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Recap / The West Wing S 04 E 01 Twenty Hours In America Part One

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As we hear a crowd chanting "Four more years!", we see a Title Card showing President Bartlet's agenda, which reads:


We then see President Bartlet at the podium delivering a speech at an outdoor event. He mentions a sign that says "Eight more years" and jokes that Abbey and the Constitution will have something to say about that. He goes on to tell a story about a car that gets stuck in a muddy hole near a farm; the point of the story being he thinks the country needs to look for energy alternatives, and the Republicans aren't interested in anything except oil. As the crowd cheers, C.J. walks over to Donna, who's standing off to the side. C.J. asks where Josh and Toby are, and Donna says they're in the soybean fields with Cathy, the "daughter". C.J. says the speech is about to end, they're behind schedule, and they need to get to Unionville. Donna says she'll get them. President Bartlet continues his speech.


In the soybean fields, Josh is talking with Cathy (Amy Adams), who comments on how tense Toby is. Josh explains when President Bartlet's blood pressure is high, Toby isn't allowed anywhere near him, and Toby's tense because he wants to be able to see how the speech is going. Josh then asks Cathy what he should say to people when they ask why they subsidize farmers but not, for example, plumbers, and Cathy responds, "Tell them they can pay $7 for a potato." Cathy and Toby start to discuss what "small farmer" means - and Cathy also brings up how big her farm is - when Donna comes by, telling them they're ready to go. Josh explains Donna is nervous about being left behind the motorcade, and apologizes they didn't have more time to talk. Cathy asks why the Bartlet campaign couldn't stay longer, and Josh explains they have a full schedule. Cathy reminds him there are voters in her town as well, but Toby dismissively says the voters in Indiana are all going for Governor Ritchie. While she and Toby argue about that, and Josh points out how much money was given to farmers, Donna realizes the motorcade has left. Josh realizes it too, and starts waving his arms in the air as a campaign worker, who tells him the motorcade has left, gives him a "Bartlet for America" button.


Josh tells Donna, who's on her cell phone, to call for the trailer car. However, when Donna hangs up, she tells him there is no trailer car. Josh says it was a good job of cutting the budget on that, and asks Cathy if they can get a cab. Cathy says the nearest cab is over 110 miles away, but she's willing to drive them to Unionville in their soy diesel car. Josh is skeptical, but Cathy assures him it'll be fine. As she goes to get the car, Josh calls over to Toby and says they have a ride. Toby approaches an elderly woman who's just come from the speech, and tries to ask her about the speech, but Josh tells him to calm down.

In Leo's office, Margaret tells Leo the motorcade is on its way to Unionville. Leo asks if Abbey is still in Madison; Margaret is pretty sure, but she'll check. As they leave the office and walk into the hall, Margaret says President Bartlet is expected to land at 3. Leo tells her to push all of the President's meetings back except for the economic meeting at 3:30. Margaret then bugs Leo about what he had to eat, and Leo grouchily says he had half a grapefruit. He tells Margaret he'll be in the Situation Room...


...and once there, he asks everyone for an update. Everything seems normal enough until a staffer mentions there's an investigation into Shareef's missing plane. Leo asks if they've found anything, and the staffer says he doesn't know, but the emergency locator transmitter never went off. Admiral Fitzwallace says they'll assemble all military rescue efforts and feed them to the State Department, which Leo accepts.

Sam walks into the lobby of the West Wing, which upsets both Ginger and Leo, since Sam was under strict orders to take a day off. Sam says he just came to check on the Southern governors, but Leo says everything's taken care of, and tells Sam to get some sleep. Sam insists he's not fighting Leo on that, and goes to his office.

The next Title Card reads:

A 12:57 - WHEELS UP

At the Naval Warfare Center Crane, President Bartlet, upon exiting his limo, greets the Captain. Bruno tells C.J. Bartlet should remind them of the military pay raise, the 100 new outpatient clinics, and the military housing upgrades, but C.J. says Bartlet won't. C.J. tells President Bartlet a few firms have filed for bankruptcy, and Bartlet is surprised the Dow Jones is only down 270 points as a result. Bruno tries to get President Bartlet to make his speech a campaign speech, but Bartlet reminds him it's against the law to campaign on a military base. Bruno admits he didn't know the troops were division ready. President Bartlet gets introduced and walks out to giant applause.

