Toby (Richard Schiff) convinces the President (Martin Sheen) to secretly sanction his solo effort to make history by reforming Social Security but his efforts to recruit a Republican Senator and a Democratic cohort are leaked — forcing the administration to back-pedal while Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Leo (John Spencer) are left clueless and stewing. Meanwhile, an equally ignorant C.J. (Alison Janney) parries with a reporter who is ready to print all the backstage details. In addition, the female staffers complain to Josh about the new hire — a mysterious, seductively dressed woman assigned to Toby.
THE WEST WING - SLOW NEWS DAY WRITTEN BY ELI ATTIE DIRECTED BY JULIE HEBERT TEASER FADE IN: INT. TOBY'S RESIDENCE - NIGHT 2:47 AM Toby is lying awake in his bed, staring at the ceiling. Outside it is raining. He rises - CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE 3:06 AM Toby enters his office, goes to his desk and puts a tape in the TV/VCR. He is watching C-SPAN coverage of President Bartlet's State of the Union Address. We hear the crowd applauding and see one Senator (who we will later know as STEVE GAINES) standing while he claps, as all those around him remain seated. Toby rewinds the tape to watch again. [on tape] BARTLET ...and let us raise the minimum wage so that work always pays more than welfare. [Toby watches the scene of the Senator standing to applaud again.] CUT TO: INT. JOSH'S RESIDENCE - NIGHT A phone is ringing. Josh throws a pillow off his face and reaches for his cell phone. JOSH [sleepily] Yeah? TOBY Hey. How much cash on hand did Gaines have in the last FEC filing period? JOSH The Senator? CUT TO: TOBY SITTING AT HIS DESK TOBY Gaines. Cash on hand. JOSH [VO] 310 K. TOBY [to himself] Almost nothing. JOSH [VO] It's not an election year, what's unusual... TOBY hangs up the phone, thinking. SCENES OF: TOBY walking through the LOBBY. Folders hitting a table. A large binder labeled "Social Security" being placed on top of the folders. Coffee brewing, TOBY removes the decanter and fills his cup directly from the machine. TOBY back-tracking through the LOBBY with the files. TOBY sitting on the couch in his office reading and making notations in the files. CUT TO: INT. CHARLIE'S RESIDENCE - NIGHT The phone rings. CHARLIE sits up in bed and turns on a lamp. CHARLIE This is Charlie. The conversation cuts between CHARLIE at home and TOBY in his office TOBY Hey, what time is the President's wake up call tomorrow? CHARLIE You mean today? TOBY Tomorrow, today ... the next one. CHARLIE 5:45. TOBY I'll make the call. CHARLIE Excuse me? TOBY I'll make his wake up call...ah...sleep in. CUT TO: TOBY in his office shooting baskets with his rubber ball into trashcans. He checks his watch. 5:11 AM CUT TO: A clock, labeled POTUS, ticking on the wall. The time is 5:44 (and 52 seconds). We hear the final seconds tick off on the clock. TOBY buttons his shirtsleeves and picks up the phone at exactly 5:45. CUT TO: INT. THE WHITE HOUSE RESIDENCE - NIGHT The phone is ringing. Bartlet reaches out his hand and pulls the phone to his ear. BARTLET Yeah... TOBY [VO] Good morning, Mr. President. BARTLET Charlie, we're going to surgically implant a snooze button. Won't hurt much. CUT TO: TOBY in his office, putting on his suit coat. The conversation cuts between the two scenes. TOBY Ah, it's Toby, sir. BARTLET If they're not giving you enough to do down there... TOBY I know this sounds crazy but, I think we have two weeks. A two week window... I need to see you alone right now, because if I'm right about this... BARTLET Toby, what are you talking about? TOBY I think I know how we can save Social Security. SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES END TEASER * * * ACT ONE FADE IN: INT. RESIDENCE, BARTLET'S STUDY 6:15 AM TOBY, sitting on a couch pours coffee while Bartlet, in a robe, stands reading a newspaper. TOBY I think Gaines is leaving the Senate. I think he's not going to run again. BARTLET 'Cause he only has three hundred and ten thousand dollars cash on hand. TOBY Because he's not raising money. Because he was the only Republican to stand up and applaud a minimum wage hike at the State of the Union. Gaines breaking ranks over the AFL-CIO's top issue. BARTLET You think he'll announce his retirement? TOBY Illinois GOP dinner's in two weeks. If I'm right, he'll announce his intentions there, always has. BARTLET [sits down in a chair adjacent to the couch] And? TOBY And, he's been a leader on this for decades. Chairs the Social Securities sub-committee. Get him and a leading Democrat to agree on a fix. Bring the House guys along before anyone knows he's a lame duck. This just might be the break we need. BARTLET To save Social Security? TOBY To save Social Security, yes sir. BARTLET This is right after we colonize Ontario. TOBY Let's talk about reality. More college kids think they'll see UFOs than Social Security checks. BARTLET But they don't tell you how many believe in UFOs. That's the number we ought to be worried about. TOBY The number of retirees is going to double. If we do nothing, the trust fund will go broke. BARTLET One Senator's retirement means we can save it? TOBY One Senator who's been the leader on it. One Senator with the stature to bring his party along. One Senator who's never had a President willing to meet him halfway. BARTLET Republicans that want to divert a chunk of Social Security into private investments, think Democrats will go along with that? TOBY I'm not saying there aren't sticking points. BARTLET More like Krazy-Glue. Think Republicans will raise payroll taxes? TOBY I think we have to have the conversation. I can't give you the exact plan yet... BARTLET You can't save Social Security without cutting benefits or raising taxes, and this is the largest meeting in Washington where anyone's ever admitted it. TOBY When Social Security goes bankrupt, are we going to call that a benefit cut? Let's talk to Gaines. BARTLET If it becomes public we've even discussed this, both sides will go crazy. It'll jeopardize our whole agenda on the Hill. TOBY [rises from the couch and hesitates a bit] What if I do it? I'll do all the negotiating. You'll have total deniability. No one else in this building has to know. BARTLET And if it blows up, I'm supposed to pretend we've never met? TOBY We'll always have Paris. [beat] Mr. President, life expectancy's rising. The biggest generation, ever, is retiring and we don't have the money! Every year we wait means we have to cut deeper, take away more, 'til Social Security's not enough to live on... 