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Recap / The West Wing S 03 E 03 Manchester Part Two

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Bartlet, the senior staff (except for Leo), Tate and Wegland are in Bartlet's family barn, working on the campaign speech. While C.J. and Josh are distracted by a snake that's in the barn, Sam and Toby argue with Wegland over parts of the speech. Sam and Toby object to what sounds purple in the speech, while Wegland objects to any idea Bartlet isn't a "happy" warrior, and to bringing up, even by implication, MS. Leo and Gianelli join them; Gianelli says they have 48 hours, and if they don't work well and work together to come up with a speech by then, he'll stick a pitchfork up everyone's ass.

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Four weeks earlier, Bartlet comes into the bedroom in the residence, and is surprised to see Abbey there, reading a book. He tells her about the plan for Haiti; she asks if it'll work, and he says they'll find out. Abbey mentions C.J.'s ill-fated press conference, and Bartlet, who's gone into the bathroom, says it was bound to happen. Abbey suggests benching C.J. for a few days, at least on Haiti, but Bartlet says it's up to Leo. Bartlet also says he can't get into "our thing" tonight, but Abbey says it's okay. Bartlet apologizes again for not seeing her, and leaves.

Back in the present, inside the main house of President Bartlet's New Hampshire residence, Sam and Wegland continue to argue over the speech. Josh walks in and asks to speak to Leo privately. They walk away from the discussion, and Josh brings up RU-486. Leo says they can't do anything because the FDA is an independent agency, and Josh says he knows the FDA's chief of staff, and he can call in a favor, but Leo says no.

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Outside the farm, C.J. pulls up in a car, gets out, and walks over to Abbey, who's been picking apples. They greet each other, and Abbey offers C.J. some cider, which she declines at first but then accepts. C.J. wants Abbey to appear in a photo with the President, and Abbey guesses it's because she and the President arrived separately. C.J. admits she's uncomfortable doing this, but unnamed sources have said the marriage is in trouble. Abbey tells C.J. never to come to her with "unnamed sources", as they drive her crazy, and what's more, she can't have any cider. A little later, in the house, C.J. tells Leo she'll make things up when briefing the press about the campaign announcement speech, and asks Leo to talk to Abbey and the President about a photo-op. Leo says he doesn't feel comfortable discussing Bartlet's marriage with him, as they're both private men. C.J. also isn't happy Leo discussed her plans with Toby, even though Leo points out Toby, being the communications director, has a right to know. Leo also angrily tells her to stop being pissed at him about Haiti.

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Four weeks earlier, as they enter the Situation Room, Leo tells President Bartlet Bazan's demands for surrender; 10 million U.S. dollars, a private plane, asylum for himself and 60 family members in the U.S., and guaranteed immunity from prosecution for war crimes. Two staffers point out such an agreement would violate Haitian treaties, and it sets a bad precedent, though McNally cautions they don't want a shoot-out at the presidential palace either. President Bartlet says they'll send him to Venezuela, and unfreeze his U.S. accounts, but he can't take any money from Haiti, the only ones who will get asylum are his wife, children, and parents, and if he goes back to Haiti, he'll be shot. Everyone agrees to this. Leo asks McNally if she has a minute. As they walk out of the Situation Room, Leo tells her he wants her to brief the press when the situation involving Bazan is resolved. McNally doesn't think C.J. should be punished for making a mistake, but Leo insists he's not punishing C.J., and McNally's presence means she won't get asked about MS.

Later, in Leo's office, Sam apologizes to him for his outburst, and Leo tells him not to worry. Sam again brings up the fact President Bartlet hasn't apologized, but Leo says they should wait and see what the poll numbers say about that. Sam leaves, and Leo goes over to the Oval Office. He congratulates President Bartlet on the deal, and tells him McNally is briefing the press.

A week later, Leo goes to C.J.'s office and tells her they haven't gained ground. C.J. points out the MS story has drowned every other story out; Leo insists he's not assigning blame, but he's bringing Bruno Gianelli in to help, and he doesn't care if the rest of the staff doesn't like it.

Back in the present, Sam and Toby are in the house, still arguing with Tate and Wegland about the speech. Wegland thinks they shouldn't be talking about foreign policy because there's no votes in it, and both he and Tate feel they shouldn't be bringing up MS because that was a failed strategy. Sam says ignoring foreign policy means writing off not only the rest of the world, but also much of the President's job description, and Toby points out bringing up MS was doing damage control, which, to Wegland, means they're trying to play teacher to the American public, and if they weren't doing that, he wouldn't have to be there.

