West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Episodes / * #15 "Celestial Navigation"

EJO as Mendoza Edward James Olmos as Roberto Mendoza © NBC Photo: Chris Haston
Teleplay by Aaron Sorkin,  Story by Dee Dee Myers & Lawrence O'Donnell Jr, Directed by Christopher Misiano
Takes Place: Two months after #9 (8 weeks since the President named his Supreme Court nominee)
Broadcast: February 16, 2000

Josh is the featured guest at the Marjorie DuPont Lecture, but the crises of the last few days get a new addition just as he begins to address the assembly on what makes up a typical day at the White House:
"There's no such thing as a typical day. There's a schedule and a structure to be sure. And to a certain extent it starts off as a 9-5 job, but it's blown to hell by 9:30."

While Josh talks about the past 36 hours, back at the White House the other members of the senior staff try to stay on top of the latest new problem, which involves their Supreme Court nominee who has been arrested in Connecticut. Toby, in charge of getting that nomination through the Senate, is not pleased with anything or anyone:
"I stepped off the edge of the world. . . ."
"Believe me when I tell you this, C.J., I will figure out a way to blame this on you..."
"There's an Air Force Lear Jet with its motor running..." Leo says as he joins them. "C.J., Sam sees one reporter when he gets off that plane, I'm going to blame you."
"Toby's got you covered there. . . ."
"I want my phone to ring once every 15 minutes. I want to know what's going on."
Meanwhile, Josh is trying to describe the last few days during which the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development suggested that a Republican Senator, and in fact most Republicans, were racist. Leo told the President:
"Don't worry about it. . . . I'll take care of it."
But before he can, the President ends up making the matter worse at a press conference by saying, upon being pushed by Danny:
"I think an apology would be appropriate."
"That went pretty well," the President tells Leo, knowing that he's just made the matter worse.
"We'll fix it." Leo promises.

As Josh describes it, Secretary O'Leary was coming up to the White House for a showdown with Leo. She is hostile about the President making a comment without hearing her side of the story. When Leo talks to Debroah O'Leary, HUD Secretary, he has to deal with comments the President has said as well as the statements Secretary O'Leary has made:
"I've got a video tape of your side of the story." But Leo admits, "We blew the press conference, we'll cop to that." Secretary O'Leary feels she has an obligation as the highest ranking African American woman in government and she also feels she was justified in what she said. Leo, though, has other ideas.
"I think Debby, that your role first and foremost is to serve the President. . . . you're going to apologize for [your comments]."
"I can't."
"You can."
"I won't."
"You w-i-l-l," he says slowly and with emphasis.
"Is that an order?"
"You're doing great work, Deb. The President's nuts about you; always has been. He'll cry for three minutes after he fires your ass...." Leo explains, "That's the cost of doing business. . . ." Leo explains.
"Done," she finally agrees.
"Never argue with a drunk or a fool," Leo says as some slight consolation.

That crisis isn't as settled as it seems, but in the meantime, C.J. goes for emergency root canal and can't give a press conference. Josh decides he can do that. He is sure he can handle the press and tells Danny, who tries to warn him:
"You guys have been coddled.... I'm a graduate of Harvard and Yale and I believe my powers of debate can rise to meet the Socratic wonder that is the White House press corps." Instead of helping this adds to the crises.
"I feel really bad about this."
"You do?"
"Well, I guess that's all that really matters."

When the President returns from a short trip, Leo has to tell him of the most recent problems:
"Mr. President, we experienced a few public relations, what's the word. . ."
"Catastrophes," Toby says helpfully, always willing to see things in the best possible light.
. . .Incidents," Leo finishes, ignoring Toby's comment. "In the few hours you were away last night."

Meanwhile, Leo's fix on the O'Leary problem has come unglued due to statements made by their Supreme Court nominee, Mendoza. The President turns to Leo:
"You said you'd fix it."
"I did fix it."
"It's broken again, Leo."

And then Mendoza is arrested and things get worse. But by the time Josh's lecture finishes, Toby and Sam have that worked out, though not without sweating blood:
"You're killing me, Judge. You're absolutely killing me," Toby tells him.

Theme of Episode: The Powerful cannot always control events

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
Previous SiteMap   Help Us   Home Next

Quotations & some other material copyrighted to John Wells Productions, et al.
Email westwing@bewarne.com to report mistakes, make comments, ask questions
(note: above email address doesn't reach anyone connected to the show itself).
     Amazon    MIS