West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Third Season Episodes * #316 (60) "The U.S. Poet Laureate"
Poet Laureate Laura Dern as Tabatha Fortis & Richard Schiff as Communications Director Toby Ziegler
(Muse's Avid Support Of Land Mines Treaty Puts Ziegler On Edge)
NBC: Chris Haston
Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: Laura Glasser, Director: Christopher Misiano
Takes Place:
Broadcast: March 27, 2002
Query: Is the domain name lemonlyman.com available?
Query: Where is there more information on the proposed treaty against landmines?
Query: Did C.J. make a mistake in her reference to something called "Dartmouth University"?
Query: Who was Sorkin making fun of with his reference to the forum at lemonlyman.com?

The President is giving short individual interviews with local stations around the country via live satellite feed. After the interviews, he sometimes exchanges pleasantries with the local newscasters for a moment. After one interview, when the President is asked about his probable opponent (Governor Robert Richie of Florida) in the upcoming general election, Bartlet says in an off-hand manner:
". . . I think we might be talking about a .22 caliber mind in a .357 magnum world. . . ."
"You were hot." Toby says, when he notice that the green light just changed to red. He does not mean that the President was great and nailed the issue. He means the station was able to pick up his final comments.

C.J. is left to clean up the mess. Josh asks her,
"Why do you think this one's so hard to spin?"
"'Cause," she answers, "it's the classic Washington scandal. We screwed up by telling the truth."
"All right. Let's try not to do that that much."

Later Josh finds out there is a website at lemonlyman.com that praises and criticizes him. He insists that Donna type a response to someone who claims he misspoke on "Nightline" a few days before when he referred to requesting a GAO account since only the Congress can make such a request. Donna thinks he should leave it alone and she turns out to be right when the people at the website don't respond the way Josh thought they would. He then insists on compounding the problem by writing again. Donna says:
"I think you have gone 'round the bend."
Later after things get much worse, Josh says, "Look, I don't want to hear about it any more. We've got an energy plan in ten minutes."
"Oh Josh," C.J. calls out from the other end of the hall. ". . .The Federal Page from the Washington Post just called Carol to confirm that you are the Josh Lyman who posted on an Internet website that the White House could order a GAO review of anything it wants."
"Without threatening the separation of powers is what I was saying."
"You posted on a website?"
". . .C.J., it a crazy place. It's got this dictatorial leader. . ."
"What did you go there for in the first place?"
"It's called LemonLyman.com."
"Let me explain something to you, this is sort of my field. The people on these sites: they're the cast of 'One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest.' . . . I'm telling you to open the ward room window and climb on out before they give you a pre-frontal lobotomy and I have to smother you with a pillow. . . . I'm assigning an intern from the press office to that website. They're going to check it every night before they go home. If they discover you've been there, I'm going to shove a motherboard so far up your ass --- What?"
"Well --- technically, I outrank you."
"So far up your ass!" she says raising her voice ominously.

On other fronts, in order to counter charges of partisanship, Sam brings Ainsley back from vacation to do the talk show circuit to help on the Presidential gaffe about referring to the presumptive Republican nominee in a way that implied that Gov. Richie was too stupid to run the country. Ainsley, though, isn't convinced that the smartest Presidents have been the best.

And Toby talks to a newly minted Poet Laureate about not embarrassing the President at a huge dinner he has invited her to. Toby and the poet have a mutual admiration society going, but they each keep coming back to this problem about landmines that she feels strongly about and she finally tells him why.
"There was a man in Banja Luka that I met. He took his son and I (pause) to go fishing in the Sava River. And the little boy hooked a piece of garbage and when he tried to take it off the line, it blew him up. Right in front of his father. And, right in front of me. . . . You think that I think that an artist's job is to speak the truth. An artist's job is to captivate you for however long as we've asked for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky, and I don't get to decide what truth is. . . . I write poetry, Toby. That's how I enter the world."

At the end C.J. has questions about the gaffe she has spent all week trying to deal with. And she comes to a deduction worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
28 Amendment
Don't miss Neal Rechtman's election thriller The 28th Amendment in which an actor
who portrays a fictional US President on television gets drawn into real-world politics
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