The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 5, Episode 19 - Talking Points - full transcript

The president and staff are about to head for Brussels to sign an international free trade deal that Josh has just spent a lot of time and effort negotiating, to nearly everyone's satisfaction; at the 11th hour, the CEO of an IBM-like company tells Josh that the first effect of the new agreement, of which his company is a huge beneficiary, will be the immediate transfer of 17,000 programming jobs to India; the head of the communications workers' union, which is representing the affected programmers, brings one of the programmers to Josh's office, and they refuse to leave, leading Josh to question the underlying adverse effects of the trade deal. Throughout the episode, Ryan tries to make Josh care that he's completing his internship that day, while Donna pesters Josh to bring her on the Brussels trip in an effort to make her a more active player in west wing activities, eventually leading to a trade-off that will mean even bigger things for Donna in the long run.

Previously on The West Wing:

- How good is Haffley?
- Better than anyone we've seen...

...on the other side in a long time.

We don't go out there
until we agree on a game plan.

How about the voters?
How will we create jobs?

And we can do better and we must
do better and we will do better.

How will we fix health care?

To ensure that the promise of this
country is the birthright of all the people.

How will we make the lights go on?
How will we protect ourselves?

When we were elected, I really thought
we were gonna own the place.

- Hey. Congratulations.
- Thank you.

So Leo's turned you into
a bigtime trade negotiator.

No different than babysitting
or negotiating with Congress.

- You sit, let them wear themselves out.
- They're up to 200 tractors now.

- I know.
- Two hundred tractors don't worry you?

- Not being a bale of hay.
- You're flying to Brussels...

...the place is surrounded by tractors.

Everyone in Europe will protest
your trade agreement.

I'll bring you back a straw hat.

- For the press conference after signing.
- That's not the message.

"Protecting intellectual property
through international enforcement."

I know what you're talking about, and
I have no idea what you're talking about.

Free trade creates better,
higher-paying jobs.

We still have to pass this.

Let's not outsmart ourselves,
as if that were possible.

- They're up to 200 tractors. It's on TV.
- I know.

Bill Parsons called. What are European
farmers so upset about?

They can't cling to a dying way of life,
that free trade means...

...some of them may wear neckties,
that they can't beat Pentium chips...

...back into plowshares. Take your pick.
- USTR says India's signing on.

- You're kidding.
- I barely know what that means.

India has problems with this trade deal.
Why would they...?

USTR says India's in.

Ask Ed and Larry to poke around
the India thing.

I brought my luggage too, you know.

Yeah, I'm still working on that.

Wonderful, Mr. Prime Minster.
I look forward to seeing you in Brussels.

Great job wrapping this up.
I've sent something to your office.

You should have seen him,
like a bull terrier crossed...

...with a rottweiler
and a Fuller Brush salesman.

Months of work by a lot of people.
I just tossed in free combs.

- Work on Congressional passage.
- I'm meeting with the speaker.

He could argue we gave too much
to labor.

We'll need Republican votes, but there's
plenty here Democrats will like.

- Sell it right, we'll squeak through.
- Reporters are waiting.

You're doing five interviews
on the Brussels Round...

...three domestic print, CNN-FN,
the International Herald Tribune.

- Foreign press doesn't count.
- We haven't globalized pandering?

Our audience is not
the Finnish Parliament.

Opponents of free trade say
it exports jobs.

- That giant sucking sound.
- A half-decent economist will say...

...wear earplugs,
then file immediately for unemployment.

- Have you read the talking points?
- I'm an economist, some say half-decent.

- I don't need a primer.
- Due respect...

...your economic answers can be a bit...
- Polysyllabic?

- Academic.
- I'd go with "incomprehensible."

Hey, listen. Any economic advancement
involves what Schumpeter called...

..."creative destruction."
- Bad answer.

- "Destruction" will mollify our critics.
- Free trade creates jobs.

- Selling our products to the world...
- Creates higher-paying jobs.

It's gotta be that simple.

Anybody have any crayons
so I can color in my Ph.D.?

Josh makes a point.
We're losing old-economy jobs... steel, in textiles,
all across manufacturing.

In economics, clearly...

That's why we fought so hard in this
deal for copyright enforcement... protect the fruits
of the new economy:

Technology, inventions, ideas.

The stuff where America can't be beat,
where they can't do it... Malaysia for a dollar a day.

- Okay.
- What about these tractor protests?

Global economic forces are unstoppable,
just like technology itself.

Should we have banned ATMs
to protect bank tellers?

Or digital watches to prop up the folks
who fix grandfather clocks?