Cathy drives a truck with Donna in the front cab and Josh, Toby and Cap (Josh Garland) sitting in the back. Cap explains a truck that runs on soy diesel is like any other truck. Josh is listening, but Toby is wigging out. Josh tells Toby to relax, and think about Cathy; naturally, she happens to be Cap's girlfriend.

At the Naval Warfare Center Crane, President Bartlet finishes his speech to great applause. Backstage, Nancy tells Charlie Leo is on the phone for President Bartlet. C.J. wants to ask Charlie something, but Charlie says he needs to get the President. As Bartlet is shaking hands with the servicemen, C.J. motions that he has a phone call...

...with Leo, who's in his office. Leo asks Bartlet how he's feeling, and Bartlet says he's fine. Leo asks if he's heard about the Dow, which Bartlet has, but he thinks it'll rebound. Leo says he needs to meet with Admiral Fitzwallace; Bartlet wants to know why, but Leo is evasive until finally admitting Qumar has re-opened the investigation. Bartlet looks troubled, and says they're coming home.

Cathy continues driving, and Donna asks if they're taking her away from something important, which they aren't, because Cathy is on her way to her second job (she's a claims adjuster), which she needs to get health benefits. The pick-up truck begins to sputter and eventually stops, and Cathy says it's out of diesel. Josh and Toby start to panic, but Donna decides they can try and meet the plane instead of trying to go to Unionville, and they can get a volunteer to pick them up at the gas station. Cathy, however, says she and Cap are just going back to the farm to get what they need, and as it happens, a truck comes by and offers Cap and Cathy a ride. Cathy tells the driver Josh, Donna and Toby work for Bartlet, and the driver says, "Didn't vote for him the first time. Don't plan to the second time." Cathy wishes them a good trip back, and Josh thanks her for her help as she and Cap leave. Donna calls the state office to get a volunteer, while Josh tries to get Toby to appreciate the fact they're roughing it, but Toby doesn't answer.

In Leo's office, Margaret tells him Admiral Fitzwallace is there, and then asks if he knows why there were about 20 women with rolling pins outside of the First Lady's event in Madison. Leo doesn't know, and Margaret sends Fitzwallace in. He tells Leo they've covered their tracks by saying the plane went down in the Bermuda Triangle. Leo is skeptical that's real, but Admiral Fitzwallace assures him the plane's been stripped by people who know what they're doing, and there's no evidence linking back to the U.S.. Leo tells the Admiral to keep in touch with him throughout the day, and then asks what would happen if it was traced back to the U.S.; Admiral Fitzwallace admits President Bartlet would probably be tried for war crimes, which Leo says isn't going to happen.

Title Card:


On Air Force One, C.J. tells the press the event that night, contrary to what she said earlier, is black tie. She also reports Governor Ritchie said, "I'm no scientist, but I know a thing or two about physics", and she says the press can add that to the list, along with "doctor", "mind-reader", and "Chinese". A reporter asks about the rolling pins, and C.J. doesn't know what the story is. Another reporter asks if President Bartlet will come by, and C.J. says he might, but he's interviewing secretary candidates.

President Bartlet is being briefed by Ed and Larry before dismissing them. Charlie brings in Mrs. Walker, one of the candidates to replace Mrs. Landingham. Bartlet apologizes for having the meeting on the plane, and then asks if she's impressed by it. Mrs. Walker says she's not easily impressed, and Bartlet moves on.

At a gas station, Josh goes inside the convenience store, explains to the manager he and Toby are stranded, and asks if he minds if they wait there. When the manager here's they work for President Bartlet, he says, "Didn't vote for him the first time, don't plan on voting for him the second time." Josh says they'll just be a few minutes, and goes outside. He asks Donna to call ahead and make sure the plane will be there when they get there, but Donna says she hasn't been able to get anyone on their cell phones because it's a bad calling area. Josh goes over to Toby, who's sitting on the front stoop. Josh throws a rock into a nearby barrel, and he and Toby make a bet; the first person who misses has to say, "I work at the White House" every time they introduce themselves. As they throw rocks, Toby asks Josh what he thought of the event. Josh points out he wasn't watching. Toby throws a rock and misses.