Two weeks earlier, Gianelli tells Margaret he's there to see Leo. Margaret looks at her appointment book, doesn't see his name there, and motions him to wait while she talks to Leo. She asks Leo who he is, and Leo says he's a campaign strategist who has gotten five senators, three governors, and the Prime Minister of Israel elected, even though he's probably never voted in his life. Margaret is irritated Leo made an appointment with Gianelli without telling her, and Leo tells her to live with it. He calls for Gianelli, who comes in by greeting him, "You people could find more ways to blow it." Gianelli also says if it was up to him, President Bartlet wouldn't have disclosed he had MS, but Leo points out that would have been concealing the truth, and Gianelli accepts that. Leo asks Gianelli if he can help him. Gianelli wants to look at the internal polling numbers (he's satisfied when Leo tells him Joey Lucas has been on it, since he's worked with her before and likes her), he wants 15% of the ad buys (but is willing to take 13%), hiring and firing discretion in his department (and he wants Tate and Wegland), a hotel room, a car and driver, and unfettered access to President Bartlet. Leo is fine with all of that (though he's pushing towards 12%) except for the unfettered access. Gianelli insists the only races he's ever lost are ones where he didn't have unfettered access to the candidate, and it's a deal-breaker. Leo says Gianelli is welcome to talk to President Bartlet about that, and asks Margaret to take Gianelli to see the President.

In the Oval Office, President Bartlet greets Gianelli, and tells him he has no problem with Gianelli's demands (though he thinks it should be 12%), but he can't have unfettered access, and has to go through Leo. Defeated, Gianelli offers his condolences about Mrs. Landingham, and agrees to take the job.

Back in Leo's office, Margaret again tries to explain to Leo she's the one who makes the appointments, but Leo is in no mood. Gianelli comes back, and says they need to get together in a room and plan an event. Leo says they can't do the event any sooner than two weeks from Monday, and Gianelli agrees to it.

In the present day, at Columbia High School, a marching band plays while the event is being prepared. Gianelli tells Sam the band needs to change their music. Toby, meanwhile, is pissed about the signs that say "Bartlet For President", when he already *is* President. Gianelli tells him to worry more about the speech.

C.J. and Josh walk into a classroom, which C.J. says can be used as a green room. Josh asks C.J. what's going on with her, and she says nothing. She asks Josh about RU-486, and Josh says Leo won't let him see if he can call in a favor and get it postponed. Toby comes up with the signs, which he says he's changing himself, and reminds them he was against the announcement in the first place...

...which he makes clear in the Roosevelt Room several days earlier to the senior staff, who have been joined by Joey, Kenny, Gianelli, Tate and Wegland. Wegland points out if Bartlet is running for re-election, he needs to announce it, and Gianelli says they need to drive up the numbers. Josh and Toby point out having President Bartlet announce means making him look like an ordinary candidate, which means losing the advantage he has of already being president. Wegland insists President Bartlet needs to apologize, which Toby says won't happen. They start to yell at each other when Josh interrupts and suggests they all take a lunch break. Gianelli asks Josh if he can walk Josh to his office. Gianelli kindly but firmly tells Josh he was wrong to send the press release about the Justice Department suit to the subcommittee, because the senator Josh was trying to light a fire under is vulnerable in his home state, and they want the issue instead. If Josh waited till the fall, he could have hammered the senators with the issue, gotten the money, and gotten three swing states (Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania) in the process, which meant winning the election. Gianelli also points out he's there because he knows what he's doing, and walks away, leaving Josh to contemplate what he said.

In the present, at Columbia High, President Bartlet and Charlie pull up in the presidential limo. Charlie asks Bartlet if he still gets nervous talking in front of big crowds, but Bartlet says he's never nervous in front of big crowds. He's surprised to see Abbey there; turns out, she's introducing Bartlet at the event, at C.J.'s suggestion. Bartlet is fine with that. Abbey tells him to talk to his staff, and says she's going back to the house.

A couple of weeks earlier, Abbey is sitting on an ottoman reading while Bartlet is sitting in a chair reading about agriculture, which he says he wants to study since it isn't his field, and it's responsible for one in five American jobs. Abbey tries to slow him down, and asks why he won't talk to her. Bartlet, in turn, wants to know why she's not with him. Abbey says she is, but can't believe he went from "I've got a lot to say" to not wanting to talk about it and telling her to go to hell. Bartlet angrily asks if he can go a week without having to explain himself, and Abbey tells him to go to hell.

