West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Third Season Episodes * #311 (55) "100,000 Airplanes"
sam Rob Lowe as Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn
NBC Photo: James Sorensen
Written by: Aaron Sorkin, Directed by: David Nutter
Takes Place: Around January 20th, which is about when the State of the Union address usually happens
Broadcast: January 16, 2002
Query: How many words are there in The Ten Commandments? Government Regulations?
Query: What was Bartlet saying in his State of the Union Address?
Query: Who are Ed and Larry?

Leo gathers the senior staff in his office to tell them that Congress is going to pass a concurrent resolution censuring the President.
"He's all right?" C.J. asks Leo.
"He's about to be censured, and then he's going to deliver the State of the Union. And then he's going to run for reelection. My guess is there are some things on his mind."

Ed and Larry walk up to Sam who introduces them to his ex-fiancee who is interviewing him for Vanity Fair. She asks:
"Which one's Ed, which one's Larry?"
"Doesn't matter," they answer together.
Later Josh asks them, "Do the two of you ever go anywhere separately?"
"It's weird isn't it," Ed says.
"A little weird, yeah."

Donna is frustrated trying to figure out a government manual that sends her to a non-existent subpart B and uses a sentence structure with which she is not familiar. As she heads off to pick up a memo for Josh, she runs into Toby in the hall and asks:
"How many words in the Gettysburg Address?"
"And the Ten Commandments?"
"So you wouldn't really think you'd need 6000 to discover how a plane ticket gets reimbursed."

The President wants to announce, in the State of the Union, a push to cure cancer in ten years (like JFK announced we would land a man on the moon before the end of that decade). Most of the staff is against it, thinking it sounds like the President is reaching for something to keep people from thinking about the censure: "a political ploy" and "self-serving", they say. When he asks Sam, though, Sam says that he thinks he should make the announcement:
"I think ambition is good. I think overreaching is good. I think giving people a vision of government that's more than Social Security checks and debt reduction is good. I think government should be optimistic."

Bartlet likes Sam's response, but later Joey Lucas tries to discourage Sam from "humoring" the President:
"The Federal Government shouldn't be directing scientific research."
"Because you stink at it. 'If it was up to the NIH to cure polio through a centrally directed program. . . You'd have the best iron lung in the world but not a polio vaccine.'"
"When did you get an M.D.?"
"I was just quoting Samuel Broder. . . . The former director of the National Cancer Institute."

After the speech Joey Lucas is cornered first by Sam and later by Josh all wanting the results of the poll that will tell them if the President's approval ratings went up enough.
"When the hell will we get numbers?" Josh demands.
"You're a pleasure to work for."
"I hear that a lot. When are we getting numbers?"
"When I say so." As Joey walks away, Donna walks up behind Josh.
"So many women, so little charm."

Sam explains why he thinks overreaching is good:
"In 1940 our armed forces weren't among the 12 most formidable in the world, but obviously we were going to fight a big war. And Roosevelt said the U.S. would produce 50,000 planes in the next four years. Everyone thought it was a joke and it was 'cause we produced 100,000 planes. Gave our armed forces an armada which would block out the sun."

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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