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Crowning Moment Of Awesome: The West Wing

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The moment that was awesome which will be remembered forever, winning your eternal fannish loyalty.

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President Bartlet:

Religion is popular CMOA fodder for President Bartlet; being a devout Catholic, he doesn't have patience for Strawman Political religious forces. His smackdown to a Dr. Laura-like radio talk show host about her condemnation of homosexuality using numerous quotes from the Bible itself and a rather large faux pas that she's made ("When the President stands? No one sits.") worked rather well.

President Bartlet:

There's the scene in "Two Cathedrals" when, standing alone in National Cathedral, he bitterly condemns God himself in untranslated, unsubtitled Latin

President Bartlet:

First, his entrance line,

John Van Dyke: Then what is the first commandment?
President Bartlet (entering): I am the Lord your God, thou shalt worship no other God before me.
He goes on to verbally bitchslap a group of arrogant Religious Right pundits, telling them how an extreme Christian group sent his granddaughter a doll with a knife stuck through its throat after she gave an interview discussing her views on abortion:
President Bartlet: You'll denounce these people, Al. You'll do it publicly. And until you do, you can all get your fat asses out of my White House.

This example, by the way, is his very first appearance in the series. Just sayin'.

President Bartlet:

In his campaign re-election, Bartlet gives several opportunities for a crowning moment, so let's consider them together.

  • President Bartlet insults Ritchie on an open mike, which sends the staff into paroxysms, but the Ritchie staff bungles the situation so badly that everyone comes out thinking the President was right. Only CJ figures out that the President did it on purpose.

  • The debate: Ritchie opens saying that the President will attempt to justify increased taxes and a large federal government with one word: 'Unfunded Mandate'. The moderator invites President Bartlet to respond:
    President Bartlet: Well, first of all, let's clear up a couple of things. "Unfunded mandate" is two words, not one big word.
  • As his staff looks on in awe, the President continues to wallop his ass. As summed up by CJ: "That's not Uncle Fluffy."

  • "In the future, if you're wondering, "Crime. Boy, I don't know," is when I decided to kick your ass."


"The Short List": Sam vets a potential Supreme Court justice.

Sam: In 1787, there was a sizable block 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 that people are entitled only to those rights enumerated and no others.' So the Framers knew...
Harrison: Were you just calling me a fool, Mr. Seaborn?
Sam: I wasn't calling you a fool, sir. The brand new state of Georgia was.

President Bartlet

His Redemption in the Rain scene in "Two Cathedrals": in the middle of a powerful thunderstorm, and to the tune of Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms," he decides to hell with his critics: his MS revelation notwithstanding, he's running for reelection. Without saying a single word. We don't hear what he says in response to the question "will you seek a second term?" until the next season:

President Bartlet (casually): Yeah. And I'm gonna win.


In "A Proportional Response," President Bartlet wants a much stronger response to the shooting down of an American jet than the "proportional response" his advisers recommend, but Leo sets him straight:

Leo: You think ratcheting up the body count's gonna act as a deterrent?
President Bartlet: You're damn right I...
Leo: Then you are just as stupid as these guys who think capital punishment is going to be a deterrent for drug kingpins. As if drug kingpins didn't live their day to day lives under the possibility of execution, and their executions are a lot less dainty than ours and tend to take place without the bother and expense of due process. So, my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that. We're the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemagne. But you better be prepared to kill everyone. And you better start with me, because I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you.


Will's CMOA is his response to a snotty reporter during a press conference, who asks why Will's keeping the campaign alive when his candidate's dead.

Will Bailey: Chuck Webb, a seven-term Congressman who is chairman of not one but two Congress subcommittees, has taken money from companies he regulates. He's on the board of the NRA and once challenged another congressman to a fistfight on the floor over an amendment to make stalkers submit to background checks before buying AR-15s, AK-57s, streetsweepers, MAC-10s, MAC-11s. He has joined protests designed to frighten pregnant women.
Reporter:What's your point?
Will Bailey:There are worse things in the world than no longer being alive.


"Mandatory Minimums": an irate senator, furious about a speech President Bartlet is making and promising to his staff that he'll launch a legislative agenda that will completely cripple the President, calls Josh.

