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Recap / The West Wing S 01 E 05 The Crackpots And These Women

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Leo makes the senior staff (and their assistants, though we don't see that) participate in what Toby calls, "Throw Our Doors Open to People We Could Care Less About Day" (Josh dubs it "Total Crackpot Day"). According to Leo, Andrew Jackson, when he was President, would make his staff speak to constituents they otherwise would not have contact with - while serving them from a big block of cheese that was in the foyer of the White House - and in that spirit, Leo wants the staff to meet with citizen's groups that might not otherwise get to meet with the White House. Therefore, Sam meets with a man who thinks the White House should pay more attention to UFO's, and C.J. meets with an environmental group who wants a "wolves only" highway.


Josh, meanwhile, meets with an agent from the National Security Council who hands him a card that enables him to go to safety in case of a nuclear attack. Josh is freaked out when he finds out no one else on the senior staff (or Donna) received a card as well, and at the end of the episode, he gives the card back to President Bartlet because he doesn't want to be away from his friends if something happens.

Toby is at loggerheads with President Bartlet throughout the episode. First, Toby thinks President Bartlet should disavow the gun bill, but Bartlet refuses; then, Toby is the lone one objecting to the White House going to a Hollywood fundraiser because he thinks the person throwing it makes movies with gratuitous sex and violence. Finally, Toby finds out, contrary to what he had been told, that he wasn't the first choice for his job, but David Rosen was. When Toby and Bartlet finally get a chance to talk alone, Bartlet admits this, but says he's glad he ended up with Toby, even if they do argue a lot.


Finally, Zoey, President Bartlet's youngest daughter, comes to visit, and in her honor, President Bartlet makes chili for the staff.

This episode contains examples of:

