West Wing
100,000 Airplanes

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Sam, Sam, the Sunshine Man

Ed'n'Larry (that's the new spelling) bust through a pair of doors as Josh returns from his date -- and I use the word loosely. Josh asks if he heard Toby correctly on the phone. Larry says, "It could be worse, you know." Josh wonders how. Larry: "He could have cancer." Josh asks, "Do the two of you ever go anywhere separately?" Ed replies as he and Larry veer off in front of Josh, "It's weird, isn't it?" Josh keeps walking and says, "A little weird, yeah."

Josh meets up with Joey, Kenny, C.J., Sam, and Toby, who are waiting outside the Oval Office. Toby asks Josh how it went with Amy; Josh says, "Not at all well," and blames Toby. Leo calls them into the Oval Office. Jed's not there yet. As they stand around waiting, Josh quietly tells Toby, "Totally your fault." Toby: "I'm just...you know...I'm just the guy who does the thing." ["I'm sorry, did David Mamet write this episode?" -- Wing Chun] Josh, confused: "What?" Toby: "We've run out of pie."

Jed arrives from the portico and thanks them all for being there so late. He leans against the front of his desk and says, "A President stood up. He said, 'We will land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.' You know what we knew when he said that? Nothing. We didn't know about the lunar surface. We didn't know how to land one of these things. All we'd ever done is crash it into the ocean, and God knows, if we could figure out how to land soft, we didn't know how to blast off again. But a President said 'we're gonna do it,' and we did it. So I ask you: why shouldn't I stand up and say, 'We are going to cure cancer in ten years'?" He pauses, and no one speaks. He encourages them: "I'm really asking." Josh wonders, "How close are we to really being able to do this?" Jed says, "Nobody knows." Josh says, "Then..." But Jed cuts him off: "Toby?" Toby says it will be viewed as a political ploy. C.J. starts to jump in, excuses herself to Toby for cutting in, and says, "It can be seen as self-serving." Jed: "How?" C.J. explains, "Using cancer to deflect attention from MS." Jed asks, "You think people with cancer care what my motives are? You think their families do?" C.J. tries to explain further, but Jed wants to hear from Joey, who says, "I agree with everything that's been said, except I don't think they'll see it as deflecting the MS; I think they'll see it as deflecting the censure." Jed starts to object again that no one will care about his motives, and Joey replies (using her voice only), "Everybody cares about motives, Mr. President." Jed didn't get that, and Kenny repeats the phrase for her. Finally Jed comes to dear, sweet, idealistic Sam: "Why shouldn't I do it?" Sam: "I think you should. I think ambition is good. I think overreaching is good. I think giving people a vision of government that's more than Social Security cheques and debt reduction is good." The other staffers listen quietly but don't seem thrilled by Sam's dissenting viewpoint. He continues, "I think government should be optimistic." Sam believes what he's saying, but he's not making his argument with anywhere near the conviction we've frequently seen from him: think of his passionate comments to Mallory about space exploration in "Galileo." The MS coverup, the censure, and many other events of the last three years have definitely taken their toll on Sam. Jed looks at everyone and then turns around to glance at Leo, standing stalwartly behind him. Jed says, "I'm sorry, I know it's late, but I want to start seeing drafts of a new section in the next few hours. C.J., I want a sense of a media overview, too." She nods. Nobody moves. Jed: "Now." They bustle off. Leo hands Jed a file, and Jed sits down at his desk. Leo looks at Jed expectantly, and Jed says, "I just want to look at some drafts." Leo leaves for his office without a word.

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West Wing

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