'til retirement's a one- way ticket to a flop house. We have an opening. There's seventeen ways to fix it. Twenty years of blue ribbon commissions have told us how. This isn't a government program, it is a moral covenant. We don't want to be the administration that saves it from oblivion? We don't want that legacy? BARTLET [standing and walking away] Social Security is the third rail of American politics. Touch it, and you die. TOBY That's cause the third rail is where all the power is. BARTLET turns and looks at TOBY for a moment. BARTLET Talk to Gaines, but just talk. And no one else in this building knows. TOBY Thank you, Mr. President. CUT TO: INT. COMMUNICATIONS BULLPEN - DAY CJ follows JOSH, they pedeconference through the BULLPEN CJ We have nothing to announce today. No policy, no summit meetings, not even a warm front meeting up with a cold front. We've been over this. We need a hard news announcement each and every day, or the press runs amuck. JOSH This is Toby's job. What am I, the White House complaint center? CJ You run the policy shop. Besides, Toby's avoiding me. JOSH Maybe no news is good news. JOSH stops to pour a cup of coffee CJ No news is very, very bad news. If we're not running offense, we're running defense. And if we're playing defense, then ... there's some clever sports analogy that explains what happens then. JOSH We're screwed. CJ That'll do. CJ takes the cup of coffee from JOSH; he pours another. JOSH I thought we were proposing that streamlining of federal adoption law? CJ DPC says it's not ready, OMB says it's not revenue neutral and I'm declaring a war on all acronyms. JOSH There's gotta be something happening somewhere. It's a big government. They continue walking through the BULLPEN CJ That time I accused the Speaker of welshing on committee assignments and had to apologize to the Welsh people... slow news day. CAROL [entering the BULLPEN] Here's something. The Argentine economic attache is meeting at NEC today... JOSH There's your offensive play. CAROL ...on...cabbage imports. JOSH Oh. Back to the huddle. CJ Bring him in. Make it around lunchtime. JOSH We'll find a better way to feed the beast. JOSH pats CJ on the shoulder as he leaves. CJ [calling after him] Please. Because the alternative is that it feeds on us! CUT TO: EXT. CAPITOL BUILDING STEPS - DAY TOBY is standing waiting for SENATOR GAINES. GAINES Toby! TOBY Senator. [They shake hands.] Could I have a minute of your time alone? GAINES nods to the man walking with him. He and TOBY walk in the other direction. GAINES Okay, you've got it. TOBY I think you're not running for re-election. I think that because you broke ranks, stood up and applauded a minimum wage hike at the State of the Union and because you barely raised a dime last quarter. GAINES And? TOBY And I'm offering you what I think could be the crowning achievement of your career. GAINES You want me to applaud the President more often. TOBY I want us to try to save Social Security. I'll bring the President along with a leading Senate Democrat to the table. GAINES And we'll simonize the Hoover Dam? TOBY Well, let's do this first. GAINES You've been good on this issue. Your political hacks in the White House haven't. TOBY This will be a day without politics. GAINES Mm-hmm, and here's how it'll go...I'll say let's have personal savings accounts so, God forbid, people can invest their own money, and Josh Lyman's hatchet factory will say I'm trying to turn social security into stock market bingo. TOBY Everything's on the table. GAINES I'll say let's trim the cost of living adjustment and they'll haul out elderly widows who are getting $740 a month and say I want them eating cat food on the street. TOBY Everything is on the table. I'm asking you to take one step, one small step toward greatness. You chair the sub-committee. You're the one who can deliver House and Senate Republicans. GAINES Funny, I knew the perfect Republican to lead this in the House, deeply committed to reform. TOBY Senator... GAINES Jim Carney was his name, and I think he's in a different line of work now. TOBY Are you willing to let the trust fund go completely broke? 'Cause let's face it, that'll lead to the mother of all tax increases, or the total collapse of the system. Is that the legacy you want to leave? One step, Senator, that's all I'm asking. GAINES I'll need a Democrat. And it better be a heavyweight. TOBY watches GAINES as he walks away. CUT TO: INT. JOSH'S OFFICE WILL is waiting for JOSH in his office, standing next to the blackboard. JOSH enters. JOSH Hey. The Vice President's speech to the Detroit Economic Club, it wasn't that bad. WILL Thanks. JOSH What'd you want to talk about? WILL It's his presentation problem. JOSH I know...People agree with everything Russell says... WILL ...until he says it. JOSH It's the greatest sin in politics to be bad on television. WILL Did you and Toby ever have presentation problems with the President? JOSH The first campaign. Every speech was an eighteen point plan for something or other. WILL How'd you handle that? JOSH [Sitting at his desk] Gave him an eighteen point plan to make his speeches snappier. WILL Russell's instinct is to make fun of his blandness. Salt his speeches with self-deprecating jokes. JOSH Such as? WILL Bob Russell is so dull his secret service code name is Bob Russell. JOSH That's not bad. WILL Bob Russell is an inspiration to the millions of Americans who suffer from Dutch Elm disease. JOSH Ah... you're going to have a Sierra Club problem. WILL That's where we used it. JOSH Problem is, telling people you're dull just removes all