West Wing
Let Bartlet Be Bartlet

Episode Report Card
Strega: B- | 3 USERS: A+
Let Bartlet Be Bartlet

Toby is perusing the memo of doom with C.J.. He reads, "The reality of the Bartlet White House is a flood of mistakes. An agenda helplessly stalled and lacking a coherent strategy. An administration plagued by indecision." On the wall behind Toby's shoulder is a copy of the newspaper front page that allowed a policeman to identify him in "Celestial Navigation." Josh arrives, and C.J. fills him in the situation. Josh asks how bad it is, and C.J. says, "Well, she takes the three of us to town. We don't look like rocket scientists. Then again, we're not rocket scientists." Toby says it's bad for the Prez and Leo. Everyone agrees that C.J. needs to find out who has a copy. Toby says, "Whose paper is it in tomorrow? We have to know, right away." As she leaves, Josh sits down and says to Toby, "Our second year doesn't seem to be going a whole lot better than our first, does it?" Hey, but at least your show got renewed!

Toby pokes his head into Margaret's office to ask if Leo's free. Leo's talking to Admiral Fitzwallace, so while Toby waits, Margaret repeats the muffin story again. She also says that the emails are "bouncing back and forth with subatomic speed." Fitzwallace steps out, and asks Toby what the meeting across the hall is about. Toby tells him Sam's talking to people about gays in the military in an effort to form a coherent position on the issue. Fitzwallace says, "When he comes up with one, let me know, will you?" I'm starting to become a Fitzwallace fan. Toby enters Leo's office. After some chit-chat about military funding, Toby tells Leo, "There's gonna be a thing." You can tell why he's the communications director. Then he tells Leo about the memo, which has reached such ominous proportions that I'm starting to wonder if they need to send Luke Skywalker in to blow the thing up. Toby says that there are observations in the memo that will displease the Prez. Leo asks, "I move him to the middle?" Toby says, "The sense is that his instinct is to be aggressive, and you take him to safe ground." Leo repeats, "Don't worry about it," a few times, and rejects Toby's offer to show him a copy of the memo.

Donna hands Josh her six-page report on English as the national language, saying, "I gave you some good stuff on James Madison --" Josh interrupts, "James Madison? I didn't ask for a damn social studies paper!" Donna takes offense, "Look at the memo, I gave you what you asked for. Don't snap at me!" She starts to stomp off, whining, "What's wrong with everyone today?" Because it's all about Donna, folks, and don't you forget it. Josh finally apologizes, explaining, "I wasn't snapping at you. I didn't realize that you also gave me the stuff I asked for. I thought it was just... I thought you just gave me James Madison." Donna sniffs that the Madison information will help him. Josh finally makes it to the sanctuary of his office, only to discover Mandy lurking inside. She wants to know what the Madison stuff is about, so Josh explains about the FEC appointments and the threats of retaliation. A lot of this episode consists of various staff members telling each other things we already know. Mandy, whose hair is incredibly poofy, says that the Prez won't look good fighting against English as the national language. Josh responds, "I've been working here fourteen months, Mandy; tell me what else I should know." Mandy, slow to take a hint, decides to repeat her point in more detail: "You take an opposition to a flag burning amendment, school prayer, and gays in the military, you pile on 'no' to English as the national language, and they will paint a picture." The Bartlet administration is opposed to gays in the military? I'm confused. Josh is still uninterested in Mandy's advice, so she finally says, her voice quivering, "I'm just saying, it's my job to tell you that." Josh notes, "Today really isn't the best day for you to tell me what your job is." Mandy grumbles, "I wrote an op memo, Josh. You and I have written twenty of them." He asks, "You never heard of a burn bag?" Mandy says, "They got it off my hard disk." Who are "They?" If it's a vast right-wing conspiracy, I quit. Josh asks if Mandy knows who has it, and when she says she doesn't, he says, "Then there's not much you can do for us today." ["How does she know 'they' got it off her hard disk if she doesn't know who has it in the first place? She probably gave at least one copy to Lloyd Russell, and God knows who else." - deborah] Since she hasn't had her fill of abuse yet, Mandy goes back to complaining that the Prez shouldn't take a stand against English as the national language. Josh tells her, "Don't worry about it, it's not gonna happen. The President's not gonna nominate who he wants to the FEC." "Why not?" Mandy asks. Josh pauses for a moment, and finally answers, "Because that's not what we do." Mandy finally, blessedly, leaves.

