20 Hours In America Part II

A day in the administration continues, a big drop for the Dow, a new secretary, a bombing, and three wayward staffers find their way home.


(Since this aired in conjunction with part 1, I don’t know how the commercials are going to shake out in re-runs. So, there’s no teaser, just 4 acts in this review.)


Act I:

Sam, Leo, and Jed watch the closing bell for the Market. The Dow has dropped 685 points, the largest point drop in history, and the 7th largest percentage drop. The TV reporter mentions that this started when the biggest hedge fund in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy before opening bell. Charlie interrupts the three to get Jed for his photo op with Mr. Muriel Keith, the guy who has shaken the hand of every president since Hoover.

Jed and Charlie go to the Mural Room where Keith is waiting. (He’s a creepy little man.) Jed tells him that Annie (his granddaughter) wants to know who Keith’s favorite president was. Jed jokes that he knows it’s him. Keith says nope, he preferred Truman. (Nobody seems to be getting Jed’s jokes today.) The photographer’s not quite ready, so they all make small talk. Jed asks about Keith meeting Hoover. Keith remembers it perfectly, it was his 9th birthday: October 23, 1929. Jed mentions that that was the day before The Great Depression started. He also tells Keith about the Market today, trying to minimize the gravity. Jed says he’s not worried, Tokyo will open soon and that’s going to be his "mother’s milk". (Okay.)

The photographer is ready and Jed poses with Keith, but stops the photographer before he takes the picture. Jed needs to speak with Charlie a moment.

Jed and Charlie move over to the window where they discuss whether or not Jed should go through with this. Jed’s being silly he knows, and he can’t believe he’s considering not doing this. Charlie is stunned that he’s considering having his picture taken with the mayor of "Shantytown." Charlie says that he’s not superstitious. He remarks that some South American tribes don’t think photography is a good idea to begin with. Charlie reminds Jed that there aren’t any pictures on Charlie’s desk. Jed tells Charlie not to tell anyone that they talked about this for a few minutes. Charlie tells Keith that they’ll have to re-schedule. When Keith asks why, Charlie and Jed both respond simultaneously.

Jed - "Just scheduling."

Charlie - "You’re spooking the hell out of the President."

CJ comes to Sam’s office and finds him sitting on the floor; it was the closest place to sit. After telling him that he’ll get his pants "schmutzy", CJ helps him up. (She’s obviously spending a lot oftime with Toby.) CJ explains about the Abbey "just mother" quote. They aren’t going to make a big deal of it. She asks Sam about being a Big Brother to Anthony. She knows he doesn’t have enough time. He wishes he could, but…. She says it’s okay and calls him "Schmutzy Pants" before leaving. Sam’s pretty sure he’s stuck with that name for a while. Ginger comes to the door and tells Sam that Josh is on the phone. Josh asks how the day is going. Sam tells him about Jed cutting him off from taking the blame that was rightfully his.

Josh - "Nothing’s not his fault in the Oval Office."

Sam wants to talk to Toby. They talk a little about Bryce. He asks Toby if Jed’s asking about remembering numbers and stuff is because Jed’s afraid of short term memory loss associated with the MS. Toby says yes. Does Sam need anything else? Sam wants him to come home.

In the jeep Josh starts in on Toby about his remark about bringing Jews in to handle money. He accuses Toby of acting as if he’s more Jewish than Josh, and putting Josh down because of it. Toby says that he’s from Brighton Beach and that the ancient Hebrews called Jews from Westport, "Presbyterians". Josh doesn’t think the anti-Semites make that distinction. Donna wants to know what they’re talking about. Toby says he’s sure that neither of them knows.

Tyler pulls into the train station. The train is about to leave. Josh thanks Tyler. Tyler tells Josh and Toby that people will think they’re cooler if they don’t say they are, but rather let people find it out for themselves. Josh wants to make sure they aren’t going to have any more trouble.

Tyler - "Josh, Toby, on my girlfriend’s life, your troubles end ninety-eight miles down that track."

Tyler points to his left. The train starts moving. To the right. (Uh, bye bye Kiki.)

Back at the White House Nancy "Ass-Kicking and Taking-Down-Names" McNally comes into the Sit Room to join Leo and Fitz. She calls Fitz "Yeoman Fitzwallace". She wants to attack. Leo wants to know who she wants to attack. Well, Qumar, of course. Leo asks why. Nancy’s had it with them. Fitz doesn’t think they can justify that to the UN.

Nancy - "That’s ‘cause you’re a sissy."

Nancy tells the men all the ways she wants to bomb Qumar and asks what’s the worst that could happen.

Fitz - "Well, 98% of all living organisms within a seven mile radius would die instantly in a torrent of fire."

Nancy - "Admiral Sissy-Mary."

She finally sits down and they discuss reality. Qumar is making noises about a phone call that couldn’t have happened. Nancy and Fitz fear that there is something worse than Qumar saying it was the U.S. Qumar could accuse another country.


Act II:

P 4:45 - President met with Sen. Shuler, Sen. Choate.

P 4:50 - President met with Ch. Lacey.

P 5:20 - President met with Deborah Fiderer

In the Oval Office Jed meets with the two senators about funding after-school programs. Jed says that the government can’t fund faith-based organizations. The senators are dismissed. Sam asks Jed about the secretarial interviews. Jed tells him how awful the two he had on the plane earlier were. Jed says that he’s seeing a crazy woman Charlie knows that afternoon. Jed wants to know about Josh and Toby. Sam says they’re on their way.

Jed - "300 I.Q. points between them, they can’t find their way home. I swear to God, if Donna wasn’t there they’d have to buy a house."

Jed goes back to discussing secretarial candidates and mentions that Charlie says Jed doesn’t want to hire one. Sam asks if that’s true. Jed doesn’t know because he’s a puzzle.

On the wrong-way train, Donna has figured out a new travel plan that involves getting off and going in the right direction.

Donna - "We’re not going to make the 6:15. That was a pipe dream. That was folly."

They can leave at 9:30 and have a layover in Chicago. The flight will probably be delayed by weather. Josh gets snappy with Donna about not having any information. He didn’t think the local paper’s accounts of the upcoming fair counts as news. Toby starts in on Josh about all the stupid things Ritchie has said. He complains that Ritchie hasn’t had an original thought. Josh and Toby argue a little more, while Donna looks out the window.

Josh - "I don’t know what gave you the impression I had to be convinced, but I want to win. You want to beat him, and that’s a problem for me. Because I want to win."

(We’ve finally hit the heart of the matter.)

At Charlie’s desk, Debbie Fiderer is waiting for her meeting with Jed. Charlie gives her some tips; "barbecuing" is code for private time for Jed and Abbey. (I didn’t so much need to know that.)

In the Oval, Jed is talking to some guy about the Dow. The guy says not to worry. The guy leaves and Debbie comes in for her interview. She and Sam know each other. Sam tells Jed some nice things and tells Debbie that he’s in her corner as he leaves. Jed and Debbie sit. Debbie recounts seeing something in Charlie, that’s why she sent him to Josh. Charlie had come into the wrong personnel office. Jