West Wing
The Drop In

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Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

As they enter, one guy informs Jed that the "Kill Vehicle is on a clear trajectory." There are fifty seconds until it hits the target. A colonel walks Jed through the scenario: "Approximately three minutes ago, a missile was launched with a simulated nuclear warhead from the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific." Jed: "And it's going to hit my garage in New Hampshire exactly when?" The colonel says, "Once the missile cleared cloud cover, it was detected by the early warning satellites, which launched an interceptor, or 'kill vehicle.'" Jed walks over to the wall of maps and radar screens. A radio voice says, "Ten seconds to SRB sep." Another guy explains, "'SRB sep' is 'solid rocket booster separation, and that means the high-resolution radar on the ground has gotten a 'lock-on' signal from the Kill Vehicle." Everyone quietly listens to the voices on the radio communications describing various events. Jed paces; Leo checks his watch. Jed asks, "So what happens now?" Leo explains that in twenty seconds it will collide with the nuclear warhead. Jed: "Where?" Leo: "In outer space." The colonel adds, "Seventeen miles above the earth's atmosphere." Jed: "Okay, but we don't have anybody out there right now, do we?" Leo admonishes him in a low voice: "Sir." Guess not everyone finds POTUS as amusing as I do. Jed then tells Leo that when they stay at the Oriental in Bangkok, they have to check out James Michener's typewriter. Leo has no idea how to respond to this non sequitur. They hear the countdown; after one, there's not much sound from anywhere, either in the room or over the radio. We get shots of the military bigwigs looking disappointed. Jed asks Leo, "Is that silence usually a pretty good sign?" Leo tells him it isn't. The radio voice says that the warhead has overshot its target. Jed remarks, "It was just enthusiastic." Leo wants to know by how much it missed the target. The guy next to Leo says, "One-three-seven." Leo says sadly, "We missed it by a hundred and thirty-seven feet?" The guy next to him corrects him: "Miles." Leo's incredulous: "We missed it by a hundred and thirty-seven miles?" Jed helpfully comments, "When you consider the size of outer space, Leo, that's not so bad." Leo seems about to say something sharp to Jed when Jed adds, "By the way, the words you're looking for are, 'Oh, good grief!'"

I don't think it should take three pages to describe the first six minutes of a show. ["It shouldn't, but it does, sometimes." -- Wing Chun]

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West Wing

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