In the three months leading up to the midterm elections, as Josh continues to recuperate, Charlie, President Bartlet and Toby are all still affected by the shooting. Charlie acts distant and cold from Zoe, until Andrew Mackintosh, who gets called in to do maintenance on the White House computers, tells him, "If they're shooting at you, you know you must be doing something right", after which he gets better. President Bartlet, meanwhile, becomes obsessed with an old opponent of his named Elliot Rousch, who's now running for school board in his hometown. Eventually, President Bartlet is able to channel his anger by dressing down Dr. Jenna Jacobs, a call-in radio host he disagrees with. Finally, Toby wants to use the power of the government, essentially, to lock up anyone wearing a white sheet, even though both C.J. and Sam point out he's running roughshod over the Constitution. President Bartlet is able to talk him down at the end, though.
Sam, meanwhile, gets his friend Tom Jordan to run for a congressional seat made vacant by the death of a Congressman. However, when it comes out Jordan, in his college days, belonged to an all-white fraternity, and while he was a prosecutor, preferred white juries when trying black defendants, so over Sam's objections, the White House ends up pulling their support and Jordan ends up losing the race. And as it turns out, despite the money and the campaigning, the House of Representatives essentially stayed the same (with the Republicans in control).
This episode contains examples of:
- Arc Words:Josh: I don't know, Toby, it's election night. What do you say about a government that goes out of its way to protect even citizens that try to destroy it?Toby: God Bless America. (C.J., Donna, Josh and Sam each repeat this line and they all toast each other)
C.J.: In a democracy, oftentimes, the other people win.President Bartlet: Yeah. It was just a thought, but I mean, obviously, you're right.
- Also, earlier in the episode, after President Bartlet gets angry at the fact Elliot Rousch will likely win:
- As the Good Book Says...: President Bartlet uses this trope against Jenna Jacobs.President Bartlet: I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.Jenna Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.President Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus.Jenna Jacobs: 18:22.President Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, and always clears the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath, Exodus 35:2, clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important, cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing, while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tightass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.
- Brick Joke: The "theory of everything" Josh nags C.J. about at the beginning of the episode. Also, Toby asks President Bartlet how he beat Elliot Rousch when he first ran against him, and Bartlet says he doesn't remember; after he gives Jenna Jacobs a verbal smackdown, he says, "Toby? That's how I beat him."
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This is the last we see of Zoey until Season 4, though she's referred to throughout this season.
- Completely Missing the Point: Sam, at least according to Toby:Toby: The shooting was the action of not one, but at least three card carrying members of West Virginia White Pride.Sam: They have cards?Toby: What?Sam: They actually have membership cards?Toby: What the hell? No, Sam, it was an expression.
- Continuity Nod: Josh is still recovering from the shooting, while President Bartlet has reported back to work early against the advice of his doctors. Also, Sam still doesn't know how to talk about the White House and its history.Sam: This is the Mural Room.Sarah: Humm...can you tell us anything about it?
- Curse Cut Short: In an unusual version of this trope, it's the person about to say the curse word who cuts off the sentence:Sam: Tom and I had a contracts professor at Duke who couldn't stand me.Tom: "Those may be your thoughts, Mr. Seaborn, but that's not the law."Sam: If he knew how many times I wanted to tell him to take the law and shove it up his...Hey, have you guys been to the White House?
- A Father to His Men: President Bartlet and, in a weird way, Toby. It's the cause of their collective Heroic BSoD, as President Bartlet points out:Toby: Why does it feel like this? I've seen shootings before.President Bartlet: It wasn't a shooting, Toby. It was a lynching. They tried to lynch Charlie right in front of our eyes, can you believe that? (hands a file to Toby)Toby: What's this?President Bartlet: Keyhole satellite photographs. It's the headquarters for West Virginia White Pride headquarters. It's a diner outside Blacksberg. Every night for the past 12 weeks, I've picked up the phone and called the Attorney General, fully prepared to say two words: take 'em. And then I hang up the phone because I know it'll be better tomorrow and better the day after that. We saw a lynching, Toby. That's why it feels like this.
