20 Hours In America Part I
A day in the administration, a drop in the DOW, two interviews, three lost staffers, and a bake-off.
On a black screen the President’s schedule appears:
A 9:55 – Motorcade arrived at campaign site.
A 10:25 – President concluded campaign event. Motorcade departed for Unionville.
A 10:30 – Phone-r-Sec. Hutchinson.
The President is campaigning near a soybean field in Indiana. He tells the crowd that the Republicans are too invested in the oil companies to look for alternative fuels. The crowd seems to appreciate this. CJ asks Donna where Toby and Josh are. Apparently they are in the fields with the farmer’s daughter. CJ asks Donna to go get them because they are already behind schedule and will be leaving as soon as the President finishes.
In the field Josh and Cathy (the farmer’s daughter) are talking while Toby is grousing about Jed "stepping on" some part of the speech. Toby, we discover, is not allowed in Jed’s sight while he’s giving a speech if it’s one of Jed’s "high blood pressure" days. Toby is unable to conceal his displeasure when Jed screws up. (I found the idea that Toby has to hide for fear of raising Jed’s blood pressure a little unnerving. Isn’t the MS not supposed to affect his ability to govern?) Cathy is telling Josh how bad it is for farmers today. Josh says they can only do so much. Toby seems gruff and disinterested. Donna arrives to usher them to the motorcade. She’s a little jumpy. It seems when they were in Tennessee two guys got left behind, and Donna swears they were never heard from again. Cathy tries to get Josh more interested in the plight of the farmers, but he says they just don’t have the time. Toby seems to think that it doesn’t matter if they stay longer because Indiana is going to vote for Ritchie anyway. (I’m not real fond of Toby’s dismissive manner toward their host. I like "grumpy" Toby, but not "rude" Toby.) When they reach the stage area, they stop.
Donna – "Hang on…"
Josh – "Where is it?"
Josh asks some of the people leaving where the motorcade is. One helpful lady points to the road. Josh jumps up and down, waving his arms, and yelling "hey". But, to no avail. They have been left behind. (I guess they do have time to talk after all.)
Donna’s on the phone trying to get the trailer car (that would be the last car??) to pick them up when Josh comes up to her yelling that she should get off with whoever she’s talking to and get the trailer car to come get them. With some eye rolling, Donna informs him that that’s what she was doing. But, there is no trailer car.
Josh – "Good budget cut. Good item."
After discovering they are 110 miles from the closest cab, Cathy offers to take them to Unionville so they can catch up with Jed and the gang. And she’ll take them in Cap’s soy-diesel truck. Toby obsesses about the speech, while Donna obsesses about being left behind.
Donna – "Never heard from again, Josh."
Back at the White House Leo has Margaret bump some appointments including his meeting on Health and Fitness for the afternoon. He wants to talk to Jed when he can, but now he’s on his way to the Sit Room.
Margaret – "Speaking of health and fitness…"
Leo – "Oh merciful God!"
Margaret – "What did you have…"
Leo – "I had half a grapefruit."
Margaret – "Really?"
Leo – "You think I’m lying?"
Margaret – "No."
Leo – "Okay."
He starts to walk away from Margaret.
Margaret – "Yes."
Once in the Sit Room, Leo asks someone to get him a half a grapefruit. He starts the review of the "Quick Sheet", a brief run-through of foreign affairs. Among the things going on in the world, Qumar has re-opened the investigation into Shareef’s downed plane. Leo and Fitz exchange looks and the meeting moves on.
Ginger comes walking down a hall and sees Sam.
Ginger – "Whoa, whoa. You’re not supposed to be here." (But, Aaron really wants you to stay, Rob.)
Sam has not had a day off since the Convention and has been up for 2 days straight. Leo sees him and tells him to go home and sleep. Sam agrees.
A 11:15 – President arrived at Naval Warfare Center Crane and began his remarks. (Indiana has an ocean?)
P 12:55 – Motorcade proceeded to Reynold’s Air Force Base. President boarded AF-1.
P 12:57 – Wheels up.
(I gotta say that having the schedule in past tense before I saw it happen on the screen was a little annoying.)
