West Wing
The U.S. Poet Laureate

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The Truth, and Other Nuisances

Back in the room, Jed and Toby do some last-minute prep for the next interview. Jed notices that Toby is smiling and asks why. Toby says, "Happiness is my default position." I'm not sure how Jed manages to keep a straight face after that one, but he does, and starts his next interview. He gives more lip service to various other lovely alternative energy policies that are as likely to come to pass as an Oscar nomination for Alyssa Milano. He points out all the wars, instability, and religious extremism going on in the Middle East, and wants to cut our ties with them, because, after all, America is in no way responsible for any of that stuff and nobody here has ever profited off it. News Clone Five brings up Ritchie's book. This time, Jed points out that Ritchie actually means "drilling," not "exploring," because that's the only way they're going to find the oil, and that it will cause untold environmental damage. After they've cut away to the commercials, News Clone Five pulls the same trick as her predecessor and tries to get Jed to talk smack about Ritchie. Jed plays coy at first, but finally tells her, "I don't know, [News Clone Five], we may be talking about a .22-caliber mind in a .357-Magnum world." She smiles and signs off. Toby looks over at Jed, stone-faced, and points out to him that the camera was still running when he said that. News Clone Five got Jed's insult on tape. A gaffe is born.

Credits. When we return from commercials, Josh walks into C.J.'s office, where she and Sam are discussing the gaffe. The network passed the tape along to a local AP reporter, and Jed's insult is going to end up in all the newspapers and on the evening news. Josh asks Sam how he could let this happen. Sam points out that he wasn't there. Toby was overseeing things, and it wasn't his fault, either. Jed just slipped it out and didn't see that the green light on the camera was still on. Okay, I want to know why these people think that what POTUS said would have been just fine if the cameras weren't recording. Even if News Clone Five didn't have it on tape, that doesn't mean she couldn't have reported Bartlet's statement and that it wouldn't have made it out into the press. Lesson for any aspiring public figures: don't assume that your comments to journalists won't be used on the record just because you're not being recorded. Anyway, C.J. says she has a briefing in twenty minutes, and she's pretty sure somebody's going to ask her if the president thinks Ritchie is stupid. Sam says, "Yes." C.J. counters, "No," but Sam points out that "yes" is the only correct answer to that question. Yeah, I'm on his side there. There's no way to spin it so that Jed doesn't think Ritchie is stupid. They bicker about how they should respond. Sam suggests not even answering it and telling the press that they're focusing on energy this week. C.J., slipping on her ass-kicking boots, tells them, "No, we're focusing on this this week." She suggests a non-apology apology: "The president didn't realize the camera was hot and said something he shouldn't have, as we all do from time to time." Sam and Josh like it. Sam rushes off. Josh wonders to C.J. why this one is so hard to spin as he leaves. C.J. points out that this is a "classic" Washington scandal, one caused by a politician accidentally telling the truth. Josh responds, "Right. Let's try not to do that so much," as he walks out.

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West Wing

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