Josh and Toby are in the back seat of a jeep, while Donna is in the front seat next to Tyler (John Gallagher Jr.), the volunteer driving them to the airport. Donna sincerely thanks him for volunteering, even though he's not old enough to vote. Tyler says his friends are all for Governor Ritchie, but that's mostly because their parents are. In the backseat, Josh is asking Toby why he and Bruno have been changing the speeches to attack Ritchie's intelligence and to make Bartlet look like the smartest kid in the room, since he thinks it's a losing strategy. All of a sudden, Tyler pulls the jeep over to talk to his ex-girlfriend Kiki (Danielle Harris), who's with her two girlfriends pushing their bicycles along the road. Tyler protests to Kiki that he loves her and she should return his phone calls, while Kiki tells him not to be "creepy stalking guy". Josh tells Donna to interrupt them, and Donna apologizes for interrupting the argument. She introduces them (Toby, of course, says, "I work at the White House", which impresses no one), and Josh says they need to make a 1 pm plane. Kiki points out it's 1:45, and Donna realizes she's right; they've changed time zones while driving, which is why she couldn't get anyone on their cell phone. Josh and Toby have an epic freak-out about this, while Donna tells Kiki and her friends, who were on their way to school, to continue on there, while she and Tyler figure out how to get Josh and Toby to a commercial airport.

On Air Force One, C.J. is sitting alone when Charlie comes by, and reminds her she wanted to talk to him. C.J. says Simon was a "big brother" to Anthony Marcus, a kid who isn't getting along with C.J. at the moment. Charlie understands, as he associated his mother's death with cops she worked with, and it took him awhile to get over that. C.J. says Marcus was arrested for stealing a car, and the ADA on the case is pushing for juvenile detention since she sees it as part of a pattern, but is willing to reconsider if a White House staffer plays a role in his life. Charlie apologizes, but says he's too busy, and C.J. says she understands. A staffer interrupts and tells C.J. he's got an answer about the rolling pins. Charlie asks C.J. if she asked him because he and Marcus are both African-American, but C.J. assures him she's asking Sam next.

Sam is in his bedroom sleeping when the phone rings:

Sam's voice: (answering machine message) Hi, it's Sam. I'm sleeping for a few hours right now, so you can leave a message or if you really need me, you can shout into the machine, and I'll wake up. (the machine beeps)
Josh: SAM!

Sam stumbles out of bed and gets on the phone. Josh apologizes for disturbing Sam, but explains he, Donna and Toby are stranded in Indiana. Sam offers to farm out a few memos, but Josh says he needs Sam to staff out the President; he won't be there for ceremonial or personal meetings, but he'll sit in on anything else, and be the person to see the big picture when it comes to all the staff meetings President Bartlet has, and advise him on those matters. Sam says he won't be able to give the President expert advice in many areas, and Josh responds, "Welcome to the club, partner. We got jackets." Sam says he'll do it, and Josh thanks him. Josh hangs up, and he tells Tyler, who's still stuck on Kiki, to get them to the train station.

Back on Air Force One, Bartlet is interviewing Mrs. Harrison, another secretarial candidate. She's surprised a man of his intellect doesn't remember names and dates. Bartlet points out memory and intellect are two different gifts, and he's never been great with memory. He asks her about working with the French ambassador, and she insults the French. Bartlet thanks her and dismisses her. Charlie comes in and says Bruno wants to see him. Bruno says Bartlet is polling ahead of Ritchie in every poll except the Gallup poll, where he's a point behind. Bartlet points out the Gallup poll asks likely voters, as opposed to registered ones, but Bruno is confident once the debates start, it'll be a different story. As he leaves, C.J. tells him what the rolling pin story is about; in a TV interview, Abbey was asked about her medical license being suspended, and responded, "I'm just a wife and mother." Bruno correctly guesses critics are interpreting this as Abbey saying she's "merely" a wife and mother, and when C.J. brings up some of the other reactions (such as Janet Ritchie pointing out how being a wife and mother are the most rewarding roles she's had), Bruno responds, "I love it when the women get involved." The Captain announces the plane is beginning its descent.

