Kristy and Abby are heading to Washington DC for a debating competition. The two randomly get chosen for the contest after a few debating lessons in English class. Seriously, that's what Kristy tells us. They literally just learned how to debate, and the teacher handpicked some students to go.
On the way down, she mentions Melissa (from the Claudia-Philly trip book), who is still as wishy-washy as ever. When Kristy makes a comment about the guys being obnoxious, Melissa goes overboard about how annoying they are, and she can't seem to stand up for herself or form an opinion without seeing how Abby and Kristy feels. Conveniently, she's also their third roommate for the trip.
Once they get to DC, Kristy sees a boy in the crowd who looks just like Terry Hoyt. Melissa runs up to a cute guy and announces that it's Lucas, her boyfriend from camp. He's pretty much the only reason she came to DC, and she sticks to him like a barnacle. Lucas introduced his friend David Hawthorne, who is the guy who looks just like Terry. He claims that he never heard of Stoneybrook and seems really uneasy around Kristy.
Kristy makes a call to Stacey who seems distracted and a little weirded out when she mentions Terry, but she overlooks it. She later mentions Stacey and his eyes "light up," but she ignores it and tells him that he must be someone else. They get assigned teams for the competition, and Kristy winds up on a team with David and this kid Kai, while Abby is on another team. Their topic: cats make better pets than dogs. Abby's team gets to debate against it, while Kristy's team has to be for it.
None of this really matters though because the big story is David. He tells Kristy that someone is following them, they start running, and some big guy grabs David. She hears him mention David's dad before running to get help, and security manages to stop him, but the guy gets away. David confesses that his dad is Secret Service and that he really is Terry. His dad now has a "regular" job and his family went back to using their real names. Oh, and Stacey is one of the few people that he actually remembers because she's oh so cool.
David asks her not to tell anyone what the guy saw, and his dad shows up to take over. He tells his dad what happened, they have to go through a bunch of mug shots, and they recognize the kidnapper as this guy Lance Dibdin. David's dad lets them stay at the hotel, but he demands that they both have their own agent follow them around.
Kristy, Abby, Kai, Melissa, and Lucas all go to the Smithsonian for the day, and the two girls keep getting on each other's nerves. Abby keeps baiting Kristy with comments about how cats are lame, and Kristy keeps snapping at her. Their friends have to get in the middle multiple times, and a security guard practically throws them out for fighting. When they get back, they discover that David is missing.
Instead of letting adults do their jobs, they decide to find him themselves. Naturally, David is just chilling in the middle of the lobby and reading a book. I guess Secret Service really, really sucks because they couldn't find him and the kids did in less than 30 minutes. His dad is unbelievably pissed but still doesn't make him go home; he just decides that he'll be his new guard and even sleep in his room.
Kristy and Abby realize that they need to talk to Melissa. She won all of her events, and now she has to face off against her boyfriend. Kristy lectures her on how she shouldn't let him win, and Melissa acts like she's a moron because she never intended to sit back and let him win. She does, however, sneak him back to their room later that night. They play Scrabble and almost get caught by their teacher, but they get him out.
It all comes down to a competition between Kristy's team and Abby's team because apparently anyone not from Connecticut sucks ass. They watch Melissa win her event and then go against each other. They both act really immature in the opening, snapping at each other and being big babies. Their teams talk to each other and they calm down.
In the middle of the event, Dibdin suddenly shows up and heads right for David. Kristy pushes him backstage, and the agents naturally catch him. They go through with the rest of the debate, and Kristy's team wins. Abby later tells her that she was jealous because she wanted to spend more time with her friend, and Kristy kept running off with her new friends. They make up, and David shows up at her door because his dad wants to give them a tour of his office.
It turns out that his office is actually the White House, and because he has an all-access pass, they can pretty much go anywhere they want. They even get to wander around, looking for the president's cat. In the end, they head back to Stoneybrook, and Melissa gives her sweetie her trophy.
*Their teacher lectures them because they keep trying to get other people to honk at them on the highway because it's too distracting. Yet she doesn't seem to have a problem with the boys loudly screaming/shouting songs.
*The hotel room conveniently has three beds: two doubles and a twin bed. Has anyone ever seen a hotel room like this? It's not like they rolled in an extra bed either, it's there and has all the same bedding as the two bigger beds.
*This whole debating competition is ridiculous. It's like SMS just discovered it exists and decided to go at the last minute. This seems like something for debate teams, or at least for people with some level of experience. There are kids from across the country in competition, so it's not like they would need a beginners group.
*Also, would they really mix up the teams? They literally pull names out of a hat to decide who goes with which team instead of letting kids from the same school work together. Kids also get the option to do whatever they want, which is why Melissa is only doing extraneous speaking, and Abby and Kristy are in beginning debate, while other SMS kids are on the more advanced teams.
*What is with parents in these books? Mr. Hawthorne pretty much just rolls over when David says his team needs him and lets him stay in the hotel. Yes, because it would take too much work to keep a 13 year old at home and drive him back for practices or whatever. And naturally, they don't bother informing Watson or Kristy's mom about what happened.
*To date this book a little, they get to tour the inner workings of the White House by just showing their school IDs.
*I had to look up the Secret Service after reading this book. While I did learn that the Secret Service handles treasury issues, I didn't find any mention where they would send an agent and his entire family undercover.
*What kid of dumbass is Dibdin? He just randomly shows at a school debate competition and goes after a kid, even though he knows the kid's dad is an agent.
*There is very little supervision in this book. Remember when I said they went to the Smithsonian? Yeah, well they literally just walk out of the hotel and wander off together without telling anyone.
*My trip to DC, which also took place in eighth grade, was pretty damn different. We went everywhere as a group, and we even had to ask permission if we needed to leave the group to use the bathroom. Our teacher did a random bed check every night at 10 pm to make sure everyone was in their room and no one left.
*We were split up in groups of four people per room, so two people for each bed. My little group got in some trouble when our teacher caught us making prank phone calls from the room. We only did it because the so-called "popular girls" started it. The same teacher gave them a slight warning along the lines of, "okay girls, let's settle down now" before coming into our room and shouting so loud that someone called the front desk to complain!
*The advanced debaters get topics like immigration policies vs. American ideals and journalists right to defend private sources. Kristy points out that there's no way she could handle something like that, which is why it's so convenient that they get a lame topic.
*I am a definite cat person. My boyfriend and I have multiple black cats that we adopted, including the first two, which we actually had to bottle feed. This book made me want to smack Kristy whenever she whined about how crappy cats are. Our roommate actually has a very small dog, and after being around that dog, I can safely say that I love cats even more. Try stepping in cold dog piss in the middle of the night and tell me that dogs are better than cats!