- 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."
- Don't forget his followup: "Boy those were the days."
- 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. CJ, show these people out.
- This example, by the way, is his very first appearance in the series. The original premise of the show was that the President would only appear a few times throughout the season with the focus being on the Senior Staff. Martin Sheen was so good during this scene the producers immediately decided that Bartlet had to be a regular character.
- That's just the public persona, the President as an institution, as a force of nature. The revelation of his true character is when, after spending an entire episode thinking he's going to get fired by a furious President for a stupid and damaging mistake, Josh gets specifically called by name as the staff leave the room.
- 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.
(After being distracted from his prepared speech by seeing her in the crowd at a talk radio reception)
Bartlet: In Psychology? ... Theology? ... Social work?
Bartlet: I'm asking, 'cause on your show, people call in for advice and you go by the name Dr. Jacobs on your show. And I didn't know if maybe your listeners were confused by that, and assumed you had advanced training in Psychology, Theology, or health care.
Jacobs: I don't believe they are confused, no sir.
Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an "abomination."
Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.
Bartlet: Yes it does. Leviticus.
: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? (Pause) While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing. While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building
when the president stands, nobody
sits. (Jacobs stands up)
- "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 going to be nervous about retaliating, 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 way the scene is set up, it's implied that President Bartlet is aware of his image as a kind man reluctant to use the military, and his delivery to Leo is less of a statement and more of a warning that he is not as soft as his best friend imagines.
- The scene in "Two Cathedrals" when, standing alone in the National Cathedral after Mrs. Landingham's funeral, he bitterly condemns God himself in untranslated, unsubtitled Latin.
Bartlet: You're a son of a bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, was that supposed to be funny? "You can't conceive, nor can I, of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God", says Graham Greene. I don't know whose ass he was kissing there, because I think you're just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman, a warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours but praise his glory and praise his name? There's a tropical storm that's gaining speed and power. They say we haven't had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the North Atlantic last year. 68 crew. You know what a tender ship does? It fixes the other ships, doesn't even carry guns. Just goes around, fixes other ships and delivers the mail. That's all it can do. Gratias, tibi ago, Domine. Translation Yes, I lied! It was a sin, and I've committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug?! 3.8 million new jobs, that wasn't good? Increased foreign trade, bailed out Mexico, 30 million new acres of land for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we're not fighting a war, I've raised three children and that's not enough to buy me out of the doghouse?! Haec credam a Deo pio? A Deo iusto? A Deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem! Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui! Officium perfeci! Cruciatus in crucem - eas in crucem! Translation (stops at the altar, pulls out a cigarette, lights it, takes one defiant puff, and stubs it out inside the National Cathedral) You get Hoynes.
- 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. It's not needed thanks to the posture he adopts just before the camera stops rolling, but the next season's dialogue is a direct translation of the pose:
(casually): Yeah. And I'm gonna win. (He does.
- Bartlet arriving at the press conference drenched in rain may look silly, but if you take the religious undertones of that episode into account, he has just arrived at the worst point of his political career baptised by God himself. Of course he's gonna win.
- And then his staff are similarly drenched after the conference, signifying their reinvigoration as well.
- In his campaign for 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 by throwing a "big word" at them: 'Unfunded Mandate'. The moderator invites President Bartlet to respond:
President Bartlet: First, let's clear up a couple of things. "Unfunded mandate" is two words, not one big word. There are times when we're 50 states. And there are times when we're one country and have national needs. The way I know this, is that Florida didn't fight Germany in World War II or establish civil rights. You think states should do the governing wall-to-wall. That's a perfectly valid opinion. But your state of Florida got $ 12.6 billion in federal money last year, from Nebraskans and Virginians and New Yorkers and Alaskans with their Eskimo poetry. Twelve-point-six, out of a state budget of 50 billion. And I'm supposed to be using this time for a question, so here it is: Can we have it back, please?
- As summed up by CJ, "It's not gonna be Uncle Fluffy."
- The entire debate was a Curb-Stomp Battle, with Bartlett owning Ritchie's ass from start to finish.
- Related to the above, later that night the Deputy Communications Director is explaining to someone that the White House staff had thought Bartlet was going to have to fall all over himself being nice to Richie in order not to seem arrogant, but that polling convinced them that he was going to be seen that way no matter what.
