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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 05 And Its Surely To Their Credit

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Ainsley's first day in the White House doesn't get off to an auspicious start. First, when she meets her boss, White House counsel Lionel Tribbey (John Laroquette), he doesn't like her. Second, her office turns out to be the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue, way down in the basement. Finally, the other members of the White House staff are hostile to her, particularly Steve Joyce and Mark Brookline, whom Ainsley (under Tribbey's orders) questions about a memo they testified to Congress they didn't have when they did, in fact, have it. Joyce and Brookline send dead flowers to Ainsley with a note that reads "Bitch" taped to them. At that point, Sam, who had also been hostile to her, fires Joyce and Brookline for what they did. The next morning, Ainsley arrives at her office to discover it's been decorated and C.J., Josh, Sam and Toby are there to welcome her.


Josh is battling with his insurance company over medical costs from being shot. Sam is helping Josh with this, but he also gets the idea of having Josh sue the people who shot him, which would allow them to go after the white supremacist groups Toby wanted locked up. Josh considers it, but in the end tells Sam that he doesn't want to do it because suing the people who shot him, ultimately, feels too small (though he has no problem suing the insurance company).

Toby tells C.J. that General Ed Barrie (Tom Bower), before he retires, is going on various news shows to trash President Bartlet. C.J. responds by ordering the general to appear at the White House (as well as calling him a coward when he sends his staff aide instead), and then pointing out to General Barrie just how wrong his information is but also how he's wearing a medal he never won. President Bartlet, however, tells C.J. to let him speak because he feels Barrie has earned the right due to his actual service record.


Elsewhere, President Bartlet is attempting to tape a radio address, but keeps blowing it (though not always through his fault), and he and Abbey try to schedule a time to have sex for the first time since he was shot.

This episode contains examples of:

  • All Women Are Lustful:
  • Artistic License – Military: The Chief of Staff of the United States Army is the highest-ranking uniformed position in the Army. It's unlikely that a three-star general (Lieutenant General) like Barrie would hold the position.
  • Basement-Dweller: A work-related version, as Ainsley's office is way down in the basement.
    Leo: I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t even know we had offices down here.
  • Advertisement:
  • Blatant Lies: Leo tells Ainsley Lionel Tribbey was enthusiastic about hiring her right before admitting he hasn't told Tribbey about her yet.
    Ainsley: So you lied to me just then.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Lionel Tribbey, the subject of the top of the page quote.
  • Continuity Nod: When C.J. claims she's the only one not bothered by Ainsley being hired, Toby reminds her when she heard the news, she was so angry she broke a door. We didn't actually see that happen, but given her reaction when Leo gave her the news, it seems plausible.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Abbey: We have to find time before six.
    Bartlett: What happens at six?
    Abbey: I have to fly to Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania.
    Bartlett: Where the hell is Cochran's Mills?
    Abbey: Pennsylvania.
  • Description Cut: As usual, within the same scene; after Abbey has told Charlie to give President Bartlet a note saying Bartlet is okay physically to have sex with Abbey (see Exact Words below):
    Mrs. Landingham: Are you looking for the President?
    Abbey: I imagine he'll be along in a moment.
    President Bartlet: (rushing in after slamming a door behind him) Really?
  • Eureka Moment: Sam has one when Toby complains that they live in a country where Josh can sue one's insurance company but not the people that shot him. A blink later, and Sam realises that in fact Josh can sue the group for the actions of their members.
  • Exact Words: Played with:
    Abbey: (dictating a note to Charlie for him to give to the President) Your blood pressure is 120/80.
    Charlie: How did you know that, ma'am?
    Abbey: I'm saying his blood pressure.
    (Abbey gives Charlie more of President's vital signs to put into the note)
    Abbey: So we can have sex now.
    Charlie: Okay, that's not me and you now, right?
  • Foreshadowing: Sam and Toby get into a minor argument about who they should be paying more attention to, the environment or labor. It won't be the last time.
  • Gilligan Cut: As usual, within the same scene:
    Leo: You're going to meet him (Lionel Tribbey) right now. It's going to be fine.
    Ainsley: It's not going to be fine. He's gonna yell, and scream. I've seen him on TV...
    Leo: Well, that's TV. He's making a full-throated defense of the President! That's what we do. Believe me, in real life, when the cameras are off...
  • Insistent Terminology: Inverted.
    Ainsley: I'm working in the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue?
    Leo: No, you're working in your office.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Donna tries to warm up the crowd listening to President Bartlet recording his radio address by telling them to form a horseshoe against the wall, but "not an actual horseshoe; that takes special training as a blacksmith." The crowd doesn't laugh.
    Donna: They didn't laugh at the blacksmith joke.
  • Large Ham: Tribbey and General Barrie.
  • Moment Killer: Depending on your point of view, either President Bartlet or Abbey.
    Bartlet: (as Abbey goes into the bathroom to change into her "special garment") You went all the way to Cochran's... whatever to dedicate a monument to Nellie Bly? Abbey, you can really pass that kind of thing along. You don't have to accept every invitation from every yahoo historical society that knows someone in the Social Office. If you want, I can have Charlie...
    (he turns around and notices she's come out of the bathroom but hasn't changed her clothes)
    Bartlet: You haven't changed into the "special garment".
    Abbey: Cochran's Mills is where I went.
    Bartlet: Yeah. You know what I did, just then, that was stupid? I minimized the importance of the statue that was dedicated to Nellie Bly, an extraordinary woman to whom we all owe a great deal.
    Abbey: You don't know who she is, do you?
    Bartlet: This isn't happening to me.
    Abbey: ...(after lecturing Bartlet how Nellie Bly pioneered investigative journalism and changed the way mental health was treated in the U.S.) In 1890, she traveled around the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds, besting, by more than one week, Jules Verne's 80 days.
    Bartlet: She sounds like an incredible woman, Abbey. I'm particularly impressed that she beat a fictional record. If she goes twenty-one thousand leagues under the sea I'll name a damn school after her. Let's have sex.
    Abbey: When it comes to historical figures being memorialized in this country, women have been largely overlooked. Nellie Bly is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Motor Mouth: Once again, Ainsley.
    Ainsley: I'd like to do well on this, my first assignment. Any advice you could give me that might point me the way of success would be, by me, appreciated.
    Tribbey: Well, not speaking in iambic pentameter might be a step in the right direction.
  • Noodle Incident: We never hear why the last time President Bartlet attempted to tape a radio address, he needed 11 takes.
  • Not So Different: Tribbey mocks Ainsley for saying she's working at the White House - despite the fact she hates their politics - because she felt a sense of duty and wanted to set aside partisanship. At the end of their conversation, Ainsley reminds Tribbey he in essence did the same thing:
    Ainsley: The President's way too moderate for your taste.
    Tribbey: Excuse me?
    Ainsley: On affirmative action, capital gains, public schools, free trade...You left a lucrative practice in Chicago and a seven-figure income. (Beat) It wasn't out of duty?
  • Pet the Dog: Tribbey helps Sam fire Joyce and Brookline at the end of the episode, with undisguised relish. "It's time for you to write your book now!"
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After Charlie tells the President Abbey had to leave early for Pennsylvania so he can't go to his "special meeting":
    Charlie: Would you like to come back inside and take another swing at the radio address?
    President Bartlett: (Beat) Sure. Would you like to get that smile off your face before I send you on special assignment to the Yukon?
  • Shout-Out: In addition to the ones listed above, Toby tells C.J. to let him know if she needs help with "Captain Queeg", and President Bartlet jokes that Jack Warner used to call him "one-take Bartlet".
  • Shown Their Work: The cases Sam cites to help convince Josh to sue the people who shot him are real cases brought, and won, by the Southern Poverty Law Center against hate groups.
  • Smug Snake: Joyce and Brookline. Condescending, rude, arrogant and dishonest, all before sending Ainsley their note.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: When Lieutenant Buckley tries to address C.J. by her first name, she insists on being addressed as "Ms. Cregg".
  • Too Much Information: When waiting for Abbey to change into her "special garment" so they can have sex, Bartlet says, "Abbey, you have two minutes, or I swear to God I'm gonna get Mrs. Landingham drunk." Yeeesh.
  • Umbrella Drink: Tribbey is especially pissed about having to go back to Congress hat in hand because he was going on vacation, and he was going to get these served to him.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sam and Ainsley get mad at each other over their respective politics and they barely like each other because of it. But the instant he sees that note, Sam rushes off to fire Joyce and Brookline, being one of the few times he's genuinely angry. And this is the start of their friendship.
  • Waxing Lyrical: The episode title is a paraphrase of a lyric in the song "He Is An Englishman", by Gilbert and Sullivan, from H.M.S. Pinafore ("For he himself has said it/And it's greatly to his credit"). This becomes a Running Gag as several characters argue about whether it came from Pinafore or The Pirates of Penzance ("It's one of the ones about duty." "They're *all* about duty") Also becomes part of Chekhov's Gun; Lionel Tribbey quotes this song to mock Ainsley when she says she feels a sense of duty, but at the end, when C.J., Josh, Sam and Toby welcome her, they play the song in her office and sing along to it.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Bartlet and Abbey both feel this way about themselves. To be fair, it's been 14 weeks.
    Mrs. Landingham: You seem a little tense, Mr. President.
    President Bartlet: (as he follows Abbey into the Oval Office) Not for long, Mrs. Landingham.

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