Josh: Hi Senator, why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass? hangs up
Crowd (reacting to the President's speech): wild applause

C.J. Cregg:

C.J. Cregg gets her CMOA in a third-season episode in which a White House social function is interrupted by news of a terrorist bombing in the Middle East which kills two American students. An entertainment reporter is covering the evening. C.J. changes from evening wear to business wear and stonewalls the press until POTUS can speak with the dead boys' parents. The entertainment reporter's story implies that C.J. (1) didn't know what was going on, and (2) was more concerned with changing her clothes. Later in the Press Room, C.J. completely humiliates the reporter by exposing her ignorance of veto override procedure and the number of Representatives in Congress, advising her to "get the notes from a classmate". The reporter confronts her afterwards:

C.J.: I changed my clothes because I didn't think it was appropriate to talk about the death of two teenagers while wearing a ball gown, and you knew that. Because you're stupid, but you're not stupid, you know what I'm saying? Security's going to take your press credentials. You'll call my office every day and I'll decide if you get into the room. I'm taking your spot on Pebble Beach. You can do your stand-ups from Lafayette Park.
Sherri: Who the hell...
C.J.: One more word out of your mouth and every local station in town but yours gets an exclusive with the President. Hunting season on me is over.
Sherri: *purses her lips and stomps away*
C.J.: And the chemical abbreviation for table salt is Na Cl.

Matt Santos

Matt Santos, in the only commercial his meagre fundraising efforts in New Hampshire can afford:

Santos: Good evening. I'm running for President and if you don't know know who I am, I wouldn't be surprised. I've been shut out of tomorrow night's debate for suggesting that it actually be a debate and this is the only ad I can afford. I got in this to improve a broken school system, to fix entitlement because they're going bankrupt, to expand health coverage because it will save money if fewer people in up in emergency rooms. What I found is that Presidential campaigns aren't about these things. They're about clawing your opponents' eyes out as long as you don't get tagged for it. So how about this: I will never say anything about my opponents or anything about anything without saying it myself, right into the camera. You might not get to hear much of me but when you do, you'll know I stand by it. I'm Matt Santos and you better believe I approve this ad.


Shadow of the Gunman 2

"Obviously thereís one story thatís gonna be dominating the news around the world for the next few days. And it would be easy to think that President Bartlet, Joshua Lyman, and Stephanie Abbott were the only people who were victims of a gun crime last night. They weren't. Mark Davis and Sheila Evans of Philadelphia were killed by a gun last night. He was a biology teacher and she was a nursing student. Tina bishop and Belinda Larkin were killed with a gun last night. They were twelve. There were36 homicides last night. 480 sexual assaults. 3411 robberies. 3685 aggravated assaults. All at gun point. And if anyone thinks those crimes could have been prevented if the victims themselves had been carrying guns, Iíd only remind you that the President of the United States was shot last night while surrounded by the best trained guards in the history of the world."

President Bartlet:

There's that marvelous scene in the first half of In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, when Josh sees Bartlet in action for the first time, explaining in a town hall meeting why he voted against a bill that would have helped local dairy farmers:

"Today for the first time in history, the largest group of Americans living in poverty are children. 1 in 5 children live in the most abject, dangerous, hopeless, back-breaking, gut-wrenching poverty any of us could imagine. 1 in 5, and they're children. If fidelity to freedom of democracy is the code of our civic religion then surely the code of our humanity is faithful service to that unwritten commandment that says we shall give our children better than we ourselves received. Let me put it this way: I voted against the bill because I didn't want to make it harder for people to buy milk. I stopped some money from flowing into your pocket. If that angers you, if you resent me, I completely respect that. But if you expect anything different from the President of the United States, you should vote for someone else."

Josh Lyman

To a Democratic congressman voting against the President's gun control bill.

"See, you won with 52 percent, but the President took your district with 59. And I think it's high time we come back and say thanks. Do you have any idea how much noise Air Force One makes when it lands in Eau Claire, Wisconsin? We're gonna have a party, Congressman. You should come; it's gonna be great. And when the watermelon's done, right in town square, right in the band gazebo. You guys got a band gazebo? Doesn't matter; we'll build one. Right in the band gazebo, that's where the President is going to drape his arm around the shoulder of some assistant D.A. we like. And you should have your camera with you, you should get a picture of that, 'cause that's gonna be the moment you're finished in Democratic politics. President Bartlet's a good man, he's got a good heart, he doesn't hold a grudge. That's what he pays me for."