doubt. Russell needs to confound expectations. Do something to really shock the party faithful. And I may have something...about Gaines. WILL Senator Gaines? Did Toby meet with him this morning? JOSH Why? WILL Polk, from the Wall Street Journal, just asked me. I said I had no idea. For once in my life I was telling the truth. JOSH Yeah...that meeting was...ah, let me get back to you about Russell. WILL turns and walks out the door. JOSH The code name thing, that was funny. WILL nods and continues on. In a continuing shot, TOBY walks through the bullpen towards his office and sees RENA standing by her desk, obviously upset, almost crying. TOBY How are you doing? RENA Nobody here talks to me. I don't think they like me. TOBY Not really, no. [Beat] Come here. RENA follows TOBY into his office. He shuts the door. TOBY Can you handle something confidential? Photocopying, pulling documents, answering my private line... RENA Thank you. TOBY It's grunt work. RENA I won't let you down. TOBY Trained animals could do it. RENA Mr. Zeigler, I'm honored. TOBY Cut the act. Okay? I'm offering you the chance to do something real. I need you to comb through the Social Security reports on this table. Pull and copy anything with the names Gaines or Brainerd. Tell anyone what you're doing, or even what the topic is, become any more likable before this project is over... TOBY is interrupted by a knock on the door. He opens the door to see JOSH. JOSH Is this a bad time? TOBY No. RENA exits. JOSH steps in. TOBY What do you need? JOSH Polk at the Journal says you met with Gaines? TOBY [looks down at his desk] Yeah, it's nothing. JOSH This wasn't about the tax bill? TOBY I, uh, bumped into him on the Hill. JOSH If you were even whispering about a deal on taxes, you'd tell me right? TOBY What do you think? JOSH Our guys don't want a deal. They're counting on that issue for the midterms. TOBY What issues aren't they counting on? JOSH So the 310 K you called me about. TOBY It's a coincidence. JOSH Okay. JOSH leaves with a hesitant smile. TOBY sighs heavily and slams a folder on his desk in frustration. CUT TO: INT. HALLWAY Donna is walking with folders. JOSH calls to her and races to catch up. JOSH Donna! Tell Will I'm coming over to see him. DONNA What about? JOSH I've got a little surprise for Senator Gaines. It may not be such a slow news day after all. END ACT ONE * * * ACT TWO FADE IN: INT. CJ'S OFFICE CJ is sitting on a couch reading the newspaper. GREY POLK raps at her open door and steps in. CJ Mr. Polk. To what do I owe the pressure? POLK I need a comment. CJ Can it wait 'til the briefing? POLK Not really. CJ The Journal doesn't even have a bulldog edition. POLK You might need some time on this one. Toby's been meeting on the Hill, I want to know if it's on Social Security. CJ I'm sure it's not. POLK A member of Senator Gaines' staff says it might be. CJ Do you know how many rounds we've gone on this issue? They're just picking a fight. POLK In person, obviously, 'cause Gaines met Toby an hour ago. CJ This is what I get on a slow news day. No bulldog edition, but... POLK ...but plenty of bulldogs. Check it out, CJ. POLK leaves and CJ glances after him. CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE TOBY [on the phone] ...half an hour, Senator. The Mall's fine. [He hangs up.] RENA enters carrying an armful of files. RENA A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called... TOBY No press calls today. RENA Okay well, he said it was urgent. TOBY I'm sure. RENA Can I ask you a question? TOBY What? RENA Well, there's something I don't understand about Social Security. TOBY Then you could be a member of Congress. RENA Well, all these reports say its going broke if we don't fix it, but if we all pay into it why don't we just get our money back when we retire? TOBY Your Social Security taxes pay for today's retirees. RENA Then why won't somebody else's taxes pay for my retirement? TOBY Because when the baby boomers retire there'll only be 2 people working for every retiree, down from 42 workers per retiree when the system started. She grimaces and moves to put the files on the coffee table. RENA Hey, who's James Carney? TOBY Jim. What about him? RENA He's all over these reports, he chaired the last two commissions. If Senator Gaines won't help, could you ask him? CJ approaches TOBY's open door. CJ The chickens of our empty roost are coming home to roost. RENA exits TOBY Sorry, I've been...it's been busy. CJ It's a glacially slow news day, Toby. I've had three calls about staff financial disclosure forms, one freedom of information request to inspect the First Lady's shoe closet... TOBY Didn't know it covered insoles. CJ Now the Wall Street Journal thinks you and Gaines are reforming Social Security. What were you talking about with Gaines, his volumetric ethanol amendment? TOBY sighs. He walks to the door and shuts it quietly. TOBY [stammering a bit to find his words] You can't tell Leo. CJ It isn't true, is it? TOBY I need the press off my trail for just a couple of days. It's close hold. CJ [in quiet disbelief] Close hold from Leo? TOBY looks away quickly and then meets her gaze. CJ Okay. CUT TO: INT. OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT WILL is sitting at a large desk in an elaborate office. Josh raps on the open door and then glides in. JOSH Like your new office. WILL It has the advantage of being remote. JOSH Nice place to visit. Wonderful place to park. WILL Two doors down is the International Date Line. JOSH I got the answer to your Russell conundrum. Forget the dull jokes. The real problem in the Democratic Party these days is morale, right? So, Russell comes out of the gate as a seltzer bottle squirting partisan. The happy warrior. The guy who puts the fun back in Democratic politics. WILL Fun? From a guy who needs a strobe light to look like he's moving? JOSH Write that down. WILL Got it. JOSH Did you know that Gaines raised an anemic, pathetic 310 grand last quarter? WILL Does he even have an opponent yet? JOSH No, but it's a crack in the plaster, a chink in the armor, and we're going to have some fun at his expense. WILL Okay. JOSH Talking about political theater, stuff you do in a campaign to energize your base, wake 'em up. Russell travels to Gaines' home town, puts out a change jar and stages a mock fundraiser... WILL [catching on] ...to show Gaines is so far outside the mainstream that's why he's broke. JOSH Drops a nickel in the jar for each of Gaines' retrograde positions... WILL [smiling widely] ...Tahitian tax shelters...