West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Second Season Episodes * #204 (26) "In This White House"

Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: Peter Parnell & Allison Abner Directed by: Ken Olin
Takes Place: Long Enough after November 7 that Josh (who was only that day getting outside for the first time in three months) is now running around the office
Broadcast: October 25, 2000
Query: Of the off screen people and countries discussed, who is real and who isn't?
Query:Is 202-456-1414, really the phone number of the White House?
Query: How often has Bartlet vetoed bills?

Emily Procter as associate White House counsel Ainsley Hayes -- NBC Photo: Warner Bros.
An unknown Republican political analyst, Ainsley Hayes, who hasn't done TV before debates Sam (who usually wipes the floor with whoever represents the conservative position on "Capital Beat"). She turns out to be a smart, knowledgable and committed opponent and she catches Sam off guard. At the end of their first exchange (see a transcript), Sams murmurs to himself:
"Please, oh please, let them not be watching."
But, of course "they" are. Josh makes that obvious by rushing into Toby's office saying, "Toby, come quick. Sam's getting his ass kicked by a girl."
"Ginger, get the popcorn," Toby orders as he hurriedly follows Josh to the TV.

The next morning the President asks Leo about this Republican. Leo tells him that she has been writing some columns and "clerking for Dreifort." The President suggests they hire her. At first Leo doesn't believe he means it. But the President thinks she has something:
"I can sense civic duty a mile away."
". . . . She can always have my job, Mr. President," Leo tells him when the President insists he find a job for her.
"Yes, she can."

But Leo finds talking to Ainsley a little confusing:
"You have an interesting conversational style, you know that?"
"It's a nervous condition."
"I used to have a nervous condition."
"How did yours manifest itself?"
"I drank a lot of Scotch."
"I get sick when I drink too much."
"I get drunk when I drink too much."

Meanwhile the White House is hosting negotiations between President Nimbala of the Republic of Equatorial Kuhndu --- who is representing the African countries who need American drugs to fight their high AIDS infections --- and the pharmaceutical companies. The White House people dealing with Nimbala are impressed with him. But it is easier to deal with the pharmaceuticals than the conditions in central Africa as they all find out when a coup occurs in his country while he is away.

And Ainsley is annoyed and impressed with the people in the White House:
"Say they are smug and superior. Say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes.and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders but don't call them worthless. . . . The people I have met have been extraordinarily qualified. Their intent is good. Their commitment is true. They are righteous, and they are patriots. And I'm their lawyer."

Additional information:
  • Dr. Norman Borlaug, did win the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. An Atlantic Monthly article describes him as "the agronomist whose discoveries sparked the Green Revolution, has saved literally millions of lives, yet he is hardly a household name." They further say: "Borlaug's leading research achievement was to hasten the perfection of dwarf spring wheat." More recently, we understand (via email on October 26, 2000), Dr. Borlaug created: The World Food Prize Foundation in 1986 to recognize "the notable achievements of those who have increased the quality, quantity, or availability of food for the world."
  • There is no such nation as the Republic of Equatorial Kuhndu, nor, as Ellen Keyne Seebacher points out, is there a "Sahelese Republic" (the Sahel, she tells us, "is a region stretching across western and central Africa, but there's no country by that name"). But the other African nations mentioned in the episode are real. And the President of South Africa, mentioned for his controversial statement that HIV doesn't "cause" AIDS, is indeed Mbeki (Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki).
We wondered what language the fictional President Nimbala was speaking and we finally heard from someone who recognized the language. Wandile C Bereng of Cape Town, South Africa says: "The language spoken by Pres. Nimbala is Setswana. It's an official language in South Africa and Botswana."

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode (as well as more information),
let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.

Background from Bravo: What you need to know from past episodes.

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