Galileo V, an unmanned spacecraft, is flying to Mars, and the President is going to moderate a science briefing (along with several scientists and top NASA officials) live on TV to thousands of students when it lands. Unfortunately, NASA loses the signal to Galileo, so they may not have anything to broadcast about. However, C.J., whom the President had accused of not being as caught up as he and Sam are, says they should do the briefing anyway because it'll be a good lesson, which President Bartlet appreciates.
There's an explosion in a Russian oil refinery, or at least that's what the Russians are saying it is, and they politely but firmly refuse help in cleaning it up. Turns out, however, it's a nuclear missile silo that had an accident, and President Bartlet berates the Russian ambassador for not allowing inspectors and for having an outdated system.
To avoid offending Iceland after he cancelled a meeting with the Icelandic ambassador, President Bartlet reluctantly attends a concert given by the Reykjavik Symphony Orchestra, though he ends up liking them. President Bartlet also makes C.J. and Sam attend (back before NASA lost the signal, Bartlet wanted them along so they could discuss a broader theme for the briefing), and they don't want to be there either; Sam because Mallory's there, and it's the first time he's seen her since his relationship with Laurie became public, and C.J. because she just chose a new deputy, and the concert attendees will include people she rejected for the position. Sam does see Mallory there (though he tries to avoid her), but they reconcile; C.J. runs into one of the people she rejected (who also was an ex-boyfriend), and that doesn't go so well.
Elsewhere, there's a story that the President says he doesn't like green beans, which Toby is afraid will end up offending Oregon (a major green bean producer), and Josh gets roped into arguing with Donna over whether Marcus Aquino should be put on a stamp even though he advocated statehood for Puerto Rico, which Leo is afraid will become an issue. However, C.J. thinks making both things an issue is giving the American people too little credit, and President Bartlet ends up agreeing with her.
This episode contains examples of:
- Analogy Backfire: Donna gets passionate about Puerto Rican statehood:Donna: We have colonised Puerto Rico and they will rise up against us!
Josh: I think we can take them.
Donna: That's what we said about the British!
Josh: ... We took the British.
Donna: You know what I'm saying!
Josh: Hardly ever.
- Cold War: President Bartlet accuses the Russians of still living under this mentality.President Bartlet: Your paranoia was a lot sexier back when you guys are communists.
- Continuity Nod: There have been plenty of examples of President Bartlet not liking healthy foods, including green beans.
- Department of Redundancy Department: C.J. does this twice. First when talking with the President:President Bartlet: Tell me where we're going again.C.J.: Mars briefing rehearsal.President Bartlet: Why?C.J.: To rehearse.
C.J.: (to Toby) He thinks he's so smart just because, you know, he's so smart.
- And then again when talking about the President.
- Did I Say That Out Loud: As C.J. is talking to Tad Whitney, one of the people she rejected for the deputy position, and her ex:Tad Whitney: I thought you might want an explanation as to why I did.C.J.: Why you did what?Tad: Why I stopped calling you.C.J.: I don't need an explanation.Tad: Believe me, it wasn't because you were bad in bed or anything like that.C.J.: (a bit testily) No, I didnt think it was, Tad.Tad: I mentioned it because I know a lot of women who worry about that.C.J.: I don't.Tad: You're good in bed.C.J.: (loudly) I'm great in bed! (to startled onlookers) How you doing?
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Discussed:Toby: They know it was on course traveling at a rate of 15,400 miles per hour, which it was supposed to. Somewhere during its descent it was also supposed to release two probes - each about the size of a basketball - firing them deep into the ground as part of the mission's search for evidence of water under surface.Josh: We think if we hit the ground hard enough, we can make it to the center of the planet and find water?Toby: Yeah.Josh: That's not a theory of physics pretty much disproved by Wile E. Coyote?
- Hypocritical Humor: C.J. gets dragged to the concert along with the President to discuss broader themes for the classroom, and tells Sam the President wants him there too. Sam thinks it'll be great, and it was a privilege to be asked to come. C.J. then informs him Mallory will be there. Sam: "I can't go."
- Insufferable Genius: C.J. thinks President Bartlet and Toby can be this at times:President Bartlet: (reading a prepared question for the briefing) Stevie, fourth grader, PS 31, Manhattan, asks, "What is the temperature on Mars?" Well, Stevie, if one of our expert panelists were here, they would tell you the average temperature ranges from 15 degrees to minus 140.C.J.: That happens to be wrong. It ranges from 60 to minus 225.President Bartlet: I converted it to Celsius in my head.
