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Recap / The West Wing S 04 E 02 Twenty Hours In America Part Two

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Still in the Oval Office, President Bartlet and Sam are watching a TV report about how, after the largest hedge fund in the U.S. collapsed, the Dow dropped 685 points. Bartlet asks when he should say something, and Sam says only if Japan doesn't do anything. Charlie reminds Bartlet he's there to meet Muriel Keith, who comes in. Bartlet asks Keith who his favorite President was, and Keith says it was Harry Truman. Bartlet makes light of that, but not of the fact Keith shook Herbert Hoover's hand the day before Wall Street crash that caused The Great Depression happened. The photographer is about to take a picture of them when Bartlet stops him, and excuses himself and Charlie. Charlie says he should go ahead and skip the photograph, and tells Keith they're rescheduling it.


Sam is sitting on the floor in his office when C.J. comes in. She tells him he's getting his pants shmutsy, and helps him up. Sam asks about the rolling pins, and C.J. explains. She says she wanted to issue a statement telling them to shut up, but Bruno convinced her it would be pointless. C.J. then asks Sam about Anthony; Sam also says he has no time, and Anthony wouldn't find him very interesting anyway. C.J. thanks Sam, calling him "shmutsy pants", which she says is a nickname that won't go away any time soon. She asks Sam how things are going, and he says they're going well. Ginger tells him Josh is on the phone, and he tells Josh it's going fine as well, though when Bryce complained about Commerce not having enough input into the stump speech, Sam blamed himself, only for Bartlet to wave him off. Josh explains in the Oval Office, Bartlet always takes the blame. Toby gets on the line, and Sam asks if the reason why Bartlet has been quizzing all the secretarial candidates about names and numbers is because he's worried about short-term memory loss, and Toby confirms it's one of the side effects of MS. Toby says they're on their way, and hangs up.


Toby, Josh and Donna are now at the train station, and as they board the train, Josh and Toby continue to bicker over President Bartlet's attacks on Governor Ritchie. Josh turns and thanks Tyler for his help, Donna goes to find seats, and Toby again is forced to say, "I work at the White House," which Tyler mocks him for. Josh asks Tyler if there's going to be any trouble, and Tyler swears on his girlfriend's life that Josh's troubles will end 98 miles in the direction he's pointing. Naturally, the train starts going in the opposite direction.

Leo and Admiral Fitzwallace are sitting in the Situation Room when Nancy McNally enters. After pretending she wants simply to declare a full-scale war on Qumar, she tells the two of them according to intelligence, Qumar has a tape of a cell phone call Shareef made from the plane. Admiral Fitzwallace says it's impossible, but realizes the trouble that could happen if Qumar, instead of accusing the U.S. killed Shareef, is claiming it was someone else.


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President Bartlet is in the Oval Office, arguing with Senators Schuler and Choate about faith-based charity programs, and whether or not they should receive government funding. Bartlet says they'll talk about it more, and the senators thank him and leave. Sam asks how the secretary interviews are going, and Bartlet confesses they're not going well; the first candidate wasn't easily impressed, and the second one didn't find Bartlet funny. Debbie Fiderer, whom Bartlet refers to as "a crazy woman Charlie knows", is next, and Bartlet mentions Charlie's view that Bartlet doesn't really want to replace Mrs. Landingham. Bartlet then asks about Josh and Toby, and Sam assures him they're on their way.

In a train car, Donna says they can switch trains in Bedford and catch a 9:30 flight out of Indianapolis, though she has heard the plane might be delayed due to bad weather. Josh tells her to call the White House Operations Center for details on the weather, but Donna says her cell phone battery is dead, so they can't. Josh is upset because he has no information access (the newspaper Donna bought him is all local news). Toby still wants to argue with Josh about Bartlet's campaign strategy towards Ritchie, and Josh points out while he just wants to win, Toby wants to beat him, and Josh is worried that means they won't win at all. Donna asks if they approve her travel plan, and Josh says yes.

Debbie Fiderer is with Charlie in the outer Oval Office. She asks if it's all right to ask how President Bartlet managed without a secretary for a year, and Charlie points out Bartlet has five secretaries in all, and the position she's interviewing for is executive secretary. They talk about the daily diary that keeps track of what President Bartlet does throughout the day.

