West Wing
The Lame Duck Congress

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Lame Duck Soup

Sam and Ainsley are on the Hill. Sam is telling the guys he's meeting with that it's his fifth meeting in a row and his last meeting on the Hill. He wants to know what it's gonna take to get their boss to loosen his grip. If the Senator moves, it could free up eight to ten votes. The other guys want to know why the Senator should move. Sam suggest that he'll go right past that it's the right thing to do; they counter that it's not a holy thing. Flunky #1 says that if you're against the treaty, it doesn't mean you're bloodthirsty. Flunky #2 says that it's not only Senate Republicans who are against it, and the first flunky and the third flunky reel off a list of others. Sam responds, "Thirty-one Nobel laureates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, one hundred and fifty countries on this planet, and 82% of the people living in this one say the treaty makes the world a safer place." Flunky #2 says, "It's not a safer place if North Korea and Iran are making significant technological improvements while the President's handing out commemorative pens." Sam thinks that the chance they'd take with their ability to verify is outweighed by the chance they're taking by doing nothing. Flunky #2 wearily indicates he's heard all this before. Sam asks if there's no room for movement. He adds that they'd consider attaching reservations. The Flunkies Three all look vaguely interested, but then Flunky #2 crosses his arms and says, "If you can't trust a man's word, what good is it to put it on paper?" Sam asks whether there's room for movement. Flunky #3 finally gets to talk and tells Sam that he wasted a trip. Is there a limit? Sam says he'll waste more. One of the flunkies asks whether they're done. As everyone packs up their stuff, Flunky #2 tells Ainsley that he's surprised to see her there. She pleasantly chirps, "Why?" He explains, "Before you were on Bartlet's payroll, you were a pretty vocal opponent of the treaty." Ainsley replies, "Well, it's President Bartlet. I'm on the government payroll. And I believe that politics should stop at the water's edge." He seems to accept that. She goes on to add that she actually thinks that it should stop well before that, but it turns out that there's no Santa Claus and Elvis isn't cutting records anymore. Um, what? Flunky Number One is with me: "What is she saying?" She elaborates that she doesn't think that they think the treaty's bad, or that they think it's good; she thinks they just want to beat the White House. Flunky #2 admits that. Ainsley tells #2, whose name is Peter, that he's a schmuck. (Sorkin stuck a Yiddish pun in there for the alert. Hey, maybe I should have named him #1. Don't bring the Yiddish if you don't know what you're doing, eh?) She points out that they'll eventually have this treaty ratified and they'll do it without the reservations Sam just offered. Peter doesn't say anything as he puts on his jacket. Ainsley's got one more thing to chirp: "Can I take this muffin?" Peter says, "Yeah," and she grabs it and her stuff and leaves with Sam to have her tapeworm checked out.

Back at Leo's office, he wants to know if Margaret's got that memo yet. She is sitting there typing with two fingers. My father, who never learned touch typing and only got a computer two years ago, types faster than she's going. She tells him that she'll have it any minute now. He looks at the way she's working and asks what the hell she's doing. She says she's typing. She explains that Donna's organized most of the assistants to take Leo's advice ("type slower") on Donna's legitimate concerns quite literally. You can see the pissedness spreading over him like red wine on a white carpet. Leo says, "Margaret. Look at my face right now." She hesitates, then looks. Yikes. She starts typing normally. Josh wanders in and Leo asks, "Can you keep your people in line?" Josh replies, "Well, there's been no evidence of it so far." Hee! Leo gestures him into his office and asks him what's up. Josh says he's got The Man Who Came To Dinner in his office. "I'm begging the Ukrainian Embassy for some help. If I don't get some soon I'm going to apply for a job at the Ukrainian Embassy." Josh is gesticulating a lot more energetically than usual in this episode. Leo says that all the guy wants is to be able to say he met the President while he was here, so they can arrange for him to meet the President "accidentally." Leo explains that when he was Labour Secretary they did it with the Dalai Lama. You arrange an open-door meeting with a lower-level person, the President wanders by: "Hey, how you doing, Dalai Lama?" Josh pauses and says, "Well, that's the most crazy-assed thing I ever heard." Leo says it works. Josh asks if this is how the world is run; Leo confirms it. Josh says he's sticking to domestic policy. Leo replies, "Yeah, 'cause that has the ring of sanity to it." Josh asks whether Toby's meeting with Marino. Leo says that Toby's on a mission. Josh assures him that it's the right mission, although he knows Leo's not comfortable with it. Leo says that continuing to exert influence after being voted out is an ethically grey area for him. Josh: "They're all ethically grey areas, Leo! Screw it! If we're going to have a fighting chance we gotta invite Marino. Marino's gonna want in because..." Leo finishes for him: "Marino's a street kid and lives for revenge." Josh says he was going to say it's because Marino is devoted to the issue. Donna wanders by and Josh yells, "Hey, Norma Rae! Get in here." She comes in looking kind of sulky. Josh says, "The man's trying to run a country here." Donna says, "This is a law that would prevent thirty-two to ninety-five thousand injuries a year." That's an enormous range, if you ask me. Leo says, "Not here, it wouldn't." Josh explains that the White House and Congress are exempt from the workplace-related laws they pass. This is news to Donna (and me), and she remarks, "Well, that makes things considerably easier for yourselves." As she leaves, she reminds Josh that he's got his "4:00" which, given that we were informed some time ago that it was 4:35 PM, means that his 4:00 has been waiting for a long time, or that people are putting times on the title cards without checking with the writers.

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