  • And This Is for...: When Josh walks into Leo's staff meeting, he asks, "Is it Total Crackpot Day again?" As Leo and Josh leave to meet with the National Security Council, Leo slaps Josh lightly on the back of his head, and says, "That's for 'Total Crackpot Day'."
  • Because I Said So: Played with:
    Mandy: It will infuriate the left, it will energize the right and everyone in the middle will feel they just got yanked around...I’m sorry, Mr. President, did you want to answer that?
    President Bartlet: Yeah, my answer was gonna be “because I said so,” but you did pretty good.
  • Big Eater: Cathy.
    Cathy: (her mouth half-full) You know that doughnut sitting on your desk?
    Sam: You ate it.
    Cathy: That was predictable, wasn't it?
  • Advertisement:
  • Blatant Lies: The tall muscular man who has arrived to join the President's team in a pickup game of basketball is a federal employee, and not a pro baller that the President brought in because he doesn't like losing.
  • Butt-Monkey: Despite everyone present making snarky comments about Big Block of Cheese Day, Sam is the only person who gets put on Leo's "Mental List of People Who Will Get Appropriate Retribution For Sniggering". What makes it even worse is that, before Leo showed up, Sam was the only one who showed any sign of genuine enthusiasm for doing it.
  • The Cameo: Real-life NBA player Juwann Howard plays Rodney Grant, the ringer President Bartlet brings in to help him win his basketball game against Charlie, Josh and Toby.
  • Captain Obvious: Once again, Donna, though again, it's Played for Laughs:
    Donna: You have a staff meeting.
    Josh: That's...where I'm going.
    Donna: I'm just telling you.
    Josh: Yes, but you see that’s obviously where I’m going, and yet you tell me anyway.
  • Characterization Marches On: This episode's "ouija board" comments are the last hints that Mrs. Bartlet is supposed to be some sort of nutball. She was turned into a much more level-headed and formidable character by the time she appeared on-screen.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": A Gender Flipped version:
    Josh: (referring to Zoey) This is a girl, Charlie. You don't have to call her ma'am.
  • Dope Slap: "That's for Total Crackpot Day."
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Or perhaps more accurately, Goofy Eccentric Weirdos With Oddball Causes Have A Point: both Sam and CJ initially scoff at the seemingly ridiculous matters their Block Of Cheese Day appointments bring to them, but gradually become more and more interested in them until Sam's getting paranoid about UFOs and CJ's telling everyone who'll listen how incredible wolves are.
  • Foreshadowing: As it turns out, Josh has more than a little interest in the men Donna dates.
  • Heroic BSoD: Josh has this the entire episode. It won't be the last time this happens.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Right after the exchange shown in Captain Obvious above:
    Donna: And you don't find that adorable?
    Josh: That you seek to control me?
    Donna: Yeah?
    Josh: Love it.
    Donna: Donald hasn't called me yet.
    Josh:...Right. Can we clear up a few things about my level of interest in the revolving door of local gomers that you see, in the free time you create by not working very hard at your job?
    Donna: Excuse me?
    Josh: You work hard at your job.
    Donna: ...And I am?
    Josh: Not at all controlling.
  • Hypocrite: Toby suggests that Bartlet will look like this if he attends film producer Larry Posner's fundraising benefit while in Los Angeles, since Toby is writing a speech in which Bartlet denounces Hollywood for making excessively violent movies. Sam (and Bartlet) point out that Toby's position on violence in movies is not without its own hypocrisies, however, since while passionately denouncing violence in Hollywood movies he has no problem with The Godfather despite it also being a violent movie; what Toby actually objects to is that most of the movies he's denouncing are bad movies.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Mandy: Yeah, so Mr. President, if you could further see clear to not answer that question like an economics professor with a big old stick up his butt, that would be good too.
    President Bartlet: I *am* an economics professor with a big old stick up my butt, but I’ll do my best for you there, Mandy.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: C.J. does this twice when meeting with the environmental group that wants the wolves-only highway. They don't laugh.
    Loomis: We thing you’ll admit it was a pretty impressive performance for Pluie, especially when you consider the impediments of modern life she had to conquer: highways, housing, forest denuded of trees.
    Marge: Not to mention the US-Canadian border.
    C.J.: Sure, cause no photo ID. (Laughs)
    Marge: I'm sorry?
    C.J.: That was a joke.
    Loomis: Why does Pluie make the trek? Because wolves have to breed with many packs in order to keep from becoming extinct.
    C.J.: Really?
    Loomis: If they breed among themselves, they’ll eventually produce offspring that’s genetically weaker, thus endangering their long-term survival.
    C.J.: That helps explain Buckingham Palace. (she laughs until she sees the others aren't)
  • Lethal Chef: The President is apparently this when it comes to chili:
    Bartlet: Hey, everybody, listen up - Zoe's down from Hanover and I'm making chili for everyone tonight!
    [Everyone looks horrified]
    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, including the cameraman] 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?
  • Noodle Incident: Sam and Josh both make reference to something about the First Lady and a Ouija board.
    • A mixed doubles tennis match with Toby and C.J. where the President's partner was Steffi Graf.
  • Properly Paranoid: Toby gets freaked when he hears a rumor that he was President Bartlet's second choice for the job. Turns out he was right.
    Toby: Remember a month ago when I asked you if I was the president's first choice?
    C.J.: We're back to this?
    Toby: And you called me paranoid?
    C.J.: Yes.
    Toby: And a nudnik. You called me a paranoid nudnik.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The scene at the chili dinner where President Bartlet and Toby make up, after fighting all episode, is similar to a scene in an early draft of The American President between President Shepard and Lewis.
  • Stealth Insult:
    Bob Engler: We're a little nerdy, I'll admit.
    Sam: You camouflage it well with your clothing.
    • And also:
    Sam: What can I do for you, Bob?
    Bob Engler: In a nutshell?
    Sam: So to speak.
  • Super Ringer: Bartlet brings on a former NCAA Final Four player from Duke University (a perennial college basketball powerhouse) to finish their pickup game of basketball, claiming he's a federal employee because he serves on the President's Council on Physical Fitness. It's apparently a habit with Bartlet, as Toby complains about playing in a mixed doubles tennis game where the President's partner, allegedly a consulate worker, bore an amazing resemblance to Steffi Graf.

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