During the last two weeks before the election, a struggling Vinick (Alan Alda) goes against his advisors and decides to campaign in California, where the nuclear accident continues to leave its residue on the pro-nuke candidate.
THE WEST WING 7x14 - "TWO WEEKS OUT" WRITTEN BY LAWRENCE O'DONNELL JR. DIRECTED BY LAURA INNES Transcribed by Soundman for www.twiztv.com. Send feedback to [email protected] TEASER FADE IN: EXT. - CHICAGO CONVENTION CENTER - DAY 14 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY Vinick is on his way in. He is greeting the people who are waiting outside. VINICK Hey! ... I need your help on Election Day, all right? ... Hey, thank you. ... Hey, I need your help on Election Day. He comes to the end of the line and shakes a woman's hand. She seems reluctant to let go. Vinick begins to wince, as if he were in pain. An agent comes over to force the woman to release Vinick's hand. He waves to the crowd and gets into the Suburban, followed by Bruno and Bob. Jane is seen on a TV that they are watching. Vinick rubs his hand, and Bob hands him a moist towel. BOB Senator. JANE [on TV] Senator Vinick has always been opposed to gay marriage. VINICK Always opposed? BRUNO Still sore? Bob hands him a bucket of ice that he sits his hand in. VINICK It feels like it's going to fall off. BOB Only five thousand more handshakes until the election. VINICK How could I always be opposed to something I never heard about until a few years ago? BRUNO She is not helping. BOB She stabilized our numbers. BRUNO Keeping us locked in a tie with two weeks left to go is what I call not helping. BOB She stopped the slippage in the South. BRUNO She's scaring away independents. VINICK We lost independents because a nuclear power plant almost had a meltdown after I said nuclear power was completely safe. BRUNO That is water under the bridge. Now we've got to... VINICK If it's water under the bridge, how come I'm still ducking reporters on the campaign trail? BOB Our next event: Small Business Forum of Chicago. And we've got to get out of there fast because Santos is scheduled to speak right after us. VINICK That's happening a lot lately. BRUNO This is the way it always happens the last couple of weeks in swing states. VINICK Chicago would like be a lot better if I'd stayed in Florida and let the Santos motorcade create all the traffic jams. CUT TO: EXT. - BUILDING - DAY The motorcade pulls up and Bruno, Vinick, and Bob get out. BRUNO We don't have any time for questions. We're already behind schedule. They walk past the reporters and into the building. He shakes a few hands on the way, still grimacing in pain. He walks into the bathroom to wait until he is called on stage. He is rubbing his hand in pain. He walks to the sink to wash the hand, to try and find a little relief. CUT TO: INT. - AUDITORIUM - DAY Matt Welsh, Chicago Bears player, is introducing Vinick to a large crowd. MATT WELSH Let's give a big, Chicago welcome to the Republican candidate for President of the United States, Senator Arnold Vinick! Vinick comes in waving to the crowd. As he draws closer to the podium, Matt sticks his hand out to shake hands with Vinick. Vinick takes his hand, and Matt gives an immensely firm handshake. Vinick winces in extreme pain. Finally, after Matt lets go, Vinick steps to the podium, still with less than a smile on his face. SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES. END TEASER. * * * ACT ONE FADE IN: INT. - SUBURBAN - DAY Bruno and Vinick are talking to a Doctor about Vinick's hand. DOCTOR Can you bend all the fingers? VINICK Yeah, a little bit. DOCTOR Try to extend the fingers straight out. VINICK No! DOCTOR Does it hurt when you do that? VINICK No. It doesn't hurt me when I do that. It kills me when I do that. DOCTOR We really need a set of X-rays. VINICK No! BRUNO No, no, no. Doctor, we've got a bus-load of reporters following us. We stop for an X-ray the headline's going to read "Handshake breaks Vinick's hand." DOCTOR I can't say for sure without an X-ray, but I think you've got a metacarpal fracture and you're going to need a cast. VINICK No cast. DOCTOR Senator, you have to... VINICK I can't look like an old man falling apart on the campaign trail. BRUNO He's got a crowd waiting for him in Pittsburg, right now. DOCTOR I guess I can realign the bone and give him a cast that he can take off when he's in public. BRUNO Welcome to politics, doctor. VINICK If anyone asks you what you were doing in the car with me, we were discussing health care policy. DOCTOR Well actually, I do have some suggestions about Medicare. CUT TO: INT. - AUDITORIUM - DAY Matt Welsh is introducing Santos. MATT And now it's my honor to introduce the Democratic Candidate for President of the United States, Congressman Matthew Santos! Santos enters and waves to the crowd. He comes to the podium and shakes Matt's hand. He then comes to the edge of the platform to shake the hands of a few people there. SANTOS Chicago, how you doing? CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - DAY Josh is speaking to several different staffers. JOSH We can't leave him in Ohio for two days. EDIE We've got a full day in Cleveland tomorrow, plus promises to keep in Columbus and Dayton. JOSH I want him out of Ohio by midnight tomorrow, and on the set of "Good Morning, Miami," at 7 am. Josh's phone rings. Edie answers it. EDIE Yeah. Josh walks on. MALE STAFFER Guest lists for the Cleveland event. JOSH Yeah. Right there. MALE STAFFER Here? JOSH Uh, no. On top of the other pile. [to Edie] Then after a full day in Florida... EDIE Someone named "Bob" for you? Josh looks as though this "Bob" is someone he needs to talk to. He grabs a cordless phone off of one of the desks and answers it. JOSH Twice in one week. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS Toby is on the phone with Josh. He is obviously using the guise of "Bob" to fool anyone. TOBY What are your latest numbers in California? JOSH [VO] Are you working for this campaign now? TOBY You should have new numbers by now. Check, will you? CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH Do we have the new California numbers? EDIE Yeah. We just got them. She hands him some papers. JOSH We're up by two, but that includes all the leaners. So, basically, we're tied. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY You've got to get Santos out there right now. JOSH [VO] Yeah, we've got him in Illinois and Pennsylvania today, Ohio tomorrow, Florida the next day. TOBY California's the whole ball game. So... JOSH [VO] Yeah, we're pushing up the media buy in California... CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH [cont.] ...but we've got to keep the candidate working in the states where he can shake enough hands to make a difference. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY Yeah, but California... CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH Retail politics doesn't work in California. The place is too big. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY I'm not talking about retail politics. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH TV is the only way to reach those voters. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY Exactly. That's why I'm... JOSH [VO] ...media buy in... TOBY Josh! JOSH [VO][cont.] ...in Ohio and... TOBY Josh, Josh, Josh! Listen to me. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS TOBY [VO] Josh, Josh! You're getting three hours of sleep a night, you've got 300 urgent calls to return; you're not thinking straight in that place. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY Now take a deep breath and listen to me for one second! CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH Okay, I'm listening. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY You can win this thing if you get him out to California right now. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS Josh looks as though he can't believe he didn't think of that. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK PLANE - DAY Vinick walks onto the plane. Jane is seated there as he walks into the conference area. VINICK I thought you were going to stay at headquarters. JANE I got tired of being ignored. VINICK Annie, have you got that thing the doctor gave me? ANNIE Uh, yeah. She takes his coat and moves to get the cast for Vinick. JANE You know, while you're out there shaking your hand off, Matt Santos is running his new game plan and it's working - criss-crossing the swing states, talking nothing but energy policy. He throws in a line about the nuclear accident to keep pressure... Bob walks in and sits. BOB We're going to have Pittsburg all to ourselves this afternoon, but we're going to cross paths with Santos tonight in Philadelphia. He's speaking at the Constitution Center just before us. Annie begins wrapping Vinick's hand in order to put the cast on. Bruno walks in. BRUNO Tell Advance no rope lines in Pittsburg or Philly. ANNIE Okay. BRUNO Tell them no one gets to shake the Senator's hand. Not the police chief, not the mayor... ANNIE How are they supposed to enforce that? BRUNO Tell Advance to figure it out. Annie leaves, looking confused. JANE Two weeks out, we've lost our lead. VINICK We? JANE You. You have lost your lead and we still don't have a strategy to get it back. VINICK I thought the gay marriage nonsense was the new strategy. JANE You're opposed to gay marriage. There's nothing wrong with letting your values voters know that. VINICK The federal government has nothing to do with marriage law. Nothing. No one should care what I think of gay marriage. JANE And no one should care how tall you are and what kind of hair you have, but you know they do, so let's... VINICK I'm not going to win this thing on gay marriage. JANE You don't know that. VINICK Gay marriage is a state issue. It's not a federal... Vinick tries to open a sugar packet and put it into his coffee. He ends up getting all around the coffee, but very little goes in. JANE Spare me the political science lecture. Bruno's 50-state strategy was ridiculous even before the accident. BRUNO Republicans have won 49 states twice in the last 100 years. JANE Yeah, I've heard you say that 1000 times on TV. So you think nothing's changed in the last 20 years in the Republican Party? BRUNO Yeah. People like you have taken over. JANE People like me think a win's a win. 51% is plenty for us. People like you want to get into the campaign hall of fame. BRUNO No one is talking about a 50-state strategy anymore, not since the nuclear thing, okay? JANE If you hadn't wasted the last five months trying to win Massachusetts, we wouldn't be behind in the South. BRUNO Okay. BOB We had every Southern state before the nuclear accident. JANE Yeah, but you didn't have any goodwill there. You were the lesser of two evils. If they'd actually liked you, they wouldn't have abandoned you so fast. BOB They haven't abandoned us. They've moved us into the Undecided column. No one outside of Texas has moved from us to Santos. JANE Oh, well, Texas only has 34 Electoral Votes, so why worry about that. BOB You think we're not worried? BRUNO We were never counting on winning Santos' home state. Latino registration... JANE Are you counting on winning Vinick's home state? BRUNO We'll bounce back in California. JANE When? BOB We're okay in California. We're only two points behind Santos. And that's after a nuclear accident that scared half the state... JANE Nothing is okay in California. The nuclear accident cost you that state. You don't have the time or the money to win it back. VINICK I'm not going to win back California by going to the right. For every voter you win me in Alabama, I lose two in California. JANE That's why we should be back in the South this week, especially Florida. VINICK We followed your advice. We spent all last week in the South. Where did it get us? JANE It stopped the bleeding. And if you were still in the South right now talking tax cuts, strong on national defense, tough on crime in front of flag-waving crowds, I wouldn't have to be on TV trying to talk to the Republican Base and I could shut up about gay marriage. I'm saying we stay in the South until we get a solid lead. Then we spend a week, maybe ten days, closing the deal in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He gets up and starts walking, looking as though he is not paying attention. JANE [cont.] You don't have to say anything to Alabama voters to lose you California voters. But Senator, you have got to energize the base of the party if we're going to get the turn-out we need to get 51% on Election Day. Senator, you can't pretend... He walks into his office and shuts the door in her face. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK'S OFFICE - PLANE - DAY Vinick is seated, drinking his coffee. He sets the coffee down and grabs a newspaper. There is a knock at the door just as Vinick is having trouble opening the newspaper. VINICK Yeah. Bruno steps in. BRUNO Can I come in? VINICK Just you. He comes in and shuts the door. BRUNO Does your hand feel better in that thing? VINICK They say replacing Sheila was a sign of weakness. BRUNO Inside baseball: no one cares except the press. VINICK I shouldn't have let Sheila quit. She said it would send a message, give the campaign a new start. BRUNO Sheila was right. VINICK We should have just put Jane out there in front of the cameras and let her energize the base and then ignore her. BRUNO We are ignoring her. VINICK The press is doing Santos' work for him. Santos could take a vacation, just let the press keep hammering me on this nuclear thing and he wins. The President sends troops into Kazakhstan and that's still not enough to get this nuclear power quote out of the news. When is old news going to be old news? BRUNO You know what I really hate about Jane? She's not always wrong. We need a new strategy for the last two weeks. VINICK So, what do you got? BRUNO I wish I could tell you I have a better idea than Jane. CUT TO: INT. - CONSTITUTION CENTER - NIGHT PHILADELPHIA , PA Santos is finishing up at a campaign stop. He comes down from the platform and meets Josh. They start walking and talking. SANTOS California? JOSH Yeah. CUT TO: INT. - HALLWAY - HOTEL - NIGHT Santos and Josh come out of the elevator and start walking. SANTOS I thought you said we weren't going to California because it was too big for us. JOSH Yeah, that was then. SANTOS Yeah, that was yesterday. JOSH Right. Then I rethought the whole thing. They walk into the holding room and start getting ready to leave. SANTOS You rethought it? JOSH Yeah, you know, I talked it over. SANTOS With who? JOSH Usual suspects, party people, experience campaign types, and we agree that because California media is way more expensive than Ohio... There is a lot of noise and chatter. JOSH Excuse me, I'm sorry. Can we have the room, please? Everybody begins packing up their stuff to leave. JOSH It's going to be a lot cheaper for us to campaign in California and buy TV time in Ohio and Florida. LOU You'll get five minutes for free on every local station all over California instead of spending big bucks on one 30-second commercial. JOSH If we can push up a few more points in California, get your lead outside the margin, the press is going to explode with stories about Vinick losing his home state. It's going to build momentum for us everywhere else. SANTOS Yeah, knock Vinick off his game. LOU He's off his game! Now we've got to knock him out of the game. JOSH California's the key. You get a real lead there, Vinick's going to have to give up on his home state, bet everything on a Southern strategy. Now, he didn't play well in the South when he was riding high. He's sure as hell not going to play any better now that he's desperate. Santos grabs his stuff and heads to the door. Josh and Lou follow him. SANTOS Okay, get me there tonight. But I want a full schedule of California events from breakfast to lights out. JOSH It'll be full. CUT TO: INT. - LOBBY - NIGHT PHILADELPHIA , PA Vinick and his staff are walking into the campaign stop that we just saw Santos leaving. He avoids the press that is waiting there. CUT TO: INT. - HALLWAY - NIGHT Vinick and Co. get off the same elevator into the same hallway that Santos just came through. VINICK When do I go on? ANNIE They're going to start you're intro in a couple of minutes. They come around a corner and come face to face with Santos and Josh. They glance at each other, but neither says a word. Santos turns and heads out. Vinick and his crew are led into the same holding room that Santos just left. CUT TO: INT. - HOLDING ROOM - NIGHT Vinick is preparing for his appearance. Santos can be heard on the TV. VINICK Tell them I'm not going on until he's out of the building. I don't want the cameras covering his press conference while I'm doing my speech. SANTOS [on TV] I came to Philadelphia to talk to the people of Pennsylvania about what we should be doing for the next four years, about energy policy, about education. Somebody moves to turn the TV off. VINICK I want to hear what he has to say. SANTOS [on TV][cont.] ... about job security, about pension security. I don't want to get into a whole political blame game about what happened at the San Andreo nuclear power plant. VINICK Sure you don't. SANTOS [on TV] It was an accident. It was exactly the kind of accident that I foresaw when I opposed the building of nuclear power plants in the state of Texas. BRUNO [sarcastically] Saint Santos. SANTOS [on TV] The governor of California and the President responded to the situation immediately and they contained it. BOB He'll side-step that one. JANE We're not going to figure out how to run this campaign by watching the Santos campaign. This is the time you ignore the other guy and sprint to the finish line. You keep pushing your tax cut message... VINICK The press won't let me. They're not going to let up on this nuclear accident. JANE Forget about the press. VINICK That's not how I got this far. I don't duck the tough questions. I say what I think. That's how I get elected. JANE Look, senator, I love the straight-talk thing, but it doesn't work in every situation. VINICK That isn't me out there campaigning now. That's the problem. BRUNO We're going to get past the nuclear accident. VINICK No, we're not, not unless we deal with it. JANE If we open the whole nuclear-power can of worms... VINICK It's already open - wide open. I've got to close it. I've got to start answering their questions. JANE There is no one in this campaign - no one in this party - that thinks you should be talking about nuclear power now. BOB We insert a new energy paragraph in the stump speech; something about safe energy sources - you wouldn't have to nuclear. VINICK That's not going to work. BOB What are you going to do? Go out there and say you were wrong about nuclear power? VINICK No! I still think we need nuclear power. JANE This is the worst possible time to say that. VINICK I should to a "Til They Drop" press conference on the nuclear accident. JANE It's a big mistake. VINICK Explain my role in getting the plant built. Talk about where we go from here on nuclear power. Answer every reporter's question. Stay at the microphone until I bore them to death. BRUNO That'll look desperate. BOB Worked for Andrews in the Senate