Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, John Spencer as Leo McGarry
NBC Warner Bros. Photo
Written by: Debora Cahn, Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
- Takes Place: Three weeks before Christmas
- Broadcast: December 3, 2003
- Query: Is there a Christmas tree in the White House yard? And how does the President walk in the yard with no Secret Service agents in sight?
- It's Christmas time and we get to see a little of how the White House and the Bartlets deal with the holidays this year. Margaret is trying to find out how she should answer Leo's various invitations,
- "---British Embassy on the 15th, DNC Chair on the 22nd, the Uphoffs on Christmas Eve."
"The DNC's a maybe. Uphoffs, a maybe."
"I think we shouldn't go with maybes on the Christmas parties this year because 'maybe' means RSVP yes and you cancel 10 minutes before it starts and I have to call and say the honored guest isn't coming and you remain lovable Leo McGarry and I'm the dope who couldn't accurately assess the constraints of your schedule.... And by New Year's I'm a pariah. I got people hexing my muffins in the mess---"
- Tis the season it seems: U.S. aid workers in the Sudan arrested for pushing Christianity, the DEA is coming down on a doctor in Oregon for assisting in a suicide (C.J. says there's no Federal jurisdiction so she doesn't know what they think they are doing trying to use the Controlled Substances Act for this), the husband of Bartlet's oldest daughter wants to run for Congress and he expects/wants to get White House backing, and although the Bartlet's are planning a dinner with all three daughters, Ellie is running really late:
- "Is Ellie even coming?" the President asks Debby.
"She's working on it."
"One would never know that leaders of powerful nations respond to my call on a moment's notice."
"Not at first glance, sir, no."
- Toby is first chair on the State of the Union, not just writing the speech but choosing the agenda. He doesn't want to get bogged down in this assisted suicide thing and so tries to get Will to get the VP to deal with it. Will is reluctant and says the VP wouldn't be comfortable bringing the subject up. Toby isn't pleased with Will and so asks the President to ask the VP to address the issue. Bartlet wants to just let it ride. Toby thinks he is going to get the questions anyway and tells him,
- "One in five patients requesting aid in dying has MS.... Do you know what that questions sound like?... 'How long does the President think he has until his MS becomes debilitating?' 'Do his doctors anticipate a speedy decline?' 'Does he have a plan?' 'Does the First Lady have four glass vials and a syringe in a lock box in the night stand?'"
"She may chicken out. Maybe I'll call you."
"That's the conversation, sir. It won't be the Controlled Substances Act or Federal overreaching or anything else. I don't think we're ready to have that conversation with the American public."
- The President doesn't seem to care for the men his daughters choose. He tells Debby,
- "...fifteen years ago we took a trip to Egypt. All five of us [one wonders where Annie was since she would have been about a year old 15 years ago, but maybe he was rounding off and it was more like 17 years ago --- editor]. Saw the Pyramids and Luxor and then headed up into the Sinai. We had a guide, a Bedouin man, who called me 'Abu el Banat'. And whenever we'd meet another Bedouin, he'd introduce me as Abu el Banat. And the Bedouin would laugh and laugh and offer me a cup of tea. And I'd go to pay them for the tea and they wouldn't let me. 'Abu el Banat' means 'Father of daughters' They thought the tea was the least they could do."
- By the time Ellie shows up, Liz has told her father she is upset about his lack of support for Doug's candidacy and seems to be packing to leave. Bartlet tells Abbey,
- "That's okay, I have a picture in my wallet of the three girls together in Acadia in '96...."
"We didn't beat them," Abbey says.
"There's still time...."
"We've never been Currier and Ives."
Shifting topics, Bartlet tells her, "I'm putting together a panel on assisted suicide. If you've got any names --- medical ethicists."
"Your position has changed?"
"Uh-uh," he says shaking his head. "No syringe in the night stand. It'll get ugly and that's that. You going to be there?" He asks this last hesitantly after a pause. And she also takes a moment --- seemingly imagining what it will be like ---- before answering.