Inside the Oval Office, President Bartlet ends his meeting with Chairman Bill Lacey (they've been talking about the Dow), and Charlie comes in to tell him Debbie's there. Bartlet's not enthusiastic, but agrees to see her. As Debbie comes in she and Sam greet each other, and Sam mentions she used to work for Donald McKittridge, has an impressive resume, and was the one who found Charlie. Sam leaves, and Debbie explains when Charlie came to interview for the bike messenger job, she saw how special he was, so she recommended him for the job as body man. Bartlet didn't know that, thanks her, and asks who was second in line for the position, since he's curious about the road not taken. Debbie correctly guesses he's testing her memory, and says it was a man named David Dweck, whom she used to call, "David Dweck want a dwink of wa-wa" until she realized it wasn't funny. Larry comes in to tell President Bartlet, "Hong Kong's down 4%, but it's still over 10,000. It's too early to tell anything. The Nikkei's down 2%, the dollars down .3% against the yen; .4% against the Euro. Frankfurt opens in eight hours." Bartlet thanks him, and when Larry leaves, asks Debbie why she was fired. Debbie evades the question, then tries to claim it was for chronic lateness, which Bartlet doesn't believe. He heard she got fired because of Charlie, and Debbie denies this, and again refuses to tell him the reason. Bartlet again says how strange she is, and Debbie points out the first time they interviewed, she was high. Bartlet claims he'll figure out why she was fired, because his deductive reasoning is exceptional, but Debbie again won't say. She thanks him and leaves.

Debbie is starting to walk through the outer Oval Office when she sees Donald McKittridge, who demands to know what she's doing there. Debbie stammers, and Charlie says he brought her in. Just as McKittridge is about to yell at Charlie about it, Bartlet walks in and reveals he's figured out why Debbie was fired; McKittridge wanted Debbie to hire David Dweck - son of Brian Dweck, a major contributor to the campaign of McKittridge's brother, a congressman - for Charlie's position. Bartlet tells McKittridge Debbie didn't give him up, and walks back into the Oval Office. Sam, who follows, asks him if Debbie was funny. Bartlet thinks on that one for a second, and then asks him to have the agents at the door stop her. Bartlet hustles out to the northwest lobby, where Debbie is being detained by agents. He asks where the dollar is, and she says, "Oh, it's down; .3% against the yen; .4% against the Euro." Bartlet looks at her as Nancy tells him Abbey's back, and says, "Bring her on." He walks away.

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Bartlet goes to the Residence bedroom, where Bartlet is waiting. Abbey thinks he's angry about the "I'm just a wife and mother" line, and she apologizes, but Bartlet, after pretending to be upset, says he thought it was benign, and admits C.J. is joking about it at her briefing. Abbey, laughing, tells him to get off her back. Bartlet tells her he hired Debbie. Abbey doesn't recognize her until he mentions her named used to be Debbie DiLaguardia, and she says she was great. Bartlet says he's getting dressed for the fundraiser. As Abbey turns on the TV...

...we see C.J. in the briefing room, and she is, indeed, joking about Abbey's remark. A reporter asks about the CBO deficit numbers, and C.J. says while there is a deficit, the CBO was off by $25 billion. After telling another reporter Bartlet can't say anything about legislative appropriations until he's seen the bill, C.J. thanks everyone and says it's a full lid. Just as she's leaving, however, Carol comes up and whispers something in her ear. C.J. says she has a new story; two pipe bombs exploded during a woman's swim meet at Kennison State University (with Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota), killing 44 and injuring 100. As reporters start to shout questions, C.J. says she has to listen to the update and then she'll take questions.

Leo is in his office, telling Margaret he wasn't planning on going to the DNC fundraiser because he forgot about it, and was planning on watching his cooking show instead. He stops when he sees C.J. is still in the briefing room, and turns up the volume. C.J. gives more details about the bombing - witnesses said there were swimmers in the water, and there hasn't been much discussion of motives or suspects - and Leo instructs Margaret to find out what happened.

