Previously on the West Wing: Charlie appeased Zoey with flowers; POTUS told Zoey he's increasing her protection; POTUS met Zoey's new Secret Service agent, Gina; inbred teenage cretins glowered at Zoey and Gina in California; Mallory asked Sam out; FLOTUS accused Mallory of having an itch for Sam; Sam and Toby were in charge of the confirmation of Roberto Mendoza for a seat on the Supreme Court; Toby assured Judge Mendoza that the confirmation will be an excruciating battle, but one which he has no intention of losing.
It's Thursday, 9:45 PM at the White House. A large crowd of people are in what I think is the Mural Room, watching a Senate vote on television. It is, at long last, the Mendoza confirmation vote. Although the voting has just begun, Bonnie is getting ready to pour the champagne when Toby shows up and proceeds to poop all over that party. Toby orders her to put the champagne down; Bonnie objects but complies. Toby asks for everyone's attention and reminds everyone that they have to get at least fifty-one votes for Mendoza to be confirmed. Toby bellows, "Fifty-one yea votes is what we see on these screens before one drop of wine is swallowed, because there's a little thing called what, Bonnie?" Bonnie dutifully answers, "Tempting fate." "Tempting fate is what's called," affirms Toby, as he begins gathering up all the empty wine glasses. Toby proceeds to explain that he's aged forty-eight years in the three months since Mendoza became his problem and that this is his day of jubilee and he will not have it screwed up by tempting fate. "These things take patience. These things take skill. These things take luck. In the fifteen months we've been in office what kind of luck have we had, Ginger?" Ginger replies, "Bad luck." Toby asks, "What kind of luck?" Ginger: "Very bad luck." Toby repeats that, and, glowering a little less, asks, "Where's Josh?"
Over in Josh's area, Donna is hustling into Josh's office to let him know that they have to go, and that they're already at nineteen yea votes. Josh is puzzling over a badly handwritten message from Donna indicating that Mandy wants to talk to him about a banana bar. Donna clarifies that it says "panda bear"; Josh is incredulous and asks Donna to confirm that certain of the letters she wrote are what she claims they are, which she does. He rubs his forehead and says, "You know what would be helpful? If you could just show me where one word ends and the next one begins." They start walking toward the Mural Room as Josh wonders whether Donna got the message right, since he can't imagine why Mandy would want to talk to him about a panda bear. Donna gets Josh to admit that she's never gotten a message wrong, and that therefore giving her the benefit of the doubt "might not be monumentally out of line." Josh is unclear about what a panda is; he thinks it's a little Australian thing that eats the bark off the koala tree. Koala tree? I think you mean eucalyptus. I'm amazed that he's confused about this, but whatever. ["Especially since, even now that they're both dead, the pandas at the National Zoo are still a regular topic on the news." -- Strega] ["Plus who doesn't know that koalas aren't even bears?" -- Wing Chun] Donna tells him that's a koala bear; Josh ventures that a panda is "the other one." Donna can't believe Josh doesn't know the difference either, at which point Josh snipes at her that someone who hasn't "mastered the alphabet" shouldn't be criticizing. They run into the middle of some unspecified photo op and pause for a moment until they can pass; from down the hall Mallory calls out to them. They walk toward her as Donna insists, "My penmanship is distinctive." "Your penmanship is illegible," Josh counters. Mallory asks where Sam is; Josh says he'll be watching the Mendoza confirmation. Mallory asks if Josh can believe Sam; Josh says no. Mallory continues to ramble about how "you think you know a guy" and finally realizes Josh has no clue what's she on about. She lets it drop as they reach the Mural Room. Josh bellows "To-bee!" Toby responds, "Joshua!" Josh asks for some champagne as the entire room gloomily replies, "No." Josh: "The hell?" Ginger informs Josh about the "tempting fate" issue which Josh readily accepts. Donna's still nattering about her penmanship, but I'm real tired of that conversation and will not be reporting any more of the details of it, though there are further (and even more asinine) details to come. Josh also seems tired of it and begs Donna to get Leo.