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Recap / The West Wing S 01 E 02 Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

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Mandy is upset because Senator Russell makes a deal that effectively neuters his campaign run, so she quits. As it happens, the senior staff is able to convince Leo they need a new media director, so he agrees to hire Mandy, much to Josh's consternation. Vice-President John Hoynes (Tim Matheson) makes a comment about White House policy that seems strained, and when C.J. tries to ask him about it, he blows her off; she covers for him, but Leo sees through this and chews the Vice-President out for it. Sam confesses to Josh and Toby about seeing Laurie; not only that, but he wants to see her again (though not paying for her services, of course), and does so. Finally, Syria shoots down a plane carrying President Bartlet's physician, along with other Americans, and the President, who earlier had talked about how reluctant he was to use force against his enemies, is ready to strike back.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Badass Boast: Leo makes it clear that he will not tolerate any division between President Bartlett and Vice President Hoynes.
    Vice-President Hoynes: You're a world-class political operative, Leo. Why shouldn't I keep doing what I've been doing?
    Leo: Because I'll win. And you'll end up playing celebrity golf the rest of your life.
    Vice-President Hoynes: How long do you expect me to stick around here and be his whipping boy?
    Leo: Give this President anything less than your full-throated support, and you're gonna find out exactly how long.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Josh swaggers into Mandy's office to offer her the job of media director for the White House, Mandy ecstatically sighs out "Josh!" and goes towards him in a way that suggests this is going to be a romantic, or at least happy, reunion. Then, she snaps out "Took you look enough!" and hits him in the chest.
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  • Black Dude Dies First: Morris Tolliver is the first named character to die on the show.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Mandy drives her car onto the curb to berate Senator Russell for agreeing to the deal:
    Mandy: You know what the worst part about this is?
    Senator Russell: Well, I think you dinged up your suspension pretty good.
  • Continuity Nod: Sam and Laurie, plus the 443 bill.
  • Description Cut: Mandy tells Senator Russell the worst part about the deal he made is how much everyone in the West Wing's going to gloat. Senator Russell assures her that a blow was struck for party unity, which means there's no cause to gloat. Sure enough:
    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: It's gonna be an unbearable day.
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  • "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño": After President Bartlet asks the staff if they know what "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" means (see Title Drop below):
    Josh: Uh, "post"-after, after hoc, "ergo"-therefore, "after hoc therefore" something else hoc.
    President Bartlet: Thank you. Next?
    Josh: Uh, if I had gotten more credit on the 443...
  • Establishing Character Moment: Though Mrs. Landingham had appeared briefly in the pilot, this is the episode that showed her talent for being a Servile Snarker:
    Toby: Mrs. Landingham, does the president have any free time this morning?
    Mrs. Landingham: The president has nothing but free time, Toby. Right now, he's in the residence eating Cheerios and enjoying Regis and Kathy Lee. Should I get him for you?
    Toby: Sarcasm's a disturbing thing coming from a woman your age, Mrs. Landingham.
    Mrs. Landingham: What age would that be, Toby?
    Mrs. Landingham: Atta boy.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Poor Morris probably thought he was on a show where flashing around a picture of his wife and newborn baby wouldn't get him killed. Poor Morris thought wrong.
  • Foreign Language Title
  • Foreshadowing: The conflict between the Vice-President and President will become even more pronounced over the coming weeks.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Parodied:
    Sam: I can recite the members of Congress in alphabetical order.
    Sam: And I got some patter with the capital gains tax, too.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: As Leo and Dr. Tolliver are talking about the latter's newborn daughter and his picture of her, Margaret comes up and chides Leo for adding someone to an appointment. Leo responds by giving her Dr. Tolliver's picture to look at, and she predictably melts.
  • Insistent Terminology: Sam slept with a call girl, not a hooker (or prostitute), and it was accidentally.
    • Also, earlier in the episode:
    C.J.: U.S.A. Today asks you why you don’t spend more time campaigning in Texas and you say it’s cause you don’t look good in funny hats.