As Tori Amos' cover of "I Don't Like Mondays" plays over the soundtrack, Donna, Josh and Toby run in from the rain to a hotel in Indianapolis. Donna complains about the two of them making her get of the cab and walking three blocks in the rain, and Josh says he can't read in a moving car. As Donna goes to the front desk to book a room, and Josh explains to the clerk their flight's been delayed, Toby sees C.J. briefing the press about the bombing, and after a moment, Donna and Josh join him.

At the DNC fundraiser, President Bartlet closes his speech by talking about the bombing:

President Bartlet: ...restoring abundance amid an economic shortfall, securing peace in a time of global conflict, sustaining hope in this winter of anxiety and fear. More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. 44 people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men's team were killed and two others are in critical condition. When, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They're our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you and God bless the United State of America. Thank you.
Bruno: (as the crowd applauds) When did you write that last part?
Sam: In the car.
Bruno: (beat) Freak.

A little later, C.J. comes back to the White House. Anthony Marcus (Andrew McFarlane) is waiting outside her office, and when C.J. sees him, she apologizes for being late, but he doesn't respond. She goes on to say she really misses Simon as well, and she isn't done looking for someone to be a mentor for him. Marcus snarls he doesn't need a babysitter, and calls her a bitch. Charlie, who happens to be walking by, storms in and hurls Marcus against the wall, telling him not to disrespect C.J., especially in the White House. He tells Marcus he has a choice; juvenile detention or meeting with Charlie every Saturday morning at 9 at Cosmos. Charlie walks out, and C.J. and Marcus stare after him.

Sam goes back to his office and starts to take off his tie. He hears a voice behind him say, "Shmutsy pants," turns around, and sees Mallory there. She congratulates him on the speech, and tells him she and Richard broke up. Sam tries to act disheartened but fails, and Mallory tells him to cram it. She brings up his day staffing President Bartlet, and he says for a light day, it was very chaotic, and he never realized just how smart Josh was until he did this. Mallory offers to drive him home. They pass Charlie and say good night to him. Charlie walks to his desk and sees a box on it. He opens it, and C.J., who's come behind him, says Deanna (Charlie's sister) gave the picture to her, she put it in a frame, and she's been meaning to give it to him but she keeps forgetting. Charlie thanks her. As C.J. leaves, Charlie puts down the picture, and we see it's a picture of Charlie's mom holding him when he was six.

In the hotel bar, Josh and Toby are continuing to argue about the political campaign when Donna decides she's had enough.

Donna: I am not kidding. I have such an impulse to knock your heads together. I can't remember the last time I heard you two talk about anything other than how a campaign was playing in Washington. Cathy needed to take a second job so her dad could be covered by her insurance. She tried to tell you how bad things were for family farmers. You told her we already lost Indiana. You made fun of the fair but you didn't see they have livestock exhibitions and give prizes for the biggest tomato and the best heirloom apple. They're proud of what they grow. Eight modes of transportation, the kindness of six strangers, random conversations with twelve more, and nobody brought up Bartlet versus Ritchie but you. I'm writing letters, on your behalf, to the parents of the kids who were killed today. Can I have the table, please?

Josh and Toby sheepishly leave the table and walk to the bar, where a man named Matt Kelley is sitting. Kelley talks about how he and his daughter were looking at Notre Dame, and thanks to the market, he doesn't know if he's going to be able to put her through college, despite the fact he and his wife both work. As Toby's about to introduce himself, Josh makes a motion to indicate he's waiving the bet in this case, but Toby says it anyway; "I work at the White House." He offers to buy Kelley a beer.

Title Card:


Early in the morning, President Bartlet walks to the Oval Office, where Leo, Admiral Fitzwallace, and Nancy McNally are waiting. They tell him Qumar is going to announce they've found evidence Israel shot down Shareef's plane, even though they know the U.S. did it. Fitzwallace says they can still insulate President Bartlet, but Bartlet points out he signed the paper, and he's not going to make them go down for him. They all walk to the Situation Room.

Donna, Josh and Toby are in the airport shuttle from D.C. Josh wonders if they could have used soy sauce for the soy diesel truck, but Donna says it doesn't work like that. Toby tells the driver to let him off at the bridge, and Josh agrees. Donna thinks they're crazy, but gets out with them as well.