- Creates higher-paying jobs.
- Creates higher-paying jobs. That simple.

- He's bashing the clock industry in here.
- India.

- What?
- The communications union was close... a new contract
for 17,000 programmers.

Jace Computer Networks
broke off the talks.

The union thinks JCN's moving...

...17,000 computer-programming jobs
to India, and that's why India signed on.

Seventeen thousand jobs because
of the deal I just negotiated?

That's what they think.

- Okay. Who else knows about this?
- No one.



- We may have a situation.
- Congress?

- Where were we?
- Creating better, higher-paying jobs.

- What are critics of free trade missing?
- Good question.

- Seventeen thousand programming jobs.
- That's what they're saying.

- Because of the deal we just negotiated.
- We don't know yet.

- Those are new-economy jobs.
- Yeah.

- Not like putting beads on an abacus.
- Which is a lot harder than it sounds.

This could kill the deal on the Hill.

In this economic climate,
both parties will run fast.

"Send your job to Southeast Asia."
Not the best slogan.

Another problem.
The programmers are represented... the Communications Workers
of America.

- The CWA?
- Yeah. I got a message from Parsons.

- lf this is real...
- You've been working with JCN.

All the tech companies. I can't believe
they'd sandbag me like this.

Talk to JCN.
You did a great job on this.

- I was serious about the rottweiler thing.
- Thanks.

- How are the interviews going?
- Oh, let's see...

...he's used the phrase
"market inelasticity" three times...

..."direct entitlement failure" twice.

I was waiting for him to wave a piece
of chalk, maybe a piece of the GNP.

- Professor in chief.
- More like Professor Incoherent.

- What are we hearing from the press?
- Why they're staying at a two-star hotel...

...where are the speaker and
the majority leader on this trade deal..., counsel sent some
press guidance on a new FCC ruling.

The FCC reached a compromise
with Congress on media consolidation.

- Happened about an hour ago.
- Media consolidation?

That plan to let corporations buy up
more TV stations.

So they backed off.

Yeah, who wants the same bunch
of big shots controlling the media?

Talking points on the VP's energy speech
so you can help me control the media.

- What's the compromise?
- Instead of letting one company...

...own stations reaching 45 percent
of viewers, the FCC has agreed...

...they can only reach 39.37 percent.

- 39.37 percent?
- This stuff can be very scientific.

I'll need a slide rule in my briefing.
39.37 percent?

- lf you get questions, you'll help me...?
- Control the media.

- Today's my last day at the White House.
- Thank you.

I was hoping you'd give a toast
at my going-away party.

How about a plaque for
Best lmpersonation of a Blue Blazer?

So you're coming to the party?

I'm having my own celebration...

...with five cloves of garlic
and the cast of The Exorcist.

Speaker's coming in at 3: 15.
Parsons called again, twice.

Plus, the president sent you a gift.

Have Ed and Larry call Democrats.

I want votes in my pocket
when I meet with the speaker.

He's gonna hate these labor
side agreements.

My charts. The JCN lobbyist
is coming in.

I need those charts on everything
we gave tech versus light industry... this trade round.

If you're all out of joint
because we favored tech over light...

You're leaving in eight hours.
Any progress getting me on the trip?

- You don't wanna go.
- Which is why I asked 15 times.

It's presidential handholding.

A motorcade to a battle of the balding,
Belgian finance ministers.

- It's Pittsburgh with an accent.
- I didn't go on the Pittsburgh trip.

This isn't taxpayer-funded tourism.
We got jobs to do.

I'm trying to grow in mine.
I've been helping on these trade talks.

- How will you manage by yourself?
- I'll grab someone off the staff.

- The charts?
- Grab someone off the advance staff.

- Maybe they can find them for you.
- I didn't mean to...

- I'm busy, okay?
- Maybe if you shackled me to my desk...'d speed up my typing.
- Don't get all Woody Guthrie on me.

- I got a situation here.
- You're the oppressor.

- That's Latin for "boss."
- I'm not talking to you.


Katherine Harper, this is Debbie Fiderer,
the president's secretary.

Kate's our new NSC deputy.
I'm bringing her in to see the president.

Nice to meet you.
The president's been running late.

- That's okay, ma'am.
- Please call me Debbie.

- Thank you, ma'am.
- Top of her class at Annapolis.

- Once an ensign, always an ensign.
- Your locator box.

Why, yes. This is so we know
where the first family are at all times.

Forgive me for...

- You think you should have it facing out?
- Excuse me?

Secret Service locator boxes
are code-word clearance or higher.

