West Wing
A Change Is Gonna Come

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The One With Character Development

And now, the highlight of the episode. Charlie walks down into the bowels of the White House. Based on all the gifts sitting around, I assume this is the Gifts Unit. There's no one behind the counter, so Charlie says "Hello?," and then rings a small bell that's on the counter. This isn't your typical hotel bell, by the way -- it looks more like a replica of the Liberty Bell. Someone comes to the desk and says, "May I help you?" in plummy British tones that sent shivers down my back. It's Bernard! Charlie seems less excited. He asks Bernard where Rose is. Bernard: "Rose, in what I assume was a clerical error of some kind, was promoted." Charlie then asks Bernard if he was transferred to the Gifts Unit. I would think the fact that he is standing behind the counter might be a clue there, Mr. Young. Bernard agrees with me: "Apparently, I am the new Rose." Oh, Bernard, you are a rose. Charlie asks about the flag, and Bernard is (of course) full of information about it. He states that this is the actual hand-sewn flag that was entered in a contest and selected by the Taiwan Independence Movement in 1994, adding that "the color scheme seems more reminiscent of the Taipei Holiday Inn, circa 1970." When Charlie tells Bernard that Jed needs the flag back, he simply says, "Oh, I'm afraid not." Bernard explains that pursuant to Article 5, section 7342(c) of the United States Code, any gift accepted by the President is deemed to have been accepted on behalf of the American people and becomes the property of those people. (I would like to point out that I have not received my share of any gifts received by any president I can recall. I want my commemorative ashtray, dammit!) Bernard's summary of the law is generally correct, if incomplete. (You can check out the statute yourself, if you'd like.) Charlie tells Bernard that he needs the flag. Bernard: "You're not suggesting I break the law?" Charlie: "No." Bernard: "Well then, I suppose we're in a bit of a pickle."

Josh is in Toby's office. The Chinese Ambassador has arrived, and Toby and Josh are preparing to meet with him and acknowledge fault for having accepted the flag. And then Toby looks over Josh's shoulder and says his name to get his attention. Josh turns around, and they see a long line of what appears to be Chinese men (and only men) walking the conference room. Josh says that it's the entire Chinese delegation, and asks Toby whether this came up in the protocol meeting. Toby says that he was "in and out. I couldn't stomach any more haggling over the nine-meat soup." Josh repeats the name of the soup, and Toby tells him it was on the menu for one of the dinners. Josh: "Beef, chicken, pork..." Toby: "You don't want to go there."

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West Wing

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