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In God We Trust

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.

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

Summary Edit


Following the New Jersey primary, Senator Arnold Vinick has won enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination.  On the Democratic side, Santos and Russell are neck-and-neck; neither of them will have the required number of delegates to get the nomination on the first ballot.

In the Vinick hotel suite, the Senator gets a call from his main rival, Reverend Don Butler, to concede the race and tells him he is ending his campaign.  He then tells Vinick he would like a face-to-face meeting with Vinick.  Sheila tells Vinick that he should move quickly on a VP selection and that picking Butler would be unifying to the party.  Sheila and Vinick turn on the TV and watch the Butler concession speech.  Vinick thanks Sheila and they plan to go downstairs to the hotel ballroom for a speech of their own.

In the West Wing, Toby comes to C.J. to tell her the Republican nomination for the presidency is Vinick.  In the residence, Leo and the President are watching Vinick's speech as well.  Leo remarks to the President that the Democrats have nobody who can beat Vinick.

Act IEdit

Annabeth arrives to find Toby asleep on his couch.  He wakes and she tells him that nothing has changed:  neither Democrat is going to have enough for the nomination on the first ballot.  Vinick is on his way to his office and is stopped by reporters.  Despite urgings not to take questions, Vinick answers several.

In the White House, C.J. is on the phone with the Treasury Secretary about the debt ceiling.  She gets off and Charlie, Toby, C.J., and Annabeth talk about the debt ceiling and what needs to be done about it.  Once Annabeth and Charlie leave, C.J. and Toby talk about how the Democrats are going to get someone who can beat Vinick (as Santos has been declared the winner of the NJ primary).

In Vinick's office, the Senator and his staff are discussing a campaign strategy, which they can't finalize because they don't yet know who they are running against.  House Majority Leader Robert Royce calls on Senator Vinick, offering him his services, (which Sheila clearly sees as a play to get a consideration as a VP candidate).

In the Oval Office, the President, Leo, C.J., and Toby are talking about what to do next regarding Santos and Russell.  The President tells Toby to bring the two candidates to the White House for a photo-op and the President will talk to them both.

In Vinick's office, Sheila tells the Senator that she is going to meet with someone who could help them with the campaign.  Into the room walks Bruno Gianelli.  Bruno lays out a plan for Vinick on how he could win all 50 states in November.  Bruno also cautions against picking Don Butler as his VP.  Vinick is skeptical of Bruno but agrees to take him on as an advisor to the campaign.

Act IIEdit

Will is following C.J. around, trying to convince her that bringing Santos to the White House for a meeting with the President and Russell is a bad idea.  She tells Will that the President wants it, and that's good enough for her.

In a car on the way to a speech, Shelia and Senator Vinick discuss Bruno's advice:  whetheror not it would be bad to pick Butler.  They will meet with Butler in the morning, with the hopes of getting an endorsement but not offering the VP slot.

In the Oval Office, Santos and Russell are seated across from one another, exchanging awkward glances.  The President comes in and sits with them both for photos.  Once the press is herded out, Bartlet makes it clear to both of them that if he feels that either of them steps over the line, he will come after that person (and maybe endorse the other one at the same time).

Reverend Butler arrives in Vinick's office for his meeting.  The two meet alone in the Senator's office and Vinick gets into his pitch, but Butler stops him and tells Vinick that he couldn't run on the same ticket with someone who was pro-choice.  Butler thanks Vinick, then gets up and leaves.

Act IIIEdit

In Vinick's office, he and Shelia are talking about the Butler meeting.  She wants to be sure that the Senator did not offer the VP slot to Butler, and  Vinick tells her that Butler cut him off.  A staffer comes into the office to tell them that Butler is on TV answering questions about the meeting.  Butler responds to several questions about the meeting and mentions that he will be returning to his church on Sunday and that Senator Vinick will be welcome in his church.

In a meeting with campaign staff, Vinick and the staff discuss how to spin the Butler story.  They then discuss whether Vinick should accept the invitation to go to Butler's church.  Bruno says it is a bad idea, because all of the questions would be about abortion, and Vinick's answers would anger Butler's supporters.  Bruno strongly suggests they go ahead with their next choice as VP, West Virginia Governor Ray Sullivan, which will bury the Butler story.

At the White House, C.J. and Toby are on their way to the Oval Office, and C.J. is telling Toby that Senate Democrats want to attach a minimum wage hike to the debt ceiling bill.  In the Oval, Leo, C.J., Toby, and the President strategize what to do.  They see it as an opportunity to get an increase in the minimum wage.

Back in Senator Vinick's office, Sheila tells the Senator he has to go and vote on the Democratic amendment, (about raising the minimum wage, which is aimed squarely at Vinick), to try and separate him from the rest of the Republicans.  On the way to the vote, Vinick is peppered with questions about the Senator's religious beliefs and whether he will attend Butler's church.

