Previously on The West Wing: Mallory broke it to Leo that the former Mrs. Leo is in training to become the non-former Mrs. New Guy. Marina Lewinsky asked where the dumpsters were, and Toby called her "a walking lawsuit," because young women are inherently threatening, as you know. Toby also got to be the point guy on the State of the Union. Well, isn't Toby just Mr. Lucky Poodlepants.
The title card does its official duty ("The Benign Prerogative," it announces), and then we swing into the offices, where Toby is whistling at C.J., and it is January 20th TCT. Toby has just remembered "why [he] love[s] this night." C.J. points out that in a couple of hours, he'll be done, and he'll be drinking, and that's why he loves it. I feel you, Toby. The dialogue is remarkably mumbly here as C.J. and Toby talk about the press conference and the president's doing well and something something something. Seriously, the actors need to stop eating crackers during taping, or they need to get a new sound guy, or both. I have perfectly good hearing, and it takes me about three runs through this scene to understand what they're saying. Even then, I don't pick up quite everything. Abruptly, Toby and C.J. encounter Marina, who has returned and is busy tucking "extra gum" in Toby's suit pocket in case he gets nervous. She walks off, and C.J. ignores her urge to say, "That girl just gave you gum...the hell?" and just asks Toby if he's going to go "pace on the Hill." "After I finish pacing here," he says. Does anyone on this show do anything but pace around? Speaking of which, C.J. paces into her office, passing Carol on the way. Carol sticks her head in and says, "It's Gentle Ben. On hold." C.J. looks stricken. "You put him on hold?" she asks. "That's what you told me to do!" Carol snaps impatiently before walking away. I love Carol, because she occasionally points out that smart people are acting like dumb-asses. It can't happen often enough. Just after Carol leaves, Donna approaches and gets just inside C.J.'s door. "Donna, my darling," C.J. begins warmly, asking Donna to pick up Ben and put him back down for her gently. But Donna looks far too grave for that, and because she is not an insensitive clod like, say, Josh, C.J. actually notices. "What's wrong?" C.J. says.
We then cut to what is apparently a bit later, as C.J. and Toby stride purposefully down the hall, accompanied by Josh and Donna. They're all talking about how Leo will want to tell POTUS something, and whether something changes anything, and Toby says, "One hour. Guy couldn't wait one hour?" "My God, Toby," Donna says, horrified. Quite correctly horrified, as it will turn out. Toby apologizes, because he absolutely has to. C.J. aims for Leo's office, and there, she asks Margaret whether Leo's left yet. Margaret says no: "They're having tea." Will wanders in and asks in a dark tone if they heard. When they say they did, he asks if the president has heard. It's strange how much too long that scene felt, given that it was short. That's about twice as much "have you heard" and "oh, yes, have you heard, I heard from him, has she heard" as I could ever actually need.