- Written by Aaron Sorkin Directed by Anthony Drazon
- Takes Place: November (They do speak of having been in office 12 months, but weather indicates they may be exaggerating by a month or two --- they are wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts for the night game)
- Broadcast: October 20, 1999
- Query: Did President Jackson really have a Big Block of Cheese in the White House?
- Query: Has anyone ever tried to build a highway for wolves?
- Query: Which version of "Ava Maria" was Josh playing?
- Playing basketball (somewhere on the White House grounds, perhaps a parking lot), the senior staff turn out to be (surprise, surprise) very competitive. When the President gets winded, Toby suggests he concede defeat:
- "You want to play or write my eulogy?" the President asks Toby.
"Can I be honest with you, sir?"
- As the President brings in a professional level player to join his team, claiming the man is on the President's Council for Physical Fitness and thereby a member of the staff and eligible for this game, Toby objects:
- "The thing about you, Mr. President, is not that you cheat. It's how brazenly bad you are at it."
- Leo has a pet office policy that senior staff should occasionally ("...we try to do it on the first of every month," says Sam --- "We've done it twice in 12 months," says Toby) listen to people on the fringes of society. The rest of the staff express their opinions that listening to such people is a waste of time. Leo insists:
- "Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of his White House had a big block of cheese.... I am making a mental list of those who are snickering, and even as I speak I am preparing appropriate retribution.... The block of cheese was huge --- over two tons. And it was there for any and all who might be hungry."
"Leo, wouldn't the time be better spent plotting a war against a country that can't possibly defend itself against us?" Toby asks.
"We can do that later, Toby. Right now I'm talking about President
Andrew Jackson.... Jackson wanted the White House to belong to the people, so from time to time, he opened his doors to those who wished an audience.... It is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson that I, from time to time, ask senior staff to have face-to-face meetings with those people
representing organizations who have a difficult time getting our
attention. .... I know the more jaded among you, see this as something rather beneath you. But I assure you that listening to the voices of
passionate Americans is beneath no one, and surely not the peoples
- Of course, the rest of the government has to continue, and Leo finds himself in with respected economists who make little sense to him:
- "I'm the only one in the room who isn't an economist, but it seems to me that the annual budget for the new fiscal year is found either in balance, in deficit, or in surplus. I don't know how I can sell Congress, to say nothing of people who graduated eighth grade, on the idea that there is anything in between."
"Leo's not talking about the portion being accounted for as off budget and particularly not the long-term capital outlays," the President explains.
"Here's where you lose me," Leo complains, as the President goes on to rattle off a ridiculous series of numbers.
"You keep those numbers in your head?" One of the economists asks the President.
Leo interjects: "The President's startling freakish that way."
As soon as they are alone, Leo asks the same question: "How could you possibly remember that 10 years ago there was a 188 billion debt increase off a 22 billion dollar deficit?"
"God, I was right?"
"Ah, see, thats what I thought."
- Later the President decides to cook chili and insists that everyone join him and his daughter that evening (the First Lady is away):
- "I don't know why, but nothing makes me feel quite so good as the sight of colleagues enjoying each other outside of work."
- The President proposes a toast:
- "I hope that by the time were done with our four years here,
well have seen to it that every young person who chooses can go to
college and beyond, regardless of their economic status.... What will be the next thing that challenges us, Toby? That makes us work harder and go farther?...
Here's to absent friends. And the ones who are here now."
- For additional conversations from this episode see:
For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.