Season 6 – Episode 20 – “In God We Trust”

Episode Summary:

Vinick (Alan Alda) wins the Republican nomination for presidency and begins working on his campaign. He gets political advice from Bruno (Ron Silver) about choosing a vice president and how to deal with the latest controversy of Vinick’s church attendance, or lack thereof. Meanwhile the Democrats are stuck in a three-way race for enough delegates to win the Democratic nominations; Russell (Gary Cole) barely leads Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Hoynes (Tim Matheson) is a distant third. Bartlet (Martin Sheen) tries to show unity in the party by wrangling the candidates.

Script:

Previously on The West Wing: 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.
Shake every hand in the joint, kiss every baby hug every widow on Social Security and sound smarter and more honest than any Republican they’ve ever seen because he is.
The New Jersey polls closed three minutes ago, 9 p.
m.
Eastern time.
And although we have no official results yet we can now report that our exit polls indicate another huge win tonight for California Senator Arnold Vinick in the Republican presidential primary.
New Jersey’s Democratic presidential primary is still too close to call.
Vice President Bob Russell was the favorite in the final primary tonight.
But our exit polls show another very tight race between Russell and Texas Congressman Matt Santos.
Russell was hoping for a win in New Jersey to prove a central campaign theme that he is the only Democrat who can actually win in November.
A Santos win tonight would be another big upset for the congressman and leave him only about and hurt the Russell electability argument.
Neither will pick up enough delegates tonight to get the nomination but a win in the final primary could give Santos the momentum he needs going into the Democratic National Convention next month.
As expected, Senator Vinick now has the Republican nomination locked up.
Reverend Don Butler was the last man standing against Vinick in the Republican field.
We’re told that he’ll concede the race to Vinick in a speech at his campaign headquarters in Virginia.
I’ve got Senator Vinick here.
Just a second, Reverend Butler.
Hi, Don.
Thanks.
Hi, honey.
Hey, Don, I’m gonna need your help to bring the party together now.
I’ll wake you up early, and I’ll help you finish your homework then.
– Okay.
Love you.
– Yeah, sure.
No, anytime.
Whenever you want.
No, we’ll clear the schedule for you.
Okay, Don.
– Butler wants a meeting.
– Great.
We gotta move fast on VP, show Republicans coming together while the Democrats are fighting for the nomination.
I love Don.
He’s a great guy.
An honorable guy.
He’s the funniest on the list.
But he beat me up pretty bad on abortion during the primaries.
How’s he gonna walk back from that? He doesn’t have to.
We don’t want him to.
You agree on most issues and respectfully disagree on a couple.
– A couple.
– Sign of strength.
Not looking for a yes man.
Shows I’m looking for someone to help with the party’s conservative base.
That too.
We’re in Butler headquarters.
Don Butler, a heartbeat away from the presidency? Thank you! Thank you.
Well, you win some, you lose some.
And we won some primaries.
But Senator Vinick won some more.
No.
No, no.
Now is the time for this party to come together and take back the White House.
– Sounds very vice presidential to me.
– He’s a good soldier.
I want to thank the Butler Brigade.
Secret Service wants you to start moving down to the ballroom.
Sheila.
Thanks.
– As was anticipated, Senator Vinick – It’s Vinick.
Yeah.
We go live now as he addresses his supporters.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
We got nobody who can beat him.
– Vinick! Vinick! Vinick! – Thank you.
We did it! Senator Arnold Vinick has the Republican nomination locked up.
But they’ve been counting votes all night, and we still don’t have a winner in the New Jersey Democratic presidential primary.
The lead has been shifting.
With Congressman Matt Santos has a lead of less than 1000 votes over Vice President Bob Russell.
What are you doing? – You were sleeping.
– They’re still counting New Jersey.
– So what? – So what? It doesn’t matter who wins.
No one’s gonna have enough delegates for the nomination.
Come on, wake up and smell the chaos.
No candidate will win enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.
– I promised Tim I’d do the show.
– You will, just not this week.
The more you’re on TV now the less they cover the Democratic Party mess.
That’s the story we want this week.
– I’ll pull press events off the schedule.
– Fundraisers? – No press allowed.
– Excuse me, Senator Vinick.
Don’t take too many questions.
