West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Seventh Season Episodes * #710 "Running Mates"
Written by: Peter Noah, Directed by: Paul McCrane
Takes Place: Six weeks before the election. Two day period leading up the Vice Presidential Debate
Broadcast: Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006

John Spencer as Leo McGarry
NBC Entertainment Photo
It is two days before the Vice Presidential debate and Leo's prep is not going well. He can't remember the words to the answers and seems unable to respond to his fake opponent. Lou and some others take the tape to Josh who only watches a few seconds. When Leo calls to ask how they found it, Josh tells him the machine ate the tape and that Leo should just relax.
"Get some rest. I need you to look pretty for 20 million TV viewers."
"That's what we're counting on, campaign's doomed."

The next day Leo asks Annabeth for her opinion and she refuses to discuss the substance, the issues.
"An artful dodge. Uncharacteristic. Your usual conversation mode tending more toward blunt instrument. On style, then."
"Uh. That was horrible."
"There's the cudgel."
"But we can relax your posture, relocate the voice, corral that fidgeting, and knock some years off."
"Not again with the Botox."
"Hair and makeup room — man's best friend. Plan to spend some time there."
"It's a hair and makeup room. It's not a time machine."
"None of this is your problem."
"You're going to tell me what is."
"Your smirk."
"My what?"
"Yeah, you're doing it now."
"No, I'm not."
"It's your default expression...."
"That's the way my mouth forms."
"From decades of smirking. In the right context, extremely effective — commanding, reassuring, even devastatingly sexy."
"In the right context. In a debate, under the best of circumstances it reads as smug and condescending. In the context where you're getting waxed by your opponent it comes off as clueless, defensive, and not a little pathetic."
"You seem to have graduated from cudgel to bludgeon."

Meanwhile, on another front: Santos has returned for a short visit to his home --- all is not peaceful and easy. And at the White House Will is briefing the press about the situation in Kazakhstan, about which he has no knowledge at all. He had asked Kate but her answer to every question was that it was "Classified". The next day they run into each other at the White House.
"What are you doing here on a Sunday?"
"No life. You? Wait — let me guess — you can't tell me."
"You're getting good at this...."
"You know it occurs to me that if you ever used, and the fact that you haven't earns you major cliché avoidance points, the old, 'I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you' trope, that given your background you probably actually could."
"With my bare hands."
"...alarmingly alluring."
"You do have issues to work on, which I tend to find compelling to my continual misery."
"Dismayingly so. Anyway, I just came by to say that I thought, given all, you acquitted yourself well at yesterday's briefing."
"Apocalypse, Maybe."
"Nimbly done."
"Don't change the subject."
"The end of the world as we know it."
"I can assure you: Armageddon not necessarily imminent."
"May I communicate same to the White House press?"
"I can't think why not."
"You have the thanks of a thankful Communications Director. Though the prospect of the world ending did have one upside: I figured it gave license to ask whether you might want to have dinner with me before we, and the planet, went up in cinders."
"Well, that is an opportunity lost. Though I said it wasn't imminent, not out of the range of possibility."
"So, then—?"
"How's tonight?"

Rumors are spreading about how badly Leo's prep is going. Josh calls some of those involved into his office to say,
"Somebody's leaking."
Lou objects, "You can't seriously think it's one of us."
"You told a friend, they told a friend, the friend told The Washington Post."
"I haven't spoken to a friend in two months."
Annabeth tells them all, "I don't think I have any friends left."
They all turn to look at Ronna, who says, "All my friends are in this room."
Lou takes a long look at her. "Okay, you win most pathetic."

Josh reaches out to call someone he has relied on in the past:
"Is this a bad time?"
"No. You caught me between arraignments," Toby says.
"I'm surprised you haven't changed your cell number."
"Disappointed to actually get me? ...Is somebody dead?"
"I've talked to you."
"Once every six weeks; you could set an extremely slow clock by it."
"I didn't think you wanted to hear from me."
"Because I-I don't feel cut off enough?"
"All right. I wasn't sure I wanted to talk to you. Last time you were more than usually assholic."
Toby laughs. "Is that the reason you're calling? Because I'm not sure I'm in the ideal headspace for a character critique."
"Have you seen the stuff about Leo?"
"Lowering expectations."
"It's not us...."
"It's the VP debate - the very definition of 'low impact'."
"Well, the campaign will survive - it's Leo."
"He'll survive too."
"I put him in this position. If he goes out and embarrasses himself, it's my fault.... He did this for me. And now I've put him in this position where he can fail on national TV...."
"Leo McGarry did not accept his party's nomination to the Vice Presidency of the United States because he thought it might make your socks roll up and down."
"I just hate to see him struggle like this. It's not what he deserves. I-I can't help it if it sounds self-aggrandizing, I feel responsible.... This must all sound pretty trivial."
"You mean to someone under indictment? It does concentrate the mind, just a little."
"How's that going?"
"Can't talk about it.... Legally prescribed. Give yourself a pass on this, Josh."
"Yeah. I'll talk to you in six weeks."
"Election Day."
"I forget: in D.C., they let felons vote?" There is a pause on the other end of the phone. "Too soon?"
"Just a little bit. See ya."

Will and Kate spend their dinner/date in Will's office watching the debate. Everyone else is also watching. And Leo does just fine. Afterwards Annabeth asks him what happened.
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"The truth?"
"I was really that lost."
"Oh, come on."
"Couching answers in tame, time-pressured sound bites. And then when Josh wouldn't even show me the tape, it scared me to death. So I leaked it."
"You did?"
"I was worried he was so worried he wouldn't."
"So you just called up a bunch of reporters and said 'Hey, Leo McGarry here, just letting you know I'm one scary debater.'"
"I covered my tracks. I've been at this awhile. I had a couple think it was you."
"Wasn't the voice a big tip-off?
"There's not enough helium in the cosmos. So, I borrowed your email account."
"Excuse me?"
"Never use your cat's name as your password."

Santos and his wife make up after a lot of things go wrong on his trip home. And he catches a cold from his kids.

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode (as well as more information),
let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.

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