After spending time fawning over the luxuries in Tom's apartment with Ann, Leslie learns the Parks Department budget is going to be cut, so she approaches the retiring Councilman Pillner whose seat she is running to fill to reconsider. He promises to find budget cuts somewhere else. Ben criticizes Leslie for letting her preference for the Parks Department get in the way of the election.
April fills in for Leslie by holding a meeting for the emergency protocols for the Parks Department. She isn't quite prepared and doesn't enjoy the task. When she begs Tom to do the work for her, he suggests she find a project she is passionate about.
Chris tells Ron that he is a finalist for the job of assistant city manager. Ron is willing to take the job in order to further cut government spending. Chris first requires Ron to join him for a day of meditation. Ron consults with Ann about meditating with Chris. She tells him it's boring and lasts forever. Ron agrees to go but refuses to participate.
Later, Ben informs Leslie and the team that Pillner has closed the animal shelter to save the Parks budget. Jennifer Barkley does an interview with Perd, criticizing Leslie for the closing of the shelter in favor of the Parks Department budget, posing with a cute little puppy to label Leslie as an animal killer. Ben decides they'll ask Pillner to cut the Parks budget, but Leslie says they'll think of something else.
The next morning, Ben wakes up to find the house is full of animals. Leslie adopted all the animals from the shelter and is keeping them at April and Andy's house. She says it's only temporary until they can figure out what to do. April, being passionate about animals, decides to hold an adoption fair at a park for the displaced shelter animals while Leslie and Ben will find something in the budget that can be cut.
Ron and Chris spend 6 hours in the meditation center. Ron says he didn't meditate, he just kept his mind completely blank. Chris is impressed that Ron was able to achieve a blank mind. Ron confesses he got nothing out of this, but Chris is happy that Ron showed enough flexibility to do an activity that he wasn't interested in. He offers the assistant city manager job to Ron.
At the park, Jerry, Donna, and Andy help April with the pet adoption fair. April feels happy to see a little girl take a puppy home, but then a woman shows up to drop off her cats. April is furious and ends the day with more animals than she started with.
Ben worries about poll numbers, but then Leslie finds a solution. She approaches Pillner with her idea: three public works employees are D-1, on retainer, but they haven't been used in years. She suggests their salaries could be used for the animal shelter. Later, Ann approaches Leslie and Ben to tell them that she, as a D-1, has lost her job as Pillner cut all the D-1s.
The next day comes and Chris informs Councilman Howser that he's chosen Ron for the Assistant City Manager job. However, Councilman Howser tells Chris that the City Council is currently voting 3-2 to keep him as City Manager, but since Pillner is retiring, whoever is elected will be the new deciding vote and since Bobby is not happy about Chris campaigning for Leslie in his spare time, he will vote to remove Chris if elected. Chris has to inform Ron that he may not get the job. Ron decides it's time to unwind his way, pouring a glass of whiskey for Chris and telling him to consider the benefits of possibly losing his job. Chris feels better from Ron's reassurance and after seeing Ann walk by.
Leslie approaches Pillner once again to ask for time to fix the budget. He tells her that being a city councilor means that he plays with "live ammo", meaning any decision that he makes in his job will always negatively affect some people and warns Leslie that she will need to do the same thing if elected. She only has until the end of the day to find a solution. Leslie still thinks she can find the money for the budget. Ben tells her that the city is not a bottomless trust fund, and Leslie gets an idea.
Tom notices that April is not at work and visits her at home. April is depressed about the failure of the adoption drive, but Tom tells her the joy of the one girl adopting a dog should be enough, advising April to cherish the few victories, not the many defeats that come with the job.
Leslie and Ben meet with Jen Barkley. Leslie tells her to get Bobby Newport to save the animal shelter with his own money. Jen will then promise to not run anymore ads. If Jen doesn't agree, Pillner will cut the Parks budget. Jen wants to know what's in it for Leslie because this is a big advantage for Bobby. Leslie reminds her that the candidates' debate is next week, and Leslie will defeat Bobby.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Andy somehow manages to take one of Pillner's model ships out of a bottle without breaking it.
- Badass Boast: After Leslie decides to commit "political suicide" by offering Jen Barkley the chance to use the Newports' money to save the animal shelter and use it in advertisements, this exchange ensues.Jen: I wasn't born yesterday. You've got to have an angle. This is a home run for us. We're going to dominate the news cycle for a whole week.
Ben: Well, you can have this week. We'll take the next one.
Jen: Oh, yeah? What makes you so sure?
Leslie: Because in a week, we have a debate. And your guy, Bobby Newport, is going to have to show up, and he's going to have to open his mouth. And I'm going to kick his ass.
- Call-Back: Tom still can't say the word "puppy" without drawing it out in a cutesy way.
- Casting Gag: Bradley Whitford, as Councilman Pillner, comes across as an older, world-weary Josh Lyman.
- Comically Missing the Point: The thing Ron was doing instead of meditation is ... basically the definition of meditation.Ron: I was told we were in there about six hours. [clip of Ron completely blank-faced and zen] And no, I was not meditating. I just stood there, quietly breathing. There were no thoughts in my head, whatsoever. My mind was blank. I don't know what the hell these other crackpots were doing.
- Conspicuous Consumption: Tom's apartment is full of luxurious amenities, such as expensive skin creams, a fridge full of coconut water, lots of soft blankets, and high-quality fig-and-cheese plates. Ann reveals that Tom is up to his ears in credit card debt.
- Pet the Dog :
- Literally in April's case, as she loves animals and thinks they should be rewarded for not being people.
- Tom exemplifies his status as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at the end, when April is angry about the failure of the adoption drive. He lifts her spirits by pointing out that her efforts got a dog adopted by a little girl and they're both happy and that she should cherish the small victories.
- Photo Op with the Dog: Literally in Jen Barkley's case, as she poses with a cute little puppy from the shelter on Perd Hapley's show as an attack against Leslie.
- Running Gag: The picture of Tom pensively holding a coffee cup shows up again.
- Secret Test of Character: Chris, while considering making Ron assistant city manager, invited him to a meditation studio, knowing he would hate it but wanting to see if he was flexible enough to go along with it anyway. He was.
- Shout-Out: The "Pillner for Pawnee" napkin that's framed in the councilman's office.
- Spit Take: When Leslie warns her not to drink Pawnee's tap water, Jennifer calmly spits it back into her glass.
- At the end of the scene, after Leslie and Ben remind her that the televised debate is coming up and Bobby Newport is still a moron, she starts to take another drink, then remembers and spits it under the table.
- Stealth Clothes: Leslie's "Sneak-Around clothes", which consist of a black trenchcoat with matching fedora and accesorized heels.
- Walk and Talk: Leslie and Councilman Pillner discuss department budgets while walking down a corridor. Pillner is played by the The West Wing's Bradley Whitford, also making this a Casting Gag.
- You Were Trying Too Hard: Ron doesn't even try, but achieves a perfectly clear head while in the meditation studio. Chris is impressed.
- You Look Familiar: Chelsea Peretti shows up as a local government employee.