It's crunch time with only two weeks to Election Day. And I mean it's literally crunch time -- Vinick breaks an already sore hand when he gets an exuberant handshake from a football player introducing him at a rally, but spends the episode hiding that from the public and only wearing his cast around his staff. Josh is getting campaign advice from Toby, who calls himself "Bob" whenever he calls. He suggests that they campaign in California. When they learn about the trip, the Vinick campaign decides to head there as well, although not without a lot of bickering. Vinick decides to do a press conference in front of the infamous San Andreo nuclear plant, which seems like a huge mistake until he wins over the reporters by coming off as a straight-shooting candidate not afraid to admit a mistake. Meanwhile, Santos realizes his briefcase is missing. The person who found it is none other than Bruno, who proceeds to search through it and finds seemingly damning evidence against Santos inside -- in the form of a checkbook with regular monthly payments to a single mother in Houston who used to work for Mayor Santos -- and tells Vinick about it. Vinick privately gives the briefcase back to Santos the next day and tells him that he owes it to the country to make the story public himself, before the election. Santos won't, since it's a family issue -- his deadbeat brother is the father of the child, and took off, and Santos wanted to do the right thing and help her out. Vinick seems not to believe him, but has said that he won't be the one to leak it. We'll have to wait and see about that, since the conversation ended only with more glaring in an industrial kitchen setting, which seems to be the place these two like to have their private moments.
Previously on The West Wing...I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but there was a debate, and Vinick said he thought nuclear power was completely safe. Then many of the previously locked-up states that have nuclear power plants, including California, became too close to call (tm Josh). An absurdly smug Republican named Jane arrived and took Sheila's place on Vinick's staff, wanting to talk only about opposition to gay marriage. Bruno and his little-girl hair didn't think Vinick should make any statement about the nuclear meltdown. And if you think that all sounds exciting, then this episode is for you. And if you think it sounds like the lead-in to a filler episode in between stories that viewers actually care about, well then you're completely right. Oh, and if you came looking for any follow-up to a little thing you might have heard about called The Kiss, this hour will leave you wanting.
Chicago Convention Center. Vinick is making his way through a crowd, shaking hands with a strangely manic smile on his face -- almost a grimace. There are shots of his hand being tugged every which way. Once in his vehicle, Vinick ministers to his hand while Jane is on TV doing a press conference about how he has "always" been opposed to gay marriage. Bob hands Vinick an ice bucket for his hand, and they bicker with Bruno -- Vinick mumbling about how until a couple of years ago he didn't even know about the gay-marriage controversy, Bruno about how Jane's not helping, but has only been keeping them tied with Santos, and Bob firing back that she's stopped their fall in the South. Bruno retaliates that Jane's scaring away the Independents. Vinick reminds us about his little oops of saying that nuclear power was completely safe, right before a nuclear power plant nearly had a meltdown. Bruno insists that it's water under the bridge. Or radioactive steam into the air? Bicker, bicker, bicker. They're going to the Small Business Association of Chicago, and want to be out quickly because Santos will be there afterward. This irks Vinick, but Bruno insists that it is how the last week of an election goes in swing states. Vinick seems defeated already, murmuring, "Chicago'd like me a lot better if I stayed in Florida and let the Santos motorcade create all the traffic jams."