West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Episodes * #104 "Five Votes Down"

Teleplay by Aaron Sorkin, story by  Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. & Patrick Caddel, Directed by Michael Lehmann
Takes Place: (late September 1999 - maybe slightly later)
Broadcast: October 13, 1999
Capital ©2001-www.arttoday.com

A vote on a weak gun control bill has suddenly lost five votes which are needed to get it passed. The senior staff has 48 hours to get those votes back.
"There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make 'em: laws and sausages." --- Leo

Arriving home far later than Leo had told his wife he would, she asks him what he can do at 2 am.
"I can do things. I wake people up. I meet with key staff." It turns out it was their anniversary.

During the same time period that they are fighting for this bill, the yearly staff financial disclosures are released. These disclosures do tend to deflect news about the bill. But it turns out Toby has earned $120,000 on a stock which went up after Toby pushed for an old friend to be allowed to testify before Congress. And Josh is embarrassed by some of the disclosures about gifts given him.
"I sense I'm being mocked," Josh says after getting several congratulations and then applause. It turns out staffers had voted on who had received the best gift valued over $25 the previous year. A woman had given Josh an expensive "smoking jacket" and cigarette holder.
"All right. This was fun but Sam and I are busy making critical decisions," Josh says, trying to save himself further embarrassment.

Leo tries to make things up to his wife by having his assistant, Margaret, arrange a lovely dinner and by having an expensive pearl choker Necklace delivered:
"My wife's got a great neck."
"...You spend too much money," Margaret tells Leo
"And you can squeeze the life out of a nickel better than any ten people I know."
"Well, excuse me for not having made $40,000 a pop on the lecture circuit."
"Stop reading the disclosure reports. They're none of your business."
"They're going to be printed in the newspaper in two days."

Josh asks for Leo's permission to try to whip one of the Congressmen back into line by threatening his job. Leo isn't sure it's going to work but thinks it will be interesting:
"I should sell tickets to this meeting."

Josh is trying to figure out why an old friend, who is now a Congressman, has also jumped ship on the bill:
"I realize as an adult that not everyone shares my view of the world. And with an issue as hot as gun control, I'm prepared to accept a lot of different points of view as being perfectly valid. But we can all get together on the grenade launcher, right?"

Leo is trying to persuade a different Congressman, one who doesn't support the bill because he thinks it doesn't go nearly far enough:
"Guns are #1 on my list of priorities and I've never moved the President off of that," Leo tells him.
"No, keeping the White House strong is #1 on your list of priorities."
"If the White House isn't strong, it doesn't really matter what #2 on my list is."

The choker and the dinner, etc. don't work for Leo as an apology. His wife packs and calls a taxi. She tells Leo,
"I don't want to live like this. I just can't....
"This is the most important thing I'll ever do, Jenny. I have to do it well."
"It's not more important than your marriage."
"It is more important than my marriage, right now. These few years while I'm doing this, yes, it's more important than my marriage."

For additional conversations from this episode see:

Theme of Episode: Personal Cost of Power: Toby can't pick a stock and make a killing in the stock market because he has power that might have affected the stock's value. Leo loses his marriage. Neither Leo nor Hoynes can go to a regular AA meeting. Sam is berated for being friends with a call girl (something that might have happened wherever he was but is more of a problem where he is now). Josh's personal life is more obvious than someone else's might be.

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
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