West Wing
The U.S. Poet Laureate

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YOU GRADE IT
The Truth, and Other Nuisances

Jed and Leo wander to the outer office to watch the conference on closed-circuit television. Leo explains that there are about one hundred and fifty Democrats there ready to defend Jed. Leo suggests, though, that they not send anybody at all and to "let them whine by themselves." They pipe down to watch C.J. begin her conference. Sure enough, the first reporter asks, "Is the president saying that Governor Ritchie isn't up to the job of being president?" C.J. recites the non-apology apology, and of course, the reporters ask the same question seventeen different ways to try to trick C.J. into saying that the president calls Ritchie's house to ask him if his refrigerator's running. C.J. doesn't fall for any of it. POTUS and Leo seem satisfied with the way C.J. is handling the issue, and Jed heads back into his office.

When we return from commercials, a day has passed, and the press is still grilling C.J. about Bartlet's gaffe. A reporter asks about Ritchie's demand for an apology. C.J. repeats the non-apology apology. Another reporter brings up a "pledge" Ritchie wants Bartlet to sign a promise to run a "positive, issue-oriented campaign." C.J. kicks all kinds of ass in her response, pointing out that it's presumptuous at this point to assume that either Ritchie or Bartlet is going to win his party's nominations and reminds the reporter that POTUS has previously run seven issue-oriented campaigns and that the fact that he's won each of these elections shows that the voters agree. Feel the C.J. love. Incidentally, when I was in college, I summer-interned at a trade magazine for campaign consultants. I was surprised to read that although nobody really liked negative campaigns, they defended their use because they were so effective. Despite the fact that everybody complained about them, negative ads had a surprisingly strong effect on polling responses. So we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Or at least everybody around us. A reporter mentions that, since Bartlet's gaffe, reporters have been trying to get copies of Ritchie's college transcripts from the University of Florida. He asks C.J. whether the president thinks college transcripts are a good barometer of a person's fitness to hold higher office. C.J. says she hasn't talked to the president about the issue, but guesses that he'd say college transcripts are a good barometer of how well a person did in a college. That doesn't stop C.J. from repeating all of Jed's various degrees and honors. She mentions that he got an honorary doctorate and was a tenured professor at "Dartmouth University." A couple of people have pointed out that it's Dartmouth College, and that the institution has been very vigilant about keeping its name that way. It amuses me to think that perhaps Jed actually taught at a place called "Dartmouth University," which I imagine to be a crappy little diploma mill that tosses out business administration degrees like confetti as long as you pay your $20K and is named in the hopes that people will confuse it with the real institution. C.J. concludes with a joke about where she attended college ["UC Berkeley, for those of you writing a book" -- Wing Chun], and ends the press conference.

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West Wing

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