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Soda Tax

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Well, Paunch Burger just recently came out with a new 128-ounce option. Most people call it a gallon, but they call it the regular. Then, there is a horrifying 512-ounce version that they call child size. How is this a child-sized soda?
Leslie Knope

"Soda Tax" is the second episode of season 5 of the NBC television series Parks and Recreation. It originally premiered on September 27, 2012 to 3.27 million viewers.

Storyline Edit

The episode begins with April Ludgate and Ben Wyatt opening care packages in D.C. from Andy Dwyer and Leslie Knope, respectively. While Ben received 12 boxes of things like a J.J.'s Diner mug, pajamas, and waffle mix, April opens her box to read a note from Andy, as well as a three-legged stuffed animal and Andy's laundry, which he asks her to do. Andy complains in the note that he's been wearing bandana underwear, and includes a picture. Ben claims it "horrifying" while April tears up because she loves him.

Leslie and Ann Perkins are seen in the courtyard of Pawnee City Hall, consulting Leslie's new proposed bill to put a tax on all soft drinks in Pawnee. Ann confirms with her that a study has shown her bill would help to reduce the diabetes in Pawnee. She shows Leslie a very large container of sugar, which symbolizes the average amount of sugar a Pawneean 10 year-old consumes each month. Leslie finds it gross, but continues to stick her finger in the sugar and eat it. She believes with her tax that she can help many unhealthy local restaurants, including Big 'n Wide, Fat Sack, and Colonel Plump's Slough Trough (formerly Sue's Salads, until they ran them out of town). Ron Swanson enters the courtyard, showing Leslie his meal from Paunch Burger: a number two, which comes with a Double Bacon Grenade Deluxe, hash browns, chili cheese fries, one poached egg, and a 64 oz. Sweetums' Sugar Splash. Leslie approaches Ron about attending her first meeting as a city councilwoman, and confesses to him that she wouldn't be where she was without him, and is unaware of how to repay him. He responds that she can get him a refill of his soda and smiles.

Back at his office at the Barkley Group, Ben is telling his interns to use consistent fonts on their reports. He instructs them to use Times New Roman across the board, and only 12 point because “13 is just obnoxious”. April mocks Ben’s speech, finding it ridiculous. Ben thinks the college interns need to be whipped into shape. He says they call him “Devo” because he can whip them good.

Chris Traeger and Tom Haverford have volunteered to help get Andy into shape for his police entrance exam three months away. Andy says he’s in terrible shape, but shows he can flex his butt. The first thing on his list of things he has to be able to do is run 2 miles in less than 25 minutes, which he thinks is a typo. Chris tells him it’s possible if he focuses his mind and body.

Leslie is meeting with Kathryn Pinewood from the Pawnee Restaurant Association to discuss soda sizes with her. Ann shows Kathryn the small-sized Sweetums’ Sugar Splash, which is 64 oz. Kathryn defends the sizes because, as she puts it, the consumers get more bang for their buck. She says if the customer wants a smaller size, they have the option of ordering a smaller size. Ann shows her the smallest size available, called the Li'l Swallow, which comes in at a whopping 3 oz, and is only 5 cents cheaper than the small size. They continue with their presentation, showing the new regular sized soda that’s 128 oz. from Paunch Burger and what Leslie calls a “horrifying” 512 oz. version labeled child-sized. Kathryn says it’s called so because it’s roughly the size of a two-year old child if they were liquefied, and is a real bargain at only $1.59.

At the Pawnee Community College, Chris is cheering on Andy as he runs the track at the Sweetums Stadium, while Tom follows alongside in a Parks and Recreation Department car. Andy lays down on the ground, exhausted, and is disappointed to find out he finished the 2 miles in 29 minutes and 43 seconds. He says he’ll never get to be a cop and will have to be a robber. Chris assures him that he’ll be able to whip Andy into shape, but tells Andy he did horrible and is actually only proud of himself because he knows what he’ll be able to make Andy into.

Ben asks his intern Ellis if he’s put the campaign pictures up on his website yet, but Ellis brushes him off, saying he started to do it. Ben shows April a drawing he found of himself in the office with a stick up his butt, which she says she thinks looks really good. He asks her which of the interns she thinks did it, worried that none of them respect or like him. April tells him to loosen up, especially on the font stuff and everything in general. Frustrated, Ben calls Jennifer Barkley to speak to her about firing the interns and replacing them. To his disappointment, he finds out that all of his interns are extremely well-connected: Ellis is Congressman Murrary’s nephew, Nathanial is related to Donald Rumsfeld, and Britney’s dad is Ben Bernanky’s dentist. Ben decides that instead of firing them, he’s going to kiss their asses like crazy.

