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Recap / The West Wing S 01 E 06 Mr Willis Of Ohio

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The staff is getting ready to have an Appropriations Bill passed despite all of the useless amendments attached to it, but there's a hitch; part of the bill involves a census amendment that prohibits sampling. Toby, Mandy and Josh meet with two Congressmen and Joe Willis, an 8th grade social studies teacher who's filled in the seat for his late wife, in order to convince them to drop the amendment. To Toby's surprise, he's able to convince Willis, so the bill is able to pass.


President Bartlet asks Josh to take Charlie out for a night to give him a breather. Eventually, that party ends up including C.J., Mallory, Sam and Zoey, and they all end up in a D.C. bar. At the bar, while she's getting a drink order, Zoey ends up being approached by a group of frat boys; Charlie tries to get her away, which is when they start getting obnoxious. Josh ends up pushing Zoey's "panic button", and the Secret Service comes in to lead her away and arrest the frat boys. Naturally, President Bartlet ends up yelling at Zoey for putting herself at risk, but he apologizes. Another person he apologizes to is Leo; earlier, Leo told him about splitting up with Jenny, and Bartlet got angry at him and told him to fix it, but after the incident with Zoey, Bartlet asks if there's anything he can do.


Elsewhere, C.J. asks Sam to educate her about the census, and Donna banters with Josh about tax refunds.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear: As many fathers before him, Bartlet is terrified of the notion that Zoey can be assaulted/kidnapped/murdered. It's only amplified by the fact that he is the President.
  • Book-Ends: The episode begins and ends with the staff playing poker.
  • Chekhov's Alarm: Zoey's panic button.
  • Continuity Nod: Not just Leo's separation from his wife, but also the fact Mallory remembers that Sam told her he "accidentally" slept with a call girl.
  • Foreshadowing: Zoe's subplot and Bartlet's reaction to it heavily foreshadows certain events towards the end of the fourth season almost word for word.
  • Insufferable Genius: The rest of the staff is none too thrilled by the fact President Bartlet quizzes them on random trivia while playing poker.
    Josh: This is a pretty good illustration of why we get nothing done.
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  • Mugging the Monster: Of a sort, at least; one suspects that the obnoxious frat boys would be a lot less keen to harass Zoe and threateningly throw their weight around with Charlie, Josh and Sam if they knew that Josh had just summoned Zoe's Secret Service detail.
    Josh: You guys don't realise it, but you're having a really bad night.
  • Oh, Crap!: Seconds before the Secret Service storm in and thoroughly ruin the frat boys' evening, one of them nervously realises that he recognises Zoe from somewhere...
  • On Second Thought: After the first poker game:
    Josh: Sam, I’m going back to the office, they've got the commerce report ready for me. What are you doing?
    Sam: I was gonna go home.
    Josh: Sam, I’m going back to the office, they've got the commerce report ready for me. What are you doing?
    Sam: I’m going to go back to your office with you and make sure you understand the commerce report.
  • Papa Wolf: After he finds out a woman who had sneaked onto White House grounds wanted to kill Zoey, and after the incident in the Georgetown bar, President Bartlet immediately wants to up Zoey's protection. Zoey doesn't like this, and Bartlet gives an *epic* speech in response to illustrate what frightens him (and the Secret Service) the most:
    President Bartlet: They (the Secret Service) are worried about me getting shot. I'm worried about me getting shot; but that is nothing compared to how terrified we are of you. You scare the hell out of the Secret Service Zoey, and you scare the hell out of me too. My getting killed would be bad enough, but that is not the nightmare scenario. The nightmare scenario, sweetheart, is *you* getting kidnapped. You go out to a bar or a party in some club and you get up to go to the restroom and somebody comes from behind and puts their hand across your mouth and whisks you out the back door. You're so petrified you don't even notice the bodies of a few Secret Service agents lying on the ground with *bullet holes* in their heads. Then you're whisked away in a car. It's a big party with lots of noise and lots of people coming and going, and it's a half hour before someone says, "Hey, where's Zoey?" Another fifteen minutes before the first phone call. It's another hour and a half before anyone even *thinks* to shut down all the airports. Now we're off to the races. You're tied to a chair in a cargo shack somewhere in the middle of Uganda and I am told that I have 72 hours to get Israel to free 460 terrorist prisoners. So I'm on the phone pleading with Binyamin and he's saying: "I'm sorry, Mr. President, but Israel simply does not negotiate with terrorists, period. It's the only way we can survive." So now we got a new problem because this country no longer has a Commander-in-chief, it has a *father* who's out of his *mind* because his little girl is in a shack somewhere in Uganda with a *gun* to her head! Do you get it?!?
  • Rescue Romance: While it takes a few episodes to get going, it's likely Charlie's helping Zoey in front of the frat boys led to her asking him out.
  • Running Gag: Throughout the series, and especially prevalent here, President Bartlet's command of trivia, which can exasperate the staffers. In this episode, Donna wanting her money back thanks to the new surplus.
  • Shout-Out: When Bartlet says he thought Josh would take Zoey for malteds instead of the bar, Josh replies, "What is this, Our Town?" Bartlet then mentions he was in a production of the play.
  • Title Drop: At the very end, we hear the clerk read, "Mr. Willis of Ohio votes yea".
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Josh had only intended to invite Charlie out to go drinking, but then Mallory and Zoey invited themselves (on orders from President Bartlet), and Mallory asks Josh to invite Sam:
    Josh: The President’s daughter, Chief of Staff’s daughter, a Georgetown bar and Sam. What could possibly go wrong?
  • You Know What They Say:
    Donna: There's a $30 billion budget surplus.
    Josh: It'll actually shake out to about 32 billion.
    Donna: Whatever.
    Josh: Well, you know what they say.
    Donna: What do they say?
    Josh: A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there. Sooner or later it starts to add up to real money.
    Josh: I didn't coin it or anything.note 

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