West Wing
The American President, Part II

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"A Medium-Sized Nightmare"
Daytime shot of the White House. It's raining. In the Oval Office, A.J. is telling POTUS that they lost Quincy, too. When POTUS asks whether there's a reason, Lewis explains, "Yeah, he thinks your numbers aren't likely to rebound." Leon says they're three votes down again. He pauses and then makes his pitch: "Mr. President, as of this morning, Sydney only needed one more vote. The Motown Three have gotta be scared blind. I don't think there'll be a better opportunity." Robin reminds him that the press is expecting an announcement on the crime bill by the State of the Union. Leon points out, "And if you agree to stick 455 in a drawer until after the elections, they'll give you the three votes." Robin adds, "And we declare victory, sir." Shepherd seems unconvinced: "We said as a last resort." Leon says, "We're there, sir. The State of the Union is forty-eight hours away." POTUS angrily resists: "Oh, come on, Leon! There's gotta be three votes someplace!" Leon insists that there aren't. POTUS, up in Leon's face: "Bullshit! There's gotta be somebody out there..." Leon doesn't back down; POTUS suggests Storch. Leon tells him Storch is a "no." POTUS: "Wagner!" Leon: "No." POTUS runs through a couple more names (Sobel and Clark). POTUS clarifies, "Not that Clark; the one from Indiana." He's a "no" too. A.J. says, "Mr. President, I think we have to do this." POTUS is vehement: "She is one vote away, A.J. It's important legislation that for the first time has a legitimate chance. She deserves every opportunity to..." Lewis interjects, "'She'? You meant 'it,' didn't you, sir? You meant the 'important legislation deserves every opportunity.'" A.J. tells Lewis to shut his cakehole. POTUS: "You have something to say to me, Lewis?" Lewis replies, "Respectfully, sir, I think we should examine the new poll for something more than its value as a box score!" Shepherd counters, "Examine what? They don't like that I'm going out with Sydney!" Lewis: "It's not that simple, sir. I think that this poll helps bring a murky problem into specific relief." Shepherd, furiously: "Whose problem we talking about, Lewis? Yours? You worried about losing your job? Because this poll isn't talking about my Presidency! This poll is talking about my life!" He slams the papers down on the desk. "Two hundred and sixty-four million people..." Lewis shouts back: "Mr. President, two hundred and sixty- four million people don't give a damn about your life! They give a damn about their own!" Holy mackerel, I need a macro for italic tags. A.J. says, "All right, that's enough!" Lewis says more calmly, "Mr. President, you've raised a daughter almost entirely on your own, and she's terrific. What does it say to you that in the last seven weeks, 59% of this country has begun to question your family values?" Well, I don't know about anyone else, but to me it says that 59% of the country has its head up its ass. A.J.: "The President doesn't answer to you, Lewis." Lewis gets in A.J.'s face: "Oh yes, he does, A.J. I'm a citizen, this is my President, and in this country it is not only permissible to question our leaders, it is our responsibility. But you already know that, don't you, Mr. President? Because you have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known, and I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism?" Shepherd: "Look, if people want to listen to Bob Rumson..." Lewis explodes again: "They don't have a choice! Rob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." Shepherd evenly replies, "Lewis, we have had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty, Lewis. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference." Everyone is quiet as they take this in. A.J. asks, "Mr. President, what do you want to do about 455?" Shepherd simply states, "Make the deal."

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West Wing

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