Sam Seaborn: And then, that morning at 3:10, my phone rings, and it's Toby Ziegler. He says, "Don't you get it? It's a gift that they're irreversibly convinced that he's arrogant. 'Cause now he can be."
- Bartlet and his election opponent Governor Rob Ritchie (R-FL) happen to meet in the lounge outside a fundraiser they're both attending for charity. President Bartlet is in a morose, contemplative mood because earlier that night, a Secret Service agent he knew had accidentally gotten killed trying to intervene in an armed robbery. When he mentions it, Ritchie responds in a somewhat exaggerated Southern drawl:
Ritchie: Crime. Boy, I don't know.
Bartlet pauses before returning to the subject of the campaign
Bartlet: We should have a great debate, Rob. We owe it to everyone. When I was running as a governor, I didn't know anything. I made them start Bartlet college in my dining room. Two hours every morning on foreign affairs and the military. You can do that.
Ritchie: How many different ways you think you're gonna find to call me dumb?
Bartlet: I wasn't, Rob. But you've turned being un-engaged into a Zen-like thing, and you shouldn't enjoy it so much is all, and if it appears at times as if I don't like you, that's the only reason why.
Ritchie: (Offended) You're what my friends call a superior sumbitch. You're an academic elitist, and a snob. You're, uh, Hollywood, you're weak, you're liberal, and you can't be trusted. And if it appears from time to time as if I don't like you, well, those are just a few of the many reasons why.
Bartlet seems to brush this off, and gets up when he hears the music signaling the end of the break. At the door, he turns to Ritchie:
Bartlet: In the future, if you're wondering, "Crime. Boy, I don't know" is when I decided to kick your ass.
- 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.
- In the episode "In The Room" Bartlet 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.
- 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."
- 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 NaCl.
- From "Enemies Foreign and Domestic":
"Outraged? I'm barely surprised. This is a country where women aren't allowed to drive a car. They're not allowed to be in the company of any man other than a close relative, they're required to adhere to a dress code that would make a Maryknoll Nun
look like Malibu Barbie. They beheaded 121 people last year for robbery, rape, and drug trafficking, they've no free press, no elected government, no political parties, and the royal family allows the religious police to travel in groups of six, carrying nightsticks and they freely and publicly beat women. But "Brutus is an honorable man." Seventeen schoolgirls were forced to burn alive because they weren't wearing the proper clothing. Am I outraged? No, Steve. No Chris. No, Mark. That is Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace. Bonnie, then Scott."
- From "In The Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part II":
"Obviously theres one story thats 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 were thirty-six 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, Id 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."
- 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.
- In the season six episode "Third-Day Story", while Josh and Toby are running around like headless chickens screwing up just about everything they turn their hands to, CJ quietly and competently handles everything thrown her way and saves their hides repeatedly, to boot. No wonder she's the one promoted to Chief of Staff; she's proven she can handle the job already! And in the following episode, "Liftoff", after a few initial jitters, she settles into the role with class, handing the Secretary of Defense Hutchinson his ass when he tries to undermine her and resolving the crisis-of-the-week with ease.
- In Faith-Based Initiative, rumours circulate that CJ (as a powerful, unmarried woman who used to be an excellent basketball player) is a lesbian. After agonising over whether she or not she should shoot the rumours down, she eventually delivers this speech:
C.J.: You know what? I've spent the last 14 hours being snickered at by United States senators, being ostracised on the World Wide Web, having my own colleagues question my ability to do my job. And I let it get to me. So I don't think it really matters whether I'm gay or straight or the best women's basketball player in Ohio Valley history. No one should be treated this way.
Reporter: You didn't answer the question.
C.J.: That's right, because it's none of your business.
- The ending of "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics". After a few rocky patches during the previous months that have made her doubt her position and whether she's properly respected within the White House, C.J. is running polling on the White House's approval rating following her revamped media strategy. Everyone else thinks it will hold steady, and her prediction that they'll increase by 5 points is ridiculed and ignored. She even tells Joey Lucas that she's not sure how many more times she can walk into the Oval Office and say she's wrong. In the final scene, the President and the senior staff are gathered when she comes in with the polling results and acknowledges that she was wrong about a 5 point bounce in their approval rating. They've actually gone up 9 points. Even prior to that, her verbal smackdown when Toby tries to nitpick the polling questions:
Toby: We need to talk about the asymmetry of question six.
C.J.: We really don't.
Toby: Since when are you an expert on language?
C.J.: In polling models?
. Since when are you an uptight pain in the ass?
Toby: [immediately contrite] Since long before that.
- "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. Toby and Sam are trying to help brace him for the threatening call he's about to receive, after having to stand idly by and be dressed down by the Senator's staff a few days ago.
Sam: I'm just saying you're probably rocked back from your meeting last week.
Josh: A little.
Sam: They threatened you ... They made you feel powerless and you're a little off your game. A little gun shy.
(Josh's assistant hands him the phone)
Toby: Josh, if you need us, we're standing right here.
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
Josh: Turns out I was fine. nonchalantly tosses the phone to Donna
- To a Democratic congressman voting against the President's crime 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."
- Charlie had been interviewing for a low-level position at the White House, and got noticed to be the President's personal assistant. While he is still in shock about that, the President walks in an introduces himself to Charlie with "Do you want to help us with this work?", which simply blows Charlie's mind even further. As he is standing in the Oval Office, all around him the networks are setting up for a live broadcast by the President. Josh notices that absolute incredulousness/amazement/awe/whatever that is on Charlie's face at where he is and what he is about to do, and Josh says the CMOA line which shows he knows exactly how Charlie feels:
"It doesn't go away."
- The NSA gives Josh a card that will help him get to safety in the case of a nuclear attack. When Josh finds out that neither his assistant Donna nor any of his senior staff co-workers save for Leo got the same thing he gives the card back.
"I can't keep this. I think it's a white flag of surrender. I want to be a comfort to my friends in tragedy. And I want to be able to celebrate with them in triumph. And for all the times in between, I just want to be able to look them in the eye. Leo, it's not for me. I want to be with my friends, my family, and these women."
- Josh's finest political hour (other than helping to get first Bartlet and then Santos elected in the first place) is in Season 5's "Shutdown". He's been sidelined because his usual aggressive approach has prompted a right-leaning Democratic congressman to leave the party and become a Republican, and he's widely regarded as a liability. He gets shut out of the budget negotiations, which come to a complete halt when Haffley reneges on a deal and insists that the White House increase existing budget cuts from 1% to 3%, and Bartlet is so infuriated (not by the budget cuts so much as by Haffley's arrogance in going back on the deal just because he knows he can get away with it) that shuts the entire federal government down. Again, Haffley is not worried: he is delighted that people will see just how little things will change when the federal government isn't working. The Bartlet team, which is still recovering from the kidnap of the President's daughter, is flailing. Finally, Leo calls for Abby, who on returning to the White House, asks pointedly "Where's Josh?" Josh is readmitted to the inner circle and whereas everyone else insists that there's nothing they can do but suck up Haffley's demands, Josh asks Bartlet what he wants to do. Realising that Haffley has had the initiative all along and that all they've done is react to him, Josh then suggests that Bartlet go up to the Hill in person to see Haffley. Everyone thinks it'll make Bartlet look weak, but Bartlet goes for it. On the way, Bartlet sees some sightseers who've come to town and he gets the motorcade to stop so he can say hi. Josh then estimates that it'll take about ten minutes if they walk the rest of the way, so they do. This gives C.J. time to alert the press corps, and by the time Bartlet and his people have arrived at the Capitol they are accompanied by a mob of TV cameras. Haffley is incredulous at such a "stunt", but he and his people make the fatal mistake of not letting Bartlet in until they've agreed what the plan is to be. While they talk, Bartlet sits and waits patiently, in full view of the TV cameras. After a few minutes, Josh quietly advises Bartlet to leave. When Haffley finally comes out to say hello, Bartlet and the TV cameras are already leaving the building.
- In "A Proportional Response", hostile Democratic congressman Bertram Coles has just said on his local radio: "Folks down here are patriotic, fiercely patriotic. The President better not be planning on making any visits to this base. If he does, he may not get out alive." Toby goes apeshit at this gross disrespect from a member of their own party, but when Leo pointedly reminds him that they can't arrest Coles just for being rude, he can only seethe quietly. However, he later sees a bunch of reporters hanging around the press room, and goes over to them. They ask him to comment on the Coles quote, and he nonchalantly says "The Secret Service investigates all threats made against the President. Its White House policy not to comment on those investigations." Later on:
C.J.: Do you know about the Secret Service investigating Coles for threatening the president?
Toby: [innocently] No...
C.J.: Maggie Greenwald is quoting you as saying they investigate all threats made against the president, and it's White House policy not to comment.
