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- The run of Establishing Character Moments in Pilot are pretty good, if only for the variety of forms of comedy involved:
C.J. Cregg: Is there anything I can say other than the President rode his bicycle into a tree?C.J. Cregg: Seriously, they're laughing pretty hard.Leo: He rode his bicycle into a tree, C.J.! What do you want me- "The President while riding his bicycle on his vacation in Jackson Hole came to a sudden arboreal stop". What do you want from me?
- Toby's Grumpy Bear reaction to a flight attendant telling him to turn off his laptop and his pager.
- CJ trying to hit on a guy at the gym at 5 in the morning… only to trip and fall off of her treadmill, looking like a complete buffoon.
- Sam accidentally sleeps with a prostitute and proceeds to have a really bad day.
- Josh is introduced asleep on his desk despite a janitor loudly vacuuming his office, but instantly wakes up when he hears his beeper going off.
- The first time we hear of the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the free world and someone who is generally presented as a dignified and controlled individual, is that he crashed his bicycle into a tree. Though it becomes Harsher in Hindsight when we realize the reason why he crashed his bike in the first place: He couldn't concentrate because he was so pissed off over the fact that his 12-year old granddaughter got a death threat from a fundamentalist Christian group.
- Leo's exasperation of having to spin the news that the President rode his bicycle into a tree.
Josh: Thanks for the coffee.Donna: You're welcome.Toby: Donna brought you coffee?Donna: Shut up!
- Donna brings Josh coffee to cheer him up after his gaffe at Capital Beat. She has never brought him coffee in her year and a half of working for him. And then we get this gem as she leaves.
Christian minister: Then what's the First Commandment?Bartlet: I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt worship no other gods before me… Boy, those were the days.
- The Dynamic Entry of the President.
- It's the shit-eating grin on Martin Sheen's face as he says it that makes it funny.
- Toby's reaction to Sam's confession that he accidentally slept with a prostitute in Pilot:
Toby: Accidentally?Sam: Yes.Toby: I don't understand, did you trip over something?
- When Sam and Mallory first meet Pilot:
Sam: Ms. O'Brien, I understand your feelings, but please believe me when I tell you that I'm a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out the Times is publishing a poll that says a considerable portion of Americans feel the White House has lost energy and focus. A perception that's not likely to be altered by the video footage of the President riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard is fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean while the Governor of Florida wants to blockade the Port of Miami. A good friend of mine's about to get fired for going on television and making sense, and it turns out I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now would you please, in the name of compassion, tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter?Mallory: That would be me.Sam: You.Mallory: Yes.Sam: Leo's daughter's fourth-grade class.Mallory: Yes.Sam: Well, this is bad on so many levels.
- At the beginning of Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc, Mandy laments that the staff of the West Wing will be gloating at the fact that they have prevented Senator Lloyd Russell from being any sort of threat to Bartlet for the Presidential nomination.
Russell: There are very serious men and women in the White House. A blow was struck for party unity this morning. There's no cause to gloat.Josh: Victory is mine, victory is mine, great day in the morning, people, victory is mine!Donna: Good morning, Josh.Josh: I drink from the keg of glory, Donna. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land.Donna: (hanging up her coat as Josh does a dance of victory and bows to the rest of his staff behind her) It's going to be an unbearable day.
- President Bartlet mock-arguing with his personal physician over being given an injection.
Bartlet: What's that?
Captain Tolliver: It's a flu shot.
Bartlet: I don't need a flu shot.
Captain Tolliver: You do need a flu shot.
Bartlet: How do I know this isn't the start of a military coup? I want the Secret Service in here right away.
Captain Tolliver: In the event of a military coup, sir, what makes you think the Secret Service is gonna be on your side?
Bartlet: ...Now that's a thought that's gonna fester.
- In "Five Votes Down", Bartlet alters one of Toby's speeches:
Bartlet: I did a little polish right up there on my feet.Toby: Yes indeed.Bartlet: Right in front of everybody. I looked to the side at one point, you know. I half expected to see you coming at me with a salad fork.Toby: Well, but for the secret service agents restraining me, sir.
- Jed Bartlet + Percocet + Vicodin = hysterical viewers (seen in its full glory here.) (From Season 1's Five Votes Down)
You mean I wasn't supposed to take them both?
Bartlet: Hot damn! Now you're talkin'!
- I'm seriously thinking about getting a dog.
- When they're discussing the mess that Toby has gotten himself into and, while listing options, Mandy brings up 'resignation'.
Toby: I think she meant me, Mr. President.
- The President hugging Toby is the most hilarious moment of visual comedy ever.
- From These Crackpots and These Women, President Bartlet's basketball game with his staff:
Toby: It's not so much that you cheat sir, its how brazenly bad you are it.Bartlet: Give me an example.Toby: In Florida, playing mixed doubles with me and C.J., you tried to tell us your partner worked at the American Consulate in Vienna.Bartlet: She did.Toby: It was Steffi Graf, sir!Toby: You crazy lunatic, you think I'm not going to recognize Steffi Graf when she's serving a tennis ball at me?
- The reaction to the news that Bartlet is going to be cooking chili in "The Crackpots and These Women":
Bartlet: Hey, everybody, listen up - Zoe's down from Hanover and I'm making chili for everyone tonight!
[Horrified silence from the senior staff]
Josh: Oh God...
Various: [With a distinct lack of enthusiasm] Great! That's... great.
Bartlet: [Annoyed] Okay, you know what? Let's do this. Everybody look down at the big seal in the middle of my carpet. [Everyone looks down at the Presidential seal] Now look back up at me. Zoe's down from Hanover and I'm making chili for everyone tonight!
Everyone: [With slightly more convincing forced enthusiasm] That's great! I love chili! Terrific!
Bartlet: There! You see how benevolent I can be when everybody just does what I tell them to do?
- In "The Crackpots and These Women", Toby and the President have been having some tension recently. While they're getting into a heated discussion in the Press Room, C.J. encounters Mrs. Landingham just outside:
C.J. Good morning, Mrs. Landingham. Where are we today on the saga of Toby and the President?
Mrs. Landingham: They seem to be having a... disagreement.
C.J.: A disagreement or a fight?
Mrs. Landingham: It certainly has the potential to—
Bartlet: [From the other room] OH FOR GOD'S SAKES, TOBY!!!
Mrs. Landingham: There we go.
- From the episode (Season 1's The Short List) when Congressman Lillianfield is trying to convince the American people that one in three White House staffers use drugs:
Josh:Okay, five White House staffers in the room. I'd like to say to the one point six of you who are stoned right now, it's time to share.
- The Short List:
Sam:"In 1787 there was a sizable bloc of delegates who were initially opposed to the bill of rights. This is what a member of the Georgia delegation had to say by way of opposition: 'If we list a set of rights, some fools in the future are going to claim the people are entitled only to those rights enumerated and no others'."Judge: "Son, were you just calling me a fool then?"Sam: "I wasn't calling you a fool, sir. The brand new state of Georgia was."
- Sam arguing with a potential Supreme Court nominee about the limits of the Constitution:
CJ: The crackers, Danny! The kind you have at a party?Danny: You know, I don't think I was supposed to know that.
- Danny buying CJ a goldfish.
- The entire "Josh digs himself into a hole with the press" subplot from Celestial Navigation.
President Bartlet: You told the press I have a secret plan to fight inflation?Josh: No, I did not. Let me be absolutely clear, I did not do that. Except, yes, I did that.
- Followed by...
Josh: I denied it for half an hour, they wouldn't take no for an answer!President Bartlet: You were clear?Josh: I was crystal clear! They said, "Do you think that, if the President has a plan to fight inflation, it's right that he keep it a secret?" I said, of course not!
- Followed by...