Guests in this wing just need
an absence of felony charges.

- Some congressmen don't even meet that.
- We've been looking to keep them out.

Just trying to be helpful, ma'am.

On second thought,
feel free to call me ma'am.

- Let us know when the president's free?
- So nice to meet you.

- All packed and ready for Brussels?
- Let's talk about India.

Bit out of the way for a layover.

The CWA says you're shipping 17,000
computer-programming jobs there.

That's proprietary information.

Then why is India
signing this trade deal?

India, which hated the agricultural
provisions, hated the light-industrial...

There's a chance JCN will be moving
some programmers there.

You can't do this.
After everything I negotiated for you?

You toughened copyright enforcement.
Now it's safer to move...

...sensitive programming work overseas.
- Over time, not overnight.

We worked for months
without one word about this.

- It's an internal business decision.
- Yet somehow India...

...population 1 billion and rising,
slipped into a JCN board meeting?

We lobbied.
That's how these things work.

No. When I help you on a trade deal,
you don't lobby behind my back.

- That's how these things work.
- It's economics.

It's politics.
Now I got a union problem.

When they go nuts,
I got a Congressional problem.

- We'll help you lobby. We're good at that.
- It won't pass.

Seventeen thousand
flesh-and-blood families...

...spread over who knows how many
congressional districts?

It's more like 3.3 million jobs over the
next 10 years. Industry-wide, of course.

You're handing out pink slips...

...when we're popping champagne corks
and Brussels sprouts.

We can hold the announcement...

...but American programmers make
40 bucks an hour. In India, it's 10.

How much would you save
if you move your CEO to India?

This is how free trade works. Don't be
surprised jobs are moving overseas.

These jobs, yes.
Eighty-thousand-dollar-a-year jobs, yes.

The jobs this deal is supposed to create,
on the day we're leaving to sign it?

If automakers were as innovative... would get 100,000 miles
per gallon and cost 50 cents.

They'd only be this big.

Spread the layoffs
over a couple of years.

- Can't.
- Retrain them.

- Shove them in a back office.
- We're a business, not a halfway house.

- You told that to the head of your union?
- No.

But feel free to tell him yourself.
I'm sure he's on his way here right now.

For many European farmers...

... who say globalization is destroying
a way of life on their continent...

... that global corporations
will now reap the gains...

Can you spend time
with Reuters on the flight?

They helped us on that steel story.

Is there something funny about
these new media-ownership limits?

- Who's-on-first funny?
- Rotten-in-the-state-of-Denmark funny.

- Let's never do a stand-up act.
- Or a local TV broadcast.

Our press guidance says it's a victory.
They were gonna let conglomerates...

...get into 45 percent of all homes.

And now it's 39.37 percent...

...a number that ought to come
with a decoder ring.

There was a public outcry,
they settled for a lower number.

- A number no one can explain.
- The FCC's totally independent.

- Media companies are constituents.
- The public are my constituents.

When big business can soak up
more local media...

- Ben needs to stop by before you leave.
- Tell him it's a bad day.

Tell him I'll call him from the plane.

He wants to make sure
you don't sample the endive.

I can't be a woman sitting around,
eyes a-fluttering, waiting for her man.

You know, parasols a-twirling.

Tell him I'll call him from the plane.

How come no one can explain
this number?

Well, you're talking about deregulation.
You wanna crack that code?

- Follow the money.
- I'll take care of your Reuters thing.

Carol, pull the FCC media-ownership
records from last year, will you?

- Is this some kind of exclusive?
- You could say Christmas came early.

I'm not in the business
of doing your investigative reporting.

- As opposed to blocking it.
- Christmas and Arbor Day.

- Is this about the Brussels trip?
- This is about the FCC.

They just ruled that media conglomerates
can buy stations...

...reaching up to 39.37 percent
of all TV viewers.

We wrote about this when they tried
to make it 45.

- Why do you think they're rolling it back?
- And why to 39.37 percent?

I have here
the FCC media-ownership records.

Turns out, last year...

...MertMedia illegally purchased
nine local TV stations...

...which brings them to
the magic number of, drum roll, please...

...39.37 percent.

And Viacom's at 38.8 percent...

...and News Corp's at 37.8.

In other words, the FCC is bailing out,
as in posting bail...

...for huge companies that were illegally
gobbling up TV stations... greasy hors d'oeuvres.

Would you like a diagram?

- Can I ask about the Brussels trip?
- No, you can't ask.

- This is a big story.
- My business desk is handling it.

Bang on your editors.
This isn't some technical business story.