Senator, when are you gonna choose a VP? Hadn’t really thought about it.
Would you rather face Russell or Santos? I’m in no hurry to face anyone.
Tell the Democrats they can take their time figuring it out.
Do you think your lead in California gives you the lock on the Electoral College? I have a lock on the Republican nomination, nothing else.
I won’t take my state for granted.
I’ll work hard to win California.
– Work hard to win every state.
– Thank you.
Senator, how can you cut taxes and cut the deficit at the same time? I have a two-for-one plan.
For every dollar we cut taxes, we’re cutting spending by $2.
Drastic spending cuts in vital areas? You call it drastic, I call it necessary.
I’m for good government we can afford.
– No more, no less.
– That’s all.
Thank you.
What do you think of the deal the city council’s negotiating – to keep baseball in the city? – Ridiculous.
Teams should pay.
They can pay 80 million for a shortstop but can’t pay for their own stadiums? – Come on.
– Okay, we’re done.
Thank you.
– Thank you.
– Senator, excuse me.
Thanks.
Now I’m gonna have to give back my tickets to the game.
– I had to pull a lot of strings to get them.
– Did you pay for them? – Of course.
– Forget about it.
They’re your seats.
– Where are we sitting? – No way.
I only got two.
– The kids fighting over who gets to go? – Holly’s got a biology test the next day.
– Brendan’s got practice, so.
– Tell Tina to bring her glove.
I want her to catch a foul ball for me.
Yes, Madam Secretary, I have your memo.
I see.
Yeah, I unders I’ll give it to the president.
Right.
I understood the debt-ceiling situation perfectly before I talked to her.
Can we have a treasury secretary who speaks English? – It’s Santos.
– By how much? – Couple thousand votes.
– Santos won New Jersey? – Yeah.
– How many delegates? A press release on raising the debt ceiling? – Because I don’t understand it.
– No press release.
When’s the vote scheduled? Treasury thinks debt interest will hit the limit tomorrow.
They want the vote right now.
– Which, of course, is a ridiculous idea.
– Of course.
– The leadership wants it last minute.
– How crazy is that? They like to schedule at the last minute, when we’re about to default.
That way, it’s too dangerous for any senator to try to stop it.
Leaves time for a few speeches about how awful it is we maxed out the national credit card, a vote to raise the card’s limit.
It’s a one-sentence bill.
Change the seven to an eight.
– Trillion.
– Yeah, trillion.
Treasury wants the president to read a 20-page memo on a short bill? – They run the worst-case scenario.
– In case it doesn’t pass? The immediate collapse of the U.
S.
economy Japan sinking into the sea, followed by a worldwide depression no mortal can imagine.
Followed by week two.
So this debt thing is routine or the end of the world? – Both.
– Okay.
That’s it.
Thanks, everybody.
– We gotta do something.
– It’s not the end of the world.
– Just the end of a lifestyle.
– It’s the end of the Democratic Party.
We’re facing a Republican who can win California and maybe 49 other states, and who do we have? We have nobody.
Going into a convention without a candidate.
See Broder’s column today? He says this is great for the Democratic Party.
Yeah, he’s on drugs.
Conventions used to be about picking a nominee.
– Suspense.
– The networks are gonna love it.
– They’ll cover everything.
– Yeah.
Instead of predictable emptiness, all hell’s gonna break loose.
The good news is, the Dems are in disarray.
Bad news is we don’t know who we’re against.
– Santos, if we’re lucky.
– Santos could be tougher than Russell.
Santos couldn’t even carry his own his state.
Santos won the big states.
Russell’s weak in Northeastern urban women suburban men, all minorities, not to mention Okay.
How much do we need for the ground game? We can’t plan till we know who we’re against.
They’re both strong in different states.
We can’t wait till after the Democratic Convention to build an organization.
Yeah.
Okay.
Royce is here.
– Where? – Reception, waiting to see you.
The majority leader is coming to my office? Guess he wants to be first in line for VP.
Oh, boy.
Here we go.
– Okay, bring him in.
– Right.
Mr.
Leader.
Arnie.
I just wanna be the first guy in the building to say congratulations.
Didn’t have to come all the way here.
Cut it out, Arnie.
You’re the real leader of this party now.