President Bartlet / Josh:

Josh and President Bartlet share credit for "Shutdown." The Republican-controlled Congress has managed get the Federal Government shut down for having no budget, and everybody blames the President. Josh, bouncing back from his funk, convinces the President to walk to Congress, stopping to commiserate with tourists. This flusters the Speaker of the House so much that he huddles with his allies for what feels like hours as the President cools his heels in the lobby. You can feel the public opinion shifting. When the President's delegation leaves before the Speaker manages to stick his head out of his conference room, it's all over for the Speaker.

Christopher Mulready

Newly-minted, conservative, Justice Mulready's conversation with Charlie at the end about affirmative action:

Charlie: "...affirmative action's about a legacy of racial oppression."
Justice Mulready: "It's about compromising admissions standards."
Charlie: "That's bull —- Excuse me. It's about leveling the playing field after 300 years—-"
Justice 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 be based on potential and how a candidate may thrive with this sort of opportunity. And studies show that affirmative action admits have a higher disposition to contribute to society."
Charlie: "Hang on, I've got to write this down."

C. J. Cregg

In "Ways and Means." Bartlet had revealed his MS and a special prosecutor had been appointed to investigate whether he had done anything illegal by covering it up during the campaign. The special prosecutor was a calm and deliberate guy, and C.J. realized it would be better for them to have an opponent who would come after them out of pure spite (so it would seem more like a partisan attack) - like, say, the Republican-controlled Congress. She starts dropping hints to the press about how much they respect the special prosecutor, to the point that even Democrats were asking her not to seem quite so eager to work "with" him. After a few days of C.J. playing basically the entire country, Congress gets fed up and says they're not going to wait for Bartlet's "hand-picked" special prosecutor and are going to start holding hearings - just like C.J. wanted.

Ainsley Hayes

Her discussion with her radical Republican friends after her introductory episode, after they assume she did not take the job.

Man: Did you meet anyone there who isn't worthless?
Ainsley: Don't say that.
Man: Did you meet anyone there who has any - ?
Ainsley: I said don't say that. Say they're smug and superior. Say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don't call them worthless. At least don't do it in front of me. The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good. Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots. And I'm their lawyer.

President Bartlet:

"Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc" ends with an American plane being shot down by Syria; on board was President Bartlet's physician, of whom he was very fond. Leo, who's former military, is worried that the militarily inexperienced President is scared, but his response terrifies Leo.

President Bartlet: I am not frightened. I am going to blow them off the face of the Earth with the fury of God's own thunder.

The Democratic members of the House Of Representatives

Let's face it, even the house members in his own party were sometimes a problem for the President and the internal struggles dragged their image down. So they got a collective crowning moment when they surpassed the tricks of the Speaker to avoid a vote with "Operation Sleepover".

President Bartlet

There's President Bartlet's decision to accept a congressional censure:

President Bartlet: There's another reason... I was wrong. I was, I was just... I was wrong. Come on, you know that. Lots of times we don't know what right or wrong is but lots of times we do and come on, this is one. I may not have had sinister intent at the outset but there were plenty of opportunities for me to make it right. No one in government takes responsibility for anything anymore. We foster, we obfuscate, we rationalize. "Everybody does it." That's what we say. So we come to occupy a moral safe house where everyone's to blame so no one's guilty. I'm to blame. I was wrong.

President Bartlett / Charlie

A smaller-scale and subtle moment, but no less awesome thanks to Fridge Brilliance: In "Stirred," President Bartlet does Charlie's tax return. Think about that for a second: not only is the President the kind of guy who will happily do one of his employees' tax return for him—he says he actually enjoys it—but Charlie has managed to persuade the President of the United States, a Nobel Laureate in economics, to do his taxes.

  • That plot turns into a rolling snowball of awesome when the president finishes the return:
    Charlie: They're saying I owe the federal government money?
    President Bartlet: And you don't even need a stamp. Hand it over.
    Charlie: There's a mistake.
    President Bartlet: Whatever. Cough it up.
  • By the end of the episode, though, the President tells Charlie he's so impressed how much Charlie gave to charity, he's making him a gift of the DVD player Charlie was going to buy with his tax refund.


