It is the day of the debate and Ben (Adam Scott) has everything organized: Chris (Rob Lowe), Ann (Rashida Jones), and Tom (Aziz Ansari) are the spin team, but Tom is upset because Ann once again broke up with him and she and Chris have been acting very close. Andy (Chris Pratt) and April (Aubrey Plaza) agree to hold a viewing party of the debate at their house for Leslie’s donors, but unfortunately Andy forgot to pay the cable bill.
At the debate, Leslie is all ready for her planned talking points, but Bobby Newport’s (Paul Rudd) campaign manager Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn) is oddly calm. Chris tells Ann that he wants to give their relationship another chance, which Tom witnesses and further upsets him, resulting in him lashing out at reporters. The debate begins and the crowd – and moderators Perd Hapley and Joan Callamezzo – are in favor of Bobby (the debate is sponsored by his father’s company Sweetums), with Bobby acting innocent, naive, but good-intentioned with Leslie coming off as a bully due to her attacks against him. Also, fellow candidate Brandi Maxxxx (Mara Marini) agrees with most of Leslie’s views, making Leslie seem unexceptional. Meanwhile, Andy entertains the donors by acting out scenes from his favorite movies while Ron (Nick Offerman) climbs a telephone pole to illegally obtain cable for the house.
Bobby’s broad and unoffensive prepared answers continues to generate applause, but Leslie slowly wins more support from the crowd with her knowledge. Jennifer reveals Bobby has a secret weapon: he soon announces that if Leslie is elected, his father will move Sweetums to Mexico, therefore eliminating Pawnee’s biggest employer. Bobby wins the full support of the crowd, sending Ben into a panic. Leslie convinces Ben to let her improvise her closing statements, insisting she can win the debate. In her closing remarks – which Ron repairs the cable in time for – Leslie reprimands Bobby for holding Pawnee hostage for votes in a stirring speech that wins over the crowd, the moderators, and even Bobby himself. Although Ann thinks about getting back with Chris, she decides to remain single, which saddens Chris but makes Tom happy, believing he can eventually win her back. Leslie and Ben celebrate victory, and a jubilant Bobby, who is happy that the debate is over, invites them to his lake house for a party.
“The Debate” is the twentieth episode of the fourth season of the American comedy television series Parks and Recreation, and the 66th overall episode of the series. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on April 26, 2012.
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