I just want you to know I’m at your service.
Whatever you need me to do, just say the word.
Thanks, Bob.
Have a seat.
First of all, I can be very helpful with fundraising.
I have the highest yielding direct mail list in town.
Second.
How many delegates does Santos have? -1599.
– So Russell’s only 80 ahead.
Seventy-eight.
Russell’s got 1677.
– And Hoynes has 956.
– What’s the magic number? Hoynes doesn’t have a chance.
He’s betting on the second or third ballot the delegates will get shaky about these newcomers.
Move to the guy they’ve known.
Before the convention, the party will go through four weeks of chaos.
Fighting over who will be on the platform committee, what will be in the platform.
– Who gets to speak on what night.
– Uncommitted delegates.
Convincing committed delegates to switch on the second ballot.
While Vinick is looking more presidential every day.
Mr.
President, until we have a nominee you are still the head of this party.
Okay.
Let’s get Russell and Santos in here.
– And Hoynes? – No.
C.
J.
‘s right.
– He doesn’t have a chance.
– You’ll broker a deal? They’re not ready for that.
Just a photo op.
Remind people that we still know something about running the country.
Maybe a little less about running a party.
I don’t feel comfortable about this.
Everybody does it at this stage.
Bring in new people.
Yeah, but a Democrat? I spent the last six months fighting this idea that somehow I’m not a real Republican, then I bring in a Democrat? One step at a time.
I’m just saying we should meet with him.
Governor Baker vouches that we can trust him not to leak the meeting.
– I don’t know.
– He says he has a plan to win 50 states.
Okay, bring him in.
Bruno.
Come on in.
– Congratulations, senator.
– Thank you, Bruno.
Have a seat.
– Fifty states, huh? – Sound crazy to you? Well, it did get my attention.
Republicans have won 49 states twice in the last 30 years.
They’ve never had anybody with as much independent and cross-party appeal as you.
I can’t plan a 50-state campaign before we know who I’m running against.
Who told you that? Because if it is somebody on your campaign staff you gotta fire that person right now.
I would run you from today to Election Day without ever mentioning your opponent.
This campaign should be all about you, the reasons you should be president.
And those reasons are exactly where 60 percent of the voters are.
Pro-choice, anti-partial birth, pro-death penalty anti-tax, pro-environment and pro-business pro-balanced budget.
I could go on and on.
Oh, please do.
You’re in a unique position to run a completely positive campaign because most of the country agrees with you on most of the issues.
The only thing you could do to ruin that now is to pick Don Butler as your VP.
So you tell me you’re not even thinking about that, I’ll shut up.
You’ve seen the papers.
Everybody says Butler’s on the short list.
Every talking head on TV says that is brilliant guarantees you a win, which it does, but not a big win.
I have to reach out to the pro-life Republican base.
We have to give them some reason to come to the polls.
I’m never gonna be that reason.
There are many pro-life Republicans who are more qualified for VP than Don Butler.
What do you know about Republican politics? – I don’t care about Republican politics.
– Well, that I believe.
I don’t care about Democratic politics, either.
Okay, I do care about the Democrats.
Look, they don’t know it yet.
You are the best thing to ever happen to them.
You’re moving the Republicans away from the right wing.
You’re not saying Democrats are not patriotic.
You’re just saying that your approach is better.
You are making politics a fair fight again.
What? You think I’m a spy? I snuck in here, I’m trying to steer you wrong? The thought has crossed my mind.
I have spent the last 20 years ripping this country apart.
Finding wedge issues to separate the voters.
You don’t have to do that to win.
Not this time.
You do this right, you can do a lot more than win.
You can stop using politics to divide this country.
You can show us how much we agree, instead of how much we disagree.
You can put this country back together.
– Please, C.
J.
, it’s a terrible idea.
– It’s the president’s idea.
Can’t you see it’s an insult to the vice president – to bring them into his White House? – His White House? The VP belongs here.
The president is the party head.
He won’t let it crash and burn now.
This is his solution? A photo op? Remind voters we’re good at running the country, which the VP has a role in.
Show everyone that the party isn’t in meltdown mode.
Okay.
Russell has to have a separate photo op alone with the president.
A shot of them discussing, you know, affairs of state.
No.