[pantomimes dropping a coin]... ka-ching! ...privatizing Social Security...[he tries to imitate what WILL did, but is confused]...how'd you... WILL Ka-ching! It's a partisan stunt, Russell could do one every week. JOSH Fires up the troops, shows that while the other side's being complacent... WILL ...we're ready to throw down! JOSH Little too much fun, there. WILL Sorry. JOSH Slow news day. Lots of bored political reporters out there. [JOSH picks up the phone and offers it to WILL. WILL grabs it, smiling.] CUT TO: EXT. ON THE MALL - DAY TOBY is walking with SENATOR SARAH BRAINERD. TOBY Gaines is willing to risk his career for this. We just have to meet him halfway. BRAINERD Where's the President? TOBY A hundred percent behind this. We just have to get you and Gaines in a room to hammer out a deal Democrats can support. BRAINERD I won't raise the retirement age. TOBY No, no, no... we have to share the pain! BRAINERD Easy for us to say, we don't carry sheet metal for a living. We don't work hard, physical jobs like welding or plumbing. TOBY Americans are retiring in their 60s, living until their 80s, FDR didn't intend to pay for 20 years of shuffleboard. BRAINERD Tell that to the sheet metal worker whose tendons are shot by 55. TOBY Having no Social Security works wonders on the tendons. BRAINERD You're not worried about political fallout. TOBY Yes I am, Senator, but this isn't politics, it's history. And there is no easy way to get in the book. BRAINERD I'll talk. No commitments, but I'll talk. BRAINERD quickly walks away. TOBY pauses and looks after her. He turns, checks his watch, and walks away in the opposite direction. CUT TO: INT. CJ'S OFFICE CJ is sitting at her desk riffling through papers and briefing memos. CAROL [from the doorway] The guy from the Argentine embassy's here. CJ Well, see if he has anything we can announce. CAROL [smiling almost gleefully] You'll wanna ask him yourself. An incredibly handsome man, CARLOS CARRIO, walks through the door. He speaks in a low voice, with a lilting Spanish accent. CARRIO Ms. Cregg. CJ [not looking up, she continues to sort through piles of paper] This will have to be a short meeting. I knew this wasn't like shooting fish in a barrel...not that I've ever shot fish in a barrel...but we don't have anything to announce today and I thought maybe your cabbage import penetration talks [she finally looks up, notices CARRIO and continues a bit distracted] would...yield ... some, ah, cabbage... [She shakes her head slightly to collect and finish her thought.] ...agreement. CARRIO There is no agreement. There's only mutual respect. CJ Well that's not newsworthy, perhaps, but certainly... CARRIO Do you like cabbage? CJ [smiling brightly, girlishly] Not so much, really. [Honest to God, I think she giggles here] CARRIO Ah. CJ On occasion, I see the appeal. [She looks at CARRIO for a long moment.] It's been a while since I've tried it actually. [She laughs lightly.] CARRIO You are, ah, a woman. CJ And no news there, either. Though, at this point, I'm willing to go with it. CAROL [from the doorway] They're waiting in the briefing room. CJ [to Carol] Thank you. Thank you, Mr.... CARRIO Carrio. Carlos Carrio. CJ extends her hand, CARRIO grasps it gently and lightly kisses the back of her hand after they shake. CJ watches him intently, not displeased. CJ [she lingers over his name] Carrio... CARRIO Thank you. CJ [as he leaves] Thank you for...whatever...it was that was. CJ watches him go and stares out the door after him. CAROL enters, looks at CJ and then snaps her fingers to break CJ out of her daze. CAROL How come you wanted all that press guidance on ethanol? CJ [snapping back to attention] Because I'm just about to get hammered on Social Security! CAROL Silly me. CJ If I tug my left ear, create a diversion. They rush out of CJ's office towards the briefing room. CUT TO: INT. PRESS BRIEFING ROOM CJ is first shown on the monitor and then at the podium taking questions. CJ Good afternoon, folks, I have an important announcement to make. In the coming weeks the President plans to focus on raising education standards. It's a big, juicy policy story no one's written, don't all pounce at once. Chris. CHRIS What's new about that? CJ The President's laser-beam focus. REPORTER 1 Which he mentioned in the State of the Union. CJ Then obviously you'll want to delve into specifics. Gordon. GORDON I'm hearing you were going to propose changes to federal adoption law? CJ We hope to announce them soon. Just streamline the bureaucracy and find more children loving homes. CJ sees Wall Street Reporter, GREY POLK, standing at the side wall. She makes eye contact with him. He adjusts his shirt neck, but otherwise remains still. GORDON I'm hearing those changes included a preference for younger parents. CJ I haven't reviewed the language. CJ again looks towards POLK, he looks down at his notebook. GORDON The Bartlet's have a combined age of 111. CJ [caught off-guard a bit] What are you suggesting? GORDON Did the First Couple kill the announcement because they're considering adopting a baby? REPORTER 2 If they're adopting, shouldn't they recuse themselves from the... CJ [interrupting] Polk's got a policy question. [She points in his direction] POLK I'm fine. ALL CJ! CJ The Bartlet's had nothing to do with delaying this announcement. REPORTER 3 Meaning they're out of the loop? CJ Meaning everyone ought to have the right to adopt. You, me, the First Couple, the Dali Lama...and this briefing is officially over. GORDON But we don't have any news to file. CJ Like a blank page would kill ya! Polk, follow me. POLK follows CJ to the doorway. CJ You didn't ask your question. POLK Why share it with the room? CJ 'Cause they like flimsy rumors and innuendo, too. POLK I've got a second source. You'll see how flimsy it is in tomorrow's Journal. CJ watches him as he walks back through the briefing room. CUT TO: EXT. CAPITOL BUILDING TOBY is walking with SENATOR GAINES. They begin their conversation on the steps and continue walking across the street. TOBY Brainerd says she'll talk. No commitments yet, but she'll talk. GAINES Maybe we can start a book club. TOBY She's the ranking Democrat on Finance; it's a good first step. GAINES I just heard from two reporters that Bob Russell and the Bartlet smear machine are planning to attack me on Social Security, make a circus out of my fundraising weakness. Is that the second step? TOBY I don't know what you're talking about. GAINES Either you're lying, or the left hand doesn't know what the far-left hand is doing. TOBY I'm not lying. GAINES You know what happened to Carney? He commissioned one lousy CBO analysis on raising the retirement age... TOBY I can fix this. GAINES ...Josh Lyman ran ads with 90 year olds in hard hats working construction, The Carney Social Security Plan. Lost his seat by eleven points. TOBY I'll stop whatever this is. GAINES Eleven points. TOBY You're not running this time. GAINES Who said I wasn't running? I thought it was time to raise the minimum wage. TOBY You have to trust me... GAINES I don't. And even if I did put my neck on the line with my own party by scaling back private accounts, you and your guys would never give up on your favorite partisan attack. TOBY We're on the same limb. The Journal's chasing this, your staff is leaking it! GAINES They were until I confirmed it. TOBY [in utter disbelief] You confirmed it? GAINES I told them that you came to me and urged me to cut Social Security. TOBY If they print this it'll torpedo any chance of a deal. GAINES Well, now you've got that limb all to yourself, hmm. GAINES walks off. TOBY stands there looking like he's been screwed with his pants on. END ACT TWO * * * ACT THREE FADE IN: INT. WHITE HOUSE - DAY CAROL and CJ are walking from the lobby, through the communications bullpen towards CJ's office. CAROL I thought you handled the briefing beautifully. CJ A little tough love is what these people need. If that doesn't work, I'm moving on to Molotov cocktails. What's that? CAROL Gordon's wire story. They stop walking as CJ reads. CJ [reading] "CJ Cregg touts her right to adopt"? CAROL I thought you handled it beautifully. CJ Where's Gordon? CAROL [looking towards CJ's office] Right outside the door. CJ Thank you. CJ [to Gordon, as she continues walking past him and into her office] Let's talk about your story...since you stumbled onto...we can do this on the record, if you like. GORDON. Oh. He sits down and takes out his notebook. CJ At a certain point, I don't know when, exactly, the Press Secretary job just wasn't fulfilling. [She is standing behind her desk, one arm on her chair and the other on her hip.] Maybe it was...[trailing off] And then there was that spiritual vacuum, do you ever feel that in your job? GORDON Uh... CJ At first I thought it was western materialism, and then the mantra stopped working, and ... are you getting this down? [She moves to sit in a chair in front of him] GORDON flips a page in his notebook and uncaps his pen. CJ [cont] Anyway, I already got the crib. I painted one room pink and another one blue, because I wanted to live with both, they're such different sensibilities. GORDON About these new adoption laws... CJ That's the thing, I don't want to adopt. I'm looking for a donor. GORDON A donor? CJ [giving him a long look, then quietly] Close the door. GORDON [he looks at the door] Oooooh... wait...you're not... CJ Are you out of your pencil-ridden brain?!? This is the United States Government. We've got a two-trillion dollar budget. We're the largest creditor, the largest sub-contractor, lifeblood of the global economy, with a nuclear arsenal that could blow this planet into 15 billion pieces. I shouldn't have to tie you to a chair and shove a spoon into your mouth to get you to write about it! GORDON So you don't have a crib? CJ Get out!!! CUT TO: INT. PRESS OFFICE, BEHIND THE BRIEFING ROOM TOBY is waiting. POLK enters. POLK You're a hard man to reach today. TOBY This is off the record. POLK [closing his notebook] Sure. TOBY Don't write your story. POLK I almost forgot you were my editor. TOBY I'll give you an exclusive when this is over. I'll give you ten. Something big. POLK Bigger than a fifth of the federal budget? Bigger than 51 million monthly checks? TOBY Just so you know you're going to ruin me with the party, ruin us on 15 different issues! POLK Gaines is vulnerable, so Josh is threatening him with political attacks to force a deal. Good cop, bad cop... am I right? TOBY You're wrong. And the arrogance you have in assuming that... POLK How 'bout the arrogance of trying to reform a 400 billion dollar program by man-handling senators behind closed doors with no public debate? Without organized labor. Without the AARP. Without the tax paying public having any clue that they might have to work longer, for less retirement money. You also met with Brainerd. [He flips open his notebook] And I'm through talking off the record. TOBY When are you filing? POLK Tonight. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, Toby. TOBY For germs, maybe. Not the plague. CUT TO: INT. JOSH'S OFFICE JOSH is sitting at his desk with his chin in his hand, watching TV. COMMENTATOR [VO] ...half the Superfund money goes to the lawyers, anyway. It's a super slush fund for the trial attorneys. That's right, they're giving it all right back to the Democratic party. JOSH turns off the TV with the remote. TOBY I told you the 3-10 K wasn't relevant. JOSH I'm making it relevant. TOBY I don't want it relevant. JOSH You dealing on Social Security? [Toby doesn't meet his gaze.] The Journal says you are. I went on record denying it. TOBY Stop the stunts. JOSH I've gotten calls from half a dozen Democratic senators, thrilled to see some signs of political life in this building. They're planning to run on Social Security. They don't want it dealt away. TOBY What I'm doing doesn't concern the political department. JOSH Meaning it's bad politics. TOBY Meaning knock it off! JOSH You know the electorate is ten percent older in the off years, and more culturally conservative. The only two advantages we have in the mid- terms are Social Security and Medicare. We take them off the table and we got nothing! TOBY There is...there is no table. JOSH Then why do you care what I do to Gaines? RENA appears at Josh's door RENA Mr. Zeigler, there's someone...ah, you're needed in your office right away. [She leaves.] TOBY and JOSH look at each other. JOSH raises his eyebrow slightly. TOBY leaves. JOSH looks after him, pensively. DONNA is walking through the bullpen towards JOSH'S office. DONNA Guess what? Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber in the policy shop won't even... JOSH [coming out of his office into her area] Forget about that. DONNA Forget about it? JOSH I need to you talk to Toby's researcher about her clothes. DONNA I thought you didn't want to play fashion cop. JOSH Go down there, talk about pantsuits. Find out what Toby's working on. DONNA You're asking me to spy on Toby? [JOSH looks at her, but doesn't respond.] I don't feel comfortable with that. JOSH I didn't ask if you felt comfortable, Toby's negotiating away our office furniture, we need to know. DONNA I'm supposed to... JOSH Make-up tips...see what's on her desk. CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE TOBY is sitting at his desk, SENATOR SARAH BRAINERD is seated on the couch. TOBY This isn't a set-up. You're surprised the Wall Street Journal is exploiting this? BRAINERD I'm surprised that Gaines is out when you said he's in. TOBY I can get Gaines back on-board. BRAINERD He said he's out. The Journal knows you and I met on this. TOBY I can piece this back together. I need you to make some commitments. BRAINERD Commitments? TOBY Gaines said he'd scale back on private accounts, what can you give him? BRAINERD Nothing. If it's in the papers I was even talking about raising retirement age, I'd have the walker brigade picketing my house. Slowly. TOBY This could be our one chance to help them, and you're going to give it up? When do we ever going to get a deal on this? BRAINERD When we win back Congress. And do it on Democratic terms. TOBY We've been saying that for 20 years. BRAINERD I'm out. You can keep the hemlock. BRAINERD leaves TOBY's office. CUT TO: INT. OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR RENA sits, leafing through papers and files. DONNA approaches the door. DONNA We haven't met. Donna Moss, I work for Josh. RENA stands and they shake hands. RENA sits again. RENA Rena. I've seen you on C-SPAN. DONNA Really? Well, sometimes they catch us in the back of the briefings. My mom calls me when she thinks I look tired. RENA God, everyone around here looks tired. DONNA We need to talk clothes and make-up. RENA Oh. Ahmm...sure, if you ever want for me to teach you how to put on make-up, I'd be happy to. DONNA [with a forced smile] Thanks. [beat] It's great you get to use Will's old office. [DONNA walks a few steps and tries to appear very casual.] What are you working on? RENA turns the notepad in her lap upside down and merely shrugs. DONNA [cont] Toby works on so many different things, it must be hard to keep track. He always wants to keep Josh in the loop. They're so busy, that's where we come in as coordinators. Collegial coordinators, you might say. [She hesitates a bit, realizing what she is saying] You know what, it's none of my bus... don't ever tell anyone what you're working on. Just keep doing what you're doing. I was tired of everyone dressing the same, anyway. DONNA leaves. CUT TO: INT. WHITE HOUSE LEO and JOSH pedeconference on the way to LEO's office. LEO I hear the policy people are giving Donna a hard time. JOSH A little bit, yeah. LEO Don't be too rough, we just bled them dry for the State of the Union. JOSH Leo, if something's happening to my job, tell me now. Don't leave me hanging out there again. LEO Hanging out where? JOSH I know Toby's working on something important, I hear Social Security. If it affects my accordion like portfolio... LEO Your accordion's fine. JOSH Obviously some things are gonna be close hold, I just ... I want to do the politics. LEO You are. JOSH Alright, thanks. CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE TOBY and RENA are going through files. RENA What are you looking for? TOBY A senator who's mute, and only represents people under 30. RENA Well, what about Jim Carney? From the research it seems like he's really committed to this. TOBY Jim Carney was one of the gutsiest guys in the House. Loved on both sides of the aisle. RENA So? TOBY He used to be a Republican House member. He's not there anymore. RENA What happened to him? TOBY Josh and I wrote a TV ad that destroyed his career. We figured if we won his seat, maybe a half dozen others, got more Democrats in Congress, we'd be able to get something done around here. LEO enters LEO What's going on, Toby? Josh is spinning out conspiracy theories; I got the Journal calling me every 10 minutes. The phone rings, RENA answers. RENA Toby Ziegler's line. TOBY I'm working on that ethanol thing. LEO Ethanol? RENA Excuse me, the President wants you in the residence. LEO Thanks. RENA Ah, no sir, The President wants Mr. Ziegler in the residence. LEO and TOBY look at each other for a moment. TOBY picks up his jacket and puts it on while walking out. TOBY It's just... I'll find you afterwards. CUT TO: INT. WHITE HOUSE RESIDENCE, STUDY CHARLIE and BARTLET are reviewing former presidential portraits. BARTLET If they'd only let me wear leggings for my portrait, we'd be in business. CHARLIE Until it shows up on the Internet. BARTLET There you go, turning your back on a whole new constituency. TOBY appears at the doorway. BARTLET [cont] Give us a minute, Charlie. CHARLIE walks past TOBY on his way out. CHARLIE [whispering] Nice