Back in the present, Bartlet tells Leo about Abbey introducing him. Leo thinks it's a good idea, and Bartlet, distracted, says he wants to finish the speech.

Several days earlier, Sam is in his office, looking at the speech when Toby comes in. Sam again says President Bartlet needs to apologize, but Toby tells him not to worry, and points out most MS advocates feel since the disease is so misunderstood, it's not a bad idea to conceal it. Sam wants to know if that includes presidential candidates, and asks Toby how he felt when he was told. Toby admits he didn't take it well, and said so in the Oval Office. Sam points out no one else had a chance to do that, and says it would have been easier if they had been told from the beginning. Toby tells him to go home.

In the present, Sam is standing outside the Bartlet farm when Tate drives up, good-naturedly complaining about not being able to find a Starbucks. She says Wegland and Toby are still arguing about the speech, and says President Bartlet needs to apologize. Sam points out it's not going to happen, but Tate points out it's not only the right thing to do politically, it's something Sam thinks should happen regardless. Sam denies he wants an apology, and says he's going back to the hotel.

In the lobby of the hotel, Toby, Gianelli and Wegland are continuing to argue. Wegland says they need to push values, and Toby asks if President Bartlet is running for re-election or for the Grand Marshal of the Rose Bowl Parade. He storms into the kitchen as Gianelli takes a call on his cell phone. Toby is hunched over at the kitchen counter when Wegland comes in, and asks if the Rose Bowl Parade is something people run for. Toby confesses he doesn't know.

Doug Wegland: You guys are so pissed at him you don't even know it. You're more pissed at him that the press is. You're more pissed at him than the party is. You're so pissed at him, you're pissed at me. Cause if he hadn't lied, you could've run the campaign you always wanted to run instead of a bunch of people coming in here and teaching you how not to bother anybody. I never drank the Kool-Aid, Toby. I came to win. And you're so pissed at him that you can't even admit that for the last two weeks, you've gone to sleep at night thanking God that I did.

Wegland goes on to say, according to Gianelli, the speech is locked, and walks out.

The next morning, Leo is in the lobby of the hotel as staff prepares for the speech. He ask for Josh, and Donna says she'll get him. She goes up to his room, which is a mess, and Josh still isn't ready. As Donna pushes him towards taking a shower and getting dressed, Josh continues to harp on how much the RU-486 announcement will hurt them, and insists he could have stopped it with one phone call. Eventually, he smacks the bathroom door frame and yells out, "God!" Donna, concerned, asks him what's wrong, and Josh admits he blew the tobacco thing, and he thinks the election will be very close because of it. He goes into the shower.

C.J. drives up to the Bartlet family farm. She finds President Bartlet in a barn, rehearsing. He tells her not to play marriage counselor, because it pisses him off and it's his private life. C.J. sincerely tells him she was just trying to put together the best press event, and Bartlet blows her off. C.J. starts to walk off, but then turns back and says if the campaign announcement gives him a bump in the polls (as expected), she's going to resign, because it would have looked bad if she had done so earlier. Bartlet blows her off again and tries to concentrate on the speech.

C.J.: Look, the press is...
Bartlet: That's nonsense to me and I don't care!
C.J.: Well, you might not care...
Bartlet: (yelling) For all the new jobs we've created, there are single mothers working two of them at minimum wage. There are school districts where less than half the students graduate. And a kid born in Harlem is more likely to go to prison than a four-year college! They're bringing guns to school, C.J.!
C.J.: (she's finally had enough) Don't you dare lecture me, Mr. President! Don't you dare do it!
(they stare at each other for several seconds, neither knowing what to do or say)
Bartlet: (more gently) I was never supposed to win. I got in it polling in the single digits. Hoynes had it locked up. I got in it to give some speeches and keep him honest...then you guys came along and all of a sudden I got 22% in Iowa and then South Carolina and Michigan and... then Illinois. It was a mistake benching you for that last press conference.
Charlie: (knocks on the barn door and walks in) Excuse me. C.J., they need you.
(C.J. looks at the President, still sad, but no longer angry)
Bartlet: I need you, too.

C.J. takes this in, sincerely thanks President Bartlet, and leaves.

In the presidential limo, on the way to the event, Abbey admits to Bartlet she's leaning towards voting for him. They look at each other and smile.

