Writer: Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr., Director: Alex Graves
Alan Alda as Sen. Vinick
NBC Universal Photo
- Takes Place: Donna says it is one about year to the Presidential election and Christmas is coming up (Bartlet and the Surgeon General discuss it & Donna is declining Christmas party invitations for Josh)
- Broadcast: December 8, 2004
- Query: Did Penn and Teller really burn an American flag in Bartlet's White House?
- Zoey has a birthday party in the White House and Penn and Teller do magic tricks for her and the guests. And they do a trick that makes the guests think they have burnt an American flag inside the Bill of Rights (which was untouched). The press later hears about it and questions are raised about whether Bartlet was in the room when the trick was done. Also the President and his staff are discussing what Bartlet is going to say while he is in the room with the Chinese during the upcoming summit which they are about to leave for. Toby tells him,
- "I think we're all anxious about the subjects because you're insisting on being alone in the room with the Chinese leaders."
"Yeah. You want to be in the room, too?"
"I do not...."
"I don't want to fly all the way to China just to participate in another phoney ritual of putting out these joint statements on what we already agreed to before the trip.... This is my last China summit. It's my last chance. I want to walk into that room and show the Chinese they are not dealing with some staff-dependent puppet. I want them to see that I'm ready to get some real work done right there in the room. Progress isn't good enough for me now. I want to get something done."
- The Vice President wants to issue a statement opposing the "burning" of a flag --- only Charlie seems to regard the whole thing as a magic trick where no one really knows what disappeared or went up in smoke. Will convinces Josh to talk to the VP and Josh makes so much sense that Russell offers to have Josh run his campaign for President (that is two offers to run a presidential campaign that Josh has gotten: the other one was Hoynes). Afterwards Will tells Josh,
- "He's not stupid."
"That's your bumper sticker?"
"He's smart enough to take your advice.... This is a write your own ticket offer. You'd have complete control.... I heard Hoynes made you an offer.... Bob Russell might be the next President of the United States. You get in now, you can make him the candidate you want him to be. After that we make him the President we need him to be."
- Josh is asked to see if a Republican would be open to accepting the job of ambassador to the U.N. Josh isn't terribly thrilled with the idea but he goes to see Senator Vinick who he finds shining his shoes,
- "Mr. Chairman."
"Shine your own shoes, Josh?"
"No. I can't say that I do."
"My father used to say, you can't trust a man who doesn't shine his own shoes." He then looks down at Josh's feet. "Does anyone shine those things?"
"Not really. No."
"How many guys in this town shine their own shoes?"
"Not a lot."
"Is that how many you trust."
"That's exactly how many I trust... I know what you're thinking: It must be lonely being this mean old guy who doesn't trust anyone. Well I trust my brother, my four children, my nine grandchildren and my dog. I suspect that more than you trust, now isn't it?
"The Founding Fathers didn't set up a government based on trust. They could have designed a government based on trust in our ability to govern fairly but they knew that power corrupts so they invented checks and balances. That was genius. The Founding Fathers did not want me to trust you and they did not want you to trust me."
"Well they must be very proud of us."
- Meanwhile on the plane to China Bartlet, who has been hiding the fact that he has been having trouble holding a pen and signing his name, admits to the Surgeon General that he can't move his hands. And Vinick tells Josh,
- "The President can't give me the job I want."
Josh goes back to the White House but is hesitant to tell this news to Leo, who is tidying up some stuff, "Don't worry. You're not going to shock me into my grave."
"He's running for President. He announces tomorrow. I don't see how he gets the nomination.... [His positions are].... not good enough for the Republican base."
"He's got a lot of California money behind him."
Donna interrupts to tell them the Democratic front runner is announcing that he is not going to run. Josh and Leo go back to discussing the situation. "There's no way Vinick's getting the nomination. He's not conservative enough...."
"Russell or Hoynes gets our nomination. Who gets the Republican nomination?"
"It's wide open.... Probably why Vinick figures he has a shot....
ever see Arnie Vinick campaign up close? He'll go into those high school gymnasiums in Iowa and New Hampshire and blow them all away.... and sound smarter and more honest than any Republican they've ever seen. Because he is...."
"Republican who wins California wipes us out in the Electorial College.... He's not getting the nomination."
"If he does, we've got no one who can beat him."
- Just listening to Vinick announce, impresses Donna who tells Josh,
- "You have a year to talk me out of voting for him."
- And on the plane Bartlet's condition worsen and he finds himself paralyzed. But Bartlet refuses to allow them to turn the plane around --- things are too delicate. And later he starts to recover some use of his arms, although his legs are useless and he will be working from a wheelchair for awhile. As he tells his staff,
- "I'm fine as long as I don't attempt any superhuman feat like say writing my name."