Nick is kidnapped by a couple of anti-smoking protesters who try to kill him by slapping on a lot of nicotine patches on his body. After Nick recovers from the incident in the hospital, Heather Holloway's newspaper article exposes everything ((including why he does his job, the "MOD Squad" (Merchants of Death) and his trips with his son to see Hollywood Super-Agent Jeff Megall (Rob Lowe) and Lorne Lutch (Sam Elliot), the former Malboro Man)) Nick told her while they were having sex. Nick's boss, BR (J.K. Simmons) decides that the Academy of Tobacco Studies should distance itself from Nick because of the article and fires him. After Nick initially becomes depressed, his son Joey reminds him of why he does his job: to defend the "defense-less" corporations. So Nick speaks to the press and promises to clear the names of those linked to him by the article, and reveals his affair with Holloway, ruining her professional journalism career as she watches him live on TV at work with her surprised co-workers. He also reveals his intention to still testify before the Senate in hopes of stopping the bill from passing that would allow the government to slap on poison labels on all cigarette boxes. Nick ends up performing so well at the Senate hearing that BR asks him to return to the Academy. However, as a reporter asks Nick if he will continue to work with the Academy, he fully realizes BR's motives for firing and hiring him and decides not to return as an example to his son, completely catching BR off guard before the press. The film ends as the lives of those affected by the entire situation: BR is out of work for the first time in years after the Academy is dismantled, Heather is reduced to working as a weather reporter for a small TV station, Senator Finistirre (William H. Macy) is still working on his anti-cigarette campaign by digitally removing cigarettes from old films and the M.O.D. squad is still meeting weekly with new lobbyists being invited to their luncheon. Also Joey wins a school debate, and Nick beginning a public relations training firm, instructing lobbyists for cell phones on how to deny links to brain cancer.
Continuity mistake: In the final dinner meeting of the Merchants of Death (MOD Squad),the gun lobbyist gets a piece of pie with cheese on it, takes a small bite; then the alcohol lobbyist attacks it with her fork for a bite, pulling all the cheese off and toppling the little American flag in it. In the next shot of Bobby eating, and a closeup of the dessert, all the cheese is back on it and the flag is upright again.
Nick Naylor: How many deaths does alcohol cause each year, a hundred thousand? That's what, like twelve hundred a day? That's hardly a tragedy.
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