West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Second Season Episodes / * #206 (28)  "The Lame Duck Congress"

Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, story by Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr., d: Jeremy Kagan
Takes Place:
Broadcast: November 8, (2000)

C.J. gets backed into a corner by a question from Danny.
Toby Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler NBC Photo: David Rose
"You walked right into it," Josh tells her.
"There was no other direction to walk."

The question from Danny gets the staff thinking about calling a lame duck session of Congress. The staff gets excited and all of them, talking at once, try to explain to the President why he should call this extraordinary session. But all the President hears is noise:
"Charlie," he calls out, "Could I have a couple of aspirin or a weapon to kill people with?"

It seems that Danny's paper, The Washington Post, has been writing editorials about the administration. This angers C.J. but Leo actually listens to them and quotes them to the staff:
"'The President's time isn't being used effectively.' 'Schedules are abandoned before lunch.' 'The West Wing resembles a high school yearbook office.' And I believe, I'm compared to a substitute teacher."
So Leo sets down new rules insisting that anyone who needs an answer from the President put his arguments into a two page memo which Leo will initial before they get to the President. They are all upset. As Sam says:
"I can't unleash my full potential in a two page summary."

Meanwhile, Donna is fighting for support for OSHA regulations to prevent repetitive stress injuries and she organizes the assistants in the West Wing after she approaches Leo who dismisses her with "type slower." Later, Leo finds Margaret typing "slower" and, after convincing her to do her job as before, Leo yells at Josh,
"Can't you keep your people in line?"
"Well, there's been no evidence of it so far," Josh answers, though he does talk to Donna and informs her that the White House and Congress are exempt from the workplace related laws they pass anyway.
But Donna gets to talk to a representative of Eastern Europe while providing cover for the President.
"So, I'm being used," she says as Josh explains why she is going to have this meeting, "As a dupe. . . . How am I suppose to feel about that?"
"How do you usually feel about that?" Josh asks.
"My value here is that I have no value."
"You have enormous value to me. You have no value to Eastern Europe," Josh tells her.

Sam asks Ainsley to take his 22 page position paper and give him a two page summary of it. Instead, she gives him a two page summary of the opposite position. And then she argues that position. Sam changes his mind and takes the new position to Leo. Ainsley is amazed:
"I was just talking to you."
"Well, we play with live ammo around here. You convinced me. I convinced Leo. Leo'll convince the President."
"Is this how you guys decide to go to war?"
"I don't know. I'm usually not in the room when they decide to do that."

Toby's meetings convince him that calling a lame duck session of Congress wouldn't get them anywhere. The President just shrugs:
"You know we forget sometimes, in all the talk about democracy, it's a Republic. People don't make the decisions, they choose the people who make the decisions. Could they do a better job choosing? Yeah. But when you consider the alternatives. . . . You want to come up for a cigar," the President asks Toby. ". . . I'll beat your ass at chess."
"You baiting me, Mr. President?"
"Okay," Toby says chuckling.

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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