West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Second Season Episodes / * #217 (39) "The Stackhouse Filibuster"

Tim Matheson
Tim Matheson as Vice President John Hoynes
- Photo Provided by Warner Bros. -NBC
Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: Pete McCabe d: Bryan Gordon
Broadcast: March 14, 2001
C.J. insists that the senior staff and the White House Press Corps stay around as Senator Howard Stackhouse filibusters from a Friday afternoon through a good part of the night. To pass the time and tell him why she can't make his 70th birthday, she emails her father explaining what is going on.
"The rules of a filibuster are simple enough. You keep the floor as long as you hold the floor. What does that mean? It means you can't stop talking ever. You can't eat and you can't drink which is fine because you can't leave the chamber to use the bathroom either. But all that's nothing compared with this: You aren't allowed to sit down. You aren't allowed to lean on anything or for that matter anyone. . . ." Later she goes on:
"If you ever have a free two hours and are so inclined, try standing up without leaning on anything and talking the whole time. You won't make it. I wouldn't make it. Stackhouse wasn't expected to last 15 minutes. He's 78 years old. He has a head cold. . . . Well, somebody forgot to tell Stackhouse, Dad, 'cause he just went into hour number eight."
The Vice President volunteers to defend the Administration's position on stricter emissions standards in the form of additives. This has Toby and other staffers wondering what's going on. Josh reports on this to his mother in an email:
"Like Toby, I was puzzled as to why the Vice President, who made his money from the oil industry, who champions the oil industry, would volunteer to admonish the oil industry. . . . Hoynes kept hammering away. I was reminded for a minute how close he came to being elected President. Toby said it was an impressive display from Hoynes but couldn't get past the question of why he volunteered to do it."
Sam volunteers to go through the GAO reports and recommend 400 reports for elimination. But an intern delivering reports from the GAO, makes noises and Sam can't resist finding out what she thinks:
"The accounting office tells me I can save the tax payer $3 million by cutting 400 reports."
"You blow through these things like they don't mean anything."
"They don't mean anything."
"You're an idiot," she says and then she explains why these reports are useful.
" . . .Listen, you're talented," Sam finally says. "When you get out of school, you should come see me for a job."
"I suppose you're not a complete loser. And you write very well. So when I get out of school, you should come see me for a job."
The President is pretty upset with Stackhouse, but Leo says he's always thought he was a decent guy.
"He's a curmudgeon. A grouchy old crank," the President says.
"So are we."
"You are. I am full of mirth."
Well, Donna finally figures out what's going on with Senator Stackhouse. This information causes C.J. and the President to change course on the subject of the filibuster but at first they can't figure out how to help. Again it is Donna who comes up with a solution. But the adminstration now needs the help of a Senator:
"I want to call Senators," the President tells Charlie. "We'll start with our friends. When we're done with those two, we'll go on to the other 98."
C.J., Josh and Sam all finish their emails to their various parents with the same thoughts:
"There are so many days here where you can't imagine that anything good will ever happen," C.J. tells her father.
"You're buried under a black fog of partisanship and self-promotion and stupidity," Josh writes his mother.
"And a brand of politics that's just plain mean," Sam adds in his email to his father.
But then C.J. continues that ". . . tonight I've seen a man with no legs stay standing. . . and a guy with no voice keep shouting. And if politics brings out the worst in people, maybe people bring out the best."

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