- Lame Comeback:Sam: Can I just say I was the one who was in trouble. I was under siege, it was my picture in the paper and I don't know why I need to call you and explain myself.Mallory: It was a picture of you and a call girl.Sam: Oh, like there aren't any pictures of you and a call girl.Mallory: No. There aren't any pictures of me and a call girl.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Josh probably shouldn't have gotten so smug over Toby's dilemma about picking the stamp:Leo: What are you smiling at?
Josh: Nothing, I just... Toby got the stamp assignment. [Grins]
Toby: Leo, I might need some help.
Leo: Take Josh. [Walks off]
Toby: Thanks. [To Josh] Congratulations, you're choosing the next stamp. [Walks off]
Josh: ... Wow, that happened fast.
- Meaningful Echo: Bartlet chides C.J. for not saying the name "Galileo V" with a sense of wonder, and when Sam reads an intro he's written for the briefing, Bartlet points out Sam "said it right." At the end, however, when C.J. tells Bartlet he should have the briefing anyway, and says "Galileo V", Bartlet tells her, "You said it right."
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Played with:C.J.: They said modern music. I thought they meant, you know, Jackson Browne.Charlie: Jackson Browne is modern?C.J.: (sighs) He used to be.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder:Leo: You want to mock people, or let me talk to Toby?Josh: I want to mock people.
- Right Behind Me: Mallory does this to Sam twice.
- Serious Business: The comment about the President not liking green beans is seen as this to Oregonians, as a huge portion of America's green bean output is grown there and C.J and Toby are worried that this will be seen as insulting to green bean farmers (particularly as the President barely won the state). Subverted by Charlie, however, who points out that this actually is a nothing issue, the Oregonians he's met aren't dumb, and that C.J and Toby assuming that they'll all angry vote against Bartlet just because he doesn't like to eat a particular crop they happen to grow is in fact a hugely condescending and insulting attitude for them to take.
- Bartlet compares hearing the name "Galileo V" to the time his generation first heard "Yellow Submarine".
- Also, when Bartlet hears he's being made to attend a concert, he asks, "Did Buddy Holly come back?"
- The subplot involving the worry about a potential media storm over the President's dislike of green beans is a reference to a real life gaff made by President George H. W. Bush when he stated in public that he didn't like broccoli and had 'banned' it from Air Force One, resulting in a bit of a media circus when a bunch of offended broccoli farmers ended up dumping several tons of broccoli on the White House lawn.
- Stealth Insult:Scott Tate: Look, I don't want to step on your toes. You don't want to step on mine. We're both writers.Sam: Yes, I suppose, if you broaden the definition to those who can spell.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Charlie, as it turns out, is the one who was quoted about President Bartlet not liking green beans, and can't believe C.J. (or, by extension, Toby) is making a big deal of it, because it's treating voters as if they were stupid.C.J: Did you leave any wiggle room?
Charlie: 'Wiggle room'? What the hell, C.J., he doesn't like green beans.
C.J: We won Oregon by ten thousand votes. I don't know how many green bean farmers they have out there, but if there are ten thousand and one then we're screwed. This is a serious thing now.
Charlie: Well, I'm sorry that I mouthed off to a reporter, but you're out of your mind.
C.J: No I'm—
Charlie: Education's a serious thing. Crime, jobs, national security. In eighteen months, I've been to Oregon four times, and not a single person I've met there's been stupid.
C.J: Everyone's stupid in an election year, Charlie.
Charlie: No, everyone gets treated stupid in an election year, C.J.
- C.J then delivers this exact sentiment on the green beans issue to Toby, Sam, Josh and Bartlet in the Oval Office... then gets a bit carried away and begins to lecture Josh at length on why he should recommend Marcus Aquino be put on a stamp despite his views on Puerto Rican statehood for much the same reasons. Josh then defensively points out that he was going say exactly that before C.J cut him off and started lecturing him.
- You Do NOT Want to Know:Bartlet: Where's Sam?C.J.: He's inside hiding from Mallory.Bartlet: Why is he hiding from Mallory?C.J.: Do you really wanna know?Bartlet: Not at all.