- Also from Celestial Navigation:
CJ: I had woot canaw.CJ: Be wary cawfuwl not to deswoy us.
- And Toby wins the episode with:
"CJ, if you say 'bweifing' or 'Pwesident' one more time, I swear to God..."
- No, I have to say that Bartlet wins the episode, summing up Josh's entire briefing room experience thusly:
"OK, first of all— CJ, if blood is gushing from the head wound you just received from a herd of stampeding bison, you'll do the press briefing."
- Bartlet's entire mood during that scene wins the episode.
"Day after tomorrow?" "Yes, sir." "Is he coming in from Neptune?"
- The scene where Charlie has to go and wake the president up.
*Charlie starts to poke the president; Bartlet grabs his hand*Bartlet: Charlie, are you aware you're committing a federal crime?
Charlie: "Sir, I need you to dig in now. It wasn't a nightmare, you really are the President."Bartlet: "Who is this?"
- There's also an attempt to wake up the president just by talking.
- Sam getting lost when he and Toby go to see Mendoza:
Sam: Let me tell you something. If we'd stayed on the Merritt Parkway instead of getting off at Exit 29 and going east to Greenwich, I don't think we'd have wound up in Bridgeport so many times.Toby: Shut up.
- There's a few layers to this one. Firstly, there's the Mood Whiplash of Sam pointing this out immediately after dressing down a couple of cops who've arrested the nominee for the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Secondly, Sam delivers this statement to Toby in the exact same tone he used on the cops. And finally, Sam was the one driving the car in the first place.
- Or Sam being geeky in general about road travel:
Leo: (Mendoza's) driving from Nova Scotia to Washington.Sam: Yeah.Leo: How's a person do that?Sam: My guess is, he'll take the Trans-Canada Highway to New Brunswick, then maybe catch the 1 and take the scenic route along the coast of Maine, 95 through New Hampshire to the Mass Pike, and then cut over to the Merritt Parkway around Milford.(the other staffers all look at Sam like he's crazy)Toby: There's something really kinda freakish about you, you know that?
- Sam at the police station:
Cop: So. Can I ask? Guy in your job... do you know missile codes and that sort of thing?
Sam: [Casually] Yeah.
Cop: [Impressed] Outstanding!
- And Toby wins the episode with:
- Josh's first meeting with Joey Lucas in Take This Sabbath Day:
- Josh: What in God's name is happening right now?
Donna [putting a cup on Josh's desk] : "Drink this."
- From the same episode, Joey's delayed reaction to Josh calling her "lunatic lady", due to it having to be translated by Kenny, is utterly priceless.
- And this little moment:
Josh: Trust me when I say there's absolutely no way you're gonna see the President!
Bartlet: [Nonchalantly walking up behind Josh] Hey, Josh.
Josh: ... Hello, Mr. President.
- And this one, where Donna is attempting to help Josh recover from his wild night out and get him into shape for his Joey Lucas meeting:
Donna: "It's strong, drink it all."
[Josh takes a drink, then lets the coffee fall listlessly out of his mouth, making a "bleggh" sound]
Donna: "It's from yesterday, so it might not be hot anymore."
- Not to mention:
Joey (through Kenny): Joshua Lyman, you have the cutest little butt in professional politics.Josh: Kenny, that really better have been her talking.
- Josh combines this with a Crowning Moment of Awesome in Season 1's Mandatory Minimums; Bartlet is about to announce a new policy initiative in a speech. Prominent Republicans have promised that, if he does, they'll force through a legislative agenda that will make him cry. As Bartlet makes the speech, everyone counsels Josh - who is about to be bombarded with threats and attacks - not to panic. On cue, as Bartlet makes the announcement, a Republican Senator irately calls Josh, who answers his phone and before the Senator can even speak, nonchalantly says:
- Josh: Hey Senator? Why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass. [Hangs up] Turns out I was fine.
- Made even better by the audience bursting into wild applause at that moment (OK, it was for the President's speech, but the timing was perfect).
- The Cold Open of Let Bartlet Be Bartlet. Toby and Sam are arguing over a speech, which opens with "As I look out over this magnificent vista." Toby is worried about what happens in the event of sudden rain - if the speech will be moved inside, do they change it immediately or trust Bartlet to improvise his own opening? Sam assures him that rain isn't going to happen - he has a report from the National Weather Service. "They use satellites. They use technology." Cue a thunderclap and a downpour. Toby notes that "This is the same satellite technology we use to detect intercontinental ballistic missiles." They get interrupted by the plot for several minutes. Finally, as they stand watching the speech, Sam has an Oh Crap! reaction, telling Leo "I forgot to do something."
Bartlet: "As I look over this magnificent vista..."Cue credits
- In Lord John Marbury which is a funny episode just because of the titular character (and Leo's hatred of him) There's a fun subplot for Zoey and Charlie too. First is Zoey asking the oblivious Charlie out (crossover with Heartwarming) and second is Bartlet's reaction to Charlie asking him if he can go out with Zoey. When Bartlet tells Leo this, Leo just grins until Bartlet tells him to shut up.
- There's a subplot from What Kind of Day Has It Been where Josh's desk chair has been removed for repairs, a fact that he keeps forgetting, and another where Charlie is arguing with Zoey about giving some advice to the President. It leads to this beautiful sight gag.
- Charlie: I work with the smartest people in the world—[Josh attempts to sit in the missing chair and falls on his ass with a *WHAM*]Josh: DONNA!!!
- Bartlet manages to pull one off in the middle of a scene where he's being wheeled into surgery after being shot (In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part I):
Nurse: I need to ask you a couple of questions, sir. Do you have any medical conditions? (This is actually an important line too, as Bartlet hasn't yet made his MS public.)Bartlet: Well... I've been shot!
- From a flashback in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen":
Josh: What're you doing?Sam: Protecting oil companies from litigation. They're our client. They don't lose legal protection just because they make a lot of money.Josh: Can't believe no one ever wrote a folk song about that.
- From In This White House, when Bartlet decides to hire Ainsley Hayes (who is herself a source of several Crowning Moments of Funny) and Leo is trying to talk him out of it.
Bartlet: Charlie, there's a woman whose voice I think would fit in very nicely around here. She's a conservative Republican. Should I hire her?Charlie: Absolutely, Mr. President, because I'm told theirs is the party of inclusion.Leo: See? Charlie just made a joke to you in the Oval Office. That's how bad an idea this is.
C.J.: Are you kidding?Leo: No.C.J.: Are you kidding?Leo: No.C.J.: Are you kidding?Leo: No.C.J.: WELL, WHAT THE HELL MADE YOU THINK I WOULDN'T SCREAM WHERE THERE ARE PEOPLE?Leo: I took a shot.
- Then, a few moments later:
Bartlet: Charlie, when they close the book on me and you, they will note that in this moment you were not there for me, and for that, obviously, there'll be some kind of punishment.Charlie: Well, you could always sing Puccini for me again, sir. We'll call it even.
- You can hear President Bartlet give a barely audible grunt at the end of this scene, as if to say "Dammit the kid got me again."
- C.J.'s reaction is also pretty funny:
- Then, a few moments later:
- A hilarious moment while Sam is being pummelled by Ainsley Hayes on television to kick off In This White House:
- Josh: Toby, come quick! Sam's getting his ass kicked by a girl!Toby: Ginger, get the popcorn!
- Later in the episode she meets with Leo convinced she's going to be reprimanded for the beating she put on Sam, but she's actually being offered a job in the White House. After he says it she babbles for about 2 or 3 minutes about how it's wrong for Leo to reprimand her before she actually gets what's happening.
- In a later conversation between Sam and Ainsley:
Ainsley: Sam, I'm a straight Republican from North Carolina, you don't think they(as in Smith College, an extremely liberal women's university, and Ainsley's alma mater) hated me the first time around?