As Jed et al. head for the stage, Bruno (who is apparently along for this trip) tells CJ that Jed should say some campaign stuff here. CJ says he won’t, but Bruno isn’t satisfied. He tells Jed, who informs Bruno that it’s illegal to campaign on military bases. (And a campaign manager wouldn’t know that?) Bruno tells Jed he could still say all these things and just wink. (Yeah, that would look cool and very Commander-In-Chiefish.) CJ has also informed Jed that the DOW is down 270 points, and it’s still early. Jed starts his speech.
Cathy is driving the truck with Donna in the passenger seat. Toby, Josh, and Cap are in the pickup bed. Cap explains how easy it is to convert a diesel truck to use soy fuel (if you’re some kind of mechanic). Josh then sticks his foot in his mouth by making an incredibly lame statement about Cathy being wholesome but not excessively then discovers that Cap is in fact Cathy’s boyfriend. (Yeah, didn’t see that coming.)
Back at the Naval Center Jed is winding up his speech. (I would quote it, but I can’t bring myself to do it. It was so pandering.) Basically he says that he can tell his grandchildren that he put someone on the Supreme Court and that he’s met these fine sailors. (Ugh!) As a choir starts playing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", Jed talks to Leo on the cell phone, says that the Market will rebound, and learns of the Qumari investigation. Jed ends the call and walks toward the motorcade.
Choir – "His truth is marching on."
In the soy pickup Cathy tells Donna about having a second job for the benefits. Then she runs out of gas. Actually, diesel – Cap keeps pointing out it’s diesel not gas. No one else seems to care. It’s 10 miles to the closest diesel, so Donna figures out that they will leave for a gas station closer by to be picked up by a campaign volunteer and head for the Air Base, they’ve missed the Unionville stop. Cap and Cathy get picked up by a guy in another truck who will take them back to the farm for diesel. The other guy makes a point of letting Josh know that he didn’t vote for Bartlet last time, and he doesn’t plan to this time. As Cathy and Cap leave, Josh delights in "roughing it."
Back at the White House Leo has a meeting with Fitz (love, love, love him!). Fitz had to wait a bit to get in because Margaret was telling Leo that there were some women at a speech Abbey was giving in Madison that were wearing aprons and carrying rolling pins. Neither seems to know why. When Fitz finally gets in he assures Leo that their tracks are covered. Apparently Shareef’s plane was dismantled into 27 parts and scattered in the Bermuda Triangle. Leo thought the Bermuda Triangle was a myth and Fitz sets him straight. Leo seems comforted a bit but asks what would happen if they did get caught. Fitz doesn’t know what would happen to Leo and himself, but says Jed would probably have to face charges at The Hague. Leo suggests that Jed not go. Fitz says that maybe Leo would like to change his mind about the international War Crimes Tribunal. (Great continuity from last season!)
Leo – "Perhaps this would be a good time for you to…"
Fitz – "…Get out of your office."
P 1:20 – President met with Mrs. Walker.
P 1:40 – President met with Mrs. Harrison.
On Air Force One CJ is briefing the press corps. She tells them that they can add something else to the running list of things that Ritchie isn’t – a scientist. He has been saying things like: "I’m no… but I do know…". On the list so far this week are doctor, mind reader, and Chinese. (Really, the last one was hard to tell.) She’s asked by one of the reporters about the women in aprons and rolling pins. CJ doesn’t know and asks the reporter to find out about it. (Because the reporters work for her now.)
Jed finishes up a meeting with Ed and Larry. Charlie brings in Mrs. Walker, a candidate for Mrs. L.’s job. She is older and seems a little frosty. Jed asks her about Air Force One. She’s not impressed. In fact she is rarely impressed. (How do you like her chances so far?) Jed continues the interview.
The three musketeers arrive at the gas station. Josh goes in to tell the owner that they’ll be waiting outside to be picked up. This guy tells Josh that he didn’t vote for Jed the last time, and he’s not planning to this time. (Indiana doesn’t seem too fond of Jed.) Back outside Josh starts a bet with Toby that involves throwing rocks into a metal barrel. While they’re throwing, Toby asks Josh about the speech. Josh is non-committal and Toby wants to know what his problem is. Josh doesn’t want it to be a high blood pressure day for him. Toby loses and has to say "I work at the White House" every time he says his name for the rest of the day.