race when he had that problem with is tax returns. VINICK We're going to California tomorrow. I'm going to do a press conference in front of the San Andreo nuclear plant. JANE Okay. My work's done here. She grabs her things and gets ready to leave. BOB What, you're quitting? JANE It's been fun. Good luck. BRUNO Whoa, whoa. Jane, hold on, please. JANE I can't afford to get blamed for the mistakes this campaign is making. BRUNO And we can't afford to have another story about trouble with the Vinick campaign staff. It would look like we're completely out of control. VINICK I don't want you to quit. JANE I have a reputation to protect. VINICK Quitter? JAVE Better than loser. VINICK Then don't lose. JANE The press conference is a mistake. Campaigning in your home state is a mistake. VINICK I let them ask me every nuclear question they can think of. We get one more round of stories on this and then it's behind us. JANE It's a sign of weakness. VINICK If I win the election you're going to get all the credit. You came on to a sinking ship and you saved the day. JANE If you lose? VINICK Then you came onto a sinking ship and it sank. It's not your fault. How about we go with my strategy tomorrow, and then we go with your strategy for the rest of the campaign. JANE And if you disagree with my strategy? VINICK Then we'll fight about it. JANE And we'll end up doing it your way. VINICK You'll win some and you'll lose some. ANNIE They're ready for you on stage. Everybody grabs their things and follows the Senator out. Bruno, lagging behind, notices a briefcase left under the table. He picks it up and looks at it for any marks as to whose it might be. He sets it down and opens it up. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS' OFFICE - PLANE - NIGHT Santos is settling down for the trip to California. LOU The party is going to flood California with surrogate speakers after your day of free media. SANTOS Good. BRAM Your speech for San Francisco. SANTOS Can I get my briefcase? BRAM It's not in here? SANTOS Uh, no. BRAM Okay, I'll get it. Bram walks out into the hallway and speaks to Otto. BRAM The Congressman needs his briefcase. OTTO I thought you had it. BRAM No, I had it in Chicago. You had it in Philadelphia. OTTO No, I had it in Pittsburg and then I put it back in his cabin for the flight to Philly. BRAM Well, it's not there now. OTTO Did we take it to the event in California? BRAM I don't know. I had my arms full of stuff. I don't remember the briefcase in Philadelphia. A staffer walks through. BRAM Did you notice the Congressman's briefcase in Philadelphia? STAFFER No, but the candidate wasn't carrying anything. OTTO Does he need it right now? BRAM He asked for it. That means "right now" to me. OTTO We can't tell him we lost it. BRAM Well, you were the last one who had it. OTTO He asked you for it. Tell him we're searching every compartment. Worst-case scenario: it somehow got slipped into checked baggage, we'll have it to him by the time we get to the hotel. CUT TO: INT. - HOLDING ROOM - NIGHT Bruno is looking through the briefcase he found. He picks up what appears to be a checkbook. He sets it back, closes the briefcase, and contemplates on what he should do. FADE OUT. END ACT ONE. * * * ACT TWO FADE IN: INT. - SANTOS' OFFICE - PLANE - CONTINUOUS Bram walks in and hands some papers to the Congressman. LOU Get the L.A. schedule to the press right away so they can schedule news satellite trucks to cover us live. SANTOS You get my briefcase? BRAM Not exactly. I thought Otto had it, he thought it was in here. We're searching under the seats and in the overheads right now. SANTOS You lost my briefcase? BRAM Worst-case: it got slipped into checked baggage. We'll have it for you by the time you get back to your room. SANTOS Call Philadelphia an retrace our steps. Check the cars we used and check the rooms that we were in. He nods and leaves. Lou looks at him in bewilderment. SANTOS I left my wallet in that thing. LOU I hope you don't have any super-secret strategy memos in that briefcase. SANTOS We have super-secret strategy memos? LOU I wish we did. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - NIGHT Toby is watching Jane on TV. He is on the phone with Josh. MALE REPORTER [on TV] Did you schedule this trip because Santos is starting to pull ahead in California? JANE [on TV] That's not what our polls show. TOBY MSNBC, right now. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS Josh is also watching Jane. FEMALE REPORTER [on TV] Did you change your schedule after the Santos campaign decided to go to California tomorrow? JANE [on TV] We didn't know about the Santos trip when Senator Vinick decided to go to California. JOSH She's a terrible liar, isn't she? TOBY [VO] Team Vinick is in a panic. JANE [on TV] Senator Vinick is still ahead in the Southern states, and he's confident that his home state of California is going to support him as it always has in his Senate campaigns. JOSH They're trying to steal our free media. Get the local TV cameras to abandon Santos and cover Vinick. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY It won't work if you spin it as Vinick trying to chase Santos out of California. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH Then every Vinick story becomes a story about the Santos surge in California? TOBY [VO] That's right. He hangs up. JOSH I need Lou on the plane. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS PLANE - CONTINUOUS Lou is handed the phone. LOU Thank you. She takes it and talks to Josh. LOU Yeah? CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH Hey, it looks like Vinick is going to follow you out to California tomorrow. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS PLANE - CONTINUOUS LOU How desperate is that? JOSH [VO] They're trying to steal our free media coverage out there. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH [cont.] You have to spin it that Vinick is chasing Santos. Turn every Vinick story into a Santos story. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS PLANE - CONTINUOUS LOU Okay, I'll start working the press cabin now. Hey, Josh? JOSH [VO] Yeah? LOU The Congressman's briefcase: what's inside there? CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH Road stuff, toothbrush, electric razor, sometimes a wallet. Why? CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS PLANE - CONTINUOUS LOU We seem to have lost it and he seems kind of worried. JOSH [VO] They guy's running a tie for the Presidency and he's got two weeks left. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH [cont.] You can expect him to look worried once in a while. CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS PLANE - CONTINUOUS LOU So, there's nothing bad in there. JOSH [VO] Like? LOU [sarcastically] I don't know: heroin, porn? CUT TO: INT. - SANTOS HQ - CONTINUOUS JOSH [sarcastically] No, that's all mine. LOU [VO] I'm going to go now. Josh hangs up. CUT TO: INT. - HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Vinick and Annie are walking into the room. ANNIE San Andreo press conference is set for 12 noon. News networks are going to cover it live. BOB You've got two choices for the evening event: San Diego and L.A. The problem with the L.A. thing is that Santos is going to be there. VINICK I thought he was going to be in Florida tomorrow. BOB He put out a press advisory about a half hour ago. They're going to do a California swing tomorrow: San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno and L.A. VINICK He thinks he can take my state away from me in a day. BOB The mayor's going to introduce Santos and the L.A. event, so San Diego probably. VINICK No. L.A. I want to get in his face. I want Santos to see if he's going to take California, he's going to have to rip it out of my hands. JANE The story's going to be Vinick chases Santos to California. If he skips Florida tomorrow, then that's where we should be. BOB We already announced the trip. We can't change our public schedule again. JANE No, but we can get out of California as quick as we can. VINICK No. JANE We could have Florida all to ourselves. We could... VINICK If Santos takes California, game over. Unseen by most, Bruno has slipped into the room, holding the briefcase he found, presumably Santos'. He quietly sets the briefcase down beside him. JANE A Republican can win the Presidency without winning California. VINICK And a Democrat can't. This isn't some sentimental, home-state thing. This is about winning. I don't have a 50-state strategy anymore. I have a one-state strategy: the one state that has everything - big cities, small towns, mountains, deserts, farms, factories, fishermen, surfers, all races, all religions, gay, straight - everything this country has. There's more real America in California than anywhere else. If I can win California, I can win the Country. JANE That's a nice speech, just don't say it into any microphones because everyone else in the 49 other states thinks California is a giant psycho ward. VINICK California hasn't been competitive in a Presidential race in 25 years. They don't know how to campaign there. I do. BOB All right, let's just get out there and see how it goes. JANE Okay. Just please, forget about the power plant. Go home to Santa Paola. Remind the country, especially the South, of your hometown roots in a farming community. VINICK I can't go to California without dealing with the nuclear power incident. JANE Take questions about the nuclear thing but in your hometown, surrounded by friends where you'll actually get some applause instead of standing in front of a radioactive danger zone where property values have just collapsed and everyone's ready to vote for anyone but Vinick. VINICK I've got to be there to show them that I believe we've contained the leak, that it's safe, that the clean-up is working. JANE Standing in front of the power plant says the accident was my fault. Blame me. VINICK We'll talk about Florida tomorrow night. If you're right, then they'll be chasing me out of California by then. Annie, I want an updated briefing book on the clean-up, tomorrow morning on the plane. ANNIE Okay. Everybody leaves the room except for Vinick and Bruno. BRUNO Is your hand any better? VINICK Do I sound crazy to you? BRUNO It's been a tough couple of weeks. VINICK Tough? I've been in tough campaigns before. This is way beyond tough. This is a nightmare. That nuclear power plant works perfectly for 24 years. BRUNO The race was going to tighten by now, even without that accident. VINICK It wasn't going to get this tight. We were heading for at least a five-point win and California was going to give us a big Electoral College win. We had this thing locked. BRUNO We still do. He picks up the briefcase and walks to the table. VINICK Now you're starting to sound crazy. He sets the briefcase down on the table. VINICK That isn't mine. BRUNO I know. It belongs to Matt Santos. VINICK Yeah, very funny. BRUNO I'm not kidding. VINICK I don't know this joke. What am I supposed to say now? BRUNO It's not a joke. VINICK That's Matt Santos' briefcase. BRUNO Yeah. VINICK And how did you get it? You win it in a raffle? BRUNO I was the last one out of the holding room tonight. I saw it, I thought it was one of ours. There was no name on it. I opened it up... VINICK That's really Matt Santos' briefcase? BRUNO Yeah. VINICK I don't want to know any more about this. I want to be able to say I had nothing to do with this. I didn't know anything about it. [pause] You stole Matt Santos' briefcase? BRUNO I didn't steal it; I found it. VINICK But you didn't give it back. You could have gotten it back to him easily. You could have given it to the Secret Service. BRUNO I didn't think of that. VINICK Yes, you did. And you would have done it in a second unless you found something in there, something that would hurt Santos. BRUNO You just told me you didn't want to know anymore about it. VINICK Who else knows about this? BRUNO No one. [pause] It could make you President. FADE OUT. END ACT TWO. * * * ACT THREE FADE IN: INT. - HOTEL ROOM - CONTINUOUS Vinick is still contemplating what Bruno has told him. VINICK I need to talk to a lawyer. I need to think this through. BRUNO As soon as that information comes out - the Santos campaign: it's over. So, you do not have to go to California tomorrow and do that painful press conference which is going to play as if that nuclear accident was somehow your fault. And you do not have to draw any more attention to the fact that your polls aren't looking so good right now. And you can keep campaigning in the South and Midwest - look like you're driving your own train instead of jumping on Santos' train. VINICK That briefcase can kill us. BRUNO It's got a sort of a journal in there. VINICK I said don't tell me. BRUNO It's a day-planner. It has notes about meetings, people, lots of stuff