C.J.: [grinning] Did you say that?
Toby: Yeah. [as if this has just struck him] Hey, you don't suppose that's how the story got started? [Beat] You know what, C.J., you tell Bert Coles that Toby Ziegler said there's a new sheriff in town.
- And with that, the character of Bert Coles is never mentioned again.
- "In Excelsis Deo":
Bartlet: (Wondering why Toby is arranging a funeral) Whats going on?
Toby: A homeless man died last night; a Korean War veteran, who was wearing a coat that I gave to the Goodwill. It had my card in it.
Bartlet: Toby, youre not responsible for
Toby: An hour and twenty minutes for the ambulance to get there. A Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps, Second of the Seventh. The guy got better treatment at Panmunjom.
Bartlet: Toby, if we start pulling strings like this, you dont think every homeless veteran would come out of the woodworks?
Toby: I can only hope, sir.
- "He Shall, from Time to Time". In respect to a line in the State of the Union speech:
Bartlet: What's on your mind?
Toby: The era of big government is over.
Bartlet: You want to cut the line?
Toby: I want to change the sentiment. [pause] We're running away from ourselves and I know we can score points that way, I was a principal architect of that campaign strategy right along with you, Josh. But we're here now, tomorrow night we do an immense thing; we have to say what we feel, that government, no matter what it's failures in the past and in times to come for that matter, government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind. No one...gets left behind. An instrument of good.
- This moment was so awesome that it actually inspired Will Bailey's first Awesome Moment, when he cites it to Toby as one of the reasons to radically redefine American foreign policy so they can go stop a massive African genocide.
- In "17 People", he takes the President to task over his failure to reveal his MS:
Bartlet: Toby's concerned that the peaceful solution I brokered in Kashmir last year was the result of a drug-induced haze.
Leo: I was there with him. So was Fitz. So was Cashman, Hutchinson, Berryhill...
Toby: Well, that's fantastic.
Toby: None of you were elected!
Bartlet: I was elected, they were appointed. The Vice President was elected. He has the constitutional authority to assume my—
Toby: Not last May. He didn't last May when you were under general anesthesia.
Bartlet: That's because I never signed the letter, but I don't think I got shot because I got MS.
Toby: No, I don't think you did either, sir. I meant that during a night of extreme chaos and fear when we didn't yet know if we'd been the victims of domestic or foreign terrorism, or even an act of war, there was uncertainty as to who was giving the national security orders, and it was because you never signed the letter. So I'm led to wonder, given your condition and its lack of predictability why there isn't simply a signed letter sitting in a file someplace. And the answer, of course, is that [chuckles] if there was a-a signed letter sitting in a file someplace, somebody would ask why. The Commander in Chief had just been attacked, he was under a general anesthetic, a fugitive was at large, the manhunt included every federal state and local law enforcement agency. The Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware National Guard units were federalized. The KH-10s showed Republican Guard movement in southern Iraq. And 12 hours earlier an F-117 was shot down in the no-fly, and the Vice President's authority was murky at best. The National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State didn't know who they were taking their orders from. I wasn't in the Situation Room that night, but I'll bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that it was Leo. Who no one elected! For 90 minutes that night, there was a coup d'état in this country.
- "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.
- 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.
- Sam Seaborne is arguing with the newly-hired White House Associate Counsel, Ainsley Hayes, who happens to be a hardcore conservative Republican, over the general policy of the president, and follows her to her office. There, both he and Hayes find a bouquet of dead flowers (and a card which calls her a very nasty word). Realizing immediately who sent the bouquet, Sam rushes to confront them, defending a woman he constantly disagrees with, and doesn't even like, because it's the right thing to do.
Sam Seaborn: You know what, guys? When I write something, I sign my name. Here, I'll show you.
[He grabs Steve Joyce's desk blotter, dashing everything on it to the floor, and begins writing on it with a red marker]
Steve Joyce: SAM!
Sam Seaborn: Do you have any idea how big a harassment suit you just exposed us to? She just...she works here. Which is more than I can say for either one of you.
[He flips the blotter over so they can see what he has been writing. It says, "You're fired. S. Seaborn."]
- In "Isaac and Ishmael", Sam (the resident expert on terrorism) gives a terse, biting speech on why terrorism—as terrifying as it may seem—will never be a true threat to society, since terrorists have always failed at furthering their causes. Also a Moment of Awesome for the writers, considering said episode was written just two weeks after the 9/11 attacks.