I'm shocked... shocked that no-one has mentioned Will calling down a rainstorm to help get his now living impared candidate elected over his fully armed and operational opponent.

President Bartlet:

The episode "In The Room" Bartlett shuts everyone up with six words: "This plane is going to China!" Did we mention he was paralyzed from the neck down when he said it?

Followed by a heartbreaking moment of dignity when he pushes his own wheelchair in to the press briefing.


Due to the timing, probably one of the defining moments for the character in our memories. As the vice-presidential debate looms, everybody is anxious about Leo's performance in the practices but want to keep him calm. They also want to keep the expectations low but leaking it out themselves would be too obvious and look bad to the press and to Leo. Unfortunately, it gets leaked without their control, now the expectations are low but they're worried about how Leo will take it. Then the debate actually comes.

He knocks it out of the park.

Then he reveals he was the leak. Sending out a secret video of himself performing subpar on purpose to lower expectations so that they wouldn't have to and so the expectations would be rock bottom

Christopher Mulready:

His introduction has him debating Toby on the Defense of Marriage Act, Toby's every position against the act being questioned and challenged and when Toby gets riled up into ad hominem attacks (as he is wont to) Mulready reveals that he's against the act but for different reasons and wanted to make sure it was supported for the right reasons (plus it's fun to mess with Toby).


Will Bailey shattering a glass window with Toby's pink superball in rage, after years of Toby doing the same thing with no effect.

Toby: "That window's a game-day player."
Josh: "[Will's] really that invested in this?" *shatter*

Also sets up a Brick Joke - later, when the window has been repaired, Will steps into his office, notices it, and gently touches the (unsecured) glass. Hilarity Ensues

Matt Santos/ Arnold Vinick

The debate between Santos and Vinick in the seventh season had enough awesome for both of them. It was, in essence, a 1 hour long CMOA for the series which refused to not let each side of the campaign get their moments.

Matt Santos / Arnold Vinick

Santos and Vinick share a CMOA even after the campaign, when President-elect Santos offers Vinick a job as his Secretary of State

President Bartlet/Charlie

The CMOA for their relationship: After sending Charlie on an exhaustive hunt for the just-perfect knives, he offers his set to Charlie as a gift. Charlie doesn't recognize the insignia "PR". Bartlett tells him they were made by Paul Revere and belonged to Bartlett's great-great-grandfather. Who gave them to his great-grandfather, who gave them to his grandfather, who gave them to his father, who gave them to Bartlett. And one day Charlie will give them to his son.

Sam Seaborn

In the episode "Six Meetings Before Lunch", after Mallory O'Brian has been badgering him all day about a position he doesn't even really hold, he's bailed out by Leo (who reveals the truth) before Sam turns to Mallory and says:

"Mallory, education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That's my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet."

This is like porn for speechwriters and playwrights.

Not to mention public school teachers.

Charlie Young

From the 19th episode of the fourth season, after a few shots are fired at the White House, everyone is being held where they were by Secret Service agents.

President Bartlett: Where's Charlie?
Leo: He's somewhere in the building.
Ron Buterfield: We're holding people where they are right now.
Bartlett: But if he's heard what happened he's gonna be trying to get here.
Butterfield: We've got to hold everyone for a moment so we can secure the
Bartlett: No, I'm telling you that if Charlie heard there were bullets he's gonna overpower whosever trying to
Charlie bursts in.
Charlie: Sorry, Mr. President.

Leo / Bartlet

In episode 19, "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet," the crew have been worn down to the breaking point by a year of mostly lost battles, a 42% approval rating, and a feeling like nothing they're doing matters. At the end of the episode, Leo and Bartlet have a heated argument that swiftly turns into a shouting match, each blaming the other for leading them down this path. It looks like it's headed for a CMOS, but then something breaks. Whispering that he "doesn't want to feel this way anymore," Bartlet informs Leo he is no longer going to be concerned about making people mad, and, at Leo's urging, begins repeating the mantra, "this is more important than reelection...I want to speak."

Leo, thrilled to see his friend re-energized and upbeat again, goes back to his office and tells the previously downcast staff that they are going to make some radical changes, and no longer toe the line. The whole staff returns to the enthusiasm they had at the beginning of the year, and strike out with newfound purpose, not five minutes after everything seemed at its bleakest. Cue audience fist-pumping.