- Guilt Complex / It's All My Fault: The reason why Charlie is acting distant towards everybody is he feels it's his fault President Bartlet was shot. Also, as he reveals to Andrew Mackintosh, he blames himself for his mother getting shot and killed, because he asked her to switch to another shift.
- Head Desk: Josh bangs his head on the headboard of his bed when C.J. says "psychics at Cal Tech and the Fermi National Accelerator Lab"C.J.: You know what? I'm pretty sure that was supposed to be "physicists".
- Heroic BSoD: Charlie, President Bartlet and Toby are all suffering from this through the episode, though they all get better at the end.
- Hollywood Healing: Averted; it takes Josh the entire three months to completely recover from his gunshot wound.
- Manly Tears: Toby nearly breaks down and cries when he asks President Bartlet if he can take a leave of absence.
- The Oner: All the Walk and Talk conferences C.J. has on the way to her press conference at the beginning are done in one long tracking shot.
- Only Sane Employee: C.J. is the only one who seems to realize the other staffers (as well as President Bartlet, and except for Leo) have been psychologically affected by the shooting, but aren't paying attention to that fact.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech / Real Life Writes the Plot: President Bartlet delivers an epic takedown of Jenna Jacobs for using the Bible to call homosexuality "an abomination." Aaron Sorkin took some of the speech from an anonymous email written to Dr. Laura Schlessinger (the real-life controversial radio call-in host who served as the basis for Jacobs) on the same topic.
- Rules Lawyer: President Bartlet insists on making campaign calls from the residence because, as Leo explains to Zoey, the President takes seriously the Pendleton act, which prohibits campaign donations from being solicited on government property.Zoey: It's a little impractical for the President to step across the street to use the pay phone, isn't it?Leo: Exactly.Zoey: Isn't the residence government property too?Leo: Yes.Zoey: Then why does-?
Charlie: Mr. President, why don't you stay in your office and make the damn... (he stops when he realizes he's gone too far)President Bartlet: Because I choose not to, Charlie. Because, however an empty gesture it may seem, I would like to take some executive notice of the notion that it's probably not a good idea for the most powerful and influential person in the world to be calling up the people whose laws he signs and asking them for money! (Beat) I'm going to do it, but not behind this desk and not in this room.
- Played for Drama later when Charlie and President Bartlet snap at each other about Bartlet making campaign calls from the residence (to show just how deeply their collective Heroic BSoD is affecting each of them):
- Serious Business: President Bartlet does not like it when you imply there are good things in the world that don't come from New England, in particular a Brooklyn egg cream or Alaskan crab.
- Shaped Like Itself: Played for Laughs by C.J.:Josh: (on speakerphone) It's called "The Theory of Everything".C.J.: The "Theory of Everything"?Josh: Yes.C.J.: Is it comprehensive?
- Shout-Out: When Sam is the fourth member of the staff to interrupt C.J. as she's on her way to give a press briefing, she grouses, "Oh, holy interruptus, Batman!"
- Those Two Guys: Ed and Larry are the ones who tell the staff they have a good chance of taking back the House, and picking up seats in the Senate.
- Too Much Information: When Charlie tells Leo that he and Zoey are going out.Leo: Charlie, you're taking extra protection, right?Charlie: (taken aback) Hey, Leo...Leo: Secret Service protection, Charlie! But thanks for loading me up with that image.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Hilariously subverted:Donna: He's (Josh) recovering from an attempted murder. He's supposed to be resting and I don't want people going over there getting him fuhtushed.Toby: Fartoost. Don't bring the Yiddish unless you know what you're doing.Donna: You know what word should be Yiddish, but isn't?Toby: Donna.Donna: Spatula.Toby: Thank you.Donna: Also, far-fetched.