Previously on The West Wing: Abby wanted to know when Jed decided to run again, but Jed said he hadn't made that decision; Leo told the story of Andrew Jackson's big block of cheese, which somehow inspired what Toby calls "Throw Open Our Office Doors To People Who Want To Discuss Things We Could [sic] Care Less About Day."
Shout-out to kqog.
As the title appears on the black screen, we can just barely hear the strains of Don Henley's "New York Minute," (from the lyrics of which this episode's title is drawn). I figured from knowing the title that the song might be featured in the episode, but it was odd to hear such a comparatively contemporary song on this show. It definitely set a different tone. I try not to think about that episode of Friends where Marcel the monkey swallows some Scrabble tiles. ["I tried too. I was not successful." -- Wing Chun] The scene opens with a shot of Washington at dawn; the sky is almost tropical colours of pink, orange, and lavender. Inside the West Wing, mailguys are starting to deliver things, security guards are changing shifts, janitorial staff are cleaning the floors...it's very, very early. We see Leo entering the building.
The next shot is of someone curled up sleeping on a couch; it's Sam. As Leo passes Toby's office, he notices Sam on the couch and comes in to rouse him. Sam wakes up, groggily asking what day it is. Leo tells him it's Friday. Sam then asks what time it is. Leo asks whether Sam slept here last night. Sam explains that he doesn't have a couch in his office. Leo: "Yeah, but you have a bed in your house, right?" Sam states, "I need to change my shirt." Leo suggests that perhaps Sam needs to go home for a while. Sam asks Leo what he's doing at work so early. Leo explains that he's trying to avoid the protesters.
As Sam puts on his jacket and walks with Leo, Leo explains the Byzantine route he had to take to get to work, what with all the road blocks, closings, and police cordons -- including one around the National Geographic Society. Sam wonders who has a problem with the NGS. Leo'd like to know the answer to that, too. Sam says, "Anyway, I'm going to change my shirt." As Sam starts to go, Leo asks, "What's going on with the pardon recommendations?" Sam replies, "They're coming together. I've reviewed the recommendations from Justice and the OPA, and Tribby's office had its own recommendations." Leo asks how many he's sending in. Sam says, "Eighteen, I think, now. Mail fraud, securities fraud, and truly the most bogus drug bust I've ever seen." Leo advises him not to retry the cases. Sam says that he's not -- he's just reading the material he's supposed to read and making the recommendations he's supposed to make. He adds, "The guy was tried in Spain and found guilty of a crime he was obviously too stupid to commit." Leo says, "Sam...go home, would ya?" Sam insists that he's just going to change his shirt. Leo: "You look bad. You're tired, you slept in the office, it's Friday...go home." Sam: "Why?" Leo: "Because I think you're putting too much faith in the magical powers of a new shirt." Leo mentions that Josh told him what happened with Sam's parents. Sam's expression is mostly one of disillusionment. Leo goes on to say that his father had affairs. Sam: "Did he? My father didn't pick up a cocktail waitress, Leo. He's had a woman in an apartment in Santa Monica..." Leo: "Yeah?" Sam: "...For twenty-eight years." Leo wonders how his father got caught. Sam responds, "My father, it turns out, is stupider than the guy in Spain. So the real question is, how did he not get caught until now?" Leo acknowledges this: "Yeah." Sam leaves, saying that he'll see Leo at the staff meeting later.