: You know a lot about terrorism? Sam
: I dabble. Girl
: What are you struck by most? Sam
: It's 100% failure rate. Girl
: Really? Sam
: Not only do terrorists always fail at what they're after, they pretty much always succeed in strengthening whatever it is they're against. Boy
: What about the IRA? Sam
: Brits are still there. Protestants are still there. Basque extremists have been staging terrorist attacks in Spain for decades with no result. Left Wing Red Brigades from the 60s and 70s, from the Bader-Meinhoff gang in Germany to the Weatherman in the U.S., have tried to overthrow capitalism. You tell me. How's capitalism doing?
- Sam combines one with a CMOH in "Transition"; when Josh gets so stressed and exhausted that he's screaming at the staff, Sam tells him firmly that Santos can't do this job without Josh, and Josh has to be at his best to make that happen, so Josh is going to take a vacation or else Sam is not coming on as his deputy.
- In "The Red Mass", during a discussion with C.J. and Bartlet over the Ritchie campaign's successful gambit to limit the number of debates to two, Sam proposes they risk everything by suggesting a single debate instead. The President goes for it.
- In "20 Hours in America," the president has to give a speech at a fundraiser, following the explosion at a swim meet at Kennison State University. The president ends his speech with:
President Bartlet: Three swimmers from the men's team were killed, and two others are in critical condition, when, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They're our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars.
- During the MS hearing, when he gives a Republican Congressman a "The Reason You Suck" Speech for making Leo admit he fell off the wagon during the first Bartlet campaign.
Cliff Calley: That's where you're going with this?
Rep. Darren Gibson: Yeah.
Cliff Calley: Just to embarrass the guy.
Rep. Darren Gibson: Just?
Cliff Calley: Leo McGarry's sobriety isn't the subject of these hearings. These hearings are to investigate if any rules, ethical or otherwise, were broken by Jed Bartlet while he was running for President.
Rep. Darren Gibson: That's nice, but I live in the actual world, where the object of these hearings is to win.
Cliff Calley: No, it's not.
Rep. Darren Gibson: It's the object of the majority.
Cliff Calley: Not while I'm the majority counsel it's not; this is bush league. This is why good people hate us, this, right here, this thing... And if you proceed with this line of questioning, I will resign this committee and wait in the tall grass for you Congressman, because you are killing the party.
- 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 Bartlet: Where's Charlie?
Leo: He's somewhere in the building.
Ron Butterfield: We're holding people where they are right now.
Bartlet: 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 -
Bartlet: No, I'm telling you that if Charlie heard there were bullets he's gonna overpower whoever's trying to -
[Charlie bursts in.]
Charlie: Sorry, Mr. President.
- Thirty seconds later, Debbie does the same thing.
- From "20 Hours in America, Part 2". C.J. has been trying to find a new "Big Brother" for a delinquent teenager, Anthony, whose previous mentor was killed at the end of Season 3. She had approached Charlie once before; Charlie had declined because of his busy work schedule. However, he changes his mind during the following scene:
C.J.: I can take you home now.
Anthony: [under his breath] I don't need a babysitter.
[Charlie passes by on his way somewhere.]
C.J.: I'm sorry?
Anthony: I said I don't need a babysitter, bitch. Are you deaf?
[Charlie turns around.]
C.J.: [timid] Well, I don't think you do need a babysitter, I-
[Without stopping, Charlie grabs Anthony by the collar and pins him against the wall.]
Anthony: Yo, what the hell's the matter with you, dog?!
Charlie: This is Miss Cregg. She's the White House Press Secretary and senior counselor to the President. And if she wasn't, she would still be Miss Cregg. I don't mind your not respecting people. I mind your doing it out loud. I mind your doing it in this building. You want to be a punk, fine. But I don't think you've got the size for it. You want to go to juvy, get out, deal and kill cops, ok. But every time you do a crime, you get caught. So I think you're gonna have to do something else. Nine o'clock on Saturday mornings, I eat breakfast at Cosmo's on Delaware. I come here for an hour, do office work, and then I go to St. Jude's for an hour to play basketball. You can go to juvy, or you can be at Cosmo's, nine o'clock on Saturday morning. It's entirely up to you.
[Charlie turns and walks away.]
- In "Election Day (Part 1)", Charlie explains to CJ why he's been harassing her to find a new job: he wants to keep working with her. As he puts it:
Charlie: You're a smart, savvy woman who could easily consider world domination for a next career move.