At the high school, everything is in readiness, and it's crowded. In the classroom/green room, Wegland objects to the use of "torpor" because even though he knows what it means, he doesn't think many other people will. President Bartlet they can look it up as he joins them. Everyone greets the President, and Bartlet adds anyone running as the "education president" shouldn't hide the fact they have an education. Bartlet turns to Gianelli and ask for him, Tate and Wegland to step outside. As we hear Abbey start to introduce Bartlet, he turns to his staff.

President Bartlet: It occurs to me, I never said "I'm sorry." (Beat) I am. (Beat) For the lawyers, for the press, for the mess, for the fear. Bruno, Doug, Connie: these guys are good. They want to win. So do we. The only thing we want more is to be right. I wonder if you can't do both. There's a new book, and we're gonna write it. You can win if you run a smart, disciplined campaign, if you studiously say nothing — nothing that causes you trouble, nothing that's a gaffe, nothing that shows you might think the wrong thing, nothing that shows you think. But it just isn't worthy of us, is it, Toby?
Toby: No, sir.
President Bartlet: It isn't worthy of us, it isn't worthy of America, it isn't worthy of a great nation. We're gonna write a new book, right here, right now. This very moment. Today.

The staff looks determined. An aide pokes their head in and says it's time. As we hear the end of Abbey's introduction, Bartlet starts to walk out, but turns around and says, "You know what? Break's over." He then continues to walk out, to thunderous applause, and the staff walks out behind him, also applauding.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • "Don't you dare lecture me, Mr. President! Don't you dare do it!"
    • "I dunno, Toby — but if you had, I wouldn't be here."
  • Badass Boast: Leo gets a great one when Bazan, the failed would-be president of Haiti, is demanding $10m, asylum in the US for himself and 60 of his family members, and a private plane. The Bartlet administration is not amused, and Bartlet instead arranges for the bare minimum: Venezuela will offer asylum to Bazan and his immediate family, and nobody else, and they're going to freeze all his money in Haiti.
    Leo: And he can screw the private plane. We'll fly him on a C-9 from Port-au-Prince to Caracas and if he's very good we won't shoot him in the head on the way.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted:
    Toby: He didn't lie. It's what your people call a "sin of omission."
    Sam: I'm not Catholic. It's what everybody calls a sin of omission.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Wegland: I'm from Oregon. In Oregon, we like to see a man stand up and say he's sorry. Where are you from?
    Toby: Me?
    Wegland: Yeah?
    Toby: I'm from the United States of Suck My-
    Josh: All right!
  • Freudian Slip: When Josh is trying to convince people he can make a phone call to push back the announcement of RU-486, twice, he references the tobacco lawsuit instead.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Doug Wegland is confrontational and abrasive, but he's not entirely wrong to point out to Toby that most of the senior staff's hostility towards him and the other campaign managers is displaced anger towards the President for covering up his MS, lying to them and forcing them to run a defensive campaign:
    Doug: Every time you told the public [MS] wasn't fatal, there was a story about MS! Just change the subject!
    Toby: Yeah, why the hell didn't I think of that?!
    Doug: I dunno, Toby -- but if you had, I probably wouldn't be here.
    [Toby has no reply]
    • Furthermore, despite their immediate refusal to even consider the suggestion that the President should apologise to the nation when the campaign staff bring it up, it's clear that several of the senior staff privately feel that some kind of apology is called for, to them at least.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Sam thinks it's Tate's job to wait till Wegland's left the room and then say, "What he meant to say was..." Tate admits it's her job sometimes to say it when he's in the room.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Josh's face when Bruno points out that if he'd listened to everyone and shelved the tobacco lawsuit until later in the campaign, then he could have used the issue to win three swing states and virtually guarantee an election win.
  • Pride: Everytime he's talked to someone about the tobacco lawsuit and they've advised him against leaking his press release, Josh has arrogantly blown them off or dismissively ignored their advice. When Bruno argues that it was a bad idea, he condescendingly points out his years of experience in legislative affairs compared to Bruno. Then Bruno points out that if he'd waited, he could have used the issue decisively in the campaign and practically guaranteed a victory for Bartlet, whereas he's now completely removed it as an issue. When he finally realises the huge mistake he's just made, Josh looks a lot less smug.
  • Smug Snake: Wegland isn't the first person to accuse President Bartlet's staff of being this.
    Wegland: Republicans talk about how arrogant you guys are. I always thought it was the natural reaction that comes from not getting the girl. I can't believe how much they've been low-balling it.
  • Two-Part Episode
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