West Wing
The Indians In The Lobby

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The Butterball Hotline

Charlie brings Bruno into the Oval Office. As Bruno enters, Jed holds up a document and demands, "What the hell is this?" Bruno doesn't know, since he can't see from across the room what Jed is waving. Jed says it's a poll asking voters where he should spend Thanksgiving, and he wants to know why Bruno's people are polling on that question. Bruno explains, "Well, New England doesn't get us anything we didn't already have, and there was a sense that it could be seen as political, with New Hampshire the first primary state." Yeah, but it is where the guy's home happens to be. Jed says that he has Thanksgiving with his family. Bruno says that people like that. Jed: "Thank God!" Bruno starts to talk, and Jed asks, "You politicize my family to make sure they don't look political?" Oh, good grief. Did you just roll off an Andouille sausage truck? Bruno: "Don't get me started on ironies." Jed insists, "My family is off-limits." He chucks the document on the coffee table and walks back to his desk. Bruno says, "Sir, your candor about a terrible illness was off-limits. Your regimen of self-medication was off-limits. Due respect: You've used up your 'off-limits.'" Jed says, "I'll decide when I've used them up. You don't poll where my family goes. Am I making myself clear?" Bruno says, "Mm-hm," and adds that sometimes he has difficulty talking to people who don't race sailboats. Um, huh? Jed's with me: "What?" Bruno repeats his statement and tells us that, as a teenager, he crewed Larchmont to Nassau on a fifty-eight-foot sloop called Cantice. He then tells a story having to do with trying to scrape a glob of kelp off the side of the boat. I don't get the impression that Jed understands the point of the story much more than I do, although I'm clearly in a less awkward position to say so. ["Plus Jed at least should be patient and understanding about the boring, pointless anecdotes and monologues people sometimes tell." -- Wing Chun] I generally labour under the notion that I'm not particularly dense, but honestly, I don't get how this kelp story is supposed to elucidate the campaign strategy Bruno's employing. Moreover, I strongly suspect that once someone attempts to explain it to me, I will still think it's pretty stupid. Anyway, Bruno concludes his kelp tale: "The voters aren't choosing a plumber, Mr. President. They are choosing a President. If you don't think your family should matter, my suggestion to you is to get out of professional politics. But if you think that I am going to miss even one opportunity to pick up half a knot of boat speed, you're absolutely out of your mind. When it costs us nothing, and we give up nothing? You're out of your mind." We don't get to hear Jed's reply, because Charlie comes in with a note for Jed. Jed reads it and says, "Ah! Something important." It's the number for the Butterball Hotline. Bruno has no reaction whatsoever to this information. Jed dials and tells Bruno, "Watch and learn." Naturally, he gets an automated attendant. Bruno manages not to smirk too obviously, although the facial hair helps. Jed yells for Charlie.

"Fifteen years!" C.J.'s in Leo's office. Leo agrees that it's a long time. C.J. adds, "And you know, all we're talking about is a sewage plant and a health centre. They're not asking for the Great Plains!" Leo says he'll have "somebody call somebody" to find out what the hold-up's about. C.J. asks what to tell them in the meantime; Leo tells her to tell them that. C.J. points out that it would be nice if they could talk to somebody, since they had an appointment. Leo suggests someone named Sealy; C.J. says he's gone. Leo tells her to do it Monday. She says, "We do it Monday, they're going to stay here till Monday, absent being dragged off in handcuffs. Of this I'm sure! Plus, right is right." Leo, becoming impatient, "What do you want from me?" C.J. wants five minutes of his time. Leo refuses. She says five minutes, and Maggie and Jack can walk out of there saying they met with the Chief of Staff. I sympathize with C.J.'s desire to help them, but I can see a few reasons why Leo shouldn't do this. C.J. wants to know why he won't do it; Leo replies, "'Cause I'm not taking a meeting with somebody who stages a sit-in in the lobby!" C.J.'s disappointed; she leaves, saying, "All right. Thank you." Leo says "Thank you," too.

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West Wing

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