West Wing Continuity Guide
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Penn & Teller will wreak some havoc at the White House on The West Wing.
Their website has information & news.
On the episode "In the Room" the magicians Penn and Teller convince the audience they have burnt a U.S. flag inside a copy of the Bill of Rights. Did they?
  1. Editor's note - magicians almost never do what they look like they are doing. That is why it is called magic: They make you think you see what you are not seeing. (By the way, so far not one person has written this site objecting to the supposed burning of the flag.)
  2. "Druck" posted the following on the West Wing Television Without Pity Forum
    "Wasn't it obvious to anybody but me, that when Teller's sliding the flash paper into the rolled up Bill of Rights with one hand, he's slipping the flag out of the back of the roll with the other? And then he tucks it into the waistband of Penn's pants?"
    (editor's note: this wasn't obvious to us until we read the above quoted post)
  3. Kevin Dern emailed us saying, "I just saw Penn and Teller in Vegas in November, and they did the flag trick. When they do it onstage, they do it twice. The first time they do it just like it was on TV. The second time they show you how it was done, replacing the bill of rights with a clear tube, and showing from behind how the flag is removed by Teller when the flash paper is put in."

Who is Professor Lawrence Lessig (played by Christopher Lloyd in "The Wake Up Call")?
Before we even got to see the episode, we heard from the always reliable Craig T. Fifer who wrote:
  • "Lawrence Lessig, the professor in tonight's episode portrayed by Christopher Lloyd, is a real professor at Stanford University. He specializes in cyber and copyright law.... His web site is at http://www.lessig.org.
  • And the case Toby and the professor were discussing was: Meyer v. State of Nebraska
The above information was supplemented by the following email from Wayland Chang:
  • "Before Lessig's interest in cyberspace law, he was a constitutional law expert specializing in Eastern Europe. His resume includes being Co-director of the Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Eastern Europe, for example. Hence, writing a constitution for Belarus, which is in Eastern Europe, would be right up his alley. His CV is available at http://www.lessig.org/bio/cv/. Josh Singer, the screenwriter for the episode, was a former student of Lessig.
The book the President mentions when he meets Lessig is The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World
  • Future ofAmazon.com's Best of 2001
    "If The Future of Ideas is bleak, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Author Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor and keen observer of emerging technologies, makes a strong case that large corporations are staging an innovation-stifling power grab while we watch idly. The changes in copyright and other forms of intellectual property protection demanded by the media and software industries have the potential to choke off publicly held material, which Lessig sees as a kind of intellectual commons. He eloquently and persuasively decries this lopsided control of ideas and suggests practical solutions that consider the rights of both creators and consumers, while acknowledging the serious impact of new technologies on old ways of doing business. His proposals would let existing companies make money without using the tremendous advantages of incumbency to eliminate new killer apps before they can threaten the status quo. Readers who want a fair intellectual marketplace would do well to absorb the lessons in The Future of Ideas." --Rob Lightner
A.C. posted on on the West Wing Television Without Pity Forum:
"While at The University of Chicago Law School, Prof. Lessig was co-director of The Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Eastern Europe."
Wayland Chang also sent us another link to Lessig's website: where he says,
"...The story is based (loosely) upon a true story. I was involved in the drafting of one early version of the Georgian constitution. But the story ended up in the West Wing because I told the story to my students in Constitutional Law at Harvard, and a current writer for the West Wing was in that class.

"And so is 'fame' made: My story is on the West Wing because I was.... teaching talented kids who would prove to be important. Indeed, so has the most important of my "fame" been made.... So is 'fame' made.

"...it captured beautifully the single most important thing that I learned from my years working on 'constitutionalism' in Eastern Europe: That 90% of the challenge is to build a culture that respects the rule of law, and that practices it. A document doesn't build that culture. And no one has a formula -- either for building it, or preserving it....

What book was Toby reading in "The Wake Up Call"?
Craig T. Fifer informs us Toby's book was Constitutional Choices by Laurence H. Tribe

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