We do this the president’s way.
It’ll be good for everyone.
Russell can beat Vinick.
He won twice as many states and the most delegates.
Santos has the momentum.
Because he won New Jersey by 1 percent? Russell is our best hope.
He’s been a good vice president.
To bring the party together – he should get behind Russell now.
– Ten a.
m.
tomorrow morning in the Oval.
Most of the donors tonight are from the pharmaceutical industry.
You got the list? I’ll give them my “how American medicine saves the world” speech.
Protect the patents, no price controls, no Canadian imports.
We got a lot of the energy industry people tonight too.
Yeah.
When? Wait.
Hold on a second.
Hi, sweetie.
– The area of a parallelogram is.
– Length times width.
Length times width.
Same as a rectangle? Yes, that’s the same as a rectangle.
No problem.
Love you.
Okay, I’m back.
That’s great.
Thanks.
You’re meeting with the Reverend Butler first thing in the morning.
Do you think Bruno’s right? That we shouldn’t put Butler on the ticket? Maybe.
But we need Butler, one way or the other.
If he’s not on the ticket, we still need a strong endorsement from him.
Now, these energy types that will be there tonight they wanna hear how you’re voting on the energy-deregulation bill.
Well, it depends on what’s in it when it comes out.
It’s a very bad message to the big contributors if you vote against it.
Hey, if you can’t drink their booze, take their money and then vote against them, you don’t belong in this business.
Hey, glad you could both make it.
– Mr.
President.
– Mr.
President.
Annabeth, you can bring in the thundering herd.
Sit down.
It’s good to finally meet you, congressman.
– It’s an honor.
– Congratulations.
– Thank you, sir.
– Bob, thanks for doing this.
A pleasure, Mr.
President.
All right, that’s it.
Thank you.
– Thank you.
– Thank you.
All right, listen up.
This is a tough situation for you.
I understand that.
The press is geared up for its favorite blood sport Democrats attacking each other.
And I know that’s what some people are gonna tell you to do.
But we cannot allow that to happen.
That would just hand over the election to the Republicans.
One of you is gonna be our nominee so I want both of you to start acting like the nominee right now.
No attacks on each other.
I’m gonna be watching.
If I think you’ve overstepped a line I’ll grab the nearest microphone and say so.
And don’t be surprised if I endorse the other guy while I’m at it.
– Are we clear? – Yes, sir.
Smart move.
If one of those guys had Jed Bartlet’s political instincts I’d be 20 points behind.
You read Ray Sullivan’s file yet? Youngest U.
S.
attorney ever confirmed by the Senate.
Two-term state attorney general.
Highest white-collar crime conviction rate in the state’s history.
How much white-collar crime is there in West Virginia? He had the guts to go after them.
That’s what counts.
Highest percentage of independents ever to vote Republican in West Virginia.
He won the governorship with 62 percent of the vote.
– Reverend Butler’s here.
– Thank you.
I just wanna be an honest broker here.
That’s why I brought in Bruno.
You needed to hear what he had to say.
Maybe you can win 50 states his way but if you choose Butler, you’ll lock in an Electoral College landslide today.
Butler would scare away any Democrats and a lot of independents.
But you’d unite the Republican Party while the Democrats are falling apart.
– So you want Butler on the ticket.
– I just want you to hear everything before making the most important choice of your career.
Ray Sullivan is the best man.
Don Butler is the best bet.
Bring him in.
Reverend Butler.
Thanks for coming in.
Hey, Arnie.
Good to see you.
Thanks for coming by.
I really appreciate it.
You know, the Secret Service has me feeling like I’m in solitary confinement.
You think they got a tight leash on you now imagine what it’s gonna feel like when you move down the street.
I hit you pretty hard during the primaries.
And I just want you to know it was never personal.
Abortion is not a political issue with me.
I know.
I respect that.
I’ve been thinking about how we could work around our differences and put them behind us and head toward November together.
That’s funny.
So have I.
Don, I think you can help me take the White House back for the party.
You won states I never could win.
I think in the general election, with you on the ticket Arnie, let me stop you right there.
I suppose I could go along with you on the environmental issues.
We agree on oil drilling in ANWR.
We could probably get closer together on trade.
Maybe split the difference on textile tariffs.
And we could just keep talking tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.
Yeah.
We’re in lock step on that one.
But then we come back to abortion.
And I am here to tell you, Arnie I do not respect your position on abortion and there’s just no way in the world I could run on a ticket with you.
No way.
You know, I wanted to be a good soldier.
I wanted to help the party.
I really did.
I prayed on this one.
Prayed a lot.
And this is where I came out.
This isn’t easy for a kid who grew up in a trailer in Appalachia.
Finds himself within shouting distance of the vice presidency of the United States.
Next in line.
It’s not easy.
Well.
You’re kidding.
Did you actually offer it to him? I tried to.
– And he turned it down.
– No, he cut me off.
He didn’t let me offer him something he would have to refuse.
– He’s a classy guy.
– What about an endorsement? It wasn’t the best time to ask him for it.
Butler’s live on MSNBC.
Did Vinick offer you a spot on the ticket? No, he did not offer me a spot on the ticket.
Did you discuss the vice presidency? I requested the meeting simply to let the senator hear directly from me that I have no interest in running for vice president and don’t wanna be considered for the ticket.
Would you wanna be on the ticket if Vinick changed his position on abortion? First of all, I’d get down on my knees and thank God for performing a miracle.
Then I’d have “Vote Vinick” tattooed on my forehead.
Reverend, will you pray for him to change his mind? I’m sorry.
You really surprised me with that one.
You know, I never heard a good idea from a reporter before.
Yes.
Yes, I will pray for Senator Vinick.
And he’s welcome to come down to my church any time he wants and pray with me.
Now, I’ll be back in the pulpit this Sunday.
And there will always be a place for the senator in the front row.
Thank you.
– One more question.
– Great.
One more.
How do we spin this thing? Say you fully respect Reverend Butler’s position that he’s not interested in VP.
Just keep repeating those four words: “Fully respect Reverend Butler’s position.
” Five words.
The Butler Brigade needs to keep hearing that: “Respect, respect.
” Then we hit them with some direct mail pieces about your opposition to partial-birth abortion.
Get Butler supporters to vote for the lesser of two evils.
– Thanks.
– Are we getting Butler’s endorsement? – Don’t know.
– Why not accept his invitation? – Go down to his church on Sunday.
– And? And pray for his endorsement.
It’s a great photo op.
Yeah, it’s a great photo op, but he can’t take any questions.
– He always takes questions.
– I know.
That’s what all of us out here in the cheap seats love about him.
So? “Senator, we know what Reverend Butler prayed for.
What did you pray for?” “Senator, do you think Reverend Butler is wrong about abortion?” “Senator, will you remove opposition to abortion from the party platform?” You ain’t getting any questions about how we pay for sports stadiums.
So he shouldn’t go to Butler’s church.
You can’t play Butler.
He’s not a politician.
– Fooled me.
– Look.
All I am saying is Butler’s gonna make a decision to endorse you and rally his troops or not.
There’s nothing you can do about it.
– So, what do we do? – You play the game you came to play.
You don’t play Butler’s game.
You don’t play anybody else’s game.
You do exactly what you planned to do.
Make a move on VP quickly, show you’re moving ahead while the other side is without a nominee.
– Who’s next on your VP list? – Ray Sullivan.
Good choice.
Great resume.
Crime-fighting prosecutor.
Budget-balancing governor.
– Wins West Virginia for us.
– Get him in here today.
Make the Sullivan meeting the story instead of the Butler meeting.
– Sheila? – Works for me.
– Okay.
Set up the Sullivan meeting.
– Sounds risky.
Not the craziest idea from the Democrats.
The president won’t like it.
It’s the way to get a minimum wage vote.
But sticking an amendment on the debt ceiling? They won’t even try it if the president says no.
– When do they need an answer? – You know, like, now.
It’s way too risky.
But if the Democrats can force a vote on the amendment it puts the Republicans in a tough spot.
Don’t wanna vote against a minimum-wage increase – in an election year.
– But they will.
Most of them, yeah, but what does Vinick do? Bad time for him to break with his party especially now that he has this Butler problem.
– Will he? – He’ll go where the voters are.
DNC polls show 75 percent in favor of raising minimum wage.
And I haven’t been able to get the working-poor a raise in seven years.