This is about diversity on the airwaves,
the marketplace of ideas...

...ensuring a healthy exchange of...

You don't wanna write this
because it's about your owners.

There are a million places to get news.
We compete.

Like you're competing for this one?

Let me walk you through the numbers.

Talk to your editors.
Trust me, this is a story.

- The tractor protests are accelerating.
- From 4 miles an hour to 5?

- Up to 230 tractors.
- I get the feeling the soil's going untilled.

Advance is worried. They're jamming
up the Place de Brouck?re.

Keep the tractors away
from the president.

It's two centuries off our message.

- How we doing on Democratic votes?
- It's tough.

- They're terrified of losing jobs.
- Keep making calls. Tell them...

Talk about the labor side agreements.

President's concerned Andy Wyatt...

...and these congressmen
will negotiate on their own.

You sure you want me on a Congressional
delegation to the Middle East?

- It'll only lend it legitimacy.
- The president wants you.

Someone's gotta block them from
trying to move the Israeli border...

...and rename the synagogues
after prominent North Dakotans.

Just meet with him on this.

- Of course I'll meet with my president.
- This afternoon.

I almost don't recognize you without
the hardware store on your chest.

Only way I could shed
those extra pounds.

- Josh.
- Admiral.

- How'd it go with JCN?
- Great, if you write computer code...

...and live in suburban Bombay.

They're serious about the 17,000 jobs?

It's gonna be 3.3 million over 10 years.
The tech lobby screwed me on this.

They were pressing India
the whole time.

Parsons and his guys from the CWA
are coming here now.

If I let you down on this,
if I missed some...

I sent you in there to close a deal.
No one does it better.

- We need a strategy.
- For Capitol Hill.

If it becomes a story, yeah.

I'm worried the Republicans
won't like this deal as it is.

- We don't run the computer industry.
- No, look...

...we have to give something to Parsons,
to the union, to balance this out.

- Give them what?
- The government only buys software...

...made in America.
- First, foreign countries would retaliate.

Second, we buy only the lowest-cost
goods or we burn taxpayers' money.

So we help
a few taxpayers earn money.

Congress would laugh us out of the room.
It'd cost 15, 20 billion a year.

Short-term, till the benefits
of the trade deal kick in.

Where's your suit made?

- I got this in Georgetown.
- Where's it made?

- Mexico.
- I think the "Made in the U.S.A." labels...

...are sewn in Mexico now.

You wanna ask Congress and the OMB
to do what no self-respecting...

...clotheshorse would do.

Let's see if this becomes a thing
on the Hill.

I'm talking about the union.

The president's right.
Or Schumpeter, or whoever:

Sometimes you destroy to create.

- That's the danger. You can't keep...
- Your 11:00 is here, Mr. President.

A quarter past 12. Will you please
stop calling it my 11:00.

Very well, sir.

- Your 11:05 is still waiting outside.
- Thank you.

If anyone has a stopwatch,
we'll boil eggs.

Sir, this is Kate Harper, your new
deputy national security advisor.

Yes. I have your CV, very impressive.

You're fluent in Arabic.

Thank you. I always forget
the punch line myself.

I'll give you two a chance
to get acquainted.

Thank you, Nancy.

Four years in Naval Intelligence... our embassy in Ulaanbaatar.
- Yes, Mr. President.


So we're off to Brussels. Nancy told you
about this French bilateral I'm dreading.

They're holding two terrorists.

They won't extradite them.
They don't like our laws.

We can't even interrogate if we don't put
the right crease in their linen napkins.

- That's one way of looking at it, sir.
- You've got another way.

- That's not really my job, Mr. President.
- I'm asking you.

- There's a French and an American side.
- Your argument.

- Officially, I don't have an argument.
- Yet we're having one right now.

Well, sir...

What I'd say is France has a body of law
and a constitution...

...and it's wrong to trample on either,
let alone the extradition process.

They see it as imperialism. You do it at
the risk of shredding a fragile relationship.

- Officially, however...
- Debbie.

Could you bring in my 11:03,
whatever it was.

- Mr. President, I don't mean...
- Thanks. It was nice meeting you...

Ma'am. I mean Kate.

- No.
- Okay. Second question.

- What?
- Trade.

These Belgian farmers think
it'll cost them jobs.

- Probably will. It lets in cheaper produce.
- But Belgium's for it anyway?

May be bad for their farmers,
but it's good for their economy.

Then who's their economy for?

- Would you please tell Josh...?
- Harpo speaks.

Please tell Josh that Bill Parsons
with the CWA will be here soon.

