Toby makes his way to C.J.'s office through the lobby, where the halls are being decked with you-know-what. No, not Republicans. They're not very decorative. Have you seen some of those guys? Yikes. Toby finds C.J. kneeling on the floor, butt toward us (and you can tell sweeps is over, otherwise this would be Marina Lewinsky in a mini-skirt sharing the wonders of her thong with all and sundry), struggling with a conifer and singing some "ring ding a ling ding"-type Christmas song with some fairly reckless doo-be-do-ing thrown in. I don't know my conifers that well and I care far less about Christmas carols, so feel free to fabricate details for yourselves. If we're lucky, Jed may be along any minute to tell us the tree's name in Latin. Toby, amused, asks what C.J.'s doing. Okay, sure, he's Jewish, but I know he's seen Christmas trees before. C.J. says she's holding up her tree. He wonders if they didn't have anything smaller. C.J.: "Smaller than me is a shrub." Hee. It sure is. C.J. wanted a real tree. Toby refers to some document, saying it's fine, except for some "naked gloating" he excised. C.J.: "We restarted the government, Toby. There was a showdown at the O.K. Corral and we gunned down the Clantons. We're heroes." Toby: "And yet: self-effacing." Carol comes in to tell C.J. that the Waterville Crier is on the line asking for a comment. C.J., up to her shoulder in tree: "No comments for anything called the Crier, the Intelligencer, or the Breeze." I'm with you, lady. Especially on Intelligencer -- what an awful, awful name. Carol explains that the DEA just suspended a Waterville physician's licence for giving a terminally ill patient sufficient narcotics to take an eternal dirt nap. Though Carol doesn't speak of it as flippantly as I. C.J.'s blasé; she says that's what the DEA does with its time. Carol explains to C.J. that Waterville's in Oregon; C.J. dashes to the phone, dropping the tree on Toby, who's sitting on the couch next to it. Though we can't see Toby's face, we can feel his peevishness seeping through the needles. He should try not to get any on the carpet.
Oval Office. Abby's drinking tea (Celestial Seasonings Dupont Circle Dandelion with a wee dram of the milk of human kindness stirred in) on the couch while Jed, who's signing stuff at his desk, regales Debbie with the wonder of the fact that all three of his daughters are going to be in one place for Christmas. Jed: "You've never seen that, have you?" Hell, until the beginning of this season, none of us had seen all three of them in one place, period. We'd never even seen Elizabeth at all. Debbie says she hasn't seen that. Jed relays this information to Abby, as if she hadn't heard for herself perfectly well. Abby, whose hair is just...geez, I give up, I've run out of descriptors for this. Anyway, she says: "Maybe next year." Jed: "What if she quits before then? She's flighty." Abby says they'll all be there tonight, and that they can be grateful for it. Jed says he is: "But Debbie thinks one night isn't a visit so much as a pit stop." Charlie comes in to say that Liz's family is arriving. Frowsy! Have I used "frowsy"? I don't think so. Whew. Anyway, Abby tells Jed not to bring up the rarity of their visits with the kids. Aw, why not? That's my very favourite part of visiting relatives -- being read the riot act for not visiting more. It definitely pushes "visit more" way up the priority list. Jed says he's not dwelling on it, and that he thinks they should spend Christmas with Liz's in-laws. Abby says they're invited. Jed refuses, saying he still has flashbacks. Abby: "You didn't sit up all night with Jean, sewing ducklings on the stockings." Only the first time I heard it, I thought she said "dumplings." Which is a lot funnier, even if it makes no sense.