West Wing
The Two Bartlets

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How Now, Butter Cow?

We see a shot of someone scribbling away at his desk beside a speakerphone; it's Leo, naturally. Someone is standing beside him. Josh continues blathering, "Time #4 involved a variety of hosiery..." Leo interjects, "Josh, I'm going to stop you right here, okay?" The look on Josh's face is as priceless as you'd imagine. "Leo?" Leo: "Yeah." Josh: "Anybody else in the office?" The camera shot changes to show us Margaret as she calls out, "Hey, Josh." Josh tries to rally: "Hey, Margaret!" He looks ill, though. Leo says, "We've got a problem in Vieques and a caucus in Iowa. Why don't you come on into work, hmm?" Like he was going to be doing anything else today? Laundry, maybe? Josh says, "Yeah," as he hangs up the phone and the credits roll.

It's 5:40 AM; a shot of a talking head on a monitor on Air Force One informs us the voting in Iowa today officially launches the Presidential primary season. The talking head says that President Bartlet, who's unchallenged in the Democratic caucus, is arriving in Cedar Rapids today. We hear C.J. talking on the phone to someone, saying that she's on the plane, and will be coming back tonight; it's just a day trip. She's speaking to her dad, and is having the kind of repetitious, circuitous conversation that is all too painfully familiar for many of us. She keeps saying the same things; it's just for the day, she won't be tired, etc. She explains that if they need to take a trip within the forty-eight states, they come back the same day. Taxpayers pay for a fast and comfortable plane which is expected to facilitate that. Then she has to explain that she's not voting, because she doesn't live in Iowa. She then gets back to explaining she's on the plane and says she may call him later if there's anything interesting to report. She hangs up. As always, Allison Janney is great with every little thing: her voice and expressions perfectly capture that complex mix of love, gentleness, compassion, impatience, frustration and resignation that characterizes so many relationships between adult children and rapidly aging parents.

After thinking for a moment, C.J. gets up and walks through the plane, catching a bit of turbulence as she goes, and finally reaches the area where Toby's sitting. As she sits down, Toby asks, "Is it possible that we're riding into town in a soy diesel bus?" Well, it sure is, Toby. As one soy diesel producer claims, it's energy "from the Midwest instead of the Mideast." C.J. says that there was talk of it, although it got killed pretty quick. She wants to know if they've zeroed in on a message yet. As he pours himself some more coffee, Toby sighs, "How to reform the Freedom to Farm Act." C.J. says, "Ritchie's pulled into single digits in the overnights." Toby saw that. C.J. thinks it would be quite fabulous if he won. Toby indifferently agrees. C.J. changes subjects: "So, the 4-H Convention..." Toby: "I'm not going." Toby, if C.J. wants you to go to a show where dimwitted folks with bad enunciation read their utility bill inserts and pet their dogs, I can't imagine why you would not jump at the opportunity to be with her. C.J.: "I don't get it. How can you not want to see the butter cow?" Indeed. Toby: "I'm that way." Spoilsport. C.J. follows him around and presses on: "You understand it's a life-size cow made entirely of butter?" Toby: "We're not going." Notice the "we." Now, that sounded very couple-y to me, but maybe it's just the C.J./Toby 'shipper in me. C.J.'s getting more worked up: "There's also a butter Elvis and a butter Last Supper which has, I swear to God, Toby..." She waits for him; he comes through: "Butter on the table?" C.J., gleefully: "It's got butter on the table! Right there between butter James and butter Peter!" Hee. "An almost mind-blowing vortex of art and material that dares the viewer to recall Marcel Duchamp," she concludes, as Toby has made his way to another coffee pot, having gotten an insufficient portion from the previous pot. Toby genially asks, "How do they keep it from melting?" C.J.: "How, indeed?" Nancy comes by to tell Toby he has a phone call in the staff cabin. He thanks her and walks back to the cabin, followed by C.J. quietly chanting, "Butter butter butter butter butter butter." Toby picks up the phone and waits for the operator to connect him to Sam, who is calling from the White House. C.J., still lurking behind Toby, pipes up, "Duchamp was the father of Dadaism." Toby knows. C.J.: "The da-da of Dada." Toby just stares at her and says, "It's like there's nothing you can do about that joke. It's coming, and you just have to stand there." Aw, Toby, can't you crack a smile for C.J.? He's smiling on the inside. I know it. She says, "The cow, made out of butter? That's how I like my irony served, my friend." Toby gestures with the receiver, saying he has a phone call waiting that's being relayed through four satellites. C.J. takes the hint and trots off.

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West Wing

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