His 3:30 with Congressman McKenna's
been moved to 3:00.

McKenna's lucky if I only keep him
waiting a half-hour out of spite.

- He says...
- Tell him the Social Office wants... remind him
about your going-away party.

Tell her a pack of wild bison on stilts
couldn't drag me to your party.

He says that actually
he'd be quite tickled... Stilts?

Tell him McKenna's got an issue
with his trade deal.

McKenna can take a check.
I can handle a ninth-string congressman.

Tell him there's something he ought
to know about...

Tell Donna wherever Skippy
the translator's going...

...she ought to go too.

- He says give that dashing young Ryan...
- Harpo can hear, bright boy.

- Now can we talk about the Brussels trip?
- No. We can't.

Carol says you're not pitching
the FCC story.

It's a business story. Just because
I don't agree with your take on it.

I don't have a take. The FCC looked
at how many stations were owned... the six or seven biggest companies
and used that as the number.

Media monopolies are history.

The Internet's exploding, TV's every guy
with a camcorder and an uplink.

Yet one company can now own stations
in 199 of the nation's 210 media markets.

One company can influence the elections
of 98 senators, 382 House members...

It's a free country.

Till Comcast and Clear Channel puts
a big bullhorn in every town square, it is.

- A free country.
- I am not a media critic.

No one in the media is.
That's the problem.

You're trying to knock me off
this story about job losses.

- That's an allegation.
- Those are white-collar jobs...

...the jobs the president brags
about creating.

People need to know this FCC thing
isn't a victory.

It's less, but by the exact amount
the companies wanted.

You're getting into glass-empty,
glass-full territory.

- I'm talking about who pours the water.
- Then let's talk about it.

Because when seats come open
in your briefing room...

...I don't see you giving them
to The Pennsauken Post...

...or Radio Free Botswana.

- We're not buying up all the media.
- You're the ones giving access.

How many seats does MertMedia
have in there? Three?

How many companies are represented?
Seven? Eight?

- You want fewer?
- No. I wanna talk about Brussels...

...and you don't.
And I'm on a deadline.

Aren't you gonna offer us a drink?

- Bill, I don't know how this happened.
- I do.

You were so desperate to help
a bunch of soft-money-donating CEOs...

...that you sold us up the Ganges River.
- I gotta ask you not to go public yet.

Hard as it seems, we're creating jobs.
We're growing this economy.

For who, foreign investors? What good
is the economy without the people in it?

You knew we were for free trade when
you endorsed us five years ago.

Because you told us that
we might lose old-economy jobs...

...shoe manufacturing,
to some dirt-poor country.

But if we trained ourselves,
we'd get better jobs.

Now they're being
vacuumed out of here too.

We're gonna fight for more job training,
more transition assistance...

I have members on their third
and fourth careers.

What are they supposed to train for now?
Nuclear physics? Cello playing?

Or should they give up and bag groceries
for minimum wage?

That would still buy a nice house
in Bangalore.

Well, I've got three kids in college.
Little late for a transfer, isn't it?

You'll have pension assistance,
wage assistance, you name it.

I don't want burial insurance. My career
isn't over yet. I wanna keep my job.

You owe us that, Mr. Lyman.

You made that promise five years ago,
to my face, in the Wayfarer Hotel.

They're gonna stay right here till you
tell them how you plan to honor it.

- Where are you going?
- To your pressroom...

...then to Capitol Hill.

One thing about
the communication workers...

...we know how to communicate.

You look a lot better on TV.

In all, the union claims 17,000
white-collar jobs will be shipped to India.

No, congressman.

Yes, of course. Yeah.

Yeah, I understand.

- What are you doing out here?
- Donna's not talking to me.

Plus, there's soon-to-be unemployed
workers in my office.

- With tractors.
- Something like that.

- Think this job story is true?
- It's proprietary.

It'll give the GOP an excuse
to squash this trade deal?

With midterms coming up, what do you
think? How did you become a free-trader?

America has a quarter
of the world's wealth...

...and only 2 percent of the customers.
You have to sell to others.

How do you make that case to people
who will lose jobs?

Ask them how often they go
to Wal-Mart to buy cheap cardigans.

- Or drill bits.
- Drill bits?

- I don't wear cardigans.
- Okay.

- But I like a nice drill bit.
- So it all comes down to cheap drill bits.

Pay more for a bit,
you have less to spend on other things.

Keep out cheap drill bits...

...and that country will keep out cheap
American something. That costs us jobs.

Do you ever wonder if we forget
the human face of trade?

The blood and muscle?