- Another Ainsley one, the scene where Leo hires her.
Leo: You have a very unusual conversational style, you know that?
Ainsley: It's a nervous... condition.
Leo: I used to have one of those.
Ainsley: How did yours manifest itself?
Leo: I drank a lot of scotch.
Ainsley: I get sick when I drink too much.
Leo: I get drunk when I drink too much.
- A bit later:
Ainsley: A job in THIS White House?
Leo: You want a glass of scotch?
Ainsley: Yes, please.
- And later still:
Ainsley: You have my FBI file?Leo: Yes.Ainsley: I can't believe this! You have my FBI file?Leo: Yes.Ainsley: I have an FBI file?
- Then there's Lionel Tribbey, a walking Crowning Moment of Funny: (Season 2's And It's Surely to Their Credit)
- Lionel Tribbey: I will kill people today, Leo. I will kill people with this cricket bat, which was given to me by Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth Windsor, and then I will kill them again with my own hands.
- And when Ainsley goes to him for advice:
Ainsley Hayes: Mr. Tribbey? I'd like to do well on this, my first assignment.Any advice you could give me that might point me the way of success would be, by me, appreciated.\\Lionel Tribbey: Beat Well, not speaking in iambic pentameter might be a step in the right direction.
- Of course, the when he interrupts the President's radio address (another Funny Moment itself):
- Well, Aaron Sorkin doesn't believe in the Interenet. We don't like to talk about it.
President 'Bartlet: Well, obviously, Lionel Tribbey is a brilliant lawyer whom we cannot live without, or there would be very little reason not to put him in prison.
- From Shibboleth, The Thanksgiving where President Bartlet pardons a second turkey.
- Bartlet: Aren't I going to get a reputation for being soft on turkeys?
C.J.: [After performing a camera flash test] Troy, I want to you to know it was neck-and-neck, but I'm giving it to Eric. You were in it right until the end, but it's the flapping thing you've got going on. I'll tell you what's of some concern to me, that I've been talking out aloud this whole time, that's very unsettling.
- C.J. explains why she wants him to pardon both turkeys: "The winner gets life at a petting zoo, the runner-up gets eaten." Bartlet: "If the Oscars were like that, I'd watch."
- When the turkey delivery boy falls for the second pardon Bartlet loses it, goes on a rant about educational standards and then tells him that the President can't just pardon random turkeys and he should take it away. CJ then gives Bartlet a hurt look, causing him to give in and announce that he's drafting the turkey into federal service instead.
Bartlet: By the power vested in me as President of the United States I hereby pardon you.Morton: Okay!Bartlet: No! It's not okay! Morton, I can't pardon a turkey; if you think I can pardon a turkey then you have got to go back to your school and insist that you be better prepared to go out in the world.Donna: You can't pardon a turkey?
- Perhaps the greatest part of this subplot is when Bartlet resolves the dispute by drafting the turkey into military service.
- Toby, Josh and Sam simultaneously coming to the decision that they should land the turkeys with CJ in the first place:
Morton: Where should I put them?(beat)Josh: CJ's office.Sam: CJ.Josh: I'd definitely put them in CJ's office.Toby: Good idea.Sam: It's right there.Josh: CJ handles all the—Toby: Donna will show you.Josh: —birds.Toby: And Morton, Ms. Cregg is gone for the night and her office is secure, so you should feel free to let the turkeys out of the cage and allow them to, you know, roam freely as they were meant to do.
- And then there's the first draft of the Thanksgiving speech:
Sam: Over three and a half centuries ago, linked by faith and bound by a common desire for liberty, a small band of pilgrims sought out a place in the New World where they could worship according to their own beliefs... and solve crimes.Toby: Sam...Sam: It'd be good. By day, they churn butter and worship according to their own beliefs, and by night they solve crimes.Toby: Read the thing.Sam: Pilgrim detectives.Toby: Do you see me laughing?Sam: I think you're laughing on the inside.Toby: Okay.Sam: With the big hats.Toby: Give me the speech.
- Every single interaction between C.J., Eric and Troy. Who are the turkeys at the centre of all this fuss.
- "The Portland Trip": The reason why C.J is unexpectedly going on the trip to Portland.
C.J: Also on this evening's trip are Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn and, well, me.
Danny: I thought you weren't going on the trip.
C.J: I am now going on the trip.
Danny: Are you being punished?
C.J: I'm not being punished, I'm going on the trip.
Danny: If the whole bus goes off the record, will you tell us why you're going on the trip?
C.J: [Reluctantly] ... I made fun of Notre Dame.
[The reporters on the bus react with shock and disapproval.]
C.J: I usually get away with it!
Reporter: They're playing Michigan tomorrow.
C.J: I know that now.
Danny: You can't bring that stuff when they're playing Michigan.
C.J: Well, I'll have a lot of time to think about that on the midnight flight to Portland, Danny.
Leo: [Meeting Bartlet before he boards Air Force One] I just got off with Bruno and Hess.
- It appears that Bartlet and Leo fall on opposite sides of this particular rivalry:
Bartlet: I'm sorry?
Leo: I said just got off with Bruno and Hess.
Bartlet: You didn't say "Michigan sucks"?
Leo: No, sir.
Bartlet: I thought you said "Michigan sucks."
Leo: No sir. You're standing pretty close to the engines, so it may have sounded like I said "Notre Dame is going to get the ass-kicking they so richly deserve."
- In "Galileo," Sam is forced to be at the same event as Mallory, not having talked to her since the whole photographed-with-a-prostitute incident.
Sam: What's his name?
Mallory: His name is Richard Andrewchuk.
Sam: There's a hockey player named Richard Andrewchuk.
Mallory: Well, unless there are two of them.
Sam: You're dating Richard Andrewchuk?
Mallory: Yes, and we're having quite a lot of sex.
Sam: I'd almost think you'd have to.
Mallory: What does that mean?
Sam: What the hell do you and Richard Andrewchuk talk about?
Mallory: He happens to be a terribly bright guy.
Sam: Well, good, because he's a really bad hockey player.
Mallory: He's had injury problems this season.
Sam: From falling down.
- Leo is giving Toby a job he really doesn't want in Season 2's Galileo:
Leo: Make a recommendation by the end of the day.Toby: Yeah.Leo: (turning to Josh) What are you smiling at?Josh: Nothing, I just... (grinning) Toby got the stamp assignment.Toby: Leo, I might need some help.Leo: Take Josh.Toby: Thanks. (turning to Josh) Congratulations, you're choosing the next stamp.Josh: (to himself) Wow, that happened fast.
- When Josh emerges from his session with Stanley Keyworth in Noel. One of the few really funny moments in a (great, but) mostly serious episode.
Leo: How'd it go?
Josh: He thinks I might have an eating disorder.
Josh: And a fear of rectangles. That's not weird, is it?
- The entire cold open of The Leadership Breakfast. C.J. and some aides have spent seven and a half hours trying to complete a seating plan for the titular breakfast, only for Toby to come in and point out that they completely left out the President. They don't get far, since Josh and Sam decided to start a fire in one of the fireplaces (bantering the whole time) and only after it's lit do they discover that its flue had been welded shut, billowing smoke everywhere and setting off the smoke alarms.
Charlie: (waking up Bartlet) You know you told me not to wake you up unless the building was on fire?
- The former page quote for I Have This Friend.
I've gotta tell him I lost a submarine. Can I make something up, like "say a friend of mine hypothetically..."
- When Leo admits he's not that familiar with Peanuts, and Bartlet asks him if he was born at the age of fifty-five. (From Season 2's The Drop-In)
Bartlet: The words you're looking for are "Oh, good grief." /cut to credits
- "If you call any of the Joint Chiefs 'Lucy', you're on your own."