Leslie and Ann are still meeting with Kathryn, who says she’s defending consumer rights, because the customer doesn’t have to buy the soda in the first place, and can instead opt for Water Zero. Leslie responds that while Water Zero implies that it has zero calories like water, Water Zero instead has 300 calories per serving. Kathryn replies that the “Zero” in the name is meant to imply that there is zero water in it. She suggests if people want zero calorie water, they can try Diet Water Zero Lite, which has only 60 calories. Leslie decides that the meeting has come to an end. Before she and Ann leave, Kathryn warns Leslie that if her soda tax passes, local businesses will have to lay off about 100 people. She shows her a press release that’s been prepared to go out as soon as the bill passes, which reads “Leslie Knope Soda Tax Forces Massive Layoffs”. Distressed, Leslie picks up the Li’l Swallow cup and tries to scoop out some of the sugar from the container, but Ann slaps the cup out of her hand.

Later, at a Public Forum meeting, it’s business as usual for Leslie Knope. She’s hosting the meeting to hear the public’s opinion on her bill for a soda tax. An employee from Colonel Plump's tells her to get off her high horse and let him keep his job, since word around the Slough Trough is that they’re going to have to start laying people off. She assures him she might vote against the tax, but a woman argues for the tax because her husband has gained 30 pounds since the large sodas have been introduced.

Meanwhile, back at the community college, Tom is showing off the modifications he made to the Pace Car, including a speaker system, Mad Men bar, iPad dock, and orange racing stripes. He explains it’s a perfect recreation of the Han Lue's Nissan in Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Weirdly, however, he says that no one has noticed. Chris is trying to motivate Andy into helping him do a better job. He asks him why he wants to do this, and Andy says he wants to get a good job because he loves April. Chris says that he exercises because of his rare blood disorder from when he was a baby, and he supposes he needs to feel that his body is in tip-top shape. Andy says he’s going to go run until he pukes.

Ben has brought pizza for the entire office, telling them all to chill out and take a pizza break. He attempts to use what he thinks is a younger person’s slang, although it comes off awkward and is nowhere near anything young people actually would say. Noticing Ellis’s computer wallpaper, Ben asks if he plays Ultimate Frisbee, insisting the two of them play a game together tomorrow morning and invites the rest of the office to come along. Ellis reminds him about the website, but Ben tells him he can put them up anytime.

Leslie tries to take a straw vote to see how the citizens feel about the tax, but the votes come out to about 50/50. The employee from Colonel Plump’s comes up with an idea: instead of him losing his job, Leslie should lose hers. He says they should recall Leslie, and the rest of the room agrees with him and starts clapping.

Back in D.C., Ben and his interns are playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee in the park while April watches on. Running by Ellis, Ben shouts “good sportsmanship, bro!” and slaps him on the butt. In turn, Ellis gives him a strange look.

Chris is pumping Andy up at the track, having him yell “I run for April!” Andy asks Chris to remind him what he’s running for, and Chris responds “No one. I have nothing.” Tom counts down, and Andy starts to take off, but Chris immediately collapses on the ground. He says there’s something wrong with his body and his legs aren’t working. He decides that he needs to visit the doctor.

Ann and Leslie are in the City Council Chambers, waiting for the meeting to start. Leslie shows up carrying a 128 oz. Sweetums’ Sugar Splash, still unsure which way she’s going to vote. She says that when they call her name, she’s going to just go with her gut instinct. When it comes time to cast her vote, Ethel Beavers calls Leslie’s name. After pausing for a moment, Leslie reaches for the empty soda cup next to her and vomits into it. She asks the Chambers for a recess because she’s fallen ill.

Sitting at a table in the Parks and Recreation Department, Leslie is upset because everything is a mess now. She explains to Ann that when she was just the Deputy Director of the Parks Department, she was so sure of herself, but now everything is different. Jerry Gergich walks up, his fingers stuck together, and asks them if either knows how to dissolve super glue. Smiling, Ann reminds her that not everything is different. Leslie glances at Ron, who is working quietly in his office, and starts to approach him.

Ben approaches Ellis, who is sitting in the conference room of the office. Ben tells Ellis how much fun playing Ultimate Frisbee was with him and insists they do it again sometime. Ellis looks uncomfortable, and Ben turns around, finding the same drawing of himself with a stick up his butt, but now with an additional Frisbee and speech bubble that reads “Rock that scoober”. Ben laughs, asking if Ellis drew it, but Ellis denies that he did. Ben tries to say it’s a good drawing, but then decides that he can’t do this anymore. He tells Ellis that he doesn’t care who he’s related to and that he is Ellis’s boss. Ellis insists that he didn’t draw it, but that Ben’s daughter did. Confused, Ben tells Ellis that he doesn’t have a daughter, and Ellis points to April. Ben explains April is his friend, not his daughter, and is now worried everyone thinks she's his daughter. He insists she would never do that to him, but April responds with “Sorry, Dad”.

