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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 11 The Leadership Breakfast

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Before Congress comes back in session in the new year, there's a bi-partisan leadership breakfast. Toby is upset, however, because he feels they should be talking about actual issues while everyone is together, instead of talking about whether or not to change the name of the Patients Bill of Rights Act to the Comprehensive Access and Responsibility Act. He meets with Ann Stark (Felicity Huffman), the new Chief of Staff for the Majority Leader of the Senate, and she agrees to put the litigation part of the Patients Bill of Rights under discussion in exchange for having the press conference afterwards on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, he also lets it slip the Democrats will offer a minimum wage hike amendment on every bill that comes out, and Ann leaks this to House Majority Whip Henry Shallick (Corbin Bernsen), who uses the press conference to go after the White House. The staff manages to come up with a counter-attack strategy for C.J., who is able to save face at her own briefing. Ann lets Toby know, in turn, they're not going to be able to have the kind of friendship they used to have, and the Majority Leader is running for President, which means Toby and Leo decide to get serious about President Bartlet's re-election campaign.

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Elsewhere, Sam tries to use a poll to drum up support for his idea of moving the press briefing room, only to have it backfire when one of the pollsters calls a reporter, and Leo is embarrassed at the fact he made fun of the shoes of Karen Cahill (a New York Times columnist), which leads to a whole chain of events including Sam mixing up two countries and Donna accidentally losing her underwear.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Granted, candidates announce and then drop out of the presidential race all the time, and the important thing here was Leo and Toby forming the committee to re-elect President Bartlet; nevertheless, this is the last we hear of the Senate Majority Leader running for President.
    • Although the Majority Leader is mentioned in "Gone Quiet" as having been asked the question of why he wants to run for president, he completely flubs the answer, prompting a considerable amount of gloating from several of the staffers.
  • Continuity Nod: Leo continues to check up on Josh, and seeing if he's fine after his meltdown before Christmas.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Josh and Sam are trying to figure out how to word the poll question in regards to moving the press room:
    Josh: What should the question be?
    Sam: "If the White House would move the Press Corps to Trenton, New Jersey, would you give a flying...?"
    Josh: Okay.
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  • Did I Say That Out Loud: Leo tells Josh he wants Josh to go to a mutual friend's for dinner because Karen Cahill will be there.
    Josh: And what stupid-ass Irish thing did you say to Karen Cahill that you now need me to apologize at Ben and Sally 's like a little girl? (Leo gives Josh a Death Glare) Let me tell you what was surprising about that moment just then. I said that only 12 hours after you were very cool about my almost accidentally setting the building on fire.
  • Epic Fail: Josh and Sam's attempts to build a fire in the Mural Room, especially since they don't realize the flue in the fireplace has been sealed shut.
    President Bartlet: (having just gotten out of bed) What?!?
    • Also, the whole process of getting back into Karen Cahill's good graces.
  • Foreshadowing: When Leo says Bartlet's going to get frustrated if he hears it's time to run for President again, we find out exactly why later.
  • Gilligan Cut: As usual, within the same scene:
    Donna: You’re not using lighter fluid or anything are you?
    Josh: No - no flammable liquids of any kind to start a fire, ever.
    Josh: What?
    Sam: Kerosene.
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  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Both Sam and Toby.
  • Hypocritical Humor: C.J. isn't happy when Donna passes along the message from Josh about moving Janowitz.
    Donna: His hearing aid malfunctions.
    C.J.: Who cares? It’s a breakfast to trumpet a new spirit of bi-partisanship cooperation and understanding in a new year, no one's going to be listening to each other anyways!
    • Also, after Leo explains to Josh why he wants Josh to go to dinner with Karen Cahill:
    Josh: I am totally there for you.
    Leo: Thank you.
    Josh: Can I get Sam to do it?
    Leo: Fine.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's tax relief, not a tax cut, and it's the Comprehensive Access and Responsibility Act, not the Patients Bill of Rights.
    Toby: On the minimum wage, if we all turn our attention to item 5 of the Rules of Bipartisan Breakfast.
    Leo: They're guidelines. You keep calling them rules.
    Toby: Margaret, what does it say at the top of the memo?
    Margaret: Rules for Bipartisan Breakfast.
    Leo: (to Margaret) I keep meaning to fire you.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Karen Cahill is based on New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd, a friend of Aaron Sorkin's. Also, the "Ben and Sally" Leo refers to are Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife, columnist Sally Quinn.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Sam thinks he did very well at the dinner with Karen Cahill until he realizes he may have mixed up Kazakhstan (which has nuclear weapons) with Kyrgyzstan (which has no nuclear weapons). This is very similar to a Season 2 episode of Sports Night, where Dan mixed up "secular" and "non-secular" in front of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • Serious Business: President Bartlet does not want Vermont maple syrup served at the breakfast, he wants New Hampshire maple syrup, thank you very much.
    • Also, according to Leo, women and their shoes.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As Josh and Sam try to build a fire.
    Josh: You want to stand them (the logs) in a tripod, right?
    Sam: Yeah, standing 3 sticks on an end and slanting them to a common center.
    Josh: Isn't that a tripod?
    Sam: Yeah, but...
  • Shout-Out: Josh compares the cold west wing to Ice Station Zebra.
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