pads under the eyes, there, Kojak. TOBY I didn't know Charlie would be here. BARTLET I've got five Democratic Senators on my call sheet, Leo's clamoring to know what this is all about. What the hell have you gotten us into? TOBY I lost Gaines. I lost Brainerd. And the Wall Street Journal is running it tomorrow. BARTLET Running what? That we grabbed the third rail with both hands? TOBY That we talked about raising the retirement age, maybe privatization... BARTLET [yelling] Damn it, Toby!!! BARTLET sits at his desk, exasperated. TOBY Gaines expressed some interest. BARTLET So you ran with it when I told you not to even walk. TOBY What if you talked to Gaines? Let him know you're personally behind this. BARTLET Behind a deal that doesn't exist? TOBY What if you told him you'll move on the retirement age? BARTLET Maybe I should just call the Journal? They can run it right next to my legislative obituary. TOBY I can't contain this by myself! BARTLET You're gonna contain it now. TOBY There's no way, Mr. President! BARTLET Then find a way. TOBY How? By telling the whole party, so they can lay down on the tracks to stop it? By telling nine committee chairs, probably the whole dining room set, that we circumvented their authority? The Journal's still going to file it, and we still don't have a deal. BARTLET Then find a deal. TOBY I tried! BARTLET [moving from behind his desk towards Toby, pointing] I want this back in the cardboard box it came in. I don't want to see you or talk to you 'til that's done. 'No way' is not an acceptable answer. 'I tried' is no longer an option. You started this thing, and you're gonna damn well going to finish it with either a blue ribbon or a great big deafening silence. TOBY [quietly] Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. President. [He leaves] END ACT THREE * * * ACT FOUR FADE IN: INT - WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT TOBY walks through the BULLPEN. 7:45 PM TOBY walks into CJ'S Office and closes the door behind him. CJ is sitting at her desk. TOBY Hi. CJ Hi. TOBY sits down in the chair in front of her desk. He notices a cabbage, with a heart-shaped note sticking out of it, on the corner of her desk. TOBY [laughing] What's that? CJ Oh, it's just some guy at the Argentine embassy who apparently wants to make me a salad. TOBY Huh. [beat] Sorry about the baby story. CJ Yeah, it's okay. Here we are senior advisors to the President, commissioned officers of the federal government, life's not perfect but why does anyone think we don't live in a world we construct. TOBY [smiling] Yeah. Any luck with Polk? CJ No. TOBY Okay. I may have an announcement for you, one that'll knock Polk out of the water. CJ Saying what? TOBY Let me get the wording straight. He gets up and leaves. CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE TOBY is reviewing a document he has been writing on his laptop. RENA enters and sits in a chair opposite his desk. She hands him a document. RENA It says here that before Social Security, half of all seniors died in poverty and now almost none do. TOBY Yeah. RENA It must have been a pretty great day when they passed it. TOBY During the floor debate one Republican called it the 'Lash of the Dictator'. Another said it would enslave workers. RENA Social Security? TOBY And some on the far-left dismissed it as a hap measure. A cop out. A way to plug holes in a dying capitalist system. RENA Is it... um... can I ask what did the President... TOBY He wanted me to put this back in the box. RENA How do you do that? TOBY By taking the blame for everything that happened. TOBY stands up and goes to the printer where a copy of what he has just been writing is printing. LEO enters. RENA leaves. LEO You're up to something. You lied to me about it. The President won't say what it is, but you work for me. TOBY I do. LEO Tell me what you're up to. Tell me why half the caucus thinks we're squeezing Gaines. Or we have serious problems. TOBY takes the document that has been printing out of the tray, signs it and hands it to LEO. TOBY No problems. LEO reads the paper as TOBY walks out of the office. CUT TO: INT. OVAL OFFICE BARTLET is sitting at his desk, reading TOBY'S document. Leo stands in front of the desk. LEO There's a reason we have a chain of command. So people don't take flyers and I don't hand you their resignations. BARTLET I wanted to believe he could do it. I wanted to believe as much as he did. LEO This isn't Never-Never Land, sir. Believing is not enough. BARTLET You would've stopped it. LEO Because it's my job. BARTLET It's my life, Leo. I'm the one who's accountable. And not in the morning papers, not in the Democratic cloakroom, but in 50 or a 100 years when Tuesday's poll samples have crumbled into dust. LEO You can't will yourself a legacy. BARTLET You think there's a room at the Smithsonian for guys who never even tried? LEO You have to accept Toby's letter. BARTLET picks up the letter and reads it again. CUT TO: INT. WHITE HOUSE MESS TOBY is sitting alone in the dark, drinking coffee. The chairs have been stacked on top of the surrounding tables. JOSH is shown through the windows walking slowly towards the mess. He swings open the double doors. JOSH Five years, I never thought we'd have secrets. TOBY 'Let thy discontents be thy secrets.' JOSH Only if you want them to stay discontents. JOSH picks up a chair from the table and sits down across from TOBY. JOSH [cont] CJ showed me your resignation. Why didn't you tell me? You don't trust me? TOBY I didn't tell you 'cause you would have body blocked me. JOSH 'Cause it was a stupid thing to do, and you knew it. Don't you want to try to take back Congress so we can legislate on a hundred of our issues? TOBY Spoken like a true reformer. JOSH I'd like to swim the English Channel, too. Takes more than jumping off a pier. TOBY So we exploit the hard stuff 'til it can't be solved? That's what we want to be remembered for? JOSH We do what's possible, we exploit what's not. That's how we win elections. TOBY Well, I came up on losing campaigns. And every time I lost, at least