Written by: Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr., Directed by: Christopher Misiano
Gary Cole as Robert Russell,
Martin Sheen as Josiah Bartlett
and Jimmy Smits as Matt Santos
NBC Universal Photo: Scott Greenfield
- Takes Place:
- Broadcast: March 23, 2005
- Query: Was Vinick right about the area of a parallelogram?
- Query: Who first said "If you can't drink their booze, take their money and then vote against them, you don't belong in this business"?
- The Republicans have a nominee: Arnold Vinick. His Chief of Staff advises him to move fast on a Vice Presidential choice to "show Republicans coming together while the Democrats are still fighting for the nomination". Vinick must choose an anti-abortion VP to help him with the Conservative base of the party. As they watch Vinick on TV, Leo tells Bartlet, "We've got nobody who can beat him." And while the last primary continues to count the votes for the Democrats, Annabeth tells Toby,
- "It doesn't matter who wins. No one's going to have enough delegates for the nomination. Come on. Wake up and smell the chaos."
Later Bartlet asks Toby, "How many delegates does Santos have?"
"One thousand, five hundred, ninety-nine.... Russell's got 1677 and Hoynes has 956."
"What's the magic number?" asks C.J.
"Two thousand, one hundred, sixty-two gets you the nomination," answers the President.
After they discuss the coming chaos, Leo says, "Mr. President, until we have a nominee, you are still the head of this party."
So, Bartlet decides to get Russell and Santos in to the Oval for a photo-op, to "remind people we still know a little something about running the country."
"Maybe a little less about running a party," Toby says.
- Bartlet calls in Russell and Santos for a photo op and tells them if one of them attacks the other, Bartlet will get involved. And Senate Democrats try a stratagem that attaches a minimum wage amendment to the bill that raises the debt ceiling. And it turns out Vinick doesn't go to church regularly and that is starting to be a story. When Vinick is asked by the Republican leadership to work out a deal with Bartlet to remove the wage amendment so they can pass the debt ceiling in time, Vinick gives Bartlet more than he asked for and asks to "hang around for awhile as if we are really slugging it out in here." To pass the time the two of them go for ice cream in the kitchen, where the conversation turns to religion when Vinick asks,
"Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?"
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlett
and Alan Alda as Senator Arnold Vinick
NBC Universal Photo: Chris Haston
"It's hanging in there, but I'm afraid the constitution doesn't say anything about the separation of church and politics."
"You saying that's a good thing?"
"I'm saying that's the way it is: always has been."
"You think a voter really needs to know if I go to church?"
"I don't need to know but then I'm not going to vote for you anyway." Bartlet pauses and then adds, "It's not up to us to decide what the voters get to use in evaluating us."
"A little odd coming from someone who wasn't completely open about his health."
"That was a big mistake."
"Was it? What did we know about Lincoln's health when he was running: nothing. Washington? Jefferson? What about FDR's health? And when he died in office, did people say, 'Gee, why didn't he tell us he was sick?' No. Did they say, 'I wish I didn't vote for him'? No."
"I don't know how you plan to handle this religious thing in the campaign."
"Yeah, well, that makes two of us."
"I could find a way to let it slip that I think a candidate's religion or how often he goes to church is not relevant to choosing a president."
"You going to say that on the way into church?"
"Are you accusing me of politicking church going?"
"You've had an awful lot of photo ops on the church steps."
"I went to mass every Sunday long before I went into politics."
"I did, too."
"Why'd you stop?"
"One Christmas my wife gave me a very old edition of the King James Bible --- 17th century. It was a real find for a book collector. It was a thrill just to hold it. Then I read it."
Bartlet chuckles. "You can't take it literally."
"Yeah, that's what my priest friends kept telling me. But the more I read it, the less I could believe. I could not believe there was a God that said the penalty for working on the Sabbath was death. I couldn't believe there was a God who said the penalty for adultery was death."
"I'm more of a New Testament man, myself."
"I couldn't believe there was a God who had no penalty for slavery. The Bible has no problem with slavery at all. Lincoln could have used a little help from the Bible."
"You think Lincoln was an atheist?" Bartlet asks.
"I hope not. That would mean all his references to God were just purely political."
"He didn't make any until he started running for office."
"No, and he certainly was a doubter."
"How about you?"
"You going to try and save my soul?"
"Let's just say I struggled for a long time with that book and then finally, I just gave up the struggle."
"The only thing you can pray for in this job is the strength to get through the day. You can try coffee if you want but prayer works better for me."
- Later announcing the agreement to the press, Vinick gets asked about going to church,
- "I don't see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won't all lie to you but a lot of them will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So, every day until the end of this campaign, I'll answer any question anyone has on government, But if you have a question on religion, please go to church.