- And then when Leo's told they missed the target for the new missile defense system by 100 miles:
Leo: The missile achieved nine out of ten of its design goals!Bartlet: And the tenth one was?Leo: (mutters) ...hitting the target.
- In the same episode:
- In Bartlet's Third State of the Union, Ainsley has been terrified all episode of meeting the President for the first time. When she finally does, she's got her back to the door, is dancing and singing, holding a drink, and wearing a bathrobe. When she turns around and realizes the President has walked into the room, she screams at the top of her lungs and throws the drink over her shoulder.
Bartlet: Why is she still in there?Sam: That's kind of hard to say, sir.Bartlet: They won't let me smoke inside but you can pee in Leo's closet.
- Not to mention that the next time she meets him she has her skirt on backwards and is so nervous that when she has to pee, she walks into Leo's closet thinking that it's the bathroom:
- In Ellie, a pot joke which is also Hilarious in Hindsight:
Josh: Did you know that sixty-nine percent of Americans oppose legalization [of marijuana]? Only twenty-three percent support it.Dr. Griffith: The number gets a lot higher than that if you ask people under thirty.Josh: Well that's a shock. Did you know that the number gets even higher than that if you limit the polling sample to Bob Marley and the Wailers?
Mrs. Landingham: Charlie, please don't say the word "erotic" in the Oval Office.Charlie: I'd be perfectly happy never to say any of those words anywhere ever again.
- Later on in the episode, discussing a schlocky movie that is causing the White House grief:
- CJ and Toby in Someone's Going to Emergency...:
CJ: You want to make out with me now, don't you?Toby: Well, when don't I?
- In The Stackhouse Filibuster, Bartlet and Abbey are planning on a romantic dinner in the residence cooked by a visiting chef, which Abbey has to cancel on at the last minute. He asks Leo to join him instead. "We'll just pretend there's no candlelight." Leo: "And that we're not paranoid homophobes."
- The whole scene has them (especially Bartlet) has them start acting Like an Old Married Couple with the President complaining "We never talk anymore"
- The part from The Stackhouse Filibuster where several members of the cast are writing letters to their parents. When Josh goes to the Hill to talk to Senator Stackhouse, you hear the voiceover, "thanks for the new shoes, Mom" at the same time as said shoes slide out from under him and land him flat on his ass in the middle of a hallway.
- In Bad Moon Rising, the current White House Counsel is packing for a trip, in which his assistants mock both his large gavel and his claim that his recorder is broken. ("It's stuck on 'record'. And that's never caused trouble in a White House Counsel's office!") Five minutes later, Bartlet comes in and asks his opinion on an over-the-top legal problem. "I'd like you to tell me if I've involved sixteen people in a massive criminal conspiracy to defraud the public and win a presidential election." The White House Counsel blinks at them for a second, then...ensures that the recorder will not record this or any other conversation ever again, then looks up and says, "Okay". Cut to the credits.
Donna: Let me get this off my chest. It was me. I called Terry Cashin (the reporter).C.J.: Why?Donna: I don't know. Why does anybody do anything?C.J.: What are you talking about?Donna: I'm a madwoman, C.J., and it doesn't stop with the leak.C.J.: What do you mean?Donna: Call the authorities. Send them to my parent's house in Madison.C.J.: Why?Donna: They'll find the Lindbergh baby in the basement.C.J.: (finally gets it) Okay.Donna: Also some Post-Its reminding me where I put Jimmy Hoffa.C.J.: Get out!Donna: I framed Roger Rabbit.C.J.: Get out![a little later]Josh: Did you confess?
- From the same episode; Toby, for his own reasons, wants C.J. to interrogate everyone who might have leaked a story to a reporter. This, of course, is a thankless job, especially when:
Zach: You shouldn't feel bad about this.C.J.: Everyone hates me.Zach: Nah, they'll get over it.C.J.: You think?Zach: Sure. You're just doing your job.C.J.: That's exactly right.Zach: And this is really important.C.J.: You're the first one who's understood that.Zach: You mind if I give you a suggestion that may make this go faster?C.J.: Sure.Zach: If you dunk the suspect in a deep well of water, and they drown, it means they're not a witch.C.J.: All right, that's it! (starts to leave her office)Zach: (throws his hands in the air) I saw Lizzie Proctor speaking with the devil!C.J.: Shut up.
- And then a little later:
- Every scene involving Bernard, the snobbish art critic from "Noël"
Bernard: C.J., your necklace is a monument to bourgeois taste!
C.J.: Thank you.
Bernard: You're welcome.
C.J.: Bernard. Listen, who is Gustave Caillebotte and how long has his painting been here?
Bernard: He was a contemporary of Courbet, who was considerably more gifted. This is a painting of the cliffs at Étretat, cleverly titled "The Cliffs at Étretat".
C,J,: What's it doing here?
Bernard: It was on loan from the Musee d'Orsay to the National Gallery. The President, on a visit to the National Gallery and possessing less taste in fine art than you have in accessories, announced that he liked the painting. The French government offered it as a gift to the White House, I suppose as retribution for Euro Disney. So here it hangs, like a gym sock on a shower rod.
C.J.: You're a snob.
C.J.: See, you try very hard to be mean, but then you see that being nice is better.
- Much later in the episode, Bernard has a memorable Pet the Dog moment after he helps C.J. return "The Cliffs of Étretat" to the family that the Nazis originally stole it from. Cue the following exchange.
Bernard: You're a freakishly tall woman.
C.J.: So that moment's over?
- The beginning of Jed's talk with Abbey in the limo in Manchester:
Jed: I'm just saying, it could've been worse, I could've been an astronaut.Abbey: You could not have been an astronaut.Jed: I would've been a great astronaut.Abbey: You're afraid of heights, speed, fire, and small spaces.Jed: Yeah, but I would've overcome it to go to the moon.Abbey' [long pause] Yeah, you would've.
- Bruno Gianelli negotiating with Leo and then President Bartlet. He haggles with Leo and wins the compromise between 10 and 15 percent of the ad buy, getting 13 instead of 12. He then demands direct access to the President, which Leo denies, so Bruno threatens that if he talks to the President and says it's a dealbreaker, he'll say yes. Leo has Margaret show him into the Oval Office, where Bartlet immediately starts with "so we're giving you 12% of the ad buy?" and eventually cuts off Bruno's ultimatum with his own. Quoting it here wouldn't even do it justice since it's Ron Silver and Martin Sheen's dynamic that makes the negotiation hilariously one-sided.
- What makes it even more beautiful is that Bartlet is just so cheerfully pleasant and (seemingly) oblivious as he just completely demolishes all of Bruno's demands one after the other... because really, what's Bruno going to do?
- The whole state-dinner background event in "On the Day Before," where C.J. is worried about whether she'll be able to talk to the Nobel Prize-winning chemist she's been seated next to. I particularly like when she recites what she knows about him to Toby and he says, "Well, as long as all he wants to talk about is where he's from, where he went to school and what his name is, you'll be fine."
- On Thanksgiving (The Indians in the Lobby), President Bartlet calls the Butterball Hotline for help with making stuffing, and they ask for his name and address. He claims to be Joe Bethersonton of Fargo, North Dakota. When he realizes that he needs the ZIP code, Toby calls Charlie for Fargo's ZIP code with all the gravitas and urgency of a man demanding nuclear launch codes, and Bartlet is forced to stall by making up a ridiculously long street address until Charlie comes in in with the ZIP code. The operator comments that he has a familiar voice, and he claims that he does radio commercials ("for... products"). He then argues with her about the minutiae of turkey stuffing for several minutes while Toby patiently waits for him to finish.
Bartlet: If I cook my stuffing inside the turkey, is there a chance I might kill my guests? I'm not saying that's necessarily a deal-breaker.
Bartlet: Were we talking about something?