Could be your last chance.
He’ll vote for the cloture motion.
Doesn’t mean he’ll vote against the minimum wage if it comes to a vote.
Okay.
I know I said we’d get there early.
– But.
– I wanna see batting practice.
Well, a couple things have come up.
You just hang on.
Okay, George.
Thank you.
I really appreciate it.
Good.
You have to go vote.
– On what? – Cloture motion.
Democrats are trying to stick a minimum wage amendment on the debt ceiling.
Cheap stunt.
What are they gonna do? Not raise the debt ceiling if we don’t raise the minimum wage? – It’s a game of chicken now.
– Couldn’t be more reckless.
If they don’t pass it we’re gonna have a lot more poor people in this country.
Don’t they know what a depression looks like? The minimum wage would be the maximum wage.
They’re aiming at you, trying to separate you from the party.
Seems to be getting easier every day.
Hey, look who’s here.
– Hey, senator.
– I’m counting on you bigtime.
I can’t vote, you know.
I’m counting on your mother to vote for me.
I’m counting on you to catch me a foul ball tonight.
No way.
If I catch one, I’m keeping it.
She can’t give it to you.
It’s a violation of Senate gift rules.
– Gotta go now.
– See you later, Tina.
– Bye, senator.
– We’ll be right back.
It’s just a quick vote.
We gotta get past the press as fast as we can.
– No Butler questions.
– Okay.
– Senator.
– Senator.
– Sorry, guys, he’s got no time.
– Were you surprised at Butler’s? – Sorry.
I gotta vote.
– You accepting his invitation? I really have to go.
Sorry.
Are you coming to his church this Sunday? I think I’m gonna I have some TV commitments that day.
Meet the Press is more important than church? I don’t know what my schedule is on Sunday.
– Get us out of here.
– Sorry.
Going to another church on Sunday? Do you think doing Sunday TV is more important than going to church? – Where do you go to church, senator? – Senator.
– Do you go to church at all? – Senator.
No, Mike, no one saw this coming.
Vinick went from the candidate who answered any question to being the guy who won’t even tell us if he goes to church.
– Let’s round up the troops.
– Senator, do you go to church? Honey, we’re kind of busy right now.
We gotta get you to that game, right? I didn’t really expect to see batting practice.
I haven’t gone to church for a while.
– I think you should.
– Yeah.
Unless you don’t believe in God.
My best friend, Maggie, doesn’t believe because her parents don’t believe in God.
But she still comes to our church on Christmas Eve to see the nativity play because I’m always in it, and she’s my best friend.
I gotta get back to work.
Hang in there, honey.
Right.
Just so you know our polling shows that if you were to revise your position on abortion – you would – Flip-flop on abortion? You would take 51 to 53 percent of the vote and a comfortable cushion in the Electoral College.
– Thanks, that’s very helpful.
– Just thought you should know.
One shot of you walking into a church on Sunday – to put this church thing behind us.
– Won’t work.
The press will ask, “Why not go to Butler’s church?” Then they’ll ask you when was the last time you went to church.
I’m guessing wasn’t last week.
Been a while.
How long? Counting weddings and funerals? Okay, everybody.
Governor Sullivan’s gonna be here any minute.
Let’s clear out.
Has it been years? You know where I am Sunday mornings? I’m in here or at home, doing my job doing what I promised the people of California I would do.
Giving every minute I can.
– How many years? – I don’t know.
I used to go with my wife every Sunday I was in California.
Then when she got too sick to go, you know, I stayed home with her.
And after her funeral, I didn’t wanna go into that church again.
So about five or six years.
I’m not the only senator who doesn’t go to church.
You’re not just a senator anymore.
Yeah.
Okay.
Put him through.
It’s Royce.
Yes, Mr.
Leader.
I understand.
Yes, he can handle that.
We’ll get him over there right away.
He wants you to go see the president.
– Governor Sullivan is here.
– Thank you.
Royce is afraid they’re not gonna pass the debt-ceiling bill in time.
Wants you to work out a deal with the president so the Democrats will let us pass the debt ceiling before midnight.
So five minutes with the governor, then you’ll go to the White House.
Okay.
– Governor Sullivan.
– Sheila.
Hey, Ray.
