West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Second Season Episodes / "The Midterms" * Bartlet's Quotations

Speech from "The Midterms"
Written by: Aaron Sorkin

A talk show host defends calling homosexuality an "abomination" by saying that that is what the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 (That verse, by the way, reads: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such thing is an abomination.") This annoys President Bartlet who proceeds to ask a few pointed questions about just what one should accept from the Bible.

Exodus 21:7
"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do."
"I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleaned the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?"

Exodus 35:2
"On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death."

"My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?"
Leviticus 11
7and the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you.
8Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you."
"Here's one that's really important cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7 If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

"Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

"Think about those questions, would you?"

Note: the above references are from The New American Bible Translated from the original Languages with Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources by Members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America Copyright 1970. This "new Catholic" Bible wouldn't have been what Bartlet grew up with but might have been the Bible he read cover to cover.

Referring to the above as "Bartlet's Quotations" is not something we can claim as our idea. It was sent to us by Sonnie Swenston. We wish we had thought of it!

Additional Versions:

More of the text from this speech (above and after the lines we've quoted herein) at http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=7220.

We have new information about the open letter addressed to Dr. Laura which had been circulating around the Internet for months before this broadcast. We are publishing that letter here and linking to another version that has the earliest date and a name for the person who created the original letter.

We did hear from Lloyd Bonafide who said the emails are from a radio show:
Third hour of the show is a Phil Hendrie bit "Bible Study with Dr. Heath Teal." That's the original. The Internet emails are cribbed from Hendrie's bit. Airdate 6-14-2000.

But John Hudert passed on information from Lori Greene which referred us to an Entertainment Weekly news item, October 26, 2000, which says:
"Refreshingly candid exec producer Aaron Sorkin admits he lifted the diatribe from a much forwarded anonymous email. . . . Sorkin, who hoped to give credit, says they ''cast a fairly wide net, but we didn't find the author.''"

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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An introduction to the BBC's "Blake's 7" (from Fantasy Empire), and
A guide to the 70's series "Kung Fu" are also available.