Josh, Toby, and Donna are riding in a jeep with Tyler a high school campaign volunteer. Tyler seems to like Jed, but most of his friends are for Ritchie. Toby and Josh start to argue about the direction of the campaign. Josh wants to know when the campaign became about being the smartest kid in the class.
Josh – "What meeting did I miss?"
Tyler pulls the jeep over to speak to Kiki (yeah, I couldn’t believe it either) who is with two other girls. Tyler wants to now why Kiki isn’t returning his calls. She explains, with help from the other girls, that Tyler should stop calling her; he’s beginning to act like a stalker. Kiki says Tyler’s better than that. Donna doesn’t seem to think so. Josh tells her to go get involved. Donna goes to the group and says she’s sorry to interrupt. One of the girls tells her that they know who she and the boys are. You see, the girls aren’t "rednecks". (Okay.) Donna introduces herself anyway, as does Josh. Toby reluctantly does as well, including that he works at the White House. The same girl makes fun of him. Josh tries to defend Toby.
Dumb girl – "How many unborn babies did you guys kill today?"
Josh – "Whoa. Hey, danger Will Robinson."
(I have no idea where the unborn baby thing came from. But, I thought it was a ridiculous line that had nothing to do with anything going on. Not that I understood why we had to meet Kiki and her friends in the first place.)
Josh tells Tyler that they don’t have time for this, the plane leaves in 15 minutes at 1:00 pm. The girls want to know if Josh is dumb. Seems it’s 1:45pm. There’s some crazy non-Daylight Saving Time section there in Indiana and they crossed into it. They missed the plane. Josh and Toby scream over each other about the ridiculousness of the situation. Toby thinks it’s a "shmuck-ass system". Donna sends the girls on their way and says that she and Tyler need to figure out how to get to a commercial airport. Her guys need some time.
Back on the plane, CJ is sitting on a table in a conference room looking pensive. Charlie comes in because she had wanted to speak to him earlier. Seems that Anthony, Simon’s little brother, stole a car for a few hours. The ADA isn’t happy; Anthony was in trouble before he hooked up with Simon. He’s headed for Juvenile hall unless CJ can find a new Big Brother for him at the White House. (Pretty implausible, if you ask me.) Charlie’s a pretty busy guy, he’s sorry but he can’t. He does let us know that his sister is now in college. CJ understands. She has more people on her list. Charlie wants to make sure they don’t all look like him. CJ says that Sam is next on the list.
In D.C., Sam is in bed asleep. His phone rings and the answering machine comes on.
Message – "I’m sleeping for a few hours right now so you can leave a message. Or, if you really need me, you can shout into the machine and I’ll wake up." Beep.
Josh – "SAAAM!!!!"
Sam falls out of bed knocking the phone and a lamp to the floor. When he finally finds the phone he says he’s sorry for taking so long to find the receiver. Josh is sorry too. He’s about to ask Sam something hard. Since Josh is stuck in Indiana, Sam is going to have to staff the President for the rest of the day. Sam doesn’t know how to do that. Josh tells him that he has to talk to Jed about why all his meetings connect to each other. Sam has to be his "wide-angle lens". Sam says that he won’t know about a lot of stuff. Josh welcomes him to the club. Sam promises not to let Josh down.
Josh – "You never do."
Once they hang up, Sam has to tell himself to get dressed.
Josh says it’s time to get to the train station that will get them to the airport. As they head back to the jeep, Tyler asks Toby if he’s ever loved someone so much that it physically hurt.
Toby – "Get in the car."
Up in the air, Jed is interviewing Mrs. Harrison. She is also pretty cold. But this one has decided to be overtly superior to Jed. (Because a secretary has much more power than the President.) She tells Jed he can do exercises to improve his memory. Then she tells a joke about France that Jed didn’t get. (I lived in France for a while, and even I didn’t get the joke.) She tries to explain, but Jed says they’re done. She says she looks forward to hearing from Personnel. (Don’t hold your breath.)