- The best part is Bartlet's line at the end:
Bartlet: That was excellent! We should do that once a week.
- There's also the part earlier where Bartlet finds out that his idea for a turkey hotline is something that exists:
Bartlet: [look of awe] God, I'm sorry. I love my country!
- In a callback to Season 1's "Enemies", Bartlet has C.J. as a captive audience while he both lectures about the proper way of preparing Thanksgiving dinner and kvetches about Abbey making him spend Thanksgiving at Camp David, which he's not fond of, rather than his farm in New Hampshire. It leads to this little moment where the floodgates of frustration finally open for C.J.:
C.J.: I dunno, sir, when I came in here -- back in the late fifties -- there was a purpose to it but then one thing led to another and I blacked out. I mean, I can hang in there with the best of them, sir, but somewhere in the discussion of anise and coriander and the other fifteen spices you like to use to baste a turkey I simply lost consciousness.
[Bartlet gives her a Death Glare; C.J. realizes what she's done]
Bartlet: ...You know that line you're not supposed to cross with the President?
C.J.: [Hopefully] I'm coming up on it?
Bartlet: No no — look behind you.
C.J.: Yes, sir.
Bartlet: Would you like to leave?
C.J.: With your permission.
Bartlet: Damn right with my permission.
- Later, Bartlet learns that Abbey arranged their celebration at Camp David after consulting pollsters behind his back, and he stages a confrontation wherein he gets her to unwittingly admit that she knew about the polling. When she does, he slams the book he's pretending to read shut and yells "J'accuse!" like they're in a French melodrama.
- The best part is Bartlet's line at the end:
- In "H-Con 172", Sam is obsessed with vetting a "tell-all" expose on the White House that is riddled with outright fabrications about the President and the senior staff. As C.J reveals to the President, some of these fabrications take on a rather personal note, which leads to this exchange between Bartlet and Sam:
Sam: There's going to be a book coming out in about three weeks...
Bartlet: I heard. Look, I'm really not going to talk to you about my underwear.
Sam: That's... disappointing, Mr. President.
- Dead Irish Writers, practically all of it.
Amy: Quite the contortionist am I.
- The girls drinking:
Abbey: Claudia Jean, let's get drunk!CJ: Okay.Josh: Hey, where're you going?Amy: The First Lady just asked me to get boozy with her. You think I'm not gonna write a book someday?
- And then there's Bartlet's response to coming back into the ballroom to find the Canadian flag has been raised and everyone singing the Canadian national anthem.
President Bartlet: What the hell is going on? When I left, we were all Americans!
- The girls drinking:
- CJ's response to learning that Josh has been sparring with the members of a website devoted to him - actually the entire Lemon-Lymon subplot of that episode, including CJ's analogy of a website to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
CJ: I'm going to assign an intern from the press office, they're gonna check it every night before they go home. If I find out you've been there, I'm gonna shove a motherboard so far up your ass- (Josh laughs) WHAT?Josh: Uh, technically, I outrank you.CJ: SO FAR UP YOUR ASS!
- Leo, a recovering alcoholic, and VP Hoynes are meeting with the President.
Hoynes: Mr. President, I'm a recovering alcoholic.Bartlet: Really?Hoynes: Yes, sir.[beat]Bartlet: Is there anybody left who's not?!
- In "Enemies Foreign and Domestic", Bartlet tries to show how down-to-earth he is to Admiral Fitzwallace:
Bartlet: Fitz, you old polecat, you old so-and-so!
Fitzwallace: [Amiably] Trying to be one of the fellas, sir?
Fitzwallace: Well, well done, sir.
Russian Official: On his arrival and during outdoor photograph opportunity, President Bartlet must wear overcoat.
- In a subplot, Sam is meeting with two Russian officials over minor details regarding Bartlet's meeting with the Russian President in a summit. The Russians are willing to acquiesce to several of Sam's requests over the location, but have a request of their own:
Sam: A coat?
Russian Official: He must wear coat. He must wear gloves. Scarves and earmuffs permissible but optional.
Sam: Hang on, yes, 'cause — 'Cause [the Russian president] wants to wear a coat and doesn't want to look like a wimp...
Russian Official: [Mild exasperation] Sam, it is freezing-too-cold in Reykjavik. It is freezing-too-cold in Helsinki. It is freezing-too-cold in Staad. Why must every American president bound out of an automobile like as at a yacht club while in com— [stutters over word and briefly confers with his colleague] —in comparison our leader looks like... I don't even know what word is.
Russian Official: ... I don't know what 'frumpy' is, but onomatopoetically sounds right.
Sam: [Amused] It's hard not to like a guy who doesn't know 'frumpy' but knows 'onomatopoeia'.
- Made even funnier when the Russian Official is Ian McShane.
- Josh, Toby and Donna get left behind on the campaign trail during the two-part episode "20 Hours in America" and spend the titular time getting back to DC. Their journey gets repeatedly derailed by Funny Moments.
President Bartlet: Three hundred IQ points between them, they can't find their way home. I swear to God, if Donna wasn't there, they'd have to buy a house.
Toby: It's a common mistake.Josh: NOT FOR THE US GOVERNMENT!
- In this episode, Josh, Toby and Donna board a train. Josh asks the campaign volunteer who drove them to the station to assure him that everything is going to be okay. The campaign volunteer points and assures Josh on the life of his girlfriend that his problems will end 'two hundred miles down the track'. The train then starts moving. In exactly the opposite direction.
- Same episode: Toby and Josh are throwing rocks at a trashcan, and wager that whoever misses first has to add "I work at the White House" every time they introduce themselves, while traveling through rural Indiana. Toby is forced to say this every time they meet someone in the episode, drawing the ire of the cavalcade of conservative hicks they encounter. The phrase gets an Ironic Echo at the end, when Toby uses it sincerely.
- The scene with the time zones.
- Sam finally goes home to sleep for a few hours after basically working for a week straight, which is right when Josh calls to tell him that he'll have to cover on an urgent issue:
Sam's Answering Machine: Hi, it's Sam. I'm sleeping for a few hours right now so you can leave a message, or :if you really need me you can shout into the machine, and I'll wake up.Josh: 'SAM!!'Sam: *starts awake, flails right out of bed onto the floor*
- The President has a photo-op with a man who's met every POTUS since 1929. This includes meeting with President Hoover on the day before the start of the Great Depression. And Bartlet is facing a sudden drop in the stock markets.
Bartlet: We're gonna have to reschedule this.Mr. Keith: Oh... why?Charlie: You're spooking the hell out of the President.
- Red Mass: Sam and Leo are discussing terrorism, which leads to a conversation about Abdul Shariff, the Qumari foreign minister and terrorist mastermind who the President ordered assassinated in the previous season:
Sam: Shariff was a bad guy. It feels like he had money in the Ba'hi cell.
Leo: He did. He was also behind a plot to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sam: Bridges and tunnels. That's my nightmare. What's yours?
Leo: [Exasperated] ... Well now it's bridges and tunnels, Sam.
Sam: Then my work here is done.
Foreign Minister: ...and in addition to being a good friend to Israel, Leo Mc Garry, of course, is the most Jewish man most of us have ever met. For that, he gets...this yarmulke, which has been crumpled up in my coat pocket since a wedding in 1962. For everything else: the Medal of David.Leo: Thank you very much, Mr. Foreign Minister. A thousand dead relatives in Scotland just started crying.
- Earlier in the episode, Leo is receiving an award from the Foreign Minister of Israel.
- Election Night:
- Sam: Yes. I turned, I cursed, I spat. It froze.
- Jed and Abbey's repeated attempts at victory sex during Election Night/Process Stories keep getting interrupted by staff members coming to talk about their own issues- when each of them steps into their bedroom, they take one look at the caviar, champagne, and what the President and First Lady are wearing, their realization of what they've stepped into is hilarious.
Toby: Good evening, Mrs. Bartlet, that's a lovely housecoat you're wearing.
- Sam's reaction to Abbey's appearance is particularly hilarious.
- In the course of a conversation about Swiss diplomacy in "Swiss Diplomacy," Bartlet is moved to draw an analogy to the cats his kids had when they were little, Mr. Finch and Mrs. Wilberforce. At the end of the scene, as they're walking away, he declares, "Mr. Finch and Mrs. Wilberforce! There's nothing wrong with my memory... though those are stupid names, and there's something wrong with my kids."
- The possible alternate Funny Moment is later on, when the President is relating the story to his wife and she points out he's confused one of the cats with their maid.
- Will's excuse for planning to take a vacation after the events of season four's election arc: "This was a pretty tough campaign, okay? A guy died from it. This campaign had fatalities."
- Josh, discussing a female fighter pilot who might be dishonorably discharged for refusing an order to end her relationship with a (married) junior officer, consults Fitzwallace on whether or not the White House should intercede and compares her to Jackie Robinson. Fitzwallace (who is black) asks "Could you tell me more about Jackie Robinson and breaking barriers?"
- Will sticks it to a pompous State Dept. official in Inauguration (Part 1):
- Bryce: Are you rewriting the section?Will: Yes, sir.Bryce: Dramatically?Will: I like to think I have a certain flair.
- Then, when Bryce leaves, Will starts mimicking him like a kid mocking the teacher who just gave him detention.
Bryce: [Pompously] Apparently, I'm not done with the Baileys. [Gets up and leaves]
Will: [To himself] Apparently not, you effete...
- In Inauguration: Over There (Part 2), Charlie does this and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming at the same time:
- Josh: Good cop, bad cop. I'm the good cop. The four of you are the bad cops. Will, what are you?Will: Bad cop.Josh: Danny, what are you?Danny: Bad cop.Josh: Charlie, what are you?Charlie: I love Zoey and I must have her back.Will: That's great news about Zoey, I didn't meet her but I bet she's nice.Charlie: Not really, but my love for her knows no bounds.Danny: Charlie, aren't you cold without a coat?Charlie: I took off my coat to show my love for Zoey.Danny: Wow.Charlie: I'd take off my shirt too, but it's inappropriate with a tuxedo.Danny: Not if we were at Chippendale's.
- At the end of the scene:
Charlie: [about Jean-Paul] Cause he may be good-looking and rich and well-schooled and French royalty, you know, and live basically in a castle, but... oh, God.
Toby: This is what I've been telling you.
- Meanwhile, Josh is pummeling Donna's window with snowballs.
Danny: You know, by the end of the night, I think we may have a whole new story.Toby: *laughs* ; at this point, they're waking up the neighborhood.Toby: *on phone* Hi, National Enquirer?
- The president revealing to the first lady that he used to give their children candy.
Bartlet: You know I gave the kids candy all the time, right?Abbey: Behind my back?Bartlet: Yes.Abbey: You bought their love.Bartlet: Well, it was for sale, and I wanted it.Abbey: You gave the girls candy?Bartlet: I was their dealer. Live with it.
- Toby and Charlie getting arrested in The California 47th:
Toby: Excuse me, Officer... how long do you think this is going to be?Officer: Assault? Six to twenty months.Charlie: It wasn't assault. He slipped on a thing.Officer: Yeah, one of the guys says you hit him.Charlie: Well, that was different. That part may have been assault.
Toby: Is there any chance I could get a corner cell or anything possibly with a loft?Officer: They're solitary.Toby: Perfect.
- And later:
- Also in "The California 47th", Toby discovering that his pregnant ex-wife Andi is also on board Air Force One:
Toby: Listen to me. We've got all kinds of atmospheric cabin pressure up here. We're a little late, so the Colonel's put the hammer down in a 747. You've got wind shear, downdraft, massive turbulence, not to mention four giant engines burning jet fuel at galactic temperatures. We're standing in a flying death tube!
[Donna, Larry and Ed, who are all nearby, look up in varying degrees of confusion and alarm]
Toby: [Realising] No, not the rest of y-you. It's just my family. It's-it's fine. [to Andy] Look...
Andi: What do you want me to do, step off?
Toby: Also, you've got twins in there. You're basically a minivan. How are you fitting into a seat?
[Donna and another nearby woman glare incredulously at Toby.]
Andi:... Uh-uh. I saw him first, girls.
- In Red Haven's On Fire:
Sam: So on a call girl's phone bill, there's going to be a call to Air Force One?Toby: You're really going to be teaching the seminar on call girl caution? Really?
- Sam berates Toby for borrowing a phone from a call girl to get in touch with Josh:
Toby: Hey, Hurricane, we were in the joint for like twenty minutes.
- Or, after they're bailed out and Charlie is acting all tough-guy to the guard:
CJ: He looks youthful.Toby: Yes.CJ: And energetic.Toby: Yes.CJ: He looks youthful and energetic. Do we have anything he can jump over?
- Toby as Sam's newly-appointed campaign manager has Sam speak to some reporters on Newport Beach. As the interview takes place:
- Most of Privateers, about Marion Coatsworth-Haye, especially when C.J. refers to her as "Helena Hodsworth Hooter-Tooter of Braintree."
Guest: I'M MARION COATSWORTH-HAYE!!
C.J.: (uncontrollable laughter for the remainder of the scene)
- First Lady Abbey Bartlet appears in a segment with Elmo about going to the doctor. Elmo points out that Dr. Bartlet gave up her medical license (after the MS scandal broke).
Elmo: Can Elmo be frank? This laughter is not filling Elmo with confidence!
- In"The Supremes", Charlie gets into an argument with right-wing judge Christopher Mulready over affirmative action:
Mulready: So why a racial preference and not an economic one?
Charlie: Because affirmative action's about a legacy of racial oppression—
Mulready: It's about compromising admission standards.
Charlie: That's bull! [Mulready chuckles] Excuse me. It's about levelling the playing field after three hundred years of—
Mulready: See, this is where the liberal argument goes off the rails. You get stuck in the past. Now, you want to come back at me with "grading is based on past performance , but admission should based on potential, on how a candidate might thrive with this sort of opportunity. And studies show that affirmative action admits have a higher predisposition to contribute to society."
Charlie: [Looking somewhere between stunned, suspicious and grateful] ... Hang on. I gotta write this down.
- CJ's first meeting as Chief of Staff. She's barely just gotten seated at the desk when both Toby and Josh within a minute of each other pull out letters of resignation, citing that they don't feel comfortable working under her. CJ starts to protest... and then Bartlet walks into her office and bluntly announces he's uncomfortable working with a woman and that he's going to give the VP a shot at the top job, leaving CJ completely flummoxed and speechless... at which point Toby starts giggling uncontrollably.
Bartlet: You're weak. You have a weak will. You should have held it. See if she pulled out the Continuity of Government plan.
Will: He cracked up at the mere suggestion of the VP...
Toby: [Still giggling uncontrollably] I had a whole thing on spending time with my kids, I went up.
CJ: [Having realized the prank] You are bad, bad men.
Bartlet: In the service of a vengeful god.
- One of Josh's many Lymanisms:
Josh: If I wanted your opinion I would stick you in a focus group in southern Missouri.
- A Good Day, when Kate finds herself the Only Sane Man in the situation room as inexplicable tensions between the US and Canada over a couple of hunters move the nations closer to a conflict.
Will: The Vice President advocates a hard line.
Kate: 1789, amended in 1815. The calligraphy is beautiful. And if one more deal is floated in this room, I'm gonna ask DoD to reactivate it.
- Particularly, the scene where she is assuring the Canadians that the USA does not have a contingency plan to invade Canada, and then she sees the face on the nearest military advisor and realizes that yes, the USA does have a plan to invade Canada.
