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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

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