Charlie lets Bruno in as Mrs. Harrison leaves. Bruno has good news, which is rare this day because the Market is now down 425 points. Bruno tells Jed that he’s well ahead in almost every poll. The one that he’s only got a 1-point lead in is crucial. It’s CNN/USA Today/Gallup. They poll likely voters as opposed to registered voters. (The race is close, get it?) Bruno’s not too worried. They have the debates and 6 weeks yet. Jed takes his leave.
CJ catches Bruno in the corridor and explains to him about the apron/rolling pin brigade. During a radio talk show the day before, Abbey was asked about the suspension of her medical license. Abbey’s response was that now she’s "just a wife and mother". (Did Hillary teach her nothing?) So far, she’s been called a liberal, elitist feminist. Also, Janet Ritchie went on record, something she hasn’t done before.
Quote from Janet – "Being a wife and mother are the most rewarding roles I’ve ever played. I think Abbey Bartlet and I have two different ambitions."
Bruno says that Janet used the magic word – ambition. CJ says it’s waiting for them on the ground. Bruno suggests staying up in the air. Bruno says that he loves when "the women get involved". (As opposed to staying at home baking cookies?) CJ doesn’t say anything in response.
P 3:30 – President met with Secretary Bryce. Joined by Messrs. Wendel, Lee, Aldee and Stanislaus and Ms. Wissinger.
P 3:35 – President met with Mr. Lien. Joined by Mr. McGarry.
P 3:45 – Photo op with Mr. Keith (Re-scheduled).
Ginger and Sam are walking down the hallway, while Ginger is telling Sam about the appointments Jed has for the afternoon. She reiterates the printed schedule we just saw, but adds that Mr. Keith is a guy who has shaken hands with every president since Hoover.
Sam – "Do we have some sort of condensed… Reader’s Digest Index… of, well all human knowledge?"
Ginger – "We usually just use Margaret."
Ginger leaves Sam as Bruno comes up. Sam mentions the rolling pins at Abbey’s speech and asks about the reason. Bruno says that Abbey’s a lesbian. (Does Jed know?)
Bruno goes into the Roosevelt Room. CJ immediately asks what Bruno meant on the plane. Bruno says it’s not the candidates’ wives he was talking about. It was women voters, who consistently bring to a campaign the biggest nonsense issue. (You think he’s talking about education, health care, or social services?) When Bruno expands his reasoning, CJ points out that it’s not a woman’s issue; it’s a dumb woman’s issue. (Yeah, I got nothing here.) Then Bruno says something about the guy in the lead not controlling the agenda because he’s reading about getting over his fear of commitment. CJ needs to mention that to South Africa. Bruno says that in the scheme of things it only took them 5 minutes. (If you understood any of this, let me know. I watched this scene several times and couldn’t connect it to anything. Maybe Sam’s free to staff me?)
CJ – "Several of the men I’ve dated haven’t yet gotten over their fear of frogs." (Who the hell has she been dating? Funny, but Toby doesn’t seem the type to fear amphibians.)
They start the meeting about the rolling pins. Someone is getting them tape on it. A staffer suggests making a joke out of it, but CJ thinks that the rolling pins took care of it. CJ asks Carol to remind her to bring Josh in on this one.
In Indiana, Tyler stops at a diner so they can all get something to eat on the way to the train. Josh reminds them that they are in a hurry and they’ll get the food to go. Donna gets a paper and Josh mentions that it’s Monday. Donna asks why he said it, he has no reason. It was just something to say. Inside Toby is at the counter with the owner’s wife. He asks what the specialty is a couple ways, but she’s not interested. She doesn’t want trouble. Apparently, Tyler brings in fliers and that’s trouble. Toby assures her that there won’t be trouble, and then asks again for a recommendation. She goes to get her husband to deal with Toby the troublemaker. While she’s gone Toby asks the other guy at the counter if he can switch to CNN. This guy says that they only have 3 channels and they’re fuzzy today. That means there will be "weather". The owner comes out asking Toby what his problem is. Toby says he just wanted to know what was good. This interests the owner. Toby says they’ll take 4 cheeseburgers. The owner says the dry rub is good, and BBQ sauce is a myth. Toby thinks that sounds good but can’t resist telling the wife that this was what he was asking about. She huffs off, her husband says she’s been in a bad mood for45 years.
