I want to give this whole episode an F based just on Tabatha's speech. The fact that I don't, I guess, is proof that I'm still willing to give Aaron Sorkin more leeway than I am others. I remember Sorkin making that comment about artists before, and it took putting it into the mouth of somebody who was supposed to be America's most influential poet before I realized how awful and wrong it is. A person who cares only about captivating his audience isn't an artist at all -- he's an entertainer. The truth is the foundation of every artist's work. An artist captivates his audience in the way he interprets the truth, even as he bends our perceptions of it to include impossible, supernatural elements, even as he sets it to music, even as he turns it inside out, paints it with the perspectives all out of kilter, and covers it in elephant poo -- even as he denies that there is even such a thing as truth. All the dead artists in the world are collectively spinning in their graves at the suggestion that, like Sorkin, they were all just telling their "little stories." Those little stories, and paintings, and plays, and symphonies, and poems, and yes, television shows have shaped every single culture on this planet, and in some cases, are all we have left of them. If Sorkin is afraid to be a part of that because he's afraid of getting it wrong, or afraid that people won't understand, or if he's just afraid to -- oh, I don't know -- grow a pair and take his critical lumps just like every other artist and learn from it, then fine. We lose a talented mind with an interesting view of the truth, and he loses the right to call himself an artist. But I will not just sit here and say nothing as he tries to drag the rest of the art world down with him. Hundreds of artists throughout the world and across time have been censored, imprisoned, exiled, and executed, and it wasn't because they were simply trying to "captivate" people. It happens because, to put it in Sorkinese, sometimes an artist stands up, too. And they accept the consequences when their perceptions of the truth get them in trouble because they were wrong, or more frequently, because they were right. And finally, nothing an artist produces is as captivating as the way he shows us his truth. Nothing.
Well. Where were we? Are you even still with me? I'm not sure who's going to be more surprised at that little outburst -- people who have never read any of my recaps or people who actually have. Or maybe Wing Chun. ["No, I'm totally with you, because all I could think of during Tabatha's little disclaimer was Salman Rushdie and what he might have to say in response." -- Wing Chun] Anyway, that little Moulin Rouge! moment is over, though I'm thinking of auditioning for a community production of Rent. Anyway, back at the press conference, C.J. is giving Charlie (whom she calls "Chipper") his One To Grow On moment, showing him the documentation that drilling in Alaska would threaten around two hundred different species of wildlife, not to mention the lives of subsistence hunters in the area and an awful lot of pollution. Of course, you shouldn't take any of that seriously. It's all just part of the story. Charlie learns a lesson, which may or may not be based on real facts. POTUS comes out to check the time with Charlie, who confirms that the press conference is about to start. As everybody gets in position, or whatever, Bartlet calls C.J. over to praise her for her good work in handling Jed's gaffe. C.J. points out that it got the press talking about whether Ritchie is smart enough to be president, and Jed didn't take a hit because everybody thinks it was an accident. I've already commented on that whole "on the record" thing, so I won't beat that any more. C.J. continues that she thought it was odd, the way Jed made his gaffe. She points out that the phrasing he used was unusual because he's not much for gun metaphors. She also notes that all the previous news clones had tried to bait Jed about Ritchie, but he didn't rise to it until Philadelphia, a fairly large television market. She asks him point-blank if it was possible that he saw that the green light was on when he made his "gaffe." Jed doesn't respond, and goes to walk away. C.J. smiles and says, "That was old school" (she's so phat) and tells him to "knock 'em dead" at the press conference. He strides down the hall to the waiting reporters and we end. What, we're not going to hear all the details about the energy initiative? Dammit.