- In "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics," Charlie encounters a man who once knew him as a waiter at an "exclusive club" (ie, no minority members). The man is in the embarrassing position of being fired from his position as a U.S. ambassador (for his own indiscretions), but he still wants to feel empowered, dammit. When Charlie is... less than deferential to his ego in polite conversation (like pointing out he's a hypocrite for saying he hates exclusive clubs when he obviously joined one in the first place), the man asks to speak to Charlie's "supervisor," not understanding who he is talking to:
Ken Cochran: I'm sorry to do this, but I'd like to speak to your supervisor.
Charlie Young: ...Well, I'm personal aide to the President, so my supervisor's a little busy right now looking for a back door to this place to shove you out of. But, I'll let him know you'd like to lodge a complaint.
- In "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet", when discussing the policy on homosexual people serving in the military:
Major Tate: Sir, we're not prejudiced toward homosexuals.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: You just don't want to see them serving in the Armed Forces?
Major Tate: No sir, I don't.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: 'Cause they impose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion.
Major Tate: Yes, sir.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: That's what I think, too. I also think the military wasn't designed to be an instrument of social change.
Major Tate: Yes, sir.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that's what they were saying about me 50 years ago. Blacks shouldn't serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I'm an admiral in the United States Navy and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff... Beat that with a stick.
- In, "A Proportional Response", cutting right through all through racial PR crap about hiring Charlie to be Bartlet's body man:
Leo: Do you have any problem with a young black man waiting on the president?
Fitzwallace: I'm an old black man and I wait on the president.
Leo: The kid's gotta carry his bags and-
Fitzwallace: You gonna pay him a decent wage?
Fitzwallace: You gonna treat him with respect in the work place?
Fitzwallace: Then why the hell should I care?
Leo: That's what I thought.
Fitzwallace: I got some real honest-to-God battles to fight, Leo, I don't have time for the cosmetic ones.
- In the same episode, Bartlet orders that the Joint Chiefs of Staff come up with "a disproportionate response," and I quote, that they "spend the next 60 minutes thinking up an American response scenario that doesn't make [Bartlet] think they're just docking somebody's damn allowance". What's the Chiefs' response? They actually do it. They draw up a scenario that targets Hassan airport, which has thousands of people coming through daily, whose destruction would affect the entire region's ability to receive supplies, and then they tell the president that this is a disproportionate response, just like he asked. The effect is that Bartlet backs down from his aggressive warpath and decides instead to go with one of their proportional response scenarios instead, becoming a lot more humble in his future military actions.
- The best part is that this is not done in a sarcastic or condescending manner, but utterly serious to show the President the power that he wields, and how terrible the consequences could be if he lets his rage override his responsibilities.
- In the episode "Red Haven's On Fire", Abbey asks Amy to save her from an unwelcome conversation. Amy chooses to do this with extreme prejudice.
Abbey: [smiling nervously] Oh God. Alana Waterman is about to zatz me on fair pay. Save me, would you?
Amy: You want me to?
[Alana has made it over. Abbey fakes being happy to see her. They shake hands.]
Alana: Abbey, you were charming.
Abbey: It's good to see you, Alana.
Alana: I'm not sure if you saw my op/ed this morning..
Abbey: I did!
Amy: [quietly] Me too.
Alana: [ignoring her] Well, what I wanted to say was...
Amy: [interrupting] I thought it was terrific, if that counts for anything.
Alana: Thank you. [to Abbey] Obviously...
Amy: And courageous.
Alana: I'm sorry?
Amy: I say, I thought it was courageous. Because the leadership wanted fair pay done quietly, so it didn't become necessary for the moderate Republicans to make it a symbol of left-wing overreaching. Not like the President doesn't have enough problems, but you said, "Screw the leadership." And I think that's courageous. Ironically, I have a hunch that the first lady could have been brought on board fair pay if she had been lobbied more, what's the word, more, you know, professionally. Rather than being embarrassed in this morning's newspaper. [Beat, smirking] Alana.
Alana: [agonised pause; to Abbey] Lovely remarks today, Ma'am. That's all I came over to say.
Abbey: Thank you.
[Alana leaves. Abbey turns to Amy with a look that says "What the *@!& was that?"]
Amy: You said, "Save me."
Abbey: I meant...walk me to the other side of the room, or something!