West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home/ Second Season Episodes* #214 (36) "The War at Home"

The Bartlets
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet & Stockard Channing as the First Lady, Abbey Bartlet - NBC Photo
Written by: Aaron Sorkin, Directed by: Christopher Misiano
Takes Place: Starts three hours after the State of the Union in #35
Broadcast: February 14, 2001
This continues the story started in #35 beginning with the President ordering "Go" on the rescue of five U. S. DEA agents in Colombia. The other stories also continue as C.J. tells Toby that Josh went back to the phone banks.
"Is the electricity back on?" Toby asks her.
"Then what's he doing there?"
"Hoping the electricity goes on."
"Well, that ought to do it," Toby suggests dryly.
At the phone banks, Donna continues her campaign to get Josh to ask Joey out:
"Can I tell you something about women?
"Oh God, please don't."
"We like to be wooed. . . .She wants you to ask her out, Josh. . . You're missing the signs. . . . I know a thing or two about the ways of love."
"No, you don't."
Josh admits to Sam that he thinks it is strange that Donna is encouraging him to ask Joey out:
"All last night at the phone banks, Donna was telling me I should ask Joey Lucas out. . . . What do you make of Donna being the one pushing it?"
"I don't make anything."
"You wouldn't think she'd be jealous?"
"She goes out with guys, are you jealous?
"No. . . . I don't get jealous. . . I don't like it and usually do everything in my considerable capabilities to sabotage it. . . . Which is why it's curious that Donna would do nothing to discourage and in fact do everything to encourage a date with Joey Lucas who is quite frankly a very attractive woman."
Meanwhile back to the drug war, the President tells Josh and Sam:
"I inherited the war on drugs from a President who inherited it from a President who inherited it from a President before that. I'm not a hundred percent sure who we're fighting but I know we're not winning. Ten years ago we spent five billion dollars fighting drugs and we did such a good job that last year we spent 16 billion. Sixty percent of federal prisoners are in jail on drug charges as opposed to two and a half percent that are there for violent crime. We imprison a higher percentage of our citizens than Russia did under Communism and South Africa did under apartheid. Somewhere between 50 and 85% of the prison population has a drug or alcohol abuse problem. We've tried 'Just Say No', I don't think it's going to work.
The President finally finds time to talk to his wife who is pissed at the language that was used in the State of the Union Address. But Abbey doesn't want to talk about this now:
"Because you've got to focus on Colombia," she tells him.
"I can do two things at once."
"You don't have two things at once; you have 92 things at once and one of them is five hostages in Colombia. . . . and you should focus."
"What are you, my Zen master?"
At this point the hostage situation falls apart and the President has to make new choices, none of which are great.
"You've really got to ask yourself what's the point in being a superpower any more," he tells his advisors in disgust.
Meanwhile, the numbers from the poll tell Josh something he doesn't want to know, and Joey tries to explain to him that what seems obvious is sometimes not obvious at all:
"If you polled a hundred Donnas and asked them if they think we should go out, you'd get a high positive response. But the poll wouldn't tell you that it's because she likes you and she knows it's beginning to show and she needs to cover herself with misdirection."
Leo, who starts off the crisis as a hawk, turns around at end to give the President a way out of the situation.

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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