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Recap / The West Wing S 01 E 09 The Short List

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Peyton Cabot Harrison III is the White House's choice to appoint to the Supreme Court, and they anticipate smooth sailing and no trouble getting him confirmed. So naturally, they run into a few snags. First of all, Sam uncovers an unsigned note Harrison wrote when he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review where he basically said the Constitution didn't provide a right to privacy. Secondly, Joseph Crouch, the retiring justice, tells President Bartlet off for making a safe choice with Harrison and not even considering Judge Roberto Mendoza. President Bartlet acts like he doesn't care what Crouch thinks, but asks Toby to gather information on Mendoza anyway. Finally, when President Bartlet invites Harrison to his office, Harrison not only confirms he wrote the note, but he still believes in what he wrote, and President Bartlet drops Harrison and asks Mendoza to be the next nominee, even though he and the staff know it'll be a tougher fight.


As if that wasn't enough, Congressman Lillienfield goes on television and accuses one in three White House staff members of using drugs on a regular basis. Josh reluctantly investigates Lillienfield's claim, and discovers the real target is Leo; not only is he a recovering alcoholic (which Josh admits is the worst kept secret in Washington), but he also was addicted to pills, and it turns out Lillienfield has the records from the clinic Leo went to for treatment. Both Josh and President Bartlet assure Leo nothing will happen to him, but Leo isn't convinced.

Elsewhere, Danny finally has somewhat of a breakthrough with C.J., and a piece of ceiling nearly falls on Josh's head.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – History: Josh says mentions that Peyton Cabot Harrison III's father was "Attorney General for Eisenhower." Eisenhower had two Attorneys General: Herbert Brownell, Jr. and William Rogers, neither of which had a son named Peyton Cabot Harrison III.
  • Foreshadowing: Leo's alcoholism and drug addiction play a major part of the next few episodes.
    • Also, within the episode, before the unsigned note comes to play, Toby tells Sam to play down the fact Harrison never wrote an opinion, or revealed one, about Roe vs. Wade, a decision that partially hinged on whether the Constitution provides the right to privacy.
    • Played for Laughs to an absurd degree in the pre-credits scene when Donna and Josh argue about exactly how easy Harrison's nomination will turn out to be. Donna urges Josh to exercise cautious optimism and warns that he not get too over-confident, while Josh thinks it's going to be a breeze. This ends up with Josh yelling at Donna that nothing bad is going to happen whatsoever... at which point a huge chunk of the ceiling slams down onto Josh's desk inches from his head, foreshadowing that Harrison's nomination is not going to go well at all.
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  • Ice-Cream Koan: "There’s many a slip twixt the tongue and the wrist, Josh."
  • It's All About Me: Josh takes all the credit (at first) for getting Harrison.
    Josh: It was a series of phone calls, which I masterminded, while I’m not one to be selfish about credit, I think it is important to know that it is done, and I DID IT!
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, when things have not worked out for Josh in the past, he's shown up drunk at Donna's apartment in the middle of the night, and yells at her roommate's cats, though we don't hear specifics as to when.
  • Servile Snarker: Donna.
    Donna: Peyton Cabot Harrison III.
    Josh: Yes.
    Donna: Jewish fellow?
    Josh: You're not going to ruin this moment for me, Donna.
    Donna: I'm sharing this moment with you.
    Josh: This is a big day for us.
    Donna: You're the men.
    Josh: You know what we're finally going to have?
    Donna: A WASP-y old man on the Supreme Court?
  • Ship Tease: C.J. kissing Danny on the cheek after he gives her a goldfish.
  • Shipper on Deck: Josh gives an in to Danny with C.J. when he tells her she likes goldfish. Even though it turns out she meant the crackers, C.J. is touched.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: C.J. does this when Leo is addressing the senior staff in his office at the beginning.
    Leo: You should wear a bell around your neck, you know that?
  • Tempting Fate: This episode is full of it, what with everyone saying Harrison's going to be the next Supreme Court justice and how easy it will be to confirm him. Lampshaded by Donna:
    Donna: There’s many a slip twixt the tongue and the wrist, Josh.
    Josh: Yes. Well, your fortune cookie wisdom notwithstanding, it’s gonna sail.
    Donna: Please don't get your hopes up.
    Josh: Why shouldn't I get my hopes up?
    Donna: Because when it doesn't work out, you end up drunk in my apartment in the middle of the night and yell at my roommate’s cats.
    Josh: Smooth sailing, Donna.
    Donna: Cautious optimism, Josh.
    Josh: Nothing bad is gonna happen this week.
    Donna: Exercise cautious optimism.
    • And then there's this scene, after Josh and Donna are inspecting the damage:
    Josh: You should be nice to me. I could be dead, you know.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Donna thinks this of Josh, Sam, and Toby; when they go around saying, "Who da man?", she says, "This is just gross."
  • They Call Me Mr Tibbs:
    President Bartlet: I am not Harry Truman.
    Justice Crouch: Mr. Bartlet, you needn't point out that fact.
    President Bartlet: It's "Dr. Bartlet", your honor.
  • Wham Line:
    Leo: Records kept by these facilities are confidential, Josh.
    Josh: He's (Lillienfield) got 'em.

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