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Recap / The West Wing S 03 E 04 Ways And Means

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In this episode, C.J. basically tricks Congress into taking up the MS investigation in place of the Special Prosecutor. She makes it seem like the White House gets along very well with the prosecutor, and even points out that he and their lawyer wrote a paper together in law school. This irritates Congressional Republicans, who want a more aggressive investigation. This lets the White House fight an ugly, partisan political fight, which is what C.J. wants.

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Other plots include the staff working on the estate tax, which Republicans want to repeal. There's a fire in Yellowstone National Park, which Wyoming's governor wants the federal government to put out, but which the Department of the Interior says should be allowed to burn. Donna goes on a date with Cliff Calley, who works for the Republicans in the Ways and Means committe; this has implications later. A very important Democrat in California is working with a political rival, which worries Bruno and the staff, so they make him a big offer to get his support.

Teaser

Clement Rollins, the special prosecutor, gets out of a black sedan in front of the Federal District Court building. Press surround him and ask questions about who will be subpoenaed, or if there will be any subpoenas. He says he can't answer their questions. Inside the building, Oliver Babish is waiting for him, and joins him as he walks by. Oliver argues that the White House has shown nothing but good faith, and that subpoenas are not necessary; he even goes so far as to say that the President is considering waiving executive priviledge. Rollins says that he can't give extra credit for good faith.

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Rollins leaves and goes to a press conference of sorts where he starts to list what he calls the "first round" of subpoenas, which include the President, his family, and all the White House senior staff.

Smash cut to the main titles.

Act I

Donna is moving boxes from one place to another in a storage area in the OEOB. Josh calls for her and asks if she's okay. She's looking for the Presdent's public schedules and the ones that were released to the public. She's looking for both to see if there are any discrepancies. She's been there all night, and didn't even realize it was daytime. She had indexed the boxes... but she can't find the index, because it's in one of the boxes.

Back in the White House, Josh and Sam pedeconference. There's a fire in Yellowstone park, and they're letting it burn. The President needs to talk on the phone with the governor, so he can say that he did that. Also, Josh used to want to be a ballerina.

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C.J., Oliver, and Ainsley are in C.J.'s office. Oliver coaches C.J. on how to handle the subpoenas with the press. C.J.'s problem (which is the main plot point for the episode) is that they're "not going to get anywhere putting on a calm face. We need to pick a fight!" Ainsley asks why, and C.J. expands: "in politics, if you're not on offense, you're on defense." The special prosecutor isn't foaming at the mouth; the public can't see him as a bad guy. She asks Ainsley about Republicans' opinion of him, and she says he's well respected, etc. C.J. leaves, saying, "We need a different enemy!"

Josh and Leo enter Leo's office. Leo asks about Josh's meeting about the estate tax, which is in five minutes, with Toby. The deal they have is a compromise, and Josh is not happy, but Leo tells him to play nice. C.J. arrives, calls Josh "Giselle," and asks Leo if he has a second. They leave together. She explains her idea to Leo:

(C.J.) Leo, we need to be investigated by someone who wants to kill us just to watch us die. We need someone perceived by the American people to be irresponsible, untrustworthy, partisan, ambitious and thirsty for the limelight. Am I crazy or is this not a job for the U.S. House of Representatives?

Leo tells her to show him what she's starting with in her briefing, which is now.

Toby is leaving his office for the estate tax meeting. Bonnie gives him a folder and Toby pontificates about the meeting. He keeps talking while Bonnie and Ginger try to get his attention; they finally do and tell him that they cancelled the meeting. Josh arrives, and sees through the reason (it was the chairman's daughter's wedding), and seeing that they think the White House is weak and that they want to repeal the estate tax.

In C.J.'s briefing, she says that the White House is not concerned about the subpoenas, and that the special prosecutor is running a thorough and impartial investigation. She implies that Congressional Republicans have a different view; someone asks her about that, and she says, "You'd have to ask Congress that." Leo, from the back of the room, looks at her proudly.

Act II

Margaret is at her desk, and Bruno Gianelli is there. Leo comes in and he and Bruno walk into Leo's office. They talk a bit around the estate tax issue. Bruno has a videotape he wants Leo to see. Victor Campos was sitting courtside at a basketball game with Buckland. The significance is that Campos was a big supporter of the President, and he just turned him down on a major thing (a seat on the Community Empowerment Board). Leo is upset about this.

Sam is on the phone in his office; the TV shows a forest fire. Leo and Bruno come in. They tell Sam about the Campos/Buckland thing, and Sam asks for a meeting. Bruno wants one of his people to be with Sam at the meeting.

Ainsley walks in to the storage area at the OEOB where Donna is working. She offers to help. She also offers to set Donna up with a "hot guy" named Cliff Calley. Donna figures out that he's a Republican but sort of agrees to let him call her.

C.J. catches up to Ainsley in a hallway. She wants to put Ainsley on Capitol Beat that night. She coaches her to say that they are eager to cooperate with the Special Prosecutor, and not to oversell it.

Bruno approaches C.J. as Ainsley walks off. Bruno wants to bring Campos to the White House to fix the problem, and needs to know what he can give him. C.J. throws him the Hispanic Education Longevity Program. Bruno hits on C.J.:

Bruno: Man, you have got a killer body, you know that?
C.J.: In fact, I do.

C.J. goes in to brief, and talks about how Clem Rollins and Oliver Babish are old friends.

Toby, Doug, and Connie are discussing the estate tax in the Roosevelt Room. They talk about the Republican name for it, the "death tax." Josh comes in and tells them that his meeting isn't going to be rescheduled, because their opponents think they're weak. Doug suggests, to everyone's surprise, that Bartlet should threaten to veto a bill repealing the estate tax. Josh says he doesn't know on how many fronts they can fight in a war... but asks if they want to find out. Toby says, "Yeah."

