West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fifth Season Episodes * #516 "Eppur Si Muove"
CJ and Abbey
White House Press Secretary, C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney), preps the  First Lady, Dr. Abigail Bartlet (Stockard Channing), before shooting her Public Service Announcement with the Sesame Street Muppets, Zoe (left) and Elmo (center)
NBC: Warner Bros. photo
Written by: Alexa Junga, Directed by: Llewellyn Wells
Broadcast: March 3, 2004
Query: Did Galileo really mutter "Eppur si muove" as he left the Inquisition?

The science project Ellie Bartlet is working on comes under scrutiny by conservative Republican Congressional Representatives. C.J. is alerted and talks to Toby.
"Tell me this is nothing to worry about."
"This is nothing to worry about," Toby says, as requested, following it up with, "Somebody's out for blood and they're targeting Ellie Bartlet."
The next morning Toby is waiting for C.J. when she reaches her office. So she asks, optimistically, "Now, that you've, slept on it, the call... wasn't about Ellie Bartlet and I get to have a happy, quiet day?"
"Now that I've slept on it, I think it's worse." Toby then offers to investigate and C.J. thanks him. "It's not about you. I'd pretty much do anything to avoid using 'Mr. President' and 'your daughter' in the same sentence."

Meanwhile Josh is talking to a judicial nominee who has been up for a seat on the Federal court for a year and wants to move on.
"Well, you knew the confirmation process was going to be an uphill battle."
"Uphill battle? It's a permanent gag order. I can't write. I can't publish. Hell, I can't even debate the cases with my students."
Josh asks him to hold off taking another job until Josh can "fix it."

And Ben, an old boyfriend of C.J.'s who has been phoning, comes by for a lunch which C.J. has to cancel. In her rush to assure him that she isn't brushing him off, she confuses him and throughout the day they can't seem to get a moment to finish a sentence to clear up the confusion. The reason she has to cancel lunch is that Leo has asked her to talk to the First Lady about the fact that Abbey wants to practice medicine again by treating children at a free clinic. C.J. needs to have this presented to the press in a way that keeps them from being cynical about it. So the First Lady asks,
"Would you like me to do interviews with the Press Corps?"
"God, no. They're the most cynical bastards on the planet. You need to get beyond the Washington echo chamber and speak right to the people." Her suggestion, "Muppets.... Going on 'Sesame Street' would give you an opportunity to re-introduce yourself as the First Lady who is also a working doctor and address the press's questions about your work at the clinic. Give a Muppet a check up. Get your message out."

Even Leo seems to wonder about some of the research projects on the list some Republican House Members seem to be targeting. Looking at a paper, he asks Toby,
"I'm sorry but can we really justify spending $800,000 on 'A Bio-Cultural Approach to the Study of Female Sexual Fantasy and Genital Arousal'?"
He hands the paper to Toby who, as Leo leaves the room, asks, "How can we afford not to?"

Turns out Debby is a big fan of Muppets. When Charlie comments on how giddy Debby is getting about the Muppets coming to the White House, the First Lady questions him on his opinion.
"I'm crazy for Muppets," Charlie admits. "I'm just trying to act cool."

Dr. Ellie Bartlet is finally attacked by name. The President is furious,
NIH"When the NIH was founded, the idea was simple: Identify the best research as defined by scientists themselves. And now these people who are not even scientists have answered all the questions before any science has been done? Have you ever seen one of these grant applications? We're lucky Einstein didn't have to fill one out or God knows what 'E' would equal."

To escape the press Ellie comes to the White House and her father talks to her about how their two professions have related in the past,
"There's always been tension between science and policy. Hell, we used to do terrible things to you people because we were never ready to hear what you had to say. I know of one guy they were ready to carve up with instruments of torture because he had this silly idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun."
"If this is an object lesson about how scientists have it better today because there's no Inquisition ---"
"I enjoy talking about Galileo...."
"It's apocryphal, Dad. A story for tourists. If Galileo had muttered 'It still moves' after they made him recant his life's work, they would have killed him on the spot...."
"If you believe in what you're doing, you have to speak up."
"Our work speaks for itself."
"Not enough.... Science can't wall itself off from controversy. It has to live by it."

Josh's attempt to help his friend and other judicial nominees runs into trouble with Fate in the guise of the death of a Supreme Court Justice. C.J. tries to fix things with Ben and continues to be interrupted.

At first Ellie just wants to wall herself off with her data. But she does end up giving a press conference in which she says:
"Thomas Jefferson said 'We must not be afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead'. Scientific truth ennobles us. It tells us who we are, where we've been and where we're going. I believe the truth will only be found when all the scientists are free to pursue it."
(ed. note: the closest thing we have found Jefferson saying is, "We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
    --- Thomas Jefferson: Letter to Willian Roscoe Dec 27 1820)

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