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Recap / The West Wing S 02 E 19 Bad Moon Rising

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President Bartlet reluctantly goes to see Oliver Babish (Oliver Platt), the new White House Counsel, to tell him he has MS and didn't tell anybody. Babish asks President Bartlet if he ever lied about his health on any form or under oath, and Bartlet insists he didn't. It turns out, however, Zoey was under 18 when she applied for college (Charlie realizes this when he's filling out applications for college on his own), so she needed a parental signature, and Mrs. Bartlet signed her college application, which asked for a family medical history, and she didn't disclose Bartlet's MS. Babish tells Bartlet he should tell his staff, then make a public announcement, then prepare for, expect, and indeed welcome the worst that comes along in the form of any governmental investigation.


Toby, meanwhile, is pissed when he finds out an "unnamed White House source" has said President Bartlet would be willing to compromise on school vouchers - not just because of the issue at hand, but also because he's worried about Bartlet's MS leaking. Toby orders a reluctant C.J. to find out who the "unnamed White House source" is; as C.J. fears, everyone she interviews either clams up, yells at her, or decides to have fun with her, and she finally tells Toby while she can perform damage control, there's no way she can find out who leaked the story.

Elsewhere, the Mexican economy collapses, and Josh and Donna bicker over whether the U.S. should help bail Mexico out (he's in favor, she's against), and one of the oil tankers Sam's old law firm set up liability for ran aground in Delaware and is causing an oil spill; Sam wants to admit his role in the whole thing, but Ainsley talks him out of it.


This episode contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: When Sam goes into Ainsley's office, she's playing classical music, and he says he likes the music but seems to remember there's a special reason why. When she points out it's called "Air on a G String", he figures it out.
  • Arc Words: "Bring it on."
    • Also, Josh's ultimate rationale for bailing out Mexico:
    Josh: There are too many things in the world we can't do. Mexico's on fire. Why help them? Because we can.
  • Area51: Discussed: C.J. claims she's glad when something leaks because that's how she know for sure the government isn't covering up aliens in New Mexico.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Bartlet to Charlie after he finds out Charlie (through Zoey) has known about Bartlet's MS:
    Bartlet: You're gonna be subpoenaed. I'm confident in your loyalty to me. I'm confident in your love for me. If you lie to protect me, if you lie just once, if you lie just a little, if you lie 'cause you can't stand what's happening to me and the people making it happen, if you ever, ever're finished with me, you understand?
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  • Brick Joke: Babish tells his staff he needs a new Dictaphone because the one he has is stuck on record. Several minutes later, President Bartlet tells him why he wants to see him ("I'm going to tell you a story and then I need you to tell me whether or not I've engaged 16 people in a massive criminal conspiracy to defraud the public in order to win a Presidential election"), and Babish responds by taking his gavel and smashing the Dictaphone to pieces.
  • Call-Back: Babish wants to know if Leo was angry when he found out about President Bartlet's MS; Leo says he was at first, but remembered Bartlet didn't care he was an alcoholic.
    Josh: Did you confess?
    Donna: She didn't let me get to Whitaker Chambers and the secret pumpkin.
  • Continuity Nod: To get Leo out of his meeting with Babish, Charlie says he wants Leo to meet with an old friend from home.
  • Continuity Snarl: Bartlet calls Leo and Babish "men of Chicago", but Josh had called Leo "Boston Irish-Catholic".
  • Foreshadowing: The MS storyline becomes a major storyline over the next several episodes.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: When Josh enters the Roosevelt Room to meet with other staffers about Mexico's collapsing economy, he greets them with, "Buenos dias, senores y senoras." Possibly a way of him trying to lighten the mood in the room.
  • I Have This Friend...: Donna and Josh each pull a variation of this on each other when bringing up their position on bailing out Mexico; Donna pretends she took a message from a textiles worker who's barely making ends meet (whose wife also works) who wants to thank Josh for bailing out Mexico. Josh, in turn, claims Donna has a call from Europe when Hitler was conquering it.
  • It's All About Me:
    Donna: How does a country (Mexico) collapse on a Monday morning?
    Josh: By not slowly devaluing the peso the way I told them to.
    Donna: You told them to?
    Josh: Well, the Treasury Secretary did, but I was in the room.
  • Oh, Crap!: Charlie when he realizes a college application asks for a family health history, and Leo when he realizes the implications of that fact.
  • On Second Thought: After Donna and Josh snark at each other about the Mexican bailout (see I Have This Friend... above):
    Josh: The telemarketing was a nice detail but you should've said, "scrubbed floors".
    Donna: I thought it'd be too much.
    Josh: (Beat) Yeah, probably.
  • Servile Snarker: Donna towards C.J. when she's trying to investigate the leak.
    Donna: Let me get this off my chest. It was me. I called Terry Cashin...I'm a madwoman, C.J. And it doesn't stop with the leak.
    C.J.: (horrified) What do you mean?
    Donna: Call the authorities. Send them to my parent's house in Madison.
    C.J.: Why?
    Donna: They'll find the Lindbergh baby in the basement.
    C.J.: (gets it; slams her hands on the desk) Okay.
    Donna: Also some Post-It notes reminding me where I put Jimmy Hoffa.
    C.J.: Get out.
    C.J.: Get out!
    • Also, a junior staffer named Zach.
    Zach: You mind if I give you a suggestion that may make this go faster?
    C.J.: Sure.
    C.J.: All right, that's it! (gets up from her desk and starts to walk out of her office)
    C.J.: Shut up.
  • Shout-Out: C.J. tells Toby about the leak, "It's me, okay? I am Spartacus."
  • Skilled, but Naïve: Once again, Sam, when he meets Lt. Emily Lowenbrau:
    Sam: I'm surprised to see you in a dress uniform on a day like you must be having today.
    Lt. Lowenbrau: We're required to wear the Class-As for any business on the Hill or in the White House.
    Sam: I never knew that.
    Lt. Lowenbrau: You never noticed that every soldier, sailor and Marine who's walked in here has been in a dress uniform?
    Sam: I'm less visually observant than others but I make up for it.
    Lt. Lowenbrau: How?
    Sam: With cunning and guile.
    Lt. Lowenbrau: Okay.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Oliver Babish is a lot like Lionel Tribbey, down to his temper (though he doesn't suffer as much from No Indoor Voice), his gift he likes having around (his gavel that his father's father got from Justice Louis Brandeis), and the fact White House business interrupts him just before he can go on vacation. John Laroquette was unable to come back to reprise his performance as Tribbey.
    • Hand-waved by President Bartlet when he wonders why he can't hold on to a White House counsel.
  • Title Drop: Bartlet says to Oliver, "There's a bad moon rising."
  • Titled After the Song: The title comes from the hit song by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • UST: The Josh and Donna show, ladies and gentlemen.
    Donna: (talking about why she opposes the Mexico bailout) I'm not cheap, nor am I xenophobic. I just think it's time for some tough love.
    Josh: Well, not right here in front of everybody, Donna, but if you want to run home and get your equipment-
    Donna: Go away from me.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Donna asks Josh what'll happen (after the Mexican economy collapses), Josh sings, "Oh, the Wells Fargo wagon is a-coming down the street."

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