Great to see you again.
– Good to see you, Arnie.
– Have a seat, please.
– Thank you.
– I’m sorry.
I gotta make this quick.
The Democrats are jamming us up with an important vote.
Gotta go to the president, straighten it out.
Well, governing before politics, that’s my motto.
– Really? – No, I’m just kidding.
Come on.
Loosen up, Arnie.
Everyone on TV tonight is saying that this meeting is about the vice presidency.
Well, they’re right for once.
– Did you offer it to Butler? – No.
Good.
I don’t wanna be anybody’s second choice.
You’ve seen this problem develop today about my going to church.
– You mean, not going to church.
– Yeah.
That’s all right.
I go enough for both of us.
I’ve been reading about your positions on a lot of things.
But there are some environmental issues you haven’t dealt with in West Virginia.
Here’s the deal with the issues, Arnie.
I can get in line with you on everything except abortion.
Nothing’s gonna make me change my mind on that.
But I’m guessing you wouldn’t want me to.
Toby, do you have a copy of the? The president’s waiting for you, senator.
Mr.
President, I’d hate to think that you were consulted by Democrats about doing something as irresponsible as playing games with the debt ceiling.
Have a seat.
But I’d like to think they’d follow your leadership if we could agree on a way out of this mess.
– You came to the right place.
– Good.
What did you have in mind? Democrats withdraw the minimum-wage amendment from the debt-ceiling bill.
You pass the bill then you give them a vote on the minimum wage.
You’ll lose on the minimum wage.
We might be able to shame enough Republicans into doing the right thing in an election year.
How about you withdraw the minimum-wage amendment we pass the debt ceiling clean and I round up enough Republican votes to pass the minimum-wage increase.
You can get that done? We have Republican senators in seven states with higher minimum wages than the federal level.
California, it’s a buck-50 higher.
We don’t want jobs moving to lower-wage states.
I can get you the votes.
– What do you want from me? – I announce the deal.
Democratic candidates for president wouldn’t be happy watching you take credit for this.
Well, then let them pass the debt ceiling for you and get you the minimum-wage increase.
Anything else? – Help me keep a secret.
– What’s that? That I just gave you more than you asked for.
Let me hang around for a while as if we’re really slugging it out in here.
Can I get you anything? Where’s the ice cream? I think I could live on coffee ice cream.
Hardest thing about this job is knowing this stash is down here 24 hours a day.
– How’s your health? – Good days and bad days.
Good days aren’t as good as they used to be.
Kind of like a speeded-up version of aging.
– You’ve had better days, huh? – Yeah.
Whatever happened to separation of church and state? 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 it’s the way it is.
Always has been.
You think the voter really needs to know if I go to church? I don’t need to know, but then I’m not gonna vote for you anyway.
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 exactly 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 let it slip that I think a candidate’s religion or how often he goes to church isn’t relevant to choosing a president.
You’ll say that on the way into church? Are you accusing me of politicizing churchgoing? 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.
Seventeenth century.
It was a real find for a book collector.
It was a thrill just to hold it.
Then I read it.
You can’t take it literally.
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 who said that 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 that 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? 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.
What about you? You gonna try to save my soul? Sorry.
Let’s just say I struggled for a long time with that book.
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.
Try the pistachio.
Yes.
We have reached an agreement on the debt-ceiling bill.
We will pass it within the hour and send it to the president for his signature before midnight.
The minimum-wage amendment? We have a separate vote on the minimum-wage increase tomorrow.
– Is it gonna pass? – Yes, it will.
I’ll vote for it.
There’ll be more than enough bipartisan support to pass it.
Are you reconsidering Reverend Butler’s invitation to his church this weekend? I fully respect Reverend Butler’s position.
I mean, I appreciate his invitation, and.
Look, I respect Reverend Butler.
And I respect his church too much to use it for my own political purposes.
That’s exactly what I’d be doing if I went there this Sunday.
Because the truth is, it would just be an act of political phoniness.
I may be wrong but I suspect our churches already have enough political phonies in them.
Senator, do you or do you not? You can’t have a separation of church and state if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government.
And I wanna 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.
It’ll be the easiest lie they 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.
Thank you.
Senator.
Senator Vinick.
Senator.

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