West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Threads & Relationships * Josh Lyman & Donna Moss
Donna - NBC Donna © NBC Photo: Chris Haston
There is constant banter between these two. Josh obviously didn't hire her for her uncritical approval. And he seems the only one of the White House senior staff who treats his "assistant" as if she was really an assistant and not just a secretary with a new politically-correct job title.
"I don't think we're allowed to make up our own words." --- Josh to Donna on a document she's given him.
"Oh, and there's no chance it's a typo?"
"Change it, would you? Serious people are going to read this." [#3]

In the pilot when the staff thinks Josh may be fired for his comments on a television talk show, Donna shows up in his office with a cup of coffee:
"I brought you some coffee."
"What's going on, Donna?"
"Nothing's going on."
"...Donnatella Moss, when did you start working for me?"
"During the campaign."
"And how long have you been my assistant?
"A year and a half."
"And when's the last time you brought be a cup of coffee?" Josh doesn't allow her to answer. "It was never. You have never brought me coffee.... Donna, if I get fired, I get fired." [#101]

The banter between these two is often charming:
"You have a staff meeting." --- Donna
"That's where I'm going." --- Josh
"I'm just telling you." --- Donna
"Yes, but you see that's obviously where I'm going and yet you tell me anyway."
"And you don't find that adorable?"
"That you seek to control me?" --- Josh
"Love it."
"Donald hasn't called me yet."
"Who's Donald?"
"From the thing." --- Donna
""Right. Can we clear up a few things about my level of interest in the revolving door of local gomers that you see in the free time you create by not working very hard at your job?" --- Josh
"Excuse me?"
"You work hard at your job."
"How hard?"
"Very hard."
"And I am?" --- Donna
"Not at all controlling."
"Thank you. You have a staff meeting."
"On my way." [#105] This was sent to us by Mary Santiago.

The banter between Donna and Josh also often gives the writer a chance to discuss issues as Josh explains to Donna why this administration does things one way rather than another. Such as the following three part discussion of what to do with the surplus:
"Can I ask you a question?" --- Donna
"About what?"
"The budget surplus."
"Go ahead."
"There's a $30 billion budget surplus."
"It'll actually shake out to about $32 billion." --- Josh
"Well, you know what they say."
"What do they say?"
"A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, sooner or later it starts to add up to real money."
"That's a nifty saying, Josh."
"I didn't coin it or anything."
"We have a $32 billion budget surplus for the first time in three decades." ---Donna
"Republicans in Congress want to use this money for tax relief, right?"
"So, essentially what they're saying is they want to give back the money."
"Why don't we want to give back the money?"
"Because we're Democrats."
"But it's not the government's money."
"Sure it is, it's right there in our bank account." --- Josh
"But that's only because we collected more money than we ended up needing."
"Isn't it great?"
"I want my money back."
"We're not done with this."
"I didn't think so."
"What's wrong with me getting my money back?" --- Donna
"You won't spend it right." --- Josh
"What do you mean?"
"Let's say your cut of the surplus is $700. I want to take your money and combine it with everybody else's money and use it to pay down the debt and further endow social security. What do you want to do with it?"
"Buy a DVD player."
"But my $700 is helping employ the people who manufacture and sell DVD players. Not to mention the people who manufacture and sell DVDs. It's the natural evolution of a market economy."
"The problem is, the DVD player you buy might be made in Japan."
"I'll buy an American one."
"We don't trust you." --- Josh
"Why not?"
"We're Democrats."
"I want my money back!"
"You shouldn't have voted for us."
"Donna?" --- Josh
"How much were the sandwiches?"
"I gave you a twenty."
"Yes. As it turns out you actually gave me more money than I needed to buy what you asked for. However, knowing you as I do, I'm afraid I can't trust you to spend the change wisely. I've decided to invest it for you." --- Donna
"That was nice. That was a little parable."
"I want my money back." [#106] This was sent to us by Mary Santiago.

There are, of course, things Josh can't share with his assistant:
"What's going on?"
"You lying?"
"So I should get out?"
"Yes" [#102]

Josh does seem to think Donna knows "everything". She kept telling him C.J. was looking for him in a tone of voice that was different:
"C.J. is looking for you."
"What did I do?"
"How would I know?"
" 'Cause you know everything."
"I do know everything." [#103]

Josh gave Donna a copy of Heimlich Beckengruber's "The Art and Artistry of Alpine Skiing" with a molted calf cover and original drab boards for Christmas. He inscribed a very sweet personal note to her inside. [#110] --- information on this book was stolen from Inside the Bartlet White House.

