West Wing
Talking Points

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Trade (And Intellectual) Deficits

As Carol and C.J. stroll, Carol asks how Jed's interviews are going. C.J. comments that Jed has, among other things, already used the phrase "market elasticity" three times, and that she's waiting for him to wave a piece of chalk. "Professor-In-Chief," Carol comments. "More like Professor Incoherent," C.J. quite correctly snarks. Heh. C.J. asks what else is up with the press, and Carol throws out a few fairly pedestrian issues, and then the fact that there's new press guidance available about a development pertaining to the FCC. Just then, Will breaks in and says that Congress reached a deal with the FCC about media consolidation. "Media consolidation?" Carol asks dumbly. "You know, that plan to let corporations buy up more and more TV stations." The exposition fairy is not light of foot today. In fact, bracket your bookcases to the walls, because she is coming to stomp on your roof as well as mine. Will explains that instead of letting a single company reach 45% of all viewers, as was its original proposal, the FCC has agreed to allow any company to reach 39.37%. C.J. looks puzzled by this weird number, but fails to draw any particular conclusions about it, because she in no way resembles an actual person with experience in politics. Such a person, of course, would have immediately said, "Oh, really? Which company has a 39.37% situation to protect?" That's exactly what you think whenever you see a weird number in a regulatory proposal -- that it's there in response to a particular existing or hypothetical situation, and to have C.J. so dumbfounded like this just makes her seem...well, dumb.

Elsewhere, Josh finds himself face to face with Swimtern, who tells Josh that it is Swimtern's last day at the White House. Josh thanks him tersely. "I was hoping you'd give a toast at my going-away party," Swimtern smarms. Josh: "How about a plaque for best impersonation of a blue blazer?" Uh...huh? Swimtern asks if Josh is in fact coming to the party, and Josh says he's having a celebration of his own, "with five cloves of garlic and the cast of The Exorcist." Okay. So Swimtern is a boring suit in training, and also a vampire. Oh, and Satan. He's evil, but versatile. ["Also: professional! And politic! You know, unless Swimtern ever feels like telling any of the apparently highly-placed politicos in his family what an asshole Josh was to him." -- Wing Chun] Donna strolls in and reminds Josh that the president sent him a gift, and that Parsons (the union guy) has called back twice. Josh starts babbling about all the charts he needs for his upcoming meetings, not noticing that Donna is currently regarding him coolly. Finally, she gets to the point and asks him whether he made any progress getting her on the trip to Brussels. He brushes her off, saying that she doesn't really want to go, because it will be all about "hand-holding" and other boring stuff. When Donna persists that she does too want to go, Josh snaps, "This isn't taxpayer-funded tourism; we've got jobs to do." Sometimes you just have to hope he doesn't hear the way he talks to her. Donna reminds Josh that she's been helping on these talks for months, and that it's unfair for her to be cut out of the process right at the end. Going for a little more self-interest, which is probably a good bet when you're dealing with Josh, she asks how he's going to manage on his own. "I'll grab someone off the advance staff; I'll be fine," he says, still looking for his charts. Not thrilled at being termed interchangeable with any number of faceless peons, Donna waves the charts at Josh, pointedly saying that perhaps he should ask someone off the advance staff. Yeah, he more than had that one coming. He tries again to shrug off her concerns as oversensitivity, and she continues to say that she feels slighted by the way he's treating her. "This isn't a workers' collective. Don't get all Woody Guthrie on me," he says, apparently unaware that she might actually believe she could contribute on the trip and is not asking to be taken along as a sop to the proletariat. "You're the oppressor," she says. "That's Latin for 'boss,'" says Josh. "I'm not talking to you," she comes back. They walk. They stop. They look at each other and tear off in different directions, in a moment of hopelessly cheesy and obvious choreography. All that scene needed was a Twang of Hilarity on the Knee-Slapping Acoustic Guitar of Sitcoms Past. "Meeh-meh-waaaaah!"

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West Wing




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