"So, sir," Frank began. "This is...unusual, and I..."
"Here's the deal, Frank." Macklin leaned forward on his elbows and watched Frank roll the joint. "My wife is a drunk, my Presidency is a wreck, the nation's foundering in debt, much of the world hates us, and I've had enough."
Frank licked the doobie and produced a lighter. "OK. So what else is new?"
"That's why I keep you around." Macklin sighed. "No, Frank, I'm really going to do something about it. I'm holding a press conference. Not tomorrow, I'll be hung-over and the speech isn't ready. But Friday. I want your help writing this speech."
Frank looked doubtful. "Friday. Not good. The press will shred us on the weekend chat shows."
"See? That's just what I'm sick of. All this posturing, all this jockeying for position, this trasparent manipulative fakery..." Macklin realized his voice was rising and he was flapping his hands. He reached for the proffered joint, hit it, and immediately doubled over coughing, almost knocking himself out on the edge of his desk.
"Easy, sir. Can I bring you some water?"
"Stop...with the sir....or I start calling you...'Smithers'," Macklin gasped, his eyes streaming. "Jesus Christ -- pot really is stronger now than it used to be. I thought that was just ONDCP bullshit. Where'd you...no, never mind." He took a fortifying slug from the decanter and the burn worked magic on his raw throat. "Ahhhhhh. Here, Frank, have a drink."
"Do you have an ashtray?"
"Use the floor."
Frank pursed his lips and cast about for a piece of paper. As Macklin watched, absorbed, Frank folded the paper into an origami ashtray.
"That's the most useless skill I've ever seen demonstrated."
"It's useful right now, isn't it? I studied math in college and got into origami for a few months."
"It's an ashtray made of paper. That's like building a dam out of Jell-O."
"Or maybe like a taco salad? Hmm?"
"Only if you smoke it...wait, let's get back to the speech."
"Is this going to be like that guy in 'Network'? Do you plan to publically implode and take all of our careers with you?"
Macklin fixed Frank with the hairy eyeball. "I'm not a gravy train, Frank. And most of 'us' are guns-for-hire, anyway."
"I've always dreamed of a career in food service."
"Oh, fuck you. You'll have a think-tank gig within weeks. This is about principles."
"So this IS going to destroy my career."
Macklin paused and inhaled more gently. This hit stayed down. He exhaled and took a deep breath. "Yes, Frank, it might."
Frank took back the joint and leaned back in the chair, arms crossed. "OK, convince me this is worth it."