- Ellie Bartlet sends her (rather weedy and nebbish looking) fiance to meet the father...who just happens to be sitting in the Oval Office along with all the top military brass.
Debbie: Your 9 o'clock is starting to melt.
- In the last season, CJ and Will have the following exchange.
CJ: You I need. Come here.Will: What's wrong?CJ: Close the door.Will: I didn't do it.CJ: Close the door.Will: Toby did it.CJ: Shut up.
- This exchange:
Danny: I think the president's son-in-law may be banging the nanny.CJ: Is that a euphemism?Danny: No. Well, banging is, I guess.
- Josh's comment on Sam's attorney fiancee, while asking Sam to move back to DC and be his Deputy Chief of Staff:
Josh: Gee, I wonder if she'd be able to find gainful employment in the lawyer capital of the known universe.
- Abbey, Jed, Ellie and Vic toast in champagne in celebration of Ellie's and Vic's engagement. During the conversation that follows Ellie hints that the wedding needs to happen fairly soon because she is pregnant. As Jed is called out of the room Abbey is seen reaching over and taking Ellie's champagne flute away from her.
- A small but funny moment in "Requiem". CJ has made plans to spend the night with Danny but cancels when Donna asks if she can spend the night at CJ's, since CJ doesn't know what to tell Donna. Josh then asks Donna to spend the night with him but she declines since she doesn't know what to tell CJ. Donna leaves and Danny comes up to sit with Josh, both of them looking dejected.
- The Leadership Breakfast: Sam and Josh light a fire in the White House, learning a little too late that this particular fireplace has had its flue closed off for decades. Cut to Charlie barging into Bartlet's bedroom: "Sir, you know how you told me never to wake you up unless the building was on fire?"
- Charlie and the President's interactions are made of funny. From Season 1's Celestial Navigation: "Sir, I need you to dig in now. It wasn't a nightmare. You really are the president." "WHO IS THIS?!"
- "I mean, what in the name of everything holy could you possibly want right now?"
- The entire scene with the fire, really:
Josh: Could you possibly get us some dried leaves?Donna: Yeah, I'll just run out to the forest and be right back. (She leaves)Sam: You know what?Josh: You think she was being sarcastic?Sam: Yeah, I don't think she's getting the leaves.
- Lord John Marbury, especially versus Leo.
Marbury: Would you have something with which to light my cigarette?Leo: Oh, I'm afraid we don't allow smoking in this part of the world.Marbury: Really? In this part of the world, [gestures to himself] we positively encourage it.
Marbury: Mr. President, for centuries my kingdom has ruled India with a stick and carrot. When we had a particular problem with somebody, one solution we would try would be to make him a Maharaja—a kind of regional king. We would pay him an annual tribute, and in return he would be loyal to the Crown.
- One of this troper's favorite moments is in The Drop-In when Leo doesn't know Marbury is there to see him.
Margaret: Leo?Leo: Yeah?Margaret: There's someone here to see you.Leo: [looks at watch] Who?Marbury: [off-screen] GERALD!Leo: Oh, God.
- While Marbury is probably a Crowning Person Of Funny, my favorite was his introduction.
Marbury: Abigail! May I grasp your breasts?
- This gem, from "He Shall From Time to Time":
Leo: Lord Marbury, under our Constitution, the President is not empowered to create Maharajas.
Marbury: Yes, thank you for clearing that up, Leo. Having been educated at Cambridge and the Sorbonne, I am, as you know, exceedingly stupid.
- One of this troper's favorite moments is in The Drop-In when Leo doesn't know Marbury is there to see him.
- POTUS and FLOTUS. I will make a special mention of the debate episode (Season 4's Game On) where she cuts off his necktie right before he goes out. Crowning Moment of Funny leading to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming setting the stage for a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Bartlet: You know my lucky tie...
Abbey: Yeah, I heard [it got ruined]. So, do you think there's any point in still having the debate?
- The episode And It's Surely to Their Credit has this memorable scene where the First Lady (who's also a doctor) is dictating a memo to Charlie to give to the President about how he's fully recovered from the Assassination attempt:
Abbey: Just give him a message for me, would you?Charlie: Sure.Abbey: You'll want to write this down.Charlie: Yes, ma'am.Abbey: Your blood pressure is 120/80.Charlie: How did you know that, ma'am?Abbey: I'm saying his blood pressure.Charlie: Ah... is 120/80.Abbey: Yeah. Your EKG shows a good sinus rhythm.Charlie: Okay.Abbey: No evidence of ischemic changes.Charlie: How are we spelling...?Abbey: Doesn't matter. Your electrolytes and metabolic panels are within normal limits. Chest x-ray is clear, and prostate screens are fine.Charlie: Okay.Abbey: So, we can have sex now.
Bartlet: Abbey, you have two minutes, or I swear to God I'm gonna get Mrs. Landingham drunk.
- Charlie steps into the Oval Office; five seconds later Bartlett comes barreling out of the room like it was on fire. A little... antsy are we, Jed? Actually, horny!Bartlett in general is a Funny Moment.
- Then when Bartlet, in front of a roomful of children watching him attempt to do the radio address, remembers it's the time he and Abby scheduled for sex, jumps up, wrangles on his jacket, and says, "Kids, I am so sorry. I have to go now, to a special meeting... of the government!"
- When Abbey tells Bartlet about investigative journalist Nellie Bly, emphasizing her achievement in circumnavigating the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds. Bartlett replies, "She sounds like an incredible woman, Abbey. I'm particularly impressed that she beat a fictional record. If she goes down 21,000 leagues under the sea, I'll name a damn school after her! Let's have sex."
- The build-up for this joke has spanned over two seasons: The Chair of the Supreme Court is on the verge of full-blown dementia, writing statements in verse and such. He refuses to retire, because he's afraid that with a Republican Congress, Bartlet can't replace him with another left-leaning judge. The best the president can do is getting a centrist judge appointed. When in the episode The Supremes another, this time more conservative judge dies of a heart-attack, the White House is faced with a similar dilemma. Until Donna tells Josh about the two cats of her parents. Apparently, while her father preferred one cat, her mother had her heart set on another one. Therefore, they decided to compromise, and got both cats. Josh decided to do the same, by replacing the conservative judge with another conservative, and the Chair with a Democrat. When Donna finds out, she realizes what has happened:
Donna: Oh my god, you're putting my mother's cats on the Supreme Court!
Toby: He wrote a dissenting opinion in what I am almost certain is trochiac tetrometer.Bartlet: (reading) "Fear of cancer from asbestos / Fuzzy science manifestos."and Leo: (reading) "Guilty? / Or not guilty? / Past convictions frustrate / The judge who wonders should your fate / Abate." It's a cinquain.
- The Chief Justice's poetic opinions are pretty hilarious in and of themselves:
- Sam, on the Boston Tea Party:
"We jumped out from behind bushes, while the British came down the road in their bright red jackets, but never has a war been so courteously declared. It was on parchment with calligraphy and "Your highness, we beseech you on this day in Philadelphia to bite me, if you please."
- The scene where Will meets Toby for the first time to talk about helping him write Bartlet's second inaugural address. Before he came in, Toby had thrown away a page of writing he wasn't happy with, but not before setting it on fire, leading the trash can to start smoldering while Will's in there. He points this out and Toby, still talking, gets up and gets a seltzer bottle and puts out the fire, as if it happens all the time... oh, words don't do it justice at all, but Richard Schiff totally sells it.
- And It's Surely to Their Credit:
C.J.: Have you noticed I'm the one of the few people around here whose nose isn't bent out of shape over Ainsley Hayes?
Toby: Yeah. Listen...
C.J.: I'm serious!
Toby: C.J., you heard the news and you slammed the door so hard it broke, okay? You heard the news and you broke the White House.