Josh turns over a lot of responsibility to Donna. Like most of the people running the White House, however, she does make mistakes. At one point after a doozy, she tells him:
"You should keep in mind all the things I do right," [#7]

And when Josh has a little trouble deciding what to do when he is interested in a woman, Donna tries to help (although she also teases him elsewhere):
"Josh, you've got a crush on Joey Lucas and I think you should do something about it cause you're really bothering me."
"Well, that's something I care a lot about."
"You should call her."
"I don't have a crush on her."
"You should call right now."
"I'll see her tonight."
"Gather ye rose buds, while you may, Josh. You know what that means? It means you should take the time to gather rose buds now cause later you might not be able to."
"Interpreting the classics with Poet laureate Donnatella Moss."
"I'm just saying you call her or stop bugging me." [#16]

Donna is a little star struck. At a Hollywood fund raiser, Josh tells her:
"You're frightening the guests." [#16]

Sometimes Josh needs Donna to just deal with the simple things as he can be focused on several major things at the same time:
"I need to get there about an hour before an eight o'clock flight would take off."
"That would be around seven?" Donna asks.
Josh thinks for a moment realizing what he had said, then says, "I haven't done the math."

And Donna has been with Josh long enough to know his weaknesses:
"Are you going to behave yourself tonight?" she asks him at one point.
"It's a bachelor party."
"I'm saying--"
"I can hold my liquor," he insists.
"No you can't."
"I can drink with the best of them."
"You can't drink with any of them, Josh."
"I'm in politics, okay. I can drink."
"You have a very sensitive system."
"I wish you'd stop telling people that. It makes me sound like an idiot."
"You're gonna have two drinks and spend the rest of the weekend sleeping it off," she predicts.
"And this is the first time in a long time I've had the opportunity to spend the weekend doing anything but working, is my point."
"Are there going to be strippers?"
"Tell me the truth."
"There aren't going to be strippers there. Men don't like that anymore."
"Men don't like naked women anymore?"
"No, we still like naked women a lot. It's looking at them in a room full of your best friends that makes you feel a little. . ."
"...Uncomfortable." [#14]

For the latest developments see Episode #36.

Additional comments:
  • "I have done many humiliating things for you." --- Donna to Josh [#410]
  • "Josh has asked me to work Saturdays, work Sundays and at least once a week he has me there after 1 am. He has asked me to transpose portions of the Federal Budget into base-8, go to North Dakota, and dress as an East German cocktail waitress. In five years of working for him, he's never asked me to hide him from something." --- Donna about Josh [#412]

More Josh /Donna conversations:
  • "You know what grips my ass?" Donna asks Josh. "...If anything ever happened to me, chances are its going to be when I am sitting next to you and I'm going to be an also-dead. 'Senior Bartlet advisor Joshua Lyman killed by a pack of wild dogs. Also dead Diane Moss.'" Donna assumes they will even get her name wrong. "...I'm not feeling useful right now. I think I should know how to do more things here...."
    After they discuss the fact that neither is feeling useful right now or has anything urgent to do, Josh asks her, "How come you go out with so many Republicans?"
    "I don't."
    "You do. Cliff, Commander Wonderful, Dr. Freeride."
    "I don't know. I got a pretty good response to the personal ad I put in Roll Call: 'Seeking 30-something male into motions to recommit.'" [#419]
  • "There are some who would consider him handsome," Donna tells Josh about a person he is about to interview. "I don't personally 'cause you're the only one I think is handsome. But for the sake of appearances here around the office so that people wouldn't suspect, I'd pretend I thought this guy was handsome if you hired him. Of course, all along it would be a lie 'cause of how handsome you are --- and powerful."
    "Your sense of humor's a bit of a high wire act, isn't it. You're really trying to thread the needle."
    "And half of it you don't even get." Donna responds changing her tone of voice to something far less inviting. [#420]

28 Amendment
Don't miss Neal Rechtman's election thriller The 28th Amendment in which an actor
who portrays a fictional US President on television gets drawn into real-world politics
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