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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 12 The Drop In

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After a trip to South America falls through, President Bartlet accepts an invitation to speak to the Global Defense Council (their keynote speaker fell through) and announce the launch of CARE (Clean Air Rehabilitation Effort). Sam is enthusiastic about this, and works with staffers on the speech. Toby, however, is less than thrilled, because they had to turn down an invitation from the AFL-CIO (no friend of the environmental lobby), and because he thinks it makes the administration look like they're at the beck-and-call of the environmental lobby. He suggests President Bartlet add a drop-in to the speech, where he takes the GDC to task for not speaking out against environmental terrorism (a ski resort in Colorado was burned down to protect a rare lynx). Toby doesn't want to tell Sam about this, so Sam is shocked when President Bartlet includes it in an otherwise friendly speech, and is angry when he finds out Toby went behind his back, even when Toby tries to explain the politics behind it.

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Leo and the joint chiefs are trying to convince President Bartlet to continue funding a missile shield, even though it doesn't quite work yet (at the beginning of the episode, when they test the shield, it does everything right except it misses the target). President Bartlet worries Leo is trying to move him to the right with the missile shield, but Leo doesn't care about the politics here; he wants the missile shield because he thinks it will work eventually, and he thinks the world owes it to itself to make nuclear weapons irrelevant by whatever means necessary.

Elsewhere, President Bartlet is receiving and formally swearing in the new ambassadors to the United States, and to Leo's consternation, Lord John Marbury is now Britain's ambassador to the U.S. Also, C.J. gets asked to ask Corey Sykes (Rocky Carroll), a popular comedian she's friends with, not to host the upcoming Will Rogers dinner because of a controversial joke he told in front of President Bartlet a few years earlier.

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This episode contains examples of:

  • Badass Bookworm: President Bartlet, who tells the Swedish ambassador right before swearing him in his country was descended from the Gothic tribes who helped destroy the Roman Empire.
    Leo: (as he greets the Swedish ambassador) Is he still holding you responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire?
    Swedish Ambassador: Oh, yes.
  • Bishōnen: Lord John Marbury, at least according to C.J. and Donna.
    C.J.: My love for John Marbury is real, it's not a schoolgirl crush. He calls me "Princepessa".
  • Buxom Is Better: Margaret, or at least according to Lord John Marbury.
  • Canon Welding: The Global Defense Council is also the name of the main environmental lobby in The American President.
  • Continuity Nod: Josh continues his therapy (standing against a wall because it's supposed to relax him); also, Lord John Marbury sincerely tells him when they see each other, "God bless you, Josh; the prayers of millions were answered". Also, Lord John Marbury is still drunk, and still can't seem to remember Leo's name (he calls him "Gerald").
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • It wasn't long ago Sam was less than enthusiastic about supporting the environmental lobby.
    • One with the previous episode, even; Sam accuses Toby of blaming him for the disastrous leadership breakfast. While Toby doesn't directly confirm it, it seems to be hinted that he does a little bit ("I got creamed, Sam.") — which is quite unfair of him, since Sam had nothing to do with it at all and any responsibility for Toby's humiliation regarding the breakfast is purely Toby's.
  • Foreshadowing: Senator Seth Gillette (whom President Bartlet mentions as someone that disgruntled environmentalists might back as a third-party candidate) becomes important later.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    C.J.: (on the phone with Josh) What are you doing?
    Josh: I'm standing with my back straight against the wall.
    C.J.: Why?
    Josh: I was told by the doctors it would relax me. (just then, Donna comes rushing into the room, and hits Josh with the open door)
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Donna tells Josh a reporter asked her what Leo thinks of Lord Marbury:
    Josh: Leo McGarry has nothing but respect and affection for John Marbury.
    Donna: That's what I said.
    Josh: Good, cause Leo thinks he's a lunatic.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction:
    Toby: Here's what I think-
    Leo: Screw the environmental lobby?
    Toby: Did I say that? Did I say, "screw the environmental lobby"?
    Leo: You didn't say anything.
    Toby: That's right, and before I even open my mouth, you decide I'm going to say "screw the environmental lobby"?
    Leo: I apologize.
    Toby: There's an extent to which we've gotta screw the environmental lobby.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Toby not entirely wrong to argue that President Bartlet shouldn't be speaking in front of the environmentalist group, at least not without giving himself some political cover in the form of the drop-in. His decision to go behind Sam's back to do so is depicted as crossing the line, however.
  • Kick the Dog: A mild example; while there are valid (if cynical) political reasons behind the drop-in itself, the fact that Toby conspires to do it behind Sam's back is portrayed as sneaky and unreasonable, and ultimately doesn't reflect well on him. Although they don't say anything everyone seems to mildly disapprove of him doing so, Toby's only doing so because he wants to avoid a debate with Sam on the subject, and it just ends up causing an unnecessary rift between them.
  • Left Hanging: The episode ends without resolution to the tension that's arisen between Toby and Sam; although they confront each other at the end, Toby's explanation for why he went behind Sam's back to persuade the President to do the drop-in fails to mollify Sam, and while their subplot ends with them sharing a drink it's in uncomfortable, stony silence.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He doesn't say the words, but Toby is clearly left feeling rather guilty about going behind Sam's back with the drop-in when, during their confrontation at the end, Sam refuses to accept Toby's reasons for doing so and makes it bluntly clear how hurt and betrayed he was by it.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: President Bartlet compares the Pentagon convincing Leo the missile shield will work this time to Lucy convincing Charlie Brown she wasn't going to pull away the football this time. Leo has no idea what he's talking about ("Leo, were you born at the age of 55?").
    President Bartlet: (after the missile test fails) By the way, the words you're looking for are, "Oh, good grief."
  • Servile Snarker: Ginger, of all people.
    Sam: Final draft?
    Ginger: Well, it's the 12th draft. Whether or not it's the final draft is up to you.
    Sam: Was that sass?
  • Shout-Out: Josh compares Lord Marbury's return to Davy Jones coming back, and C.J. mentions she wrote a fan letter to Jones when she was younger.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: It's too bad there weren't more scenes between Leo and Mrs. Landingham.
    Mrs. Landingham: You're testing that preposterous contraption again.
    Leo: It's not preposterous, it's not a contraption, and mind your own business.
    Mrs. Landingham: In my day, we knew how to take care of ourselves.
    Leo: Well, in your day, you could pretty much turn back the Indians with a Daniel Boone musket, couldn't you?
    Mrs. Landingham: Ah, sarcasm. The grumpy man's wit.
    Leo: Sharpen a pencil, would ya?
  • Stock Foreign Name: Sir Christopher Nealing-Roach, whose name C.J. loves:
    C.J.: (on the phone with Josh) It's not going to be Sir Christopher Nealing-Roach.
    Josh: I heard.
    C.J.: I said it's not going to be Sir Christopher Nealing-Roach.
    Josh: And I said I heard.
    C.J.: But I like to say Sir Christopher Nealing-Roach.
  • Take That!: In-Universe example: President Bartlet tells Lord John Marbury at the end, right before swearing him in, "Let me explain why you've been waiting. I have to see people in the order they arrive, and you got beat by Argentina." Lord Marbury is, for once, at a loss for words.
    • Also, when Lord Marbury criticizes the missile shield, as well as Leo's faith in it, Leo brings up The American Revolution. It's played with, however, since Leo's clearly only bringing it up out of pettiness because he doesn't have any rejoinders to Marbury's lengthy and rationally argued objections to the missile program.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sam gives this to Toby after the drop-in:
    Toby: Sam, I'm looking at opposition polling that scares the hell out of me. I'm looking at internal numbers that change by the hour. I'm listening to economists who tell me there's weather—
    Sam: You left me out!
    Toby: [Sighing] Yeah.
    Sam: You think I'm the reason you got beat on the Leadership Breakfast?
    Toby: I got creamed, Sam.
    Sam: You think I'm the reason?
    Toby: I didn't want the discussion!
    Sam: [Furious] Then what are you doing here talking to me?! [Toby has no reply] Now you want the discussion. You and the president may think they deserved it, but this cynicism of attacking your friends for political protection offends them and it offends me. It offends you, and there's really nothing I can do to make you feel better about that.
    • Corey Sykes also gives one to C.J.:
    Corey: I expected that when I was called, in any number of places, a Hollywood sleaze, that you might have said a few words, maybe, on my behalf. I expected that you were going to say, "We in the Bartlet campaign don't believe Cornelius Sykes is a Hollywood sleaze. We believe he's a world class humorist and millions of Americans agree. We believe his humor can be disconcerting to some but those who are making noise right now are feigning their concern in an effort to frighten white men." But what you said was, "He didn't laugh at the joke."
    C.J.: Corey...
    Corey: He did laugh at the joke.
    C.J.: Yeah.
    Corey: He laughed at the joke, C.J.. I've been doing this 20 years. You don't think I'd know if I had him? I killed that night. That was a very big deal for me. To play in front of that audience? To get that man to laugh? And the next day my parents read in the paper that I am Hollywood sleaze. But that's okay cause the candidate didn't think I was funny.
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