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Recap / The West Wing S 01 E 20 Mandatory Minimums

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As promised at the end of last episode, President Bartlet comes out swinging in regards to campaign finance reform, nominating John Bacon and Patty Calhoun to the F.E.C. Steve, the Republican staffer who clashed with Josh about it, goes to Sam, hoping to get him to see reason, and telling Sam the Republicans can work with Sam on drugs (more on that below) if Sam convinces the President to hold off on campaign finance reform. Sam refuses, but when he tells Josh and Toby about what happened, they realize the Republicans know about Sam's relationship with Laurie, and are waiting for the right moment to expose it.


Also along the lines of campaign finance reform, Toby brings out Al Kiefer (more on him below) to provide numbers, and Joey Lucas to work with Josh on the issue of English as the national language. Josh tries to act as if it's fine, but he ends up wearing a special suit for her, and while he tries to order her around, he also ends up giving her a coffee mug at the end of the day. Finally, Leo has Toby go out to lunch with his ex-wife Andrea "Andy" Wyatt (Kathleen York) to assure her the White House won't unilaterally ask the Democrats to give up soft money, and while she warns him there'll be opposition, she says the White House can count on her support.

Meanwhile, Sam and Toby are briefing President Bartlet on drugs. Despite protests from Kiefer that they'll look like they're soft on crime and he can't sell it, they insist they can make a case for treating drug addiction as a disease to be treated, rather than to jail the offenders. To neutralize those who think, like Kiefer, that emphasizing treatment equals soft on crime, Leo brings in the staff members of seven different Congressmen and reveals he will publicize the drug-related misdeeds of the offspring of the Congressmen that garnered them lighter sentences than they should have received by law unless the Congressmen agree to play fair in debating the issue. Sam feels the President should also talk about how mandatory minimums (mandatory sentences for crack cocaine users as opposed to regular cocaine users) are racist (Andy presses Toby on this as well). Toby thinks they should only deal with one thing at a time, but at the end of the episode, he confesses both Sam and Andy are right and they should be talking about mandatory minimums as well.


Elsewhere, Leo has C.J. bar Mandy from the main staff meetings, and C.J. freezes Danny out, all because of Mandy's memo and Danny writing a story on it; however, President Bartlet tells Leo and C.J. to stop freezing them out at the end of the episode.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Berserk Button: C.J. doesn't like it when Danny calls her "bush league" for freezing him out:
    C.J.: Don't talk to me like that in front of people!
    Danny: Look...
    C.J.: No! I just got called amateur twice in 10 seconds. The White House Chief of Staff can do it to me wherever he wants. You don't do it in front of people.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Josh asks Donna if she was afraid to tell him Toby was bringing in Al Kiefer. Donna denies she was afraid, but when Josh realizes Joey Lucas is coming as well, Donna admits she was afraid of telling him that. Also:
    Josh: It's no big deal. And I'll tell you what else.
    Donna: You're a pro.
    Josh: I... I am a pro. But that's not what I was going to say.
    Donna: What were you going to say?
    Josh: That's what I was going to say.
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  • Continuity Nod: Joey tells Josh (through Kenny) she's not sleeping with Al Kiefer anymore. Also, Leo expresses misgivings about his meeting with the congress staffers, given his drug history. Finally, President Bartlet admits he's sleeping better and feeling better overall.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: After Leo's meeting with the congressmen's aides, Andy confesses to Toby she was coming home from a date with someone who was pulled over on a DUI, but the cop recognized her and let them off with a warning. Toby's okay with that since she didn't pull rank, but when he finds out she was out on a date with the executive director of the Baltimore Orioles...
    Andy: Toby, are you upset that I went out on a date? Or are you upset that I went out on a date with someone who plays in the same division as the Yankees?
    Toby: Honest to God, I'm not sure.
  • Foreshadowing: Sam's relationship with Laurie, campaign finance reform, and English as the national language will all play big parts in the next episode.
  • Gilligan Cut: As usual, within the same scene:
    Josh: Joey, we're in a bit of a mode here and I think it's best if we just do business. Plus, this is the White House. I wouldn't expect candy and flowers on your arrival.
    Margaret: Excuse me. Joey? These are from Leo McGarry. (gives her flowers) He says welcome and let him know if there's anything you need.
    Joey: (through Kenny) Well, that's so sweet. Thank him for me.
    Margaret: I will. Did you have a good flight?
    Josh: (sternly) Go back to your office.
  • Hypocrite: Played with: Leo gets the senior advisers of several congressmen who are likely to attack the President's drug abuse initiatives into the White House, confronts them with evidence that said congressmen have used their influence to ensure softer penalties for relations of theirs who have been involved in drug-related offenses, and bluntly informs then that the White House will not tolerate even the whiff of hypocrisy on this matter:
    Leo: The President wants a lively debate, he wants to hear opposition. But he's not gonna stomach hypocrisy. We start hearing "soft on crime, soft on drugs" from any of the people you work for, we've got seven stories ready for page one.
    • Leo admits that he's uncomfortable with this exercise, given his own history of alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Insistent Terminology: During C.J.'s briefing after President Bartlet's announcement:
    Reporter: C.J., is the President declaring war on Congress?
    Josh: (watching on TV) Say it's a police action.
    C.J.: The President isn't empowered to declare war. The President is empowered - in fact, he's obligated - to nominate Federal Agency Directors. I call it more of a police action.
    Josh: (chuckling) How about that.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word:
    Sam: You're not calm, Leo. You're acting like a nervous hooleelia.
    Toby: A what?
  • Power-Up Food: Discussed during President Bartlet's speech at the beginning:
    Chris: The President ate his Wheaties this morning.
    C.J.: As a matter of fact, the President had a bowl of oatmeal this morning. He said it was something he's always wanted to try.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Hi, Senator. Why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass."
    Josh: That's how we do things in New England, my friends.
    Bonnie: In Indiana, we're not allowed to talk like that.
    Ginger: In New Jersey, we encourage it.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Right before President Bartlet makes his announcement about the F.E.C., the Senate majority leader is chatting with his staff about how a constituent sent him a bottle of brandy when they meant to send him cognac.
  • Shipper on Deck: Charlie towards Josh and Joey Lucas.
    Charlie: I could help you out.
    Josh: Help me out with what?
    Josh: Stop saying that!
  • Shout-Out: Bonnie calls Josh Rambo after his Precision F-Strike. Also, when Josh and Toby tell Sam about the fact the Republicans know about Laurie, Josh compares it to the scene in The Godfather when Michael tells Sonny he's going to kill Sollozzo.
    Josh: It is like that scene. I'm James Caan. (points to Sam)'re Al Pacino...Toby, you're the guy who shows Pacino how to make tomato sauce.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: When telling President Bartlet about having lunch with Andy, Toby calls her Congresswoman Wyatt, and Bartlet asks if he called her that while they were married. Bartlet then admits he sometimes calls his wife "Dr. Bartlet", but only for the turn-on (which counts as a Continuity Nod, since we already saw how sexy he thought his wife was in doctor mode).

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