Joe White and Tina Evans hosted the popular morning show that captured a higher volume of viewers than any other. When they asked Claire to join the kitchen table format on Monday morning, she graciously agreed in spite of her reservations.
She knew she would be analyzing SB 1257 along with Ryan Peters, one of its co-authors, and Bill Hancock. Clancy Alexander had summoned all three of them to meet with him when they were finished. She was losing more sleep than usual, there were too many things on her mind. Foremost was the realization about Eve, but the bill with all its nasty spillover was also making an impact. She knew the loss of her election could be detrimental for women’s rights, and also knew that if the sham of Clancy’s scandal hit the airwaves, that would be exactly what would happen. But to vote for the bill was unthinkable. Or was it? This question was nagging at her more and more. She felt as though she could change the outcome of the bill if she kept her position of power. The words from her doctor flashed through her head at the thought. Touching your sister in your dream will not change the outcome.
“Claire, over here.” Tina was smiling at her, prodding her to take a seat where they could set up her mic. “Great to see you again, Senator. I know the show is going to be a good one this morning, what with the Fair Pay Act vote coming up on Wednesday.” She winked, “Give those guys hell, Senator.” She turned to an intern and told him to get Claire a cup of coffee. “You like it black, right Senator?”
Claire’s head was already spinning from Tina’s over-zealous personality, that and the over-active voices talking in her head. “Actually, I’ve taken to a little cream, if you will.”
“You heard the Senator, now scat. Get her coffee.” Tina laughed, and whispered into Claire’s ear, “I just love having control over these guys. Funny how that makes me a bitch though. When Joe does it, he’s seen as self-assured.” She looked up to see Joe walking toward them to greet Claire.
Putting his hand out to her, Claire did see him as confident as opposed to finding Tina rather irritating. Why was that? “Senator, I’m so glad we could get you to come on our show this morning.” He looked past her to see the other guests and walked off.
After the greetings, the order was given for all the participants to take a seat around the table, the music started, and Joe began talking into the camera.
He began the show, his voice sounding secure and content. “Good morning, it is Monday, May 28th. We welcome you to a special edition on this Memorial Day holiday. And with us on set, we have Senators Claire Winslow, Bill Hancock, and one of the co-authors of the bill we want to discuss today, the great Ryan Peters.”
“Yes, this is going to be a good show, Joe.” Tina’s co-hosting job was to ensure that the viewer felt as though they were friends with the folks around the table.
“Tina,” Joe put his hands together and began his silly talk. He believed it to be a good method for starting each morning, creating the façade that he and the others were just a few friends enjoying some talk and coffee. “I don’t know who’s more excited this morning, whether it’s Bill Hancock, you know about the concert with teen singer Justin Tempist, or,” he was rubbing his hands in a pretense of excitement, “or whether it’s Claire Winslow who once again gets to vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act.” Joe laughed and addressed Claire directly. “So, Claire. Don’t you agree that this is just plain politics to run this through the Senate days before the important bill that can make some real differences for this country?”
Claire heard the voice of her host change from confident to arrogant. “Come on, Joe. You know this is senseless talk. My two colleagues here,” she gestured to the Senators across the table. “They’re convinced that if we raise the pay for women to match that of men, our economy will be destroyed.” She laughed and said, “I have a solution, Joe and Tina. Let’s see, the latest figure is that women make 77 cents to the dollar. The solution is too easy for us to recognize at first glance, but I say we lower any man’s pay by 23 cents where this practice is going on. Very easy, everyone is happy, and the economy doesn’t take a hit.”
Tina laughed, and patted Joe on the back. “She’s got a good point, Joe. You be careful how you answer her, remember that you work with a woman.” She turned into the camera. “And folks, please pick up my book. I’ve written about this and Senator Winslow is exactly right. How can we still have this sort of inequality going on?”
Joe turned the conversation into a baseball discussion for close to ten minutes when he saw the look of discontent on his partner’s face.
When he saw her body language, Joe pretended to appear frightened of Tina and said, “Ok. So instead, let’s talk about this SB 1257 bill. Ryan, you helped write it, tell us in a nutshell what it does for the average American.”
“Well, Joe. This bill is all about safety for the American people. In fact, everything in the bill addresses this issue.” He nodded, recalling his childhood. “Joe, I remember growing up in a small town in Ohio. No one even thought about locking their doors at night, or even when they went to the store.” Proudly, he looked around the table. “That was the thought I had in mind when I helped orchestrate this bill’s contents. It’s an amendment to the Constitution that will outlaw thugs. Even in the city, this will cut the crime rate down. We’ve spoken to many of the Governors around the country. We listened to their biggest fears and constructed this bill, not only to reduce crime, but to eliminate it over time.”
Joe asked, “And when do you guys vote on this, it seems like a no-brainer to me.”
Ryan smiled and added, “On Friday, Joe. But the Dems are picking it apart, so this is going to be a partisan vote. We should be fine, though. We have enough votes to make this work.”
Tina looked at Claire, “What about you, Claire, do you support this one too?”
Bill looked across the table at Claire, his eyes speaking to her in silence. “I think it’s safe to say that we are solid, aren’t we, Claire?”
Claire’s insides were churning, she kept her stare focused on Bill while answering. “Actually, I haven’t decided yet. Some of the language is too loose for me, and may be giving too many rights to those who live in fear. For instance, gun rights are expanded in this bill, making it easier for vigilantes to take the law into their own hands. I need to do some more thinking before I feel confident that it does what Senator Ryan is hoping to achieve.”
The room became silent for a few minutes before Joe spoke, “Bill, can this pass without all your Republican members?”
“Probably not, Joe. But, I have every confidence that Claire will see that it is as Ryan stated, a change to our Constitution that will ensure the safety for all Americans.”
“Well, ok then.” Tina looked into the camera. “Don’t go away. When we come back, we will have Jamie Star here to talk about his new book, Time To Take Back Our Country.”
The music played, and the camera lights went out. “Hey guys, thanks for coming. And we’d love to have you all back after this vote. It sounds like a good one to me.”
Claire shook each of their hands, and made her exit before Bill could get away from their chatty host. Outside, she checked her watch and hailed a cab. She’d go to her office to get work done before the meeting with Clancy. She pulled her phone out of her purse to call her secretary, but just stared at it. The photos, they’re still in the phone. What am I going to do with the photos?
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