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I am very angry. I'm angry that Bobby Newport would hold this town hostage and threaten to leave if you don't give him what he wants. It's despicable. Corporations are not allowed to dictate what a city needs. That power belongs to the people. Bobby Newport and his daddy would like you to think it belongs to them. I love this town. And when you love something, you don't threaten it. You don't punish it. You fight for it. You take care of it. You put it first. As your City Councilor, I will make sure that no one takes advantage of Pawnee. If I seem too passionate, it's because I care. If I come on strong, it's because I feel strongly. And if I push too hard, it's because things aren't moving fast enough. This is my home. You are my family. And I promise you. I'm not going anywhere.
Leslie Knope

"The Debate" is the twentieth episode of season 4 of the NBC television series Parks and Recreation. It originally premiered on April 26, 2012 to 3.17 million viewers.


It is the day of the debate and Ben Wyatt has everything organized. Chris Traeger, Ann Perkins and Tom Haverford are Leslie Knope's 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 Dwyer and April Ludgate agree to hold a viewing party of the debate at their house for Leslie's donors, but when the time comes to air the debate, they find their have no cable access thanks to an unpaid cable bill.

At the debate, Leslie is all ready for her planned talking points, but Bobby Newport's campaign manager Jennifer Barkley 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 and adult film actress Brandi Maxxxx 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 Swanson 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 upbeat, 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.


Chris: If I had to have anybody tell me that I have cancer, I would want it to be me.

Ron: [to the donors] Hello! You are here because you gave us money. Now, we will give you ribs. Also, you will watch the debate. If you like the debate, you will give us more money. That is all. Ron Swanson.

Tom: What do you know? You don't care about things.
April: Yes I do. I care about Andy and Champion... and I want Leslie to win. And I like sleeping.

Ben: Hypothetical crisis: Leslie just tried to answer a question, but audibly farted and then threw up. Spin.
Chris: Leslie Knope is literally overflowing with ideas for this town. And speaking about methane, have you heard about her plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions?

Donor: So you do a lot of investing?
Andy: We dabble. I recently invested in some shirts at a garage sale. Left those at a Wendy's, on the way home, so... [chuckles, lifts up wine glass and stares at it] the economy.

Leslie: Nothing gets me more amped than Sarah McLachlan.

Ron: After I steal this cable feed, I will repay the cable company for the service we used. [he cracks his knuckles and, with his equipment, scales the electric pole]

Ron: [singing Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" as he works] "I am a lineman for the county! And the Wichita Lineman-" [suddenly, police sirens sound off in the distance and he stops; once the sirens dissipate, he resumes] "-is still on the liiiiine!"

Fester Trim: I want to tell you about my idea for assault rifle vending machines.

Tom: And we all know the better looking a park is, the more attention it will get from lady parks that want to have sex with it.

Bobby: By the year 2013, we will have a fully functioning mall on Jupiter.

Leslie: I was in favor of closing the Borders bookstore, not the border to Mexico.

Jen: After a rough start, your girl's doing okay.
Ben: I think she's doing a little better than okay, or did you miss the applause she got on the raccoon safety question?