk about the debates. By now, they're back in Toby's office. He tells her that, when she mentions that they want five debates, she should say what they are: "One on the economy, one on foreign policy, with another on global threats and national security, one on the environment, and one on strengthening family life, which would include health care, education, and retirement. I also think there should be one on parts of speech and sentence structure, and one on fractions." Now, that I'd like to see. C.J., mildly: "Is there any chance that I'm going to get an opportunity to speak in this conversation, or are you just writing out loud?" Toby offers an adorably sheepish smile: "I didn't even know you were in the room." C.J. tells him she's absolutely terrified that they're going to lose the expectations game: "I can't believe how many times I get asked what would be a win in the debates. At this point I feel like if -- and only if -- Writchie accidentally lights his podium on fire does the President have a fighting chance." Toby disagrees. C.J. insists she's right: "If the whole thing is, 'he can't tie his shoelaces' and it turns out he can, then that is the ballgame." Toby believes it will take more than that. C.J.: "Not much more."

Josh asks Donna what she's doing tomorrow; she's going bike riding, then meeting friends for lunch, then getting a manicure. Josh thinks that sounds great: "If only you were actually doing all those things." Josh wants her to attend a seminar given by some multi-billionaire, self-help guru named Teddy Tomba who's been advising Writchie. Donna's registration's already been paid. He hands her the brochure. Josh is looking for material with which to embarrass Writchie for consulting with Tomba. Donna: "That lacks a certain nobility of purpose, doesn't it?" Josh doesn't think so. He tells her to write down any key slogans or philosophies. Donna: "They'll probably be on a t-shirt, won't they?" Josh agrees they probably will, and says she knows what he's looking for. She wonders if she should go in disguise. Josh: "As what?" Donna: "Somebody who would go to one of these things?" He tells her to meet him at the office when she's done. She gives him a glare as she walks away.

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West Wing




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