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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 07 The Portland Trip

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The U.S. Navy stops and boards an Iraqi ship carrying oil that violates U.N smuggling laws. Unfortunately, as President Bartlet and C.J. point out, the fine isn't a heavy enough incentive to prevent oil smuggling, and President Bartlet thinks they should toughen the laws, though he realizes that's something to do in the future.

Josh meets with Congressman Skinner about the Marriage Recognition Act, which while allowing states to determine if same-sex marriage can be allowed, defines marriage on a federal level as being between a man and a woman. Josh can't believe Skinner is in favor of it, especially since he's gay; Skinner points out being gay isn't all he is, and he supports most of the Republican platform. He also points out it's going to pass even if President Bartlet vetoes it. Josh tells the President this, and tells him the best thing to do, politically, is to do a pocket veto. Bartlet doesn't like this but grudgingly goes along with it anyway.

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President Bartlet, meanwhile, is on Air Force One traveling to Portland, along with Charlie, C.J., Sam, and Toby, to give an address on education policy. Sam is upset with the speech he's written because he feels great oratory should inspire people, and what he's written is crap. Bartlet also wants to know why there's no "big idea" in the speech. Charlie comes up with the idea of giving tuition incentives to those who want to be teachers. Toby doesn't know how anyone's going to pay for it, and doesn't want it in the speech, but as they're about to land, agrees they can try the idea on a small scale.

Elsewhere, Leo's divorce papers come through, which leads Margaret to worry he's going to use it as an excuse to drink again. Leo gets angry at her for bringing it up (and also brushes off Donna, Josh and President Bartlet when they also express concern), but tells her, "You're a good girl" at the end of the day. Also, Donna goes out on a date that goes badly (partly because of the guy and partly because of Josh sabotaging it by cutting it short), and Ainsley's office is too hot.

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This episode contains examples of:

  • Backstory: Bartlet reveals he went to Notre Dame (as opposed to Harvard or Yale, where he was also accepted) because he wanted to be a priest, but that changed when he met Abbey.
  • Captain Obvious: Josh and Leo, according to Donna. She changes into a stunning red evening dress for her date, and both Josh and Leo point out she wasn't wearing it earlier ("You guys are sharp as tacks, you know that?").
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This is the last we see of Danny until Season 4, though he's referred to in a later episode.
  • Continuity Nod: Obviously, Leo's divorce and alcoholism. Also, Josh had professed indifference to Donna's dating life, but even then, you could tell he was lying.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: C.J. is forced by President Bartlet to come on the plane trip, even though she wasn't supposed to go originally, because she made fun of Notre Dame right before their game with Michigan. Later, she finds out Danny also went to Notre Dame, and this is why, when Sam asks her to get back copies of his speech from the press corps, Danny refuses to do so until Toby asks him personally.
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  • Fun with Acronyms:
    C.J.: let me give you a couple of additions to the passenger manifest. Gerald Wegland, the Assistant Energy Secretary, is now on the flight, as well as Mr. Latham, the head of The White House Military Office, or WHAMO, as we have apparently taken - over my strong objection - to calling it.
  • Insistent Terminology: Argued by Donna and Josh:
    Josh: Did you steal that dress?
    Donna: I bought this dress.
    Josh: But you're returning it tomorrow.
    Donna: Yes, I am.
    Josh: That's stealing!
    Donna: I'm giving it back.
    Josh: After wearing it once.
    Donna: There's a word for this.
    Josh: It's called "stealing"!
    Donna: I'm a girl on a budget, Josh. I'm being thrifty.
    Josh: Also felonious.
  • Product Placement: Ainsley wants to know why the White House mess hall doesn't have Fresca. Also, Toby orders Jack Daniels on the plane.
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