Tempers are flaring (in a manly way, of course) among the military folk. Sam mentions a report, and Major #1 interrupts, "We know the report. A lot of those cases you're talking about, of the gays being discharged, came from voluntary statements." Sam says that a lot of the statements were not voluntary, according to standards in any civilian court. He says, "It's not a voluntary statement when it's given to a psychotherapist, as in the case of former Marine Corporal David Blessing. It is not a voluntary statement when it's made in a personal diary, as in the case of former West Point cadet Nicole Garrison. It is not when it's made after being asked, as in the case of Master Chief Petty Officer Diane Kelli!" Bring it home, Sam! Testify! "And it is not, when it's been coerced out of a service member through fear, through intimidation, through death threats, and threats of criminal prosecution, as in the case of former Air Force Major Bob Kiddis, former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Kevin Keys, and four sailors aboard the U.S.S. Essex." Heh, he said "member." The names have been changed in Sam's version, but you can read about the cases Sam is describing in Conduct Unbecoming: The Fifth Annual Report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue." Major #1 insists, "You take care of your guys, we'll take care of ours." I have no idea what he means. Sam replies, "You're not taking care of your guys, Major; your guys are out looking for jobs." Major #1 says, "Those weren't our guys." Enter Admiral Fitzwallace, who introduces himself around the room. One of the congressmen says that it's an honor to meet him, and Fitzwallace responds, "I imagine it would be, yes." ["Fitzwallace rocks." - deborah] He grabs a danish, and asks the majors what they thinks about gays in the military. Major #1 is a bit nervous, and tries to avoid answering, but the Admiral insists on hearing their opinion. Major #2 finally says that they aren't prejudiced against homosexuals. Fitzwallace concludes, "You just don't want to see them serving in the armed forces." Major #2 agrees. Fitzwallace notes that having openly gay servicemen would threaten unit discipline and cohesion, and says that "the military wasn't designed to be an instrument of social change." He goes on, "The problem with that is, that's what they were saying about me fifty years ago. Blacks shouldn't serve in the military. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I'm an Admiral in the U.S. Navy, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Beat that with a stick." Fitzwallace discards the remains of his danish and exits, but Sam follows him out to thanks him. Fitzwallace says, "You're not gonna get anywhere." Sam says that the Prez just wanted "exploratory meetings." Fitzwallace strides away, possibly to see about getting a spin-off.

C.J. hurries into Danny's office. I guess it's probably not just Danny's office, and that other reporters use it too, but let's just call it "Danny's office" to spare me from typing, "C.J. hurries into the office which Danny shares with some other reporters." See how unwieldy a phrase that is? Anyway, Danny asks her to wait while he finishes his story. She waits. And waits. And finally asks, "Danny, is it the Magna Carta?" He snaps, "I'm trying to finish a thought, here!" C.J. apologizes, and begins tapping a pen against her hand. Danny gives up. C.J. confirms that Danny knows about the Satanic memo and then says, "I don't like exploiting our friendship in any way, and I certainly don't like taking advantage of any feelings beyond friendship you might have for me." Danny interjects, "You have them for me, too." Is loathing considered to be a feeling "beyond friendship"? C.J. struggles toward the point, and asks Danny if he knows who has the memo. He has it, of course. Who didn't see that one coming? C.J. is stunned, and asks if he's going to write about it. "Sure," he says. "Why?" she demands. Danny says that it's news, and C.J. shoots back, "It's not news just because it's entertaining." Danny spells it out: "It's news 'cause the media director of a successful presidential campaign wrote a memo to a leader of the President's party describing his weaknesses. Well, there are other people in the President's party, a lot of 'em buy my newspaper, and I think they'd like to know what Mandy thinks, and I don't think that's at all out of line." While C.J. tries to argue, Danny goes on, "She's a key player in the Democratic party, and she says that the President is staggeringly vulnerable. And that may not be good news for you, C.J., but it's news." I hate it when I have to agree with Danny. C.J. hates it too, I guess, because she stomps out after telling him, "We'll have a comment for you by the end of the day." Danny chases after her, shouting, "None of this is our fault!" He says that the memo is accurate, and that they should have asked Mandy for a critique when they hired her, but they didn't because "you knew what she was going to say, you knew she was right, [and] you knew there was nothing you could do about it." Danny decides to pour some more salt into the wound, and adds, "You guys are stuck in the mud around here. And none of it is the fault of the press. I know you're frustrated, but it ain't nothing compared to the

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