The scene switches back to Leslie, who is now in Ron’s office, seeking his guidance. Ron, not wanting to get personal, tries to switch the subject by asking if she’s gotten the soda refill he asked for yet. Leslie explains she has no idea which way to cast her vote on the soda tax and is worried because the people at the forum are going to try to fire her. Ron says that it doesn’t matter and that he’s tried to have Leslie fired. Shocked, she doesn’t believe him, and he shows her her personnel file so she can see for herself. She finds he tried to have her fired not only once, but four times.

Tom and Andy walk into Chris’s office, wanting to know what the doctor told him after his examination. Chris says that his blood work and tests came back and that the news is terrible. Andy gasps, and Chris continues that the doctors found nothing. He’s depressed because he thinks it’s a silent killer. Tom tells him that means everything is okay and asks why he wasn’t at practice today. Andy proudly declares he hit his minimum requirement, calling himself the “Minimum Champion”. Chris is depressed because he will “probably die one day” without ever having left his mark on the world. Andy tells him that it sounds like Chris is going through some tough stuff, and that it’s too bad there aren’t doctors for your mind. He decides to start running some laps, asking Tom to time him. Tom tells Chris he was freaking out because he was thinking about Andy and his family and how Chris doesn’t have one and that every time something small goes on, he spirals like crazy. He suggests that Chris should go see a therapist, and says he hopes it’s not out of line for him to say so. Chris tells him he’s as in line as a person can be, declaring Tom a genius and an amazing motivator. Andy charges back into Chris’s office, asking Tom for his time. Tom shrugs, telling him 43 seconds, and Andy cheers as it’s a new personal record. Chris realizes that all his life, he’s tried to achieve external goals, like running a four-minute mile or climbing Mount Everest. However, before he can do that, he says, he needs to climb the Mount Everest of his mind.

Leslie asks Ron why he tried to get her fired, and he explains that the first year she worked at the Parks Department, she drove him nuts. He would say no to something she wanted to do and she ignored him or went over his head and did it anyway. He explains she was insubordinate, stubborn, a pain in his ass, and, worst of all, bubbly. She insists she was a dedicated public servant and he says that was the worst thing she was. He says that the point is, he ended up withdrawing all four requests because, ultimately, he’d rather work with a person of conviction than a wishy-washy kiss ass. Leslie explains she had convictions because she knew what she believed in, but doesn’t know with this job, and feels like she’s lost her bearings. Ron insists she hasn’t, and that while she’s in unknown terrain, she’s still Leslie Knope. He pulls a compass out from his desk drawer, telling her all great adventures need one. Leslie thanks him. She tells Ron that on the subject of finding out about his attempts to fire her, she won’t forget and she will never forgive him. Ron smiles, declaring "There she is".

Back at the Barkley Group, April hands Ben a report, with 30 different fonts on it, explaining to him that it’s funny because it’s the opposite of what he wanted. Not finding it funny, Ben continues to stare at his desk. She apologizes to Ben for drawing the pictures. He tells her that while she might not take this seriously, this job is important to him. He tells her she should take this seriously because he asked her to come to Washington D.C. with him because he thinks she’s smart, but she has to have some semblance of professionalism and has to give at least a 15% effort. She insists on only giving a 12% effort, but eventually agrees to 15%.

In Pawnee, the City Council has reconvened for the soda tax vote. Ethel calls Leslie’s name once again. Holding the compass Ron gave her in her hands, Leslie votes “aye”, passing the Soda Tax 3-2. She is pleased with her vote, because she voted with her conscience, and is sure that Kathryn was bluffing about laying people off. While she made some enemies today, she optimistically thinks that maybe one day those enemies will become her friends, saying stranger things have happened.

Ellis is on the phone, telling someone that he loves cupcakes, and April approaches, grabbing it out of his hands and telling the person on the other end that Ellis hates them and he has Herpes, and then tosses his cell phone into the trash bin. She leans close into Ellis’s face, and tells him that if he doesn’t finish the website, she swears she’ll murder him in his sleep. She says that she knows he lives on 14th Street and is going to get a melon baller and scoop his eyes out and eat them. She warns his Congressman uncle is going to have to buy him a dog to drag his eyeless face around. Terrified, he tells him he understands her. She gives him a quick peck on the nose and then slaps him face, telling him to get started on the website. Ellis turns to the computer and immediately gets to work. Looking on from inside his office, Ben gives April a smile.


Guest StarsEdit



April: [reading Andy's letter] April, here's something to remind you of our three-legged dog Champion. Also, you are way better at laundry. Can you please do mine and send it back to me? Thanks, Mouse Rat rules! Love, Andy. P.S. Please hurry. I've been wearing a bandana for underwear for 3 days now.

Leslie: What did you put in this sugar? It's so good!