Go with what grows
the economy for everyone.

There's blood and muscle in India too.


Hoynes was pretty critical of free trade
when you worked for him.

- Yeah, that was mostly politics.
- So how did you become a free-trader?

I came to work for one.

Did you need something?

The vice president is going to distance
himself from this trade deal.

You did a great job.
It's mostly politics.

- I'm sorry, I can 't do this right now.
- Do what?

This "leaving on a jet plane,
can't bear to be without you" bit.

- Okay.
- I got labor leaders frothing... the mouth, making claims,
a media conspiracy run amok.

I can't need to see you every 37 seconds
to achieve completion as a human.

- Fine.
- Are we clear on this?

- Can I say something?
- Go right ahead.

You left your passport at my house.

You left your wallet at my house.

You left your driver's license
and all your credit cards at my house.

Have a safe flight.

Are you...?

There's this nice little place...

Can I interest you in a late lunch?



This job story is killing us
with the Democrats.

Think the speaker will smell blood
in the water and spike this thing?

Belgian prime minister's letting
the tractors in.

- 260 tractors next to the ceremony site.
- It's like the hayseed Olympics.

- Maybe if we plant corn...
- Stop mocking the farmers.

They're just trying
to scratch out a living.

This no-talking thing
isn't working for me.

You have a 3:00. I need to brief you,
and they won't leave your office.

- I know.
- I tried to move them.

You want me to call Secret Service?


I just wanna grow in my job,
do something meaningful.

Do more than earn a paycheck
till I die.

Why are you saying that?

I only have one career, and I want it to
matter, or I might as well be a soda jerk.

Let's go back to
not talking for a while.

You missed a great party.

I got bigger problems
than your brass parachute.

- Where you going?
- To meet Congressman McKenna.

- That's funny...
- No, it isn't funny.

He's a two-bit jerk
of a junior House member.

He holds us hostage every time
we have a budget or trade deal...

...or enough discretionary authority
to buy ice cream.

I got the speaker of the House
in 10 minutes.

I'm gonna smile, bob my head
and stick him in the "out" box.

- Beat it. I got a meeting.
- So do I, is the thing.

- It's just me and McKenna.
- I'm his new legislative director.

Hi. He figured it'd be leverage enough
he's on two authorizing committees...

...and can stall your budget priorities. Is
this where you smile and bob your head?

McKenna has a problem
with the Brussels Round?

Just wants a seat on the plane.

That question you asked,
who's an economy for...

I don't care about trade.

You taught me that my view
doesn't matter anyway.

You take your boss's position,
lock, stock and sound bite...

...and you get what you came for.
Am I right?

I think there's too many channels as it is.
Cooking channel, botany channel.

I'm waiting for a channel devoted
to explaining the other channels.

We'll do news mags.
Know when they passed laws...

...that limit media ownership?

In the '40s, a response
to fascism in Europe.

I saw that on the fascism channel.

Laugh now, Channel Boy.
Soon it'll be the only one left.

- Hi.
- Hi, Leo McGarry. You must be Ben.

- C.J.'s nuts about you.
- Not really, actually.

Why are you hawking this FCC story?
I got calls from two network news heads.

Of course you have.
They're crazy about this ruling.

My problem is I'm too easy
to get on the phone.

I need you pushing back on the job
losses. Our caucus is going bananas.

This is a bailout for MertMedia.

The president's against
excessive media ownership.

If we think the FCC's not looking out
for the little guy, say it.

No one's writing about it. They're afraid
of their robber-baron bosses.

This is the biggest media conspiracy...

...since William Randolph Hearst
was starting wars.

We don't run the press.
We certainly don't run the FCC.

- They made the ruling.
- Local news is getting trampled.

Do you think corporate media
is gonna take on polluters...

...describe mega-mergers as anything
other than a rising stock price?

When's the last time
you watched local news?

I mean, it's just
high school Ping-Pong...

...weathermen predicting hailstones
the size of canned hams.

- National programming bother you?
- No, I spent my career in Moose Jaw.

- I get my news off CNN.
- I like this one.

He's about to become available.

It had to be MertMedia.

- MertMedia?
- CEO calls me every month... offer me a job, corporate
communications. I'm due for a call.

- You're not leaving your...
- No, I'm not.

I don't know who the FCC is looking out
for, but I came here for the little guy.

How come only the big guy
is trying to hire me?

Call Facilities Maintenance.
Get me workmen.

- Workmen.
- Carpenters, joiners, quitters...

...whatever they got.

- May I ask you...?
- Like a surgeon wields a scalpel... a barrister wields his...
Whatever it is he wields.