- Donna tries to get Josh to hire Joe Quincy.
Donna: This guy... there are some who would consider him handsome. I don't, personally, 'cause you're the only one I think is handsome.
Donna: But for the sake of appearances, here, around the office, I'd pretend I thought this guy was handsome if you hired him. Of course, all along it'd be a lie, 'cause of how handsome you are. And powerful. [lets her eyes drift onto his chest and sighs as if overwhelmed by handsomeness and power]
Josh: ...Your sense of humor's a bit of a high-wire act, isn't it? You're really trying to thread the needle.
- The UN Secretary-General getting an earful about ambassadors not paying parking tickets:
Bartlet:There are big signs - you can't park there. They should get towed! I hope they get towed to Queens! And the Triborough is closed! And there's a big craft show at Shea! A flea market, or a tractor show!Bartlet slams down the phone.Charlie: (beat) Well, that was probably his secretary.Bartlet: Dammit.Charlie: You can bet she'll be parking in the garage tonight, though.
- After C.J.'s been going on about the Dadaist surrealism of the butter Last Supper depicting butter:
C.J.: Duchamp was the father of Dadaism.
Toby: I know.
C.J.: The dada of Dada.
Toby: ...It's like there's nothing you can do about that joke, it's coming and you just have to stand there.
- Bartlet files Charlie's tax return. The President of the United States of America, who is also a Nobel-prize-winning economist... does his personal assistant's taxes... for fun. Then tries to collect the amount owed with a "gimme" hand gesture.
- Margaret and Leo are generally comedy gold, but the top of the list has to be this scene from In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part II
Margaret: Can I just say something for the future?Leo: Yeah.Margaret: I can sign the President's name. I have his signature down pretty good.Leo: You can sign the President's name?Margaret: Yeah.Leo: On a document removing him from power and giving it to someone else?Margaret: Yeah? (Leo gives her a Death Glare) Or...do you think the White House Counsel would say that was a bad idea?Leo: I think the White House counsel would say it was a coup d'etat!Margaret: Well, I'd probably end up doing some time for that.Leo: I would THINK! And what the hell were you doing practicing the President's signature?Margaret: (fleeing the room) It was just for fun.Leo: (to C.J., who has just entered) We've got separation of powers, checks and balances, and Margaret, vetoing things and sending them back to the Hill!
Leo: Who the hell is this guy and why do I care if he has a Merry Christmas or not?Margaret: Just sign the damn thing!
- Then there's this scene from Season 1's In Excelsis Deo:
Leo: What the hell are you doing?Margaret: Why, I'm typing, Leo. (one finger at a time)Leo: Margaret?!?Margaret: Apparently, your response to Donna's perfectly legitimate concern about the White House not supporting OSHA's recommendation regarding repetitive stress injuries was to 'type slower'. Donna has organized most of the assistants in the West Wing to do just that.Leo: (beat) Margaret?Margaret: Yeah?Leo: Look at my face, right now.(Margaret takes one look at Leo's Death Glare and starts typing normally.)
- Then there's this scene from The Lame-Duck Congress:
Ainsley: The woman who works out there, who I imagine is your secretary, offered me coffee or a soft drink.Leo: Okay, so...Ainsley: She was also kind enough to ask for my coat.Leo: Excellent, and...Ainsley: She seems to be a very good secretary.Leo: Well, she'll be happy to hear that, she's standing right outside the door. (thumps door with his fist)Margaret: (from outside) Ow.
- Margaret doesn't even have to be in the room, as in the scene from Season 2's In This White House Leo offers Ainsley a job, first asking Ainsley if anyone offered her a drink:
- Bruno shows up for the first time in Leo's office without an appointment, so Margaret checks with Leo. Turns out he made the appointment himself, which he is apparently not allowed to do. Bruno meets with Leo, goes into the oval office, and comes back. When he reenters Leo's office, Margaret is STILL berating Leo about the appointment thing. Leo dismisses her to talk to Bruno, and she leaves with "I'll jot it down."
- CJ spends an episode defending the urban legend that you can stand an egg on end during a solar equinox, and eventually the others look online and can't find a single website supporting it. "You really have to wonder: if no one on the Internet wants a piece of this, just how far from the pack have you strayed?"
- Leo trolls for ideas for his wedding anniversary, and is advised against hiring a violinist: "The novelty wears off after a few minutes, and then it's just a guy with a violin in your house."
- The campaign suggests Leo's daughter Mallory goes on television with him to help address his past addiction issues, possibly with her baby. Bram asks if it's a photogenic baby...with Leo in the room. The look of outrage on his face is priceless, as is Bram's slightly abashed follow-up: "...hey, not all of them are."
- C.J. running into a door after she and Danny kiss for the first time—this was the kiss that was supposed to help her "get past it." (She didn't get past it, by the way. Neither of them did.)
- The running gag of the president's love for trivia which the rest of the staff hates.
Bartlet: We should organize a staff field-trip to Shenandoah. I could even act as the guide. What do you think?Josh: Good a place as any to dump your body.Bartlet: What was that?Josh: Did I say that out loud?
- Another example:
CJ: I can hang in there with the best of them, sir, but somewhere in the discussion of anise and coriander and the other 15 spices you like to use to baste a turkey, I just lost consciousness.
- Another example:
- This exchange between Donna and Josh after he gets back from a trip to Finland. Note that this takes place when they are both seeing other people.
Josh: Good morning!Donna: My man!Josh: Yes.Donna: You came back to me.Josh: Just like I promised.Donna: I missed you.Josh: When did you find you missed me the most?Donna: The nights.Josh: Of course.
- Josh' delight at being rid of his annoying intern Pierce.
Pierce: I was hoping you'd give a toast at my going away party.Josh: How about a plaque for best impersonation of a blue blazer?Pierce: So you're coming to the party?Josh: I'm having my own celebration with five cloves of garlic and the cast of "the Exorcist".
- CJ on the Bartlet administration:
CJ: Nobody turns us down. We're like the Mob, only less violent. Ultimately responsible for more death and destruction.
- The White House staff find their own ways of amusing themselves during otherwise boring social gatherings.
CJ: Here, it will take your mind off of things.Josh: Dignitary bingo?CJ: I've already got four across. Find the Mexican president and you're home.
- CJ in the briefing room brings a lot of funny stuff along the way. Even in otherwise serious storylines.
CJ: We're confirming now that a suspect has been taken into custody and is being questioned by federal law enforcement. At this time we cannot, we are not releasing any information whatsoever about the suspect.Steve: CJ can you tell us anything? His name? Where he's from? Ethnicity? If you guys suspect a motive?CJ: Yes, Steve, I can tell you all those things, because when I said we weren't releasing any information whatsoever I meant except his name, his address, his ethnicity and what we think his motive was.
- This exchange:
Bartlet: Charlie! Would you pull the first lady out of whatever it is she's doing?Charlie: She's with the women's caucus.Bartlet: Well put on a helmet and pads and get in there.
- Recently, there has been two "reunion" clips of most of the regular cast members:
- A clip for Funny Or Die where the cast promote the health of walking for 30 minutes a day... by doing the Walk and Talk.
- A political ad for actress Mary McCormack's sister Bridget running for Michigan's State Supreme Court in 2012. Promoting voter attention for non-partisan down-ballot votes AND making us all pine wistfully for a show cancelled six years prior...
- Oh, in case you were wondering. She won.
- In Midterms, after the President give an awesome verbal beatdown to a bigoted radio host Sam adds a little insult to injury by walking right up to her while she's still looks stunned, taking a crab puff off of her plate and eating it in front of her before walking away.
- Matt and Helen Santos have just been blindsided by Josh Lyman:
Matt: Josh wants me to run for President.Helen: ...of the United States?
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