West Wing
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A Turkey Wing And A Prayer

Sam and Josh burst through a door as they pedeconference. Sam states, "The guy threatened to blow up a theatre in the name of God!" I don't know who they're talking about, but Josh tells him not to bring it up at the meeting. Sam says, "It might slip out." Josh: "Shove it back in." Someone should have given a certain real-life President such good advice about his, er...never mind.

As Sam and Josh enter the room, they exchange pleasant greetings with the Reverend Al Caldwell and some other guy. For a moment I think Caldwell is Richard Dysart, except a little older and more jowly, which he would probably be by now, except I can't remember whether Dysart's even still alive. Then I realize it's not him anyway. Josh and Sam say good morning to Mary, whom we remember from Josh's run-in last season with the Christian right. She doesn't stand, shake their hands, or greet them; she just launches in with, "Josh, the White House will face considerable embarrassment if the President continues to maintain his stranglehold on indifference when it comes to persecuted Christians around the world." Josh looks at Sam and says, "We're done with...'good morning.'" She says POTUS has to grant the asylum request. Josh says the President doesn't grant asylum requests, the INS judge does. Mary counters that the INS judge will do what the President urges him to do, and adds, "If the President doesn't urge the INS judge to grant asylum, he's going to wish he had." Josh says, "Mary, I swear to God, you're not going to get anywhere in this building by threatening me." Sam asks if it's known for a fact that they were persecuted in China. Caldwell says, "They're Christians." Sam says he believes they're Christians; he's asking if they were persecuted. Other Guy says that they were; Josh wants to know how they know this. Mary says that they stuffed themselves in twenty-by-twenty-foot compartments for a month and a half. "Why else would they be here?" Well, it's not exactly unheard of for people to try to enter the US under fairly desperate conditions for a variety of reasons. Caldwell and the other guy say that the leaders of the Fangcheg Church were thrown into labour camps; and in August three Taiwanese-born American evangelicals were thrown into jail in Henan province for "activities incompatible with tourist status, under which they entered China." Apparently, a hundred of their followers were detained, and a woman was beaten by police for spreading the Gospel. Mary adds that Chinese Catholics are being arrested "by the wagonload" for recognizing the Vatican's authority. Caldwell mentions that an eighty-two-year-old bishop was released after spending thirty years in prison then arrested again; an eighty-four-year-old bishop was tortured until he passed out. He's now in a coma, according to Mary. Caldwell states, "China harasses Christians, Josh. State Department says so, Amnesty International says so, I say so. It is fact." Mary snarls, "And the scores of millions of American Christians, and Christians around the world, will not stand blithely by while religious freedom is threatened!" Sam says, "Sure you will." Josh says softly, "Sam." Sam repeats that they will stand blithely by; they're just not doing it this time. Mary asks if this is about "the play." Sam says, "A guy writes a play called Apostles in which Jesus Christ is gay, and you protest -- fine. But when a guy threatens to blow up the theatre, you guys are nowhere to be heard from." Well, now, Sam, they're only interested in religious freedom, not freedom of speech and expression, and apparently they can't see how those things would necessarily interrelate. Mary says the play was disgusting. I bet she was there on opening night, too. Sam and Mary go at it while Caldwell calls Josh out into the hall. He tells Josh that he doesn't want to get bogged down in a "Mary Marsh mudfight." Caldwell says that he wants POTUS to know that his church will pay out the bond for each refugee, and if his church won't, he will do so personally. Josh thanks him and says he'll pass that along. Toby walks up just then, and Caldwell greets him, saying, "You look determined." Toby responds, "I am, sir." Caldwell says, "Good boy," as he and Josh return to the meeting. Oh, Al, if you only knew.

Toby goes into the meeting with the Republican aides. The first of the four guys starts off immediately by saying that he wants to object to the "totally crappy" way they were informed about this. Toby cites chapter and verse on the President's power to make recess appointments. They tell Toby that they can't just "slip her in." Toby plays dumb, which is never very convincing for a brainiac like Toby. One of them says, "McGarry's sister." Toby corrects them: "It's Mr. McGarry. And her name is Dr. Josephine McGarry." He goes on to refer to her many qualifications and accomplishments. He asks them what exactly troubles their bosses about her résumé. One of them says, "I think you know." Toby admits, "I do, but I'd like you to say it." Another of the aides claims she's "anti-religion." Toby points out that "she's on the Board of Visitors at her church, she teaches Sunday mornings at the Immaculate Heart of Mary school..." One of them says she's against prayer. The fourth guy, who's speaking for the first time, says, "School prayer." Toby asks, "You want to know who else is against it? The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. And your problem with her is that while Superintendent, she enforced the law." One of the aides says that seventy percent say the law is wrong. Toby counters, "Laws don't work like that, Wayne! We don't ask for a show of hands!" The first guy starts to say something about "You understand that the Senate Republicans..." and Toby interrupts, "No, I don't. Can you explain it to me using small words and visual aids?" One aide says that it's an abuse of the recess appointment process, and that it's not available to circumvent the Senate's constitutional right to confirm nominees. Toby replies, "Neither is the filibuster. I'll put down my gun when you put down yours." The same guy says that if they don't think she'd be confirmed during session, it's outrageous that they'd try to put her through now. Toby bursts out, "No, what is outrageous is that this would never come to a vote if we did it in session! There's no way the Senate could not confirm her, she's too qualified! This would never come to a vote!" He pauses. "Hold up all the appointments you want, shut down the government, because a teacher did as she was told. You'll have given us a second term, and we won't even have to leave the building, but not because I'm right and you're wrong, though I am and you are, but just because I'm better at this than you are." The fourth guy, the one who's hardly spoken, tells Toby he's not better this time. He pulls a manila envelope out of his briefcase and tells Toby it contains a photo of Josephine McGarry enforcing the law. I guess it's blackmail time. They all watch smugly as Toby looks at the picture. We're left to wonder about it during the commercials.

Well, Toby's in Leo's office showing him the picture. Apparently it's a photo of his sister breaking up an organized prayer at a football game. Toby says it's not good, but it's not, you know...Leo says, "These are high school students. Two of them are on their knees praying, while being handcuffed. My sister's standing next to the cop, whose hand is on his nightstick!" Toby suggests the cop's hand is resting on his nightstick. Um, way to reach, there, Toby. I mean, I love ya and all...but come on. I oppose legislated school prayer in public schools as much as you do, but no one's going to read the photo that generously. Leo remarks, "I'm sure that an explanation will be in the caption." He adds that one of the students is black, one's wearing his band uniform..."and you say it's 'not good.' That's a penetrating diagnosis from the White House Communications Director!" Toby points out that it's not like they didn't know about the incident. Leo says they didn't know there was "art." What are the odds that no one at a high school football game would have a camera and have recorded this event? Toby says he can save it. Leo asks if his sister knows she was submitted; Toby says he called her. Leo's not too happy. Toby insists he can save it, as Leo yells for Margaret. He complains, "Oh, a football game, high school, marching band, on their knees. The only things b

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