I'm using my briefing room.

Mr. Speaker, I guess you've seen
the story about the job losses.

- I have.
- I know it's easy to play politics here...

...but it's just an allegation.
This deal will create jobs over time.

No one is more concerned
about the dislocation than me.

So if you've got some issues,
we should...

- Let's get right to my issues.
- Sure.

I have no issues.


Meaning you're home, Josh.

- Excuse me?
- You're home.

I can get you 200,
maybe 210 Republican votes.

My members love it.
You did a fantastic job.

- They love it?
- Business lobby loves it.

Tech lobby loves it.
Unions always complain about trade.

- The labor side agreements.
- Those things aren't even enforceable.

- And if there are white-collar job losses?
- We knew there might be.

The tech lobby was pressing India
to sign the thing.

- You knew about that?
- Yeah, so did the White House.

It's the way things
were going anyway.

India can have our programming jobs.

We'll give them up, like we gave up
horses and buggies.

They can't take away what's great
about the American spirit.

So that's it?

Unless I can interest you in running
for Congress as a Republican.

I'm kidding.

Tell the president to have a great trip.
We'll start whipping votes.

So the vice president's
distancing himself.

Lots of Democrats are.

But things went well with the speaker.

We knew the tech lobby
was leaning on India.

Lots of lobbies lean on lots of people.

You sent me knowing
it might cost the CWA jobs.

I sent you into that room
to close a deal.

No one put you in charge
of economic policy.

You didn't tell me because
I wouldn't have made the deal.

When the president wants a deal,
you close it.

- We don't sign waivers around here.
- We made a promise.

Me and the president.

That's how we got CWA, the first union
to endorse us in the first campaign.

Which is how we got the AFL-CIO,
how we won lowa, South Dakota.

That was my job too.
You think we'd be here without it?

You campaign in poetry,
you govern in prose.

We promised that union
we would protect their jobs.

- We said it right to Parsons' face.
- We said we'd try to look out for them.

That's not what we meant. We have
to strip out the copyright provisions.

- We'll give them transition assistance.
- They call it burial insurance.

Well, it's all burial insurance, isn't it?

Great. Let's revise the talking points.

"The case for sweatshop labor."

"Send your 9-year-old to a factory." Let's
call this deal "To Hell with Everything."

I sent you in there to close a deal,
and you did. Thank you.

There are tradeoffs.

Lose 17,000 here, gain 30,000 there.

They're humans.
You're talking abstractions.

As opposed to what?

Meeting every factory worker
in America?

Reviewing every line of computer code
and giving little check marks?

We run a country.
We deal in abstractions.

Easy for you to say. You're not the one
who screwed 3.3 million people.

Neither are you.
It's the president's agenda.

And it was the president's promise,
which you can't break...

...I can't break,
and I am taking this to him...

...if I have to park a tractor
on the South Lawn to do it.

- Hey.
- Hey.

The CWA said some nasty things
about you to the press.

- Yeah, I saw.
- Tell your pals at JCN... buy some TV stations,
shut this down in a hurry.

That's good advice.

All the work you do with the unions...

...why did Leo put you
at that negotiating table?

Because I asked him.

You spend your whole career
trying to get in the room... if you're the one who can
square every circle, and it turns out...

A circle's a circle.

There's our geometry lesson
for the day.

- See you on the plane.
- Yeah.

You know what these CODELs are like.

We don't need any dime-store diplomats
gumming up the peace process.

There is no peace process.

Dime-store diplomats may be better
than no diplomats at all.

Do we really need a bunch of
congressmen doing backseat diplomacy?

You want me to go all the way
to the Middle East with a whistle...

...teach congressmen
how to make lanyards?

I need you to go
so we can stay out of trouble.

It's the best we can do
in that region right now.

Come back with lanyards,
I'll toss in a couple of new medals.

I'll go.

You know I'll do whatever you want,
Mr. President...

...but I think we should be
more engaged, not less.

- Thank you, Fitz. I appreciate it.
- Thank you so much.

- Would you give us a minute, please?
- Sure.

Leo's told me about the 17,000 jobs.

We have to fix this thing.

- We've talked about creative destruction.
- We made a promise.

It's the evolutionary nature
of capitalism.

This isn't economic theory.

Where's our allegiance,
to our own people...

...or to Third-World plutocracies?

There are children
in those plutocracies...

...who dig through trash heaps for food,
who'd kill for a low-wage job.

You think if they're not
sewing sneakers...

...they're downing cocktails at a ball?

