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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 04 In This White House

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President Nimbala (from the African country Kundu) comes to the White House (along with the translator) for a health summit as the staff tries to negotiate a compromise between Kundu and the rest of Africa on one hand, and the U.S. pharmaceutical companies, to treat the millions in Africa affected by HIV and AIDS. Toby and President Nimbala accuse the drug companies of price gouging, which they deny, and the drug companies don't think African leaders have an understanding of what causes AIDS, or the means to help stop the spread of the disease (they're also not happy with the black market sales). Eventually, Toby and Josh are able to hammer out a compromise solution - if the African nations will commit to stopping the flow of black market drugs, the companies will lower their prices and the U.S. government might forgive Africa's debts and loan them money. However, before Nimbala can go back to help implement the deal, there's a coup in his country. Against President Bartlet's advice, President Nimbala goes back to offer himself so Bartlet can have any Americans evacuated, but President Nimbala is executed when he returns.


Sam gets his lunch handed to him on the news show Capitol Beat by Ainsley Hayes, a Republican columnist and lawyer. President Bartlet, over Leo's objections (and to the anger of C.J. and Sam), decides to hire her to work for the White House counsel's office. Ainsley doesn't like the prospect of working for a Democratic White House, even though she's always wanted to work there, but when she sees them in action - she happens to see the staff talking to President Nimbala after his country's been overthrown, and she also sees C.J. worrying over whether or not she can go to jail for leaking news of a grand jury investigation (since C.J. heard about it from a witness who testified, she won't go to jail) - Ainsley changes her mind and decides to take the job.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Arc Words:
    Leo: The President likes smart people who disagree with him. He wants to hear from you. The President's asking you to serve. And everything else is crap.
  • Berserk Button: Sam does not like it when anyone talks about guns, especially when Josh is in the room.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Ainsley: I've been thinking about that ever since your office called me on Tuesday, and I have something to say on my own behalf, if you'll permit me a moment to say it, and I understand if you won't, but I would really appreciate it if you did.
    Ainsley: I think that it is wrong for a man in your position to summon someone to the White House to reprimand them for voicing opposition. I think that that is wrong, and it is inappropriate. It's inappropriate, and I'll tell you what else.
    Leo: It's wrong?
    • Then there's Ainsley's line later; "When I was young, I was a young Republican!"
  • Downer Ending: To the Nimbala subplot.
  • Encyclopedic Knowledge: For once, averted in the case of President Bartlet; he knows whom President Nimbala is talking about when Nimbala brings up a man who invented dwarf wheat (which allowed India to recover from a drought), but when Leo asks for details about dwarf wheat, Bartlet snaps, "What am I, Farmer Bob?"
  • 555: Averted; the first call Ainsley gets when she's setting up caller ID is (202) 456-1414, which is the actual phone number of the White House switchboard.
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  • Jerkass Has a Point: Toby and Josh get into an argument about the pharmaceutical companies and their practices towards selling HIV/AIDS medication to African nations. Toby accuses them of price-gouging and exploiting the poor and desperate to make ridiculous profits on pills that only cost them four cents a unit to make. Josh points out that while the second pill may cost four cents, the first pill cost several hundred million dollars in R&D costs. Though it's arguably subverted, since Toby then goes on to list the various political benefits open to the pharmaceutical companies that mean they'll make that money back, and that their practices are still pretty exploitative.
  • Motor Mouth: Ainsley, oh so much.
    Ainsley: It's a nervous condition.
  • Oh, Crap!: C.J. when she thinks she's broken the law by revealing a grand jury investigation to a reporter. Also when Ainsley tells her she could go to jail for 18 months (although it turns out she was kidding).
  • Pass the Popcorn: After Ainsley runs roughshod over him on TV, Sam says to himself, "Please, God, let no one be watching." Sure enough:
    Josh: Toby, come quick. Sam's getting his ass kicked by a girl.
    Toby: Ginger, get the popcorn!
  • Right Behind Me: Subverted.
    Leo: (closing the door to his office) Were you offered coffee or something to drink?
    Ainsley: Yes, the woman who works out there, who I imagine is your secretary, offered me coffee or something.
    Leo: Okay.
    Ainsley: She was also kind enough to ask for my coat.
    Leo: Excellent, and-
    Ainsley: She seems to be a very good secretary.
    Leo: Well, she'll be happy to hear that, she's standing right outside the door. (he bangs his fist on the door)
    Margaret: (from outside) Ow.
  • Rule of Three: In addition to the example below in Suddenly SHOUTING!:
    Ainsley: You have my FBI file?
    Leo: Yes.
    Ainsley: I can't believe this! You have my FBI file?
    Leo: Yes.
    Ainsley: I *have* an FBI file?
  • Running Gag: "Mr. McGarry." "Leo." "Yes, sir."
  • Servile Snarker: Charlie's response when President Bartlet tells him he wants to hire Ainsley is, "Absolutely, Mr. President. Cause I'm told that theirs is the party of inclusion."
    President Bartlet: When they close the book on me and you, it will say that at this moment you were not there for me, and for that, obviously, there'll be some kind of punishment.
    Charlie: Well, you could sing Puccini for me again, Mr. President. We'll call it even.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Ainsley: I get sick when I drink too much.
    Leo: I get drunk when I drink too much.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Ainsley's reaction when one of her Republican friends asks if she met anyone who wasn't worthless.
    Ainsley: Say they're smug and superior, say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don't call them worthless. At least don't do it in front of me. The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good. Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots. And I'm their lawyer.
  • Smug Snake: Ainsley accuses the White House staff of being like this, though she comes to change her mind somewhat.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: C.J. after Leo tells her and Sam he's hiring Ainsley:
    C.J.: Are you kidding?
    Leo: No.
    C.J.: Are you kidding?
    Leo: No.
    Leo: No!
  • Title Drop: "I'm sorry; a job in *this* White House?"
    Ainsley: Yes, please.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: A variation when Ainsley asks Leo why she's in his office:
    Leo: So I could offer you a job.
    Ainsley: I'm asking because I do not think that it is fair that I be expected to play the role of the mouse to the White House's cat in the game of, well, you know the game.
    Leo: Cat and mouse?
    Ainsley: Yes. And it's not like I'm not, you know...the fact that I may not look like some of the other Republicans who have crossed your path does not mean I am any less inclined towards...(realizes something)
    Ainsley: Did you say offer me a job?
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After much arguing with pharmaceutical company reps, Toby and Josh are able to cut a so-so deal that will benefit AIDS victims in President Nimbala's country. Then there's a coup, Nimbala's brother and sons are killed, and he is executed as soon as he returns home.

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