Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: Gene Sperling, Director: John David Coles
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet
NBC Photo: Michael O'Neill
- Takes Place: Day before Thanksgiving
- Broadcast: November 27, 2002
- Query: What does the Orange County Register think of the fictional district Sam is going to run for?
- Query: Is Bartlet's cabinet (as shown by those seated in the cabinet meeting) almost totally white? Unbelievable!
- Query: What was that Josh said about Star Trek fans?
- Sam leaves the White House to start his campaign. This leaves Toby alone to do the Second Inaugural speech for Bartlet. Toby is overwhelmed (and we see him setting fire to his drafts and throwing them in his trash can). So, Sam convinces Will and Toby to meet by telling each that the other wanted help.
- "Sam's doing a little matchmaking. I'm fine doing this by myself."
". . . Okay. Your garbage can is on fire."
As he uses a seltzer bottle to put out the fire, Toby tells Will, ". . . it's not personal. A speech like this. Obviously it takes a certain amount of experience and a uh certain something."
"Just out of curiosity, how do you know I don't have that something?"
"Because you don't have the experience."
"Okay. Well, it was nice meeting you." Will turns to leave and gets almost to the door, and then he turns back. "For the record, I was President of Cambridge Union on a Marshall scholarship, and I've written for three congressional races and a governor."
"I read the Stanford Club speech. I thought it was good. Not as good as other people thought it was. . . . Call and response isn't going to work in front of a Joint Session. You're alliteration happy: 'guardians of gridlock', 'protectors of privilege'. . . . And when you use pop culture references, your speech has a shelf life of 12 minutes. You don't mind constructive criticism, do you?"
"Anyway, thanks for coming in. I told Sam I can do this by myself."
"Well, maybe he thought that your speeches were obscurantist policy tracts lost in a cul-de-sac of their own internal self-righteousness and groaning from the weight of statistics. --- I'm just speculating. I can't say for sure."
Toby, takes this in. He taps his fingers on the desk for a moment and then reaches for a legal pad, "A 500 word stanza on American leadership in a globally interdependent age that moves beyond triumphalism by this time tomorrow. . . ." Will takes the pristine legal pad from Toby and leaves without a word.
- Meanwhile, the staff and the President are hearing from women --- both strangers and those close to them --- about a pilot, Lieutenant Commander Vickie Hilton, who is about to be court marshalled for disobeying an order to end an affair with a married junior officer. Leo seems to see this in black and white. The President isn't so sure (perhaps after listening to "Abbey and the girls").
- "She disobeyed an order," Leo tells Bartlet. "You can't do that."
"Sure. Yes. But isn't there some question as to whether it's practical to give that order in the first place."
"Do you want pilots overruling their superiors with regard to what's pratical and what's not?"
"No, I'm just saying there are a few sides to this."
"That's for sure and you've just heard mine."
"But we'll hear no others because we don't want it in the Oval Office."
- This rankles Bartlet for awhile. And finally he bursts out with:
- "Are we to live with the assumption that there are no men in the services who have committed adultery?" he asks Charlie, retorically. He then bursts into Leo's office. ". . . So G.I. Jane gets a court martial and G.I. Joe gets a short film on hygene? . . . Do you really think that Vickie Hilton is unable to distinguish between this order and a combat order?"
"This was a combat order. They're all combat orders. When you order a guy to go fight, the guy can't think it's 'cause you're sleeping with his wife."
"That's --- that's an unusual phrase for you, sir. Did you just learn it?"
"You didn't let me finish. . . . I may also be right. If we get five more people in here, I think we're going to have eight opinions. . . So let's."
"And two elections in a row, people said they wanted me to run that. . . . Right now I'm not talking about overruling anyone or pardoning anyone. Right now I'm just talking about having people over and asking questions. . . . I don't think I ever want to hear: 'It's too sticky for the Oval Office'. . . . Are we together on this? . . . We've got four years, no election and a Republican Congress that hates me, and actually hates you more. . . ."
"Well, I serve at the President's pleasure --- and it's kinda nice for me to."
- As Toby continues to struggle with a first draft of Bartlet's Second Inaugural Speech, Will comes back with his 500 words. They each read the other's draft and after a few moments, Toby says:
- "Stop reading mine. . . " He continues reading for awhile and then says, "We can't offer you any money. We can put you up in a hotel."
"I work with someone. She's my step-sister, actually."
"That's fine, but she's on your payroll. . . . This is incredibly good, Will. . . . I use to write like this. It was 10 months ago. I don't understand what's going on. I really don't. I've had slumps before. Everybody does, but this is different. I'm sorry, we don't know each other but there aren't that many people I can talk to about it. I don't understand what's happening. There's no blood going to it. I've never had to locate it before. I don't even know where to look. I'm the President's voice and," Toby picks up the draft he had been working on, "I don't want him to sound like this. There's an incredible history to second inaugrals. 'Fear itself,' Lincoln. I really thought I was on my way to being one of those guys. I thought I was close. Now I'm just writing for my life and you can't serve the President that way. But if I didn't write, --- I can't serve him at all."
"Yeah. Can I tell you three things? --- You are more in need of a night in Atlantic City than any man I've ever met. Number two is the last thing you need to worry about is no blood going there. You've got blood going there about 13 ways and some of it isn't good. Once again I say Atlantic City. I'd say sit down at a table, go for dinner, see a show, take a walk on the boardwalk and smell the salt air. But if you're anything like me nothiing after sit down at a table is going to happen."
"What's the third thing?"
"You are one of those guys." Will glances at the legal pad he had written on. "This is an inning of good relief pitching from a fresh arm"
"All right. All right. Chances are you have certain qualities that are going to annoy me. I don't know what they are yet but you have a certain quality about you that says even though you are a capitalist, you have been schooled in Eastern Philosophies."
"Well-schooled," Will admits then later tells Toby, "I'm a lawyer."
"Good 'cause they're never annoying."
". . . I'm glad you liked what I wrote. I'm pretty tired. I've been tired for a pretty long time. And you've been tired even longer. I'm getting on a plane tonight and going to a place in Nice and I'm going to stay there for a few weeks. When I get back, it would be a privelege to give you all the help you ask for. . . ." Will leaves and then later returns. "Unless you want to start now."