This is different.
Programmers have middle-class jobs.

- Different how, because we know them?
- Different...

...because you and I looked them
in the eye five years ago... the Wayfarer Hotel.

I know that we did.

And sometimes I wish
I could stick to the theory.

I don't like seeing our friends get hurt.

- Then let's not hurt our friends.
- By doing what?

Building a wall around the country
so we can keep those jobs...

...a bit longer and never create
any new ones?

Passing a law that no one can be fired,
even if they play video games... their desks all day?
I'll get a spike in the polls for that one.

CWA's the reason we're in this room.

And they would prefer a Republican
who'd support free trade...

...then gut job training and eviscerate
unemployment insurance?

We made a promise.

There was a man named Canute,
one of the great Viking kings...

...of the 11 th century.

Wanted his subjects
to be aware of his limitations... he led them down to the sea...

...and he commanded
that the tide roll out.

It didn't.

Who gave us the notion presidents
can move the economy like a play toy?

That we can do more than talk it up...

...or smooth over the rough spots?

It's a lie.

What we really owe that union
is the truth.

We're running around saying free trade
creates high-paying jobs.

And it will.

But I've been trying to tell you
it's not that simple.

I'll set up a call with Bill Parsons.

Be nice to roll back that tide,
wouldn't it?

Yes, Mr. President, it sure would.

- Do me a favor.
- What's that?

- Start preparing a statement.
- Saying what?

Retracting everything
I'm about to say to the room.

Good afternoon, folks.
I have to apologize.

The pre-Brussels briefing won't start
for a half an hour or so.

What happened in here?

We're making adjustments
to your seating.

- Adjustments?
- You're aware of the FCC's new rules...

...on media ownership.

As you've reported,
they're a big victory for the little guy.

If by little, of course,
we mean transnational...

...multi-billion-dollar conglomerates.

And in that spirit
of runaway populism...

...the White House briefing room will
now offer one seat per corporate owner.

One seat for MertMedia,
one for GE... for Disney, Viacom,
News Corp, Clear Channel, Tribune...

You'll have to flip a coin
to see who gets to sit.

Why are you doing this?

Because if America's choices are
gonna be restricted, so are yours.

Brock, see if your business desk
will lend you a folding chair.

See seven of you in half an hour.

They're still in your office.

- Yeah.
- What are they doing?

Waiting by the sea.

What's this?

Your diplomatic passport.

- You got me a seat...
- No, I had to give mine to McKenna.

I'm going on the press plane.

Well, you tried.

You're going to the Middle East
with Fitzwallace and Andy.

No presidential handholding. See what's
going on. Brief me and Toby about it.

What I did wrong
wasn't breaking my word.

It was making a promise
I couldn't keep in the first place.

I understand we lost about 39.37 percent
of the seats in the briefing room.

I retracted that. The government
will bill me for carpentry.

I know you have a two-by-four
to pick with the FCC.

You said I could use the briefing room.

- I did.
- Our own press guidance...

...said it was for the little guy when it
was an amnesty for monopolists.

And when do we stop rewarding it?

- Can I ask you a question?
- Sure.

Who's the little guy? I'm serious.

Who is he? Do you know of any poor,
struggling station owners?

Some guy in hand-me-downs
tying antennas to a pickup truck?

- No.
- Even the smallest stations earn millions.

Lots of them have
no news programming at all.

We're supposed to upend
the marketplace on principle alone?

People need to know
what's going on.

They need to know changes
are happening when no one's looking.

That doesn't mean we can stop them.

It doesn't mean we go down
without a fight, either.

Send me that bill.

I'd like to pay
for the carpentry myself.


But it was worth every nickel.

I'm educated.
I work as hard as anybody.

And this isn't the first time
I've lost my job.

Where does it end?

Am I gonna be working
at a video-rental counter... to some high school dropout?

The staff vans are leaving.

Ten years ago,
I worked for this senate candidate.

He had this idea...

...that health care, pensions,
even vacation time ought to be portable.

It should follow you from job to job...

...because everyone was gonna work
15 jobs in a lifetime.

Might as well fly in the teeth of it.

And we talked him out of it.

Told him he was scaring
the bejesus out of people.

Who wants to know about 15 jobs?

Maybe we should've done that.
I don't know.

What do you know, Mr. Lyman?

We can't save your jobs.

We are gonna create more
in the long run...

...but we can't save your jobs.

It's the short run we gotta figure out.

The world's moving faster.

We can't stop it. I wish we could.

We are gonna do more to prepare you.

We have to.

Is that a promise?


But we're gonna try.