Ron: Ah! Councilwoman! In honor of your never-ending quest to personally babysit each and every American citizen, I went to Paunch Burger and got myself a number two: Double Bacon Grenade Deluxe with hash browns, chili cheese fries, and one poached egg.
Ann: Ugh, number two is right.

Ben: Hey, everybody. So, I've been going over your reports. Let's try to be consistent with our fonts, guys, okay? There's a crazy amount of random font differences in these memos.
April: Yeah, people, consistent font usage. Come on!
Ben: Times New Roman. Across the board. No Geneva, no Garamond, and definitely no Papyrus.
April: Paparyus? Are you kidding me? There's no place for that in a professional office setting.
Ben: Yes! Thank you, April.

Ben: They call me "Devo" because I can whip 'em good.

Ben: Obviously, make sure the content's perfect, too. Oh, and 12 point. 13's just obnoxious.

Donna: So you boys are going to work out together, huh? Nice! Whereabouts?
Chris: Community college!
Donna: [after thinking a moment] Yeah, that's too far.

Andy: Number one is being able to run 2 miles in under 25 minutes. That's a typo right? That's not humanly possible.

Leslie: Well, Paunch Burger just recently came out with a new 128-ounce option. Most people call it a gallon, but they call it the regular. Then, there is a horrifying 512-ounce version that they call child size. How is this a child-sized soda?
Kathryn Pinewood: Well, it's roughly the size of a two-year old child, if the child were liquefied. It's a real bargain at $1.59.

Andy: I'll never be a cop! I'll have to be a robber...

Ben: Ellis is Congressman Murrary’s nephew, Nathanial is related to Donald Rumsfeld, and Britney’s dad is Ben Bernanky’s dentist. Every single one of these twerps is seriously connected. So, new plan: instead of firing them, I am going to kiss their asses like crazy.

Kathryn Pinewood: The 'zero' refers to the amount of water in Water Zero. If you want less calories, try Diet Water Zero Lite. It only has 60 calories.

Townsperson: I want the tax. My husband started drinking those giant sodas and he’s gained 100 pounds in three months. Consequently, we haven’t had sex in 10 years.

Grover: All taxation is theft. If the government can tax me, I can do this. [grabs woman's purse]
Leslie: Grover, give that woman her purse back.
Grover: [looking inside the purse] There's a lot of pill bottles in here.

Ben: Guess what's in these boxes, everybody. What? Pizza! That's right. Everybody chill out, take a pizza break on me. Ellis! What's up, my male? Grab a slice of 'za, brah.
Ellis: Alright.
Ben: [noticing Ellis' computer wallpaper] Hey, dude. Do you play Ultimate Frisbee?
Ellis: Yeah, I play intermural at Georgetown.
Ben: Dude! So did I in college.
April: Whoa! You guys should get married!
Ben: We should play tomorrow morning in the park.
Ellis: What about the website?
Ben: Whatever. You can put those pics up anytime. We should lock down some tight disc grabs, am I right Ell-bones?
Ellis: Yeah, sounds good. Better than working.
Ben: [laughing] No doubt, no doubt!

Ben: Let's do it to it, my dudes!

Townsperson 2: If we put a tax on soda, I mean, what's next? Income?
Leslie: Sir, you don't pay your income tax?
Townsperson 2: Whether or not I pay income tax is none of the government's business.
Leslie: Well, no, actually it is.
Townsperson 2: Well, you don't know my name or what I look like, so good luck finding me.

Townsperson 3: I think we should tax all bad things. Like racism and women's vaginas.
Ann: We're not taxing anyone's genitals.
Townsperson 3: Then what the hell are we doing here? Come on, boys.

Ben: Nice catch! Someone please tell me we Kodaked that moment.

Ben: Yeah! Rock that scoober!

Leslie: It's like I'm floating in this giant river of ambiguity. I'm under a warm waterfall of uncertainty.
Ann: Do you just have to pee real bad?
Leslie: Yes! I've lost all of my instincts. I'm lost!

Ben: Hey, Ellis! Ell-bow! Ell-Chupacabra. Drinking coffee!
Ellis: What?
Ben: Oh, it'''s from 40 years ago. Never mind.

Andy: Wow, sounds like you're going through some tough stuff right now. Too bad there's not doctors for your mind.

Ben: April's not my daughter, she's my friend. Does everyone think she's my daughter?!

Chris: The tests and blood work came back and the news is terrible.
Andy: [gasps]
Chris: They found nothing.
Tom: Nothing?
Chris: Nothing. A silent killer.

Ron: Take this compass. All great adventurers need one.
Leslie: Thank you. And, as far as all this firing stuff goes...I will not forget and I will never forgive you.

Leslie: I may have made some enemies today, but that is part of the job. And who knows? Maybe in the future my enemies will become my friends. Stranger things have happened.

April: Ellis hates you and he has herpes.

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