Bartlet climbs into the Presidential limo, and picks up the cell phone to get the skinny from Leo: "Intel says Taiwan is getting ready to test-fire three Patriots...in a base in an island in the Pingdong region." After about two minutes of trading "Pingdong" jokes -- including Leo's retelling of catching "Pingdong" in Vietnam -- POTUS gets back to business, asking, "What's China's reaction?" "An acceleration of integrated military exercises," says Leo. "Big?" "Yeah." "How big?" "Unprecedented." Leo asks, "Should we tell Taiwan not to test the missiles?" The President replies, "No. I mean, we could try, but they're not going to go for it. What are they asking for?" Leo explains, "They want us to put some hardware in the Taiwan Strait." POTUS asks, "Tonight?" Leo answers in the affirmative. POTUS continues, "I'm assuming Nancy, Fitzwallace, and the Chiefs..." "Everyone concurs, Mr. President," Leo says preemptively. Bartlet wants to know whether Leo feels the same. Leo does. "We have a pretty good sense of the worst-case scenario?" asks the President. "We end up sending the largest U.S. naval armada to southeast Asia since the end of Vietnam...plus a raging case of Pingdong," explains Leo. The President takes a moment, then says, "That sounds right...All right, we know the play." "We're going to assemble in the [Situation] Room," declares Leo. "She gave me these beautiful chess sets," says Bartlet. "The Prime Minister?" asks Leo. Heaven forbid we lose sight of The Lazy Metaphor for a minute. Getting back to non-chess-related business, POTUS informs Leo to "let Fitzwallace know [POTUS is] going to send the Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait." "Yes, sir," says Leo. POTUS glances to his driver and orders, "Let's go."
La la LA la la laaaaa. La la la LAA la la laaaa. La la la la la la laaaaa la la la. La la la la la la laaaa la. Dee! (dee dee dee dee) Dee dee dee deeee! (dee dee dee dee) dee dee dee deee dee dee deedeedeedeedeedeedeedeeee LAA! La la la dee dee do do.
Back in the White House, the President and Leo strut through the halls to the Situation Room. The camera in the Situation Room is positioned behind a glass map of the hot zone as the Big Two enter. Of course, everything on the map is backward, so if you were paying attention, you'd know just how small Nawiat is compared to Anihc. While we're at it, what's up with that map? Is it custom-made? Is it light-projected somehow? Something wrong with paper maps? Whatever it is, it reminds me of Echo Base on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. Oooh, maybe Nancy is going to order the firing of the Ion Cannon. The President cracks wise about the upcoming primary vote in Hartsfield's Landing: "Listen, they start voting in Hartsfield's Landing in about two and a half hours, so this may end up being someone else's problem." "Ha ha ha ha!" goes everyone assembled in the Situation Room. "Joke of the century!" proclaims Entertainment Weekly. "Best Hartsfield's Landing one-liner in four years," according to Today's Gene Shalit. Okay, enough jokes. Let's make with the serious. "The scale of the war games is unprecedented?" asks POTUS. Nancy -- looking good and feeling fine in a sharp brown suit and brown blouse -- explains that the Chinese war games are a mock invasion of Taiwanese-held islands, and include planning for foreign-carrier-based opposition. Leo -- looking cranky and feeling lanky in a boring black suit and tie -- inquires about the Taiwanese reaction to the Chinese war games. Nancy's got the 411 and it goes a little something like this: "All armed forces are on heightened alert. The war minister asked for an emergency cabinet meeting." We also learn that Taiwan is moving some specific types of military might -- such as helicopters -- around like some sort of big strategic game of some sort. The American aircraft carriers U.S.S. Nimitz and the U.S.S. Independence are both about two hours away from the potential hot zone. There's also a battle carrier group centered on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, within reach of the area. Leo asks to backtrack for a second to see what C.J. is facing in the press room right now: "Let me backtrack for a second -- what's C.J. facing in the press room right now?" Nancy says that the live fire exercises of the Chinese war games are being reported by southeast Asian media. "Is the Carl Vinson close enough to make a detour to the South China Sea?" asks Leo. General Glad Man says he thinks that, in fact, is the next move. Leo looks at the President: "Sir?" "That's our next move," declares the President. Oh, is the President still here? Damn, I think I could do his job. Nancy wants to know, "After that?" "After our next move comes the next move," says the President. Wait a second. After one move. Another. Then another. This sounds familiar. Very familiar. Sorkin...you sly devil.