Act III

C.J. is approached in a park by two staffers. They say there's some concern on the Hill that the administration has been too soft on the special prosecutor. (Which means C.J.'s plan is working.)

Sam runs into C.J. in a White House hallway. She asks him about his meeting with the Governor (about the fire) and he says it didn't go well, and that the Governor wants them to put the fire out. Sam gives C.J. the statement about the meeting.

Ainsley approaches, and she and C.J. go to C.J.'s office. C.J. compliments Ainsley on her performance on Capitol Beat, and asks her to get some information to a conservative paper about Babish and Rollins co-authoring a paper in law school. She agrees.

Charlie enters the Oval Office; Bartlet needs a pen. Charlie asks him when he'll begin the process of replacing Mrs. Landingham—she put a pen in his pocket every day.

Connie comes in to Sam's office. She's the one going to the meeting with Sam. She doesn't know who Victor Campos is. Sam teases her, and tells her that he's the head of an AFSE local (that's the American Federation of Service Employees). More importantly, he's very, very important to Democrats in California. Sam tells her not to get in his way at the meeting.

Donna arrives at a restaurant in a taxi. She gets out, flustered, pays the cabbie and puts on some lipstick. Cliff Calley comes out of the restaurant and hails a cab, then asks if she's Donna Moss. Donna apologizes for being late, by like an hour and a half. She asks him to buy her a drink, and they go in.

C.J. is taking questions in the briefing room. She's still playing up that the Speical Prosecutor is swell. She mentions that he was editor of the Yale law review (which was his connection with Babish). The reporters make note of that, to C.J.'s satisfaction.

C.J. leaves and Carol approaches her to tell her that the governor of Wyoming has been on TV, and he's mad at the White House. C.J. gives her a statement about the National Fire Plan and why they aren't putting out the fire.

C.J. enters her office, where Oliver Babish is waiting. Oliver comments on the Yale thing... and it seems like he gets the plan.

Oliver: I was wondering if you were trying to get back in the game with one swing.

Josh and Toby walk into Leo's office. There are enough votes for a repeal of the estate tax. The big deal turns out to be the Congressional Black Caucus, which is against the estate tax: "The first generation of black millionaires is about to die."

Bartlet enters the Oval Office; Charlie is there. He asks Charlie to get the fire plan from the dining room. Leo comes by and they discuss things. Leo leaves and Bartlet finds a box of pens in Mrs. Landingham’s desk, and considers them wistfully before putting one in his pocket.

Act IV

Donna and Cliff are walking through a park. Donna asks him why he's a Republican, and he jokes that he hates poor people. Then he answers that he believes in smaller government because it promotes freedom. Donna says that that's crap, but he's really cute. She asks him if he knows who her boss is, and he does. They talk briefly about the estate tax, and then he reveals that he's being "traded" to the House Government Oversight committee, and he suddenly realizes why: he's going to be involved with the investigation into the White House MS scandal, though he doesn't say that and Donna doesn't get it. He says that he has to say goodnight now and walks away. (Later it's revealed that they slept together, which doesn't seem to be supported by this scene.)

Victor Campos, Sam, and Connie are meeting in the Mural Room. Sam is testy and not polite. They argue about the situation. Campos eventually comes out and asks, "What do I get," and Sam offers the Hispanic Children's Health Act; Campos demands complete amnesty for illegal immigrants from the Americas, and Sam refuses; Connie agrees, though, and she and Sam go out to discuss it. She convinces him, and they offer it to Campos in return for California's electoral votes.

Josh is meeting with Mark Richardson (a black congressman) in the Roosevelt Room about the estate tax, and Toby is pacing behind Josh. Richardson talks about how the CBC is not a block, and how Josh is generalizing about blacks a lot. Toby pleads that they're "bleeding." Richardson says that he can't promise anything.

Bartlet and Leo are meeting with Secretary Horton, walking toward the Oval Office. They are discussing the fire in Yellowstone, which has spread to 6,500 acres. Horton wants the federal government to put it out. They enter the Oval, and Charlie gives the President a folder. Bartlet reads the contents of the folder while Horton and Leo talk. Bartlet tells Horton that Wyoming will just have to have some faith that the Department of the Interior knows what it's doing. Horton leaves, and Josh is at the door with Toby and Doug.

Bartlet greets Josh and asks him, "A ballerina?" Toby recommends that the President threaten veto any repeal of the estate tax. Bartlet asks Doug if he likes the idea, which he does. Bartlet mulls the wisdom of that move, and explains that, while most voters won't benefit from a repeal of the estate tax, they believe that they will someday. It's part of the American dream—that one day you'll be rich. He mentions the situation with the fire. He then takes out the box with the veto stamp and an inkpad in it and puts them on his desk. He takes out the pen he found earlier, looks at it for a long moment, and puts it on top of the inkpad.

In the communications office, C.J. is trying to find an opener for a bottle of beer. Oliver is there. He mentions what C.J. did, somewhat disapprovingly, and mentions that Clem Rollins really was the right man for the job.

Josh arrives and Donna follows him in. Donna asks him which committee has jurisdiction over the hearings; it's House Government and Oversight. Donna looks deflated and shocked.

Sam walks in and asks for the TV to be turned up. The whole senior staff is there watching along with a lot of subordinate staffers. There's a press conference on C-SPAN, where the speaker is a Republican Congressman, Randall Thomas. He announces that the House Government and Oversight committee will be conducting immediate hearings on the MS scandal.

C.J. opens her beer. As the announcement continues, she says softly, "Come and get us."

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