I knew what I went down for. Carney knew. JOSH What do the losers get to do about Social Security, except receive it? TOBY The losers can kick up enough dirt to keep the debate going, maybe my letter will do that. JOSH Make you a martyr. TOBY Make someone else pick up the ball. Inch by inch, we're moving the line of compromise. JOSH This isn't Sunday school; it's the world capital of politics. I could have told you Gaines wasn't going to move. TOBY He did. He said he'd move on private accounts. JOSH You got the chairman of the Social Security sub-committee to move on private accounts? That's like...inhaling a baby grand. TOBY [chuckling] Huh. Yeah. Well, he's out now. JOSH Turner. TOBY What? JOSH Roy Turner. CUT TO: INT. ROOSEVELT ROOM SENATOR GAINES and SENATOR ROY TURNER are sitting on opposite couches talking. TOBY is sitting near the fireplace. GAINES So, you're saying that you'll ask the Democrats to trim benefits over the next 20 years, raise the retirement age over the next 60 years and give up on this issue forever. TURNER If I can tell them that you'll settle for small, optional private accounts on top of Social Security, and raise the income limit on Social Security taxes. TOBY We'd protect FDR's legacy and admit changes have to be made to save it. GAINES [to JOSH, standing a few feet away] What about political cover? JOSH [walking towards him and then sitting down] We call off the stunts. The DNC won't use this deal against any Republican who votes for it. The Senators look at each other over the coffee table. TOBY What are the chances this passes the House? GAINES A lot of Republicans would like to end the demagoguery on this issue, they'll be grateful that you approached me with a deal. TURNER Actually, to sell this to Democrats I have to say you approached me first. GAINES No, that's a deal-breaker for me. If it looks like a Democratic set- up... TURNER I can't look like a fig leaf for some risky scheme to shred Social Security. TOBY sighs heavily. He and JOSH look at each other in defeat. GAINES We've saving it, not shredding it. TURNER So you can drive a wedge into private accounts. GAINES So you'd like to see it go into bankruptcy... CUT TO: INT. OVAL OFFICE - CONT LEO Closest we've been to a deal in 20 years and it breaks down over who we approached first. TOBY is pacing the room; LEO, JOSH and BARTLET are sitting discussing the situation. JOSH If you approach the Republicans, he's a right-wing sell out, if you approach the Democrats, he's a fire-breathing partisan. LEO Hard enough caving on principle without looking like you're caving on principle. BARTLET and TOBY exchange a meaningful look while JOSH and LEO speak. JOSH And, we have a little problem called the Wall Street Journal. BARTLET We don't take credit. LEO What? BARTLET [standing and walking behind his chair] We don't take credit at all. TOBY It's the only way. BARTLET They approached each other. Bi-partisan down the line. No one can say I'm setting anyone up. LEO Mr. President, a victory like this comes along once in a generation. JOSH We'll have practically saved The New Deal and no one will even know we were in the room. TOBY We'll know. And if we don't do this... if this system collapses, which is what'll happen, if we go back to breadlines, if growing old in America means growing poor again ... we'll know that, too. JOSH There is no such thing as an invisible legacy, sir. LEO You have to know you'd be giving it away. BARTLET All day we've been talking about my legacy, my portrait, what's going to be carved on my tombstone... Maybe we pay a little more attention to what's being rendered. And the rendering takes care of itself. CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE - NIGHT TOBY is sitting in a large, leather chair watching a joint press conference shown on a monitor. Senators GAINES and TURNER are at the podium announcing the Social Security deal. GAINES [VO] ...so it was time for both parties to come together to secure the long- term future of Social Security. TURNER [VO] For years, Social Security has been the third rail of politics. But we are willing to take the risk, set aside our divisions, and we are hopeful that House leaders and President Bartlet will also do the ... CJ appears at TOBY'S door. CJ So much for the Wall Street Journal, it's a political tsunami. TOBY What did you tell Polk? CJ That they asked us to be part of this, and we said no. TOBY Okay. CJ So, what do we do when Republicans and Democrats no longer have Social Security to thrash each other with? TOBY Hmmm. We move onto Medicare. CJ smiles at TOBY and then glances at the TV screen, showing GAINES and TURNER sitting next to each other. GAINES [VO] ...we can't let that happen to our seniors, we can't let that happen to people with disabilities. We can't let that happen to the social safety net that we have labored as a society to... CJ [turns, walks to the door, and turns back] Always the slow news days, huh? CJ leaves. As the shot fades out TOBY is shown lighting a cigar and sitting down to listen to the press conference. ANNOUNCER [VO] ...and Steve Gaines, one of that body's free-market conservatives slaying just about every sacred cow, really sticking their necks out to fix America's retirement program. Still no word about whether House and Senate leaders might bring such a plan to the floor, but this certainly puts pressure on the White House, which has shown no eagerness to trade away the Democrats most potent political issue in the next election cycle. The heat's on President Bartlet now. Will he come late to this reform party? Later this evening we'll be talking to ... Later: TOBY is seen picking up his bag, turning off the light in his office, and walking out. DISSOLVE TO: END TITLES. FADE TO BLACK. THE END. * * * The West Wing and its characters are a property of Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Productions, Warner Brothers Television and NBC. Absolutely no copyright infringement is intended. Episode 5-12 -- "Slow News Day" Original Air Date: February 4, 2004 Transcript by: NineFish October 25, 2004