that can be embarrassing - what he really thinks about the Vice President, how bad a campaigner Leo McGarry is. And he also has a checkbook in there. It's a strange one. It just says "M. Santos." It's not a joint account with the wife, there's no address on the checks. He just uses it for ATM withdrawals and one check each month, same amount, made out to someone named Anita Morales. There is an Anita Morales - 29 years old, never married, one child, seven-year old girl - she's a clerk in Houston, hired seven years ago by Mayor Matt Santos. Come on, we've all heard the rumors about Matt Santos. VINICK There are rumors about all of us. BRUNO Do you have a checkbook like that? Child support payments for a kid nobody knows about? Hush money for an affair? VINICK You have to give back that briefcase. BRUNO If this comes out he's going to have to take a DNA test. He's going to have to prove that he did not have an affair, or a child, with a woman he's been making monthly payments to for who knows how long. VINICK We can't do this. I can't do it. BRUNO I work for you. I am not going to do anything you do not want me to do. VINICK Give this thing to the Secret Service right now. And tell them... I don't know you tell them but you just give it to them. BRUNO Just think about what other secrets this guy might have. This may be the tip of the iceberg about what we don't know about him. [pause] Look: how about I keep the briefcase, we sleep on it, and we'll talk about it tomorrow. Vinick says nothing. BRUNO Just tell me what you want me to do, Senator. VINICK Keep it. Bruno gets up, takes the briefcase, and leaves the room. CUT TO: EXT. - CAMPAIGN STOP - DAY FRESNO, CA Santos gets out of an SUV to a waving, cheering crowd. He moves along the rope line, shaking hands and greeting people as he goes. Lou is walking with him, talking on a phone. LOU Oh, yeah, we had a huge crowd in San Francisco this morning. The Silicon Valley event was bigger than we anticipated. Right now, Fresno's going nuts for him. California loves our guy. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Josh is on the phone with Lou. JOSH The news networks aren't giving you any live coverage yet. You got enough cameras out there? LOU [VO] Yeah, we've got all the local TV stations. CUT TO: EXT. CAMPAIGN STOP - CONTINUOUS LOU We are going to rule the 6 o'clock news all over the state. Santos shakes a few more hands and gives out a couple of autographs. CUT TO: INT. - BUILDING - DAY Bram and Otto are walking and talking. OTTO Still no word on the briefcase? BRAM It wasn't in the checked baggage. OTTO Did you tell the Congressman yet? BRAM I'm gonna wait until he asks. OTTO That's very brave. BRAM Hey, if he's not worried about it, why remind him? They have stopped in front of a TV set where a news anchor is doing the 12 o'clock news. ANCHOR In a surprise move, the Vinick campaign followed the Santos campaign to California and we're going to go to live coverage from our sister station, KRAC, in San Andreo, where Senator Arnold Vinick... Bram takes his phone out and dials. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Josh is still on the phone with Lou. JOSH Call me from L.A. Edie walks in. EDIE Hey, Bram's on line two. He says it's urgent. JOSH Hang on, Lou. He switches the line to talk to Bram. JOSH Yeah, Bram. ... They cut to Vinick? He switches back to Lou. JOSH Lou, Fresno TV is going live with Vinick. Get Santos onto the stage right now. Tell the Fresno camera crews they have to stay live with the guy who actually came to Fresno. Vinick comes onto the TV that Josh is watching in his office. He is in front of the San Andreo nuclear power plant. VINICK [on TV] Good afternoon. I just finished a complete inspection tour of the facility, and I'm here to report to the people of California... JOSH Maybe not. CUT TO: EXT. SAN ANDREO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT - CONTINUOUS Vinick is speaking to the group of reporters. VINICK [cont.] ...is ahead of schedule, and the radiation in and around the plant are back to normal... REPORTER ELLEN Do you think it's safe to live near this plant? VINICK Yes, I do. I just spent two hours inside the plant, so I'm convinced it's safe. ELLEN Completely safe? VINICK Obviously, I never should have said that nuclear power is completely safe. I said that in the heat of a debate. Nothing is completely safe. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS VINICK [on TV] We're never going to figure out how to make driving a car completely safe, but Californians are still going to do it every day. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS Toby is on the phone and is also watching Vinick's press conference. CUT TO: EXT. SAN ANDREO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT - CONTINUOUS VINICK Living near a nuclear power plant is a lot safer than driving a car. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS Bruno and other staffers are watching the P.C. VINICK [on TV] The top priority in every nuclear power plant has to be safety. CUT TO: EXT. SAN ANDREO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT - CONTINUOUS VINICK This is one area where I think we need more federal regulation and more strictly enforced safety standards. REPORTER #2 Are you blaming the Bartlet Administration for failing to...? VINICK I'm not blaming anyone. President Bartlet did everything he could within current law to maintain safety at these plants. When I'm President, I'm going to strengthen those safety regulations. ELLEN That wasn't your position when this plant was being built. You wrote several letters to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, urging them to expedite the approval of this plant. VINICK Yes, I did. ELLEN And in one of those letters, you complained the project was being delayed because of what you called "burdensome regulations." VINICK I was very eager to make sure that California had an adequate supply of low-cost electricity. You know the governor and most of the states Congressional Delegation supported the building of the plant. REPORTER #2 But no one pushed harder than you did, Senator. VINICK I don't do anything half-heartedly. ELLEN So you no longer think regulation of nuclear power plants is burdensome? VINICK No. ELLEN Do you regret saying it was? VINICK I wouldn't write that letter today. ELLEN Do you regret it? VINICK That was 25 years ago. We've all learned a lot since then. ELLEN Do you regret writing the letter, Senator? VINICK Yes. Next question. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS Josh is on the phone with Toby. JOSH What the hell is he doing? TOBY [VO] Trying to get it behind him. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY If he does a "till-they-drop" press conference, it just might work. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS JOSH If he does a "Don't worry, be happy" routine, he's going to look nuts. TOBY [VO] You're not going to get that lucky. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY [cont.] He's starting to sound like the straight-talking Arnie again. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS JOSH If this works... TOBY [VO] It worked for Andrews in the Senate race. He got the tax thing behind him. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY [cont.] And he's killing you're free media day in California. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS JOSH Yeah, whose bright idea was that? I forget. CUT TO: EXT. - CAMPAIGN STOP - CONTINUOUS Santos and Lou are walking back to the car. Lou is on the phone. LOU Vinick's got to wrap this thing up. SANTOS How long has he been on? LOU Over an hour - doesn't look like he'll be quitting anytime soon. SANTOS Yeah, he's cutting into our press coverage. Look at that. He comes to the door of the car and is about to get in. We see Vinick on the TV screen in the car. LOU Yeah, we'll try it now. [to Santos] Josh wants us to go back inside, set up a quick press conference, see if we can get some cameras turned on you. SANTOS Dueling press conferences? No. LOU Hey, I'd love to tell you I had a better idea. He steps away from the car and heads back toward the building. SANTOS Fresno! I love you guys. Thanks for coming out. Come on inside. We're going to talk some more. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS Vinick is still talking to the reporters. VINICK [on TV] But no one's saying we should get rid of all those gas stations. I think the American people understand... JANE Two hours and 48 minutes. BRUNO He's just getting warmed up. JANE Why didn't you fight him on this? You know this is a bad idea. BRUNO I think he may have a better feel for California politics than we do. JANE Are you drinking the Vinick kool-aid this morning? If he goes on much longer he's going to turn this into a mini-series. VINICK [on TV] The people who are most worried about Global Warming... JANE There's no way we're going to be able to spin this. VINICK [on TV] ...are the same people who are most opposed to nuclear power. CUT TO: EXT. SAN ANDREO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT - CONTINUOUS VINICK Over a 26-year career in public service, I'd probably do a lot of things differently if I could do them over again. But my job is to make the best decision I can with the information at the time. A few reporters grab their things and walk away. VINICK [cont.] You know, if you do something for 26 years you should keep getting better at it. I'm better than I used to be because I have better information. I have more experience making tough decisions. And I have more mature judgment. And that's what I think this country needs now, more than ever. We have troops on the ground in Kazakhstan and more on the way. That's the choice that President Bartlet made to try and keep Russia and China from slipping into war there. Now, the next President is going to have to take over that situation the first hour on the job. That's the most important issue that's facing the country in this campaign. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS VINICK [on TV][cont.] Not who said what about nuclear power 25 years ago. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS VINICK [on TV][cont.] Or did one of us use too strong a word in a debate. CUT TO: EXT. SAN ANDREO NUCLEAR POWER PLANT - CONTINUOUS VINICK [cont.] The real decision Americans are going to have to make is who do they want as their next Commander-In-Chief. All right, next question. Nobody says anything. VINICK Anyone? Again, nothing. VINICK Ellen? ELLEN Nope. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS VINICK [on TV] Thank you. Thank you very much. CUT TO: INT. - TOBY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS TOBY Damn, this guy is good. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS BRUNO Son of a bitch. FADE OUT. END ACT THREE. * * * ACT FOUR FADE IN: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - DAY A staffer is on the phone and calls for Jane. STAFFER Jane, Speaker Haffley on line two. Jane picks up the phone. JANE Yes, Mr. Speaker. Vinick and Annie walk in amidst applause. BRUNO What's the word on the street? JANE The Speaker thinks the press conference was brilliant. BRUNO I hope you took full credit. STAFFER MSNBC wants someone from the campaign to go live right now. JANE I can do it. She walks away. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK'S OFFICE - DAY Vinick is seated. Bob comes in. BOB Senator. VINICK How are we doing on time? BOB Not bad; about 20 minutes late. Better for us - Santos will be out of the building by the time we get there. VINICK Bob. BOB Yeah? VINICK Tell the Secret Service I want to get five minutes with Santos before he leaves. Alone. BOB Are you serious? They're going to want to know what it's about. VINICK Just tell them... it's personal. Bob walks away. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - DAY Jane is in front of the cameras. JANE Yes, Larry. I think he has put this issue behind him. He answered every questions, didn't duck the tough ones. Bruno's phone rings. He answers it. BRUNO Yeah? CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS JOSH What's this about your guy wanting a meeting with Santos at the L.A. thing? BRUNO [VO] Hi, Josh. JOSH What's this about? CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS BRUNO First I've heard about it. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS JOSH The message we got said it's something personal. What's that supposed to mean? CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS BRUNO Maybe it means it's personal. CUT TO: INT. - JOSH'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS JOSH I'm not sending my guy to a meeting if we don't know what it's about. BRUNO [VO] Good. JOSH What do you mean, good? CUT TO: INT. - VINICK CALIFORNIA HQ - CONTINUOUS BRUNO I don't like sending my guy into a meeting I know nothing about. If you could stop it, I'd owe you one. He hangs up. CUT TO: INT. - VINICK'S OFFICE - DAY Bruno knocks. VINICK Yeah. Bruno comes in as Vinick prepares to put his tie on one-handed. BRUNO I just got a call from Josh. He wanted to know what the Santos meeting was about. VINICK What'd you tell him? BRUNO The truth: that it was the first I'd heard of it. VINICK You think Santos will show up? BRUNO Not if Josh has anything to say about it. VINICK I want to give him back his briefcase. BRUNO I figured. VINICK "When in doubt, do the right thing." VINICK & BRUNO [together] "The rest of the time, get away with whatever you can." VINICK Who said that? It must have been one of those Louisiana governors. BRUNO Yeah, probably from his jail cell. You know, Santos never got the vetting a front-runner gets. He was never supposed to get the nomination. The press gave him a free ride in the primaries. Until now, he's been running way behind you, so the press still hasn't done their digging on him. But they will now. So, it really doesn't matter what you do with that briefcase. It's going to come out. If it comes out while Santos is in the White House... I don't know what happens. All hell will break loose. VINICK He wouldn't be the first President with an illegitimate child. BRUNO How far do you think he's going to get with that defense? VINICK You know what, if I agreed with a candidate on the issues, and I was ready to vote for him, and something like this came out about him, I'd still vote for him. BRUNO Good. That's you. And that's maybe most Santos voters. And it is every voter in France. But it is not this country, not yet. I don't want people wishing they could change their votes after this comes out. The voters have a right to know about it before making their voting decision. VINICK Come on, Bruno. This is me you're talking to. Please don't try to turn mud-slinging into a "Respect the Voters" spiel. BRUNO Don't tell anyone, but I don respect the voters. That's why I win. I find out what they care about. I don't try to tell them what they care about. VINICK That's not exactly my idea of leadership. BRUNO It's my idea of democracy. The voters get to set the terms of the elections, not us. They get to decide what's important, not us. That's why I think voters have a right to this information now instead of six months from now. They could be electing a President who's drowning in scandal when he's supposed to be trying to stop World War III from starting in Kazakhstan. And that is not the kind of guy most of the country wants to be the next Commander-In-Chief. CUT TO: INT. - AUDITORIUM - NIGHT Santos is finishing up his appearance. SANTOS Thank you! Thank you, very much. He waves to the crowd as he walks off stage. CUT TO: INT. - HOLDING ROOM - NIGHT Vinick is waiting in the holding room, alone, with the briefcase. CUT TO: INT. - HALLWAY - NIGHT Santos and Lou are walking, discussing the meeting. SANTOS What harm could it do? LOU It's the principal of the thing. SANTOS Which is? LOU We like to know what a meeting is about before we agree to it. SANTOS Five minutes? LOU That's what they say. CUT TO: INT. - HOLDING ROOM - NIGHT Santos walks in. There is an awkward moment between them. SANTOS Whose idea was the press conference? VINICK I couldn't let you have California all to yourself. SANTOS Ah, I should have known. VINICK Well, I've got something for you. He grabs the briefcase and sets it on the table. Santos looks a bit perturbed. VINICK Bruno found it in the holding room in Philadelphia. SANTOS You look through it? VINICK Well, no name tag on it. SANTOS It took 24 hours to get back to me. [pause] You find anything interesting in my notes? VINICK I didn't read them. SANTOS But Bruno did. VINICK You don't have to worry about that. SANTOS I don't? VINICK No one else knows about this. SANTOS Bruno, you and me? VINICK That's it. And we're not going to tell anyone. SANTOS Or maybe I should tell the press that Bruno stole my briefcase. VINICK He didn't steal it. He found it. He grabs the briefcase and turns to leave. VINICK It's not your notes you should be worrying about. Santos stops. VINICK The checks you've been writing are a much bigger problem. SANTOS You think so. VINICK We're not going to tell anyone about the checks. But you should. SANTOS So that's what this meeting is all about? You just wanted to give me a little advice? VINICK Obviously, it's up to you how you handle this. SANTOS That's right. It's up to me. VINICK We're not going to use it. But it's going to come out eventually. The press is going to find out. They're going to find Anita Morales. Camera crews are going to follow her daughter to school. SANTOS Bruno really did his homework, huh? VINICK You think the people who work for you wouldn't have done exactly the same thing if they had found my briefcase? If the press finds out about this next week, then all that happens is you lose an election. But if you win and the press finds out next month or next year then I don't know what happens to you or your Presidency. That's what you have to think about. Right now, you have a responsibility to the voters to... SANTOS Don't lecture me about responsibilities. VINICK Do you really think you can handle this if it comes out while you're living in the White House with your family? Do you really want to put the country through that? Put your wife through that? SANTOS My wife knows all about it. There is a pause in which he says nothing. After taking a few breaths, he begins to explain. SANTOS My brother's never been good about living up to his responsibilities. He went out with Anita for a while and then disappeared like he always does. He's never really been able to hold onto a job. When I found out about the baby I figured somebody had to step up. VINICK That would have looked a lot better if you had given your brother the money and let him pay the child support. SANTOS Yeah, well, I wish I could trust him to do that. There is silence, during which Vinick appears non-plussed. SANTOS You don't believe me. VINICK It doesn't matter what I believe. You know the truth. Santos nods. SANTOS This is a family thing. This has nothing to do with what kind of President I would be. He turns and leaves. Vinick rubs his hand a bit in preparation to go on stage. DISSOLVE TO: END TITLES. FADE TO BLACK. THE END * * * The West Wing episode 7.14 "Two Weeks Out", original air date 19 March 2006.