Act IVEdit

After returning to the Senator's office, Sheila's daughter is watching the news coverage of the press asking Vinick about his religion.  Sheila's daughter tells Vinick that he should go to church.  In Vinick's office, Bob points out that if Vinick were to change his position on abortion, he would have the election sewn up.  Vinick points out that's not going to happen.  They have a conversation about the last time Vinick was in church.  He doesn't really have an answer:  it has been so long.  Sheila pushes everyone else out of the room to get the Senator ready for his meeting with Ray Sullivan.  Before Sullivan comes in, the Majority Leader calls and asks Vinick to go to the White House to meet with the President to get the minimum wage amendment off the debt ceiling bill.

Ray Sullivan is shown into the office and the two talk about the Vice Presidential spot.  Sullivan agrees, but with the understanding that abortion will be the only issue they will not agree on.  However, Sullivan is pretty sure that Vinick doesn't want him to agree on abortion.

Vinick arrives at the White House to meet with Bartlet.  The two work out a deal very quickly and Vinick asks that he stay a little longer to let the Republicans think he really battled.  He asks the President for ice cream.  In the kitchen, the President and Vinick are eating from large tubs of ice cream.  The conversation moves to religion and they talk about if the voter has a right to know about the religious beliefs of a candidate.  Bartlet pokes and prods Vinick to try and make him land on a position.

Outside the White House, Vinick talks to reporters about the meeting with the President.  He is asked again about the invitation to go to Reverend Butler's church.  Vinick pauses for a moment and then says that he will not use a church for political purposes, which is just what he would be doing, and that he will no longer answer any more questions about his religion.

Quotes Edit

Leo McGarry: We got nobody who can beat him.
Annabeth Schott: It doesn't matter who wins.  No one's going to have enough delegates for the nomination.  Come on!  Wake up and smell the chaos!
Annabeth Schott: So, this 'debt ceiling' thing - is it routine or the end of the world?
Toby Ziegler: Both.
President Bartlet: Remind people that we still know something about running the country.
Toby Ziegler: Maybe a little less about running a party.
Bruno Gianelli: Look, they don't know it yet.  You are the best thing to ever happen to them.  You're moving the Republicans away from the right wing.  You're not saying Democrats are not patriotic.  You're just saying that your approach is better.  You are making politics a fair fight again.  What?  You think I'm a spy, I snuck in here, I'm trying to steer you wrong?
Arnold Vinick: The thought has crossed my mind.
Bruno Gianelli: I have spent the last 20 years ripping this country apart.  Finding wedge issues to separate the voters.  You don't have to do that to win.  Not this time.  You do this right, you can do a lot more than win.  You can stop using politics to divide this country.  You can show us how much we agree, instead of how much we disagree.  You can put this country back together.
Sheila Brooks: [It] sends a very bad message to the big contributors if you vote against it.
Arnold Vinick: Hey, if you can't drink their booze, take their money and then vote against them, you don't belong in this business.
President Bartlet [to Santos and Russell]: All right, listen up.  This is a tough situation for you guys.  I understand that.  The press is geared up for its favorite blood sport - Democrats attacking each other - and I know that's what some people are gonna tell you to do, but we cannot allow that to happen.  That'd just hand over the election to the Republicans.  One of you is going to be our nominee, so I want both of you to start acting like the nominee right now.  No attacks on each other.  I'm going to be watching, and if I think you've overstepped the line, I'm going to grab the nearest microphone and say so, and don't be surprised if I endorse the other guy while I'm at it.  Are we clear?
Arnold Vinick: I guess you've seen this problem develop today about my going to church.
Ray Sullivan: You mean not going to church.  Yeah.  That's all right.  I go enough for both of us.
Arnold Vinick: I've been reading about your positions on a lot of things, but there are some environmental issues you haven't had to deal with in West Virginia...
Ray Sullivan: Here's the deal with the issues, Arnie:  I can get in line with you on everything except abortion.  Nothing's going to make me change my mind on that, but I'm guessing you wouldn't want me to.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • The issue of the "debt ceiling" became a real-life issue during the term of President Obama.  The Congress raised the debt ceiling several times (also at the last minute, as alluded to in this episode) and ultimately forced a government shutdown after refusing to pass a budget in 2013.
  • David Broder is referenced in this episode, a rare mention of a real person.  Broder wrote a politics column on the editorial page of the Washington Post for many years until his death in 2011.
  • The exterior shot prior to the scene with Senator Vinick and his Chief of Staff shows the Ronald Reagan Building and not one of the Senate Office Buildings.
  • The formula to determine the area of a parallelogram is length times height, not length times width.
  • The Arnie Vinick quote beginning with "Hey, if you can't drink their booze..." Is based off a real quote by Jesse Unruh, who was State Speaker of California, and later the Treasurer.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit



"The West Wing" In God We Trust (2005)
The West Wing Episode Guide