    Sam: It was "big hats".
    C.J.: What difference does it make?
    President Bartlet: It makes a difference.
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    President Bartlet: What's in Jordan?
    Dr. Tolliver: Amman.
    President Bartlet: You should stay here. We got Amman, a woman, little kids, the works.
    Dr. Tolliver: 131 over 84.
    President Bartlet: See, that was a joke.
    Dr. Tolliver: Good one.
    President Bartlet: Everybody's a critic today.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out what exactly the joke the President told that so offended the Ryder Cup team was.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: As Mandy is railing against Senator Russell and his aides about tabling 443:
    Mandy: That bill was our coming out party! We were gonna have the stage for a month! It was our Nessun Dorma!
    Staffer #1: What the hell's Nessun Dorma?
    Staffer #2: It's an Italian opera by Wagner.
    Mandy: It's Puccini. Wagner's German, and you're a moron.
  • Rule of Three: Josh hires back Mandy (and her roommate Daisy) under these conditions:
    Josh: Rule number one, she can't punch me. Rule number two, I would prefer it if the two of you didn't get drunk in the middle of the day...Rule number three, and I really can't emphasize this enough, you answer to me and you answer to Toby. My office is drawing up some instructional charts that pretty much outline the chain of command. For instance, you answer to me and you answer to Toby.
  • Running Gag: Donna trying to get Josh to enter a college football pool, and trying to get him to bet on the underdog in lopsided matches.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Dr. Morris Tolliver.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Josh trying to convince everyone they should hire a new media director (anyone but Mandy) because of all the PR mistakes they've made (including the Ryder Cup) is similar to a plotline in the pilot of Sports Night.
  • Servile Snarker: Mrs. Landingham, of course, but also Dr. Tolliver:
    President Bartlet: Jokes like that (the golf joke) are part of my folksy charm, Morris. It's the very heart of my popularity.
    Dr. Tolliver: Don't you have a job approval rating of like three percent or something?
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Josh: C.J., they turned down the invitation?
    C.J.: They declined.
    Josh: What does that mean?
    C.J.: It means they turned down the invitation.
  • Speak in Unison: After Josh has been told Mandy's been hired:
    Josh: Wait, I-I have certain objections.
    Leo: Like what?
    Josh: For one thing, the President would never go for this.
    Leo: Sure he will.
    Josh: How do you know?
    Josh, Leo: (in unison) I (You) already asked him.
  • Tempting Fate: Josh is sure to insist at every possible opportunity that anyone but Mandy should be considered for the media consultant job. Guess who is immediately and unanimously agreed upon (by everyone but Josh) as the only possible candidate for the job.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs:
    Vice-President Hoynes: Leo, I have had it up to here, with you and your pal! I’ve been shoved into a broom...
    Vice-President Hoynes: Yes.
    Leo: You are referring to President Bartlet?
    Vice-President Hoynes: Yes.
    Leo: Refer to him that way.
  • Title Drop: After C.J.and the others claim the President lost Texas in the election because of a joke he made about wearing big hats:
    President Bartlet: C.J., on your tombstone, it's gonna read, "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc".
    C.J.: Okay, but none of my visitors are going to be able to understand my tombstone.
    President Bartlet: 27 lawyers in the room, anybody know "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc"?
    President Bartlet: Leo?
    Leo: After it, therefore because of it.
    President Bartlet: After it, because of it. It means one thing follows the other, therefore it was caused by the other, but it's not always true. In fact, it's hardly ever true. We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke. Do you know when we lost Texas?
    C.J.: When you learned to speak Latin?
    President Bartlet: Go figure.
  • Tranquil Fury: President Bartlet at the end, after the plane carrying Dr. Tolliver is shot down and everyone is killed; "I'm gonna blow them off the face of the earth with the fury of God's own thunder." And it is chilling to watch.
  • You Got Spunk: Senator Russell attempts to cheer Mandy up by telling her this. Mandy's response is to threaten to kill him with her shoe.

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