The three of them walk over the bridge, and we see the Lincoln Memorial in the distance.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: In addition to Bartlet pretending to be upset at his wife over her comment before revealing he isn't, there's also the scene where Bartlet tells Charlie he's considering cancelling the photo-op. Charlie can't believe he's considering it, and Bartlet takes that to mean he should have the photo-op, but Charlie means he's absolutely in favor of cancelling it.
  • Call-Back: To Debbie's first interview. Also, this isn't the first time someone's mocked President Bartlet's deductive powers.
  • Foreshadowing: Shareef's assassination, and Qumar's discovery the U.S. might be behind it, will continue to play a major role over the rest of the season.
    • Also, when Sam says staffing the President made him realize he wants to get back in the game more, that foreshadows his decision to run for Congress later in the season.
    • When Matt Kelley asks Toby if he has kids Toby takes a long pause before saying "No". Three episodes from now (set roughly a month later) we'll learn that Andy is pregnant with twins, and they're Toby's.
  • Informed Judaism: Toby seems to feel this way about Josh.
    Josh: You have an inadvertent habit of putting down my Judaism by implying that you have a sharper Antisemitism meter then I do.
    Toby: You know, the Ancient Hebrews had a word for Jews from Westport. They pronounced it "Presbyterian".
  • Meaningful Echo: For most of this episode and the previous one, as a result of losing a bet with Josh, every time Toby introduces himself he has had to add "I work at the White House." This has not gone down well with most of the people he's met on the way back from rural Indiana.note  In an Indianapolis hotel bar, a stranger strikes up a conversation with him, complaining good-naturedly about how overly hard it is to pay for his daughter's college education:
    Matt Kelley: It should be hard. I like that it's hard. Putting your daughter through college, that's...that's a man's job. A man's accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier. 'Cause in that difference is...everything. —I'm sorry. [puts out his hand for a shake] I'm, uh, I, I'm Matt Kelley.
    Toby: Toby Ziegler. [Toby glances at Josh, further down the bar; Josh waves a hand to indicate that it's fine, Toby doesn't have to go on humiliating himself] ...I work at the White House. Have a minute to talk? We'd like to buy you a beer.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: If you weren't convinced before that Governor Ritchie wasn't Aaron Sorkin's version of President George W. Bush (with the malapropisms, Toby pointing out how much Ritchie relies on advisers, and how he seems proud of what he doesn't know; C.J. points this up as well), you'll be convinced after this two-part episode.
  • Only Sane Employee: Dear God, Donna.
    President Bartlet: (referring to Josh and Toby) 300 IQ points between them...they can't find their way home. I swear to God, if Donna wasn't there, they'd have to buy a house.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At the end, when faced with yet another interminable political argument between Josh and Toby about the campaign and Ritchie's inadequacies, Donna snaps and gives them a piece of her mind about how out-of-touch and fixated they are on the campaign they are.
  • Shout-Out: Sam sarcastically compares his job to 007's, Bartlet calls Abbey "Medea", and Admiral Fitzwallace calls Nancy McNally "Dr. Strangelove".
    Leo: It's not just a cooking show, all right. It's very relaxing. The woman is sublime.
    Margaret: If you ask me, it's soft porn. No one needs to massage garlic oil into a leg of lamb that much, on top of which...
    • Sam admits to Mallory he stole part of President Bartlet's speech from Camelot, and tells her, "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright," which paraphrases a quote by T. S. Eliot ("Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.").
  • Two-Part Episode
  • Unusual Euphemism: As Charlie and Debbie discuss President Bartlet's daily calendar.
    Debbie: What about private stuff?
    Charlie: We've got euphemisms. Every once in a while, there'll be a fluke cancellation some kind of gap in the President's schedule, and the President and the First Lady might slip know.
    Debbie: For a "matinee."
    Charlie: Yeah.
    Debbie: What do you call it?
    Charlie: "Barbecuing".
    Debbie: Okay.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In her "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards Toby and Josh for all their obsessive bickering about the campaign, Donna points out that for all their self-important moralising about the issues and Governor Ritchie's failings as a political candidate, they've been completely dismissive, aloof and contemptuous towards almost everyone they've encountered.

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