Title Card:


Ginger explains to Sam the first two meetings are easy, and they're followed by a photo-op with a man who's shaken the hand of every president since Herbert Hoover. Sam asks for his notes from Bartlet's speech that morning, which Ginger has. Bruno and C.J. walk in, with C.J. still wanting to know what he meant when he said, "I love it when the women get involved." Bruno clarifies he meant the whole issue was a dumb one. Carol, Ed and Larry join them, and they discuss how to spin in. C.J. asks for someone to remind her to get Josh involved.

Tyler takes Donna, Josh and Toby to a small diner. Inside, Toby tries to order food to go from the owner, but the owner thinks he's there to cause trouble, even though Toby says he isn't. She storms off to get her husband. Toby asks one of the people in the diner if he can change the TV to CNN, but he says there's something wrong with the TV, and it doesn't get CNN anyway. The owner's husband comes out, and asks if Toby's causing trouble. Toby again says he just wants some food to go, and he'll take four cheeseburgers. The husband, Earl, says he makes dry rub that's good, and Toby accepts that. Donna, Josh and Tyler are sitting at a table, and Donna says when Josh mentioned it was Monday, she immediately thought of the song "I Don't Like Mondays", and she didn't know the song was based on a shooting incident. She apologizes for not knowing about the time zone change. Toby joins them, and he and Josh continue to bicker about the content of Bartlet's recent speeches, which Josh thinks is pointing towards a national therapy session, and making the election about who's more intelligent. Just then, Donna gets a call from C.J., and hands the phone to Toby. C.J. asks for Josh to stop by her office later, and when Toby relays that message, Josh takes the phone and wonders how she didn't realize he, Donna and Toby missed the plane. The owner's wife says the dry rub is ready, and as C.J. starts to gush about it, Josh hangs up the phone.

Sam is waiting in the Oval Office when President Bartlet comes in. Bartlet mentions how terrible it is an official's extra-marital affair has made the papers. Charlie tells Bartlet about his appointment with Secretary Bryce, and Sam asks where he should stand. Bartlet tells him to just go with it, and Larry suggests a spot for Sam. Secretary Bryce comes in, and he and President Bartlet start arguing about greenhouse emissions. Eventually, Bartlet dismisses him, and Congressman Peter Lien comes in. Leo also joins them, and Leo welcomes Lien to the House of Representatives, apologizing they haven't had the time for a photo op before. President Bartlet says Lien has big shoes to fill and a big symbolic responsibility, and Lien says he knows. They take a picture, shake hands, and then Bartlet asks, "What's next?"

This episode contains examples of:

  • Call-Back: To Simon and Shareef.
  • Encyclopedic Knowledge: Discussed (and for once, it's not President Bartlet):
    Sam: Do we have some sort of condensed Readers Digest of...well, all human knowledge?
    Ginger: We usually just use Margaret.
  • Foreshadowing: The business with Shareef's plane will become *very* important later.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: C.J. reports that Governor Ritchie repeatedly stated being neither a scientist, a doctor, a mind-reader, nor Chinese in respective situations. She asks the press to make a list of that.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When Toby tries to order food.
    Toby: What's good?
    Fiona: Everything.
    Toby: What's your specialty?
    Fiona: Taking someone's order and giving it to them.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The flack Abbey receives from saying, "I'm just a wife and mother" is based on the flak Hillary Rodham Clinton received during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, when she said she could have just stayed home, baked cookies and served tea, but chose to work instead.
  • Running Gag: The staff being confounded by time zones.
    Josh: We changed time zones?
    Tyler: It's a common mistake.
    • Also, President Bartlet being unable to remember names, especially Ed and Larry.
    President Bartlet: Ed...
    Larry: I'm Larry, sir.
    Bartlet: Whatever.
  • Shout-Out: When one of Kiki's friends asks Josh how many unborn babies his party has killed, Josh tries to calm her down by saying, "Danger, Will Robinson."
  • Two-Part Episode
  • Verbal Backspace: As Tyler drives everyone to the airport:
    Donna: It's great that you're volunteering, Tyler. You're not even old enough to vote, and here you are working for a campaign. That's great.
    Tyler: They give us school credit.
    Donna: Well, good for your school.
    Tyler: I mean, that's not the only reason I did it or anything.
  • Waxing Lyrical: President Bartlet welcomes Congressman Lien by saying, "Welcome my friend, to the show that never ends."

How well does it match the trope?

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