At a table, Donna explains that when Josh made his comment outside she thought of the song "I don’t like Mondays". She just found out that the song was written after a girl shot up her school and gave her reason: she didn’t like Mondays. Josh knew all this and kind of brushes Donna off. Toby arrives and Josh starts in about campaign tactics. Josh thinks Ritchie’s strategy is saying that Nobel Prize winners are good, and if elected he’ll hire some, since he certainly isn’t one.
Toby – "Should be what he’s saying. What he’s saying is: ‘Eastern education isn’t for real men. But, don’t worry, I’ll have Jews for the money stuff.’"
Toby asks Donna to call CJ. Josh starts in on the "smartest kid in the class" thing again, saying most people didn’t like the smartest kid.
Toby – "Yeah?"
Josh – "I don’t care how subliminal it is. This can’t be a national therapy session."
CJ’s on the phone. Toby says hello, but doesn’t get the chance to say anything else. Before she forgets, CJ wants Toby to have Josh stop by her office if Toby sees him. Toby puts the open phone on the table. Josh asks what’s going on as CJ can be heard calling Toby’s name. Toby tells Josh that CJ wants him to stop by her office. Josh gets on the phone and asks if she noticed that he, Toby, and Donna weren’t on the plane. She didn’t. She wants to know what happened at Unionville. When Josh tells her that they weren’t there either she realizes that they missed the motorcade. CJ thinks that’s a bummer. The wife calls out that their dry rub is up.
CJ – "I love dry rub! They take the meat, and…"
We don’t get to hear the rest because Josh has hung up on CJ.
In the Oval Office, Sam is waiting as Jed walks in. Jed’s upset about an article in the paper about an assistant telling about Seth Weinberger having an affair. The guy had stepped down two months ago. Secretary Bryce and his entourage come in. Larry tells Sam where to stand. Bryce starts to complain about something. Sam breaks in to take the blame, but Jed cuts him off and tells Bryce that he knows what Bryce is talking about. They disagree on exempting developing nations from greenhouse emission standards.
Jed – "And I think what’s lunacy is a nation of SUVs telling a nation of bicycles that they have to change the way they’ll live before we’ll agree to do something about greenhouse emissions."
Somebody’s just won a bet as Ed confirms that it was "47 seconds". (I guess the pool is on how long before Jed snaps.) Bryce tells Jed he’s losing some of the business community. Jed tells him it’s job to find support, not to tell Jed when it’s lost. Bryce understands, and he and the group leave.
Jed asks Larry (we know it’s Larry because he corrects Jed after being called Ed) if he saw the thing about Weinberger. He has.
Jed – "I don’t think a lot of blind loyalty, but I think a lot less of blind betrayal."
Newly made Congressman Peter Lien comes in. Jed sends for Leo. Peter’s parents brought him to America in 1974. Both Peter and Jed think they did so that Peter could live in a country where he could become a congressman. Leo arrives and apologizes that it’s taken 2 months for this meet and greet photo op. Peter knows it’s a busy time and offers any help he can in Texas. Jed asks if Peter knows his biggest responsibility. He does.
Peter – "It’s my district, my country, and the Congress of the United States."
They take pictures and Peter leaves. Leo remains to talk to Jed.
Jed – "Isn’t that a hell of a thing? What’s next?"
I’m ending this at what I think is the end of Part I. I’m doing separate reviews for each part because they won’t air together in re-runs.
I liked this episode. I enjoyed seeing the details of the day. I was pleased with continuity: Leo and the War Crimes issue and Simon’s little brother. The three lost staffers bring some comedy. And you can’t go wrong with Fitz and Bruno in an episode. Overall, it’s a solid episode.
This isn’t as strong as Part II. But, it stands its ground and makes a good lead-in. I saw some things that didn’t fit (Bruno and CJ talking about South Africa and frogs) and some that weren’t plausible (nobody noticed the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Communications Director missing). But, I’ll forgive these errors because the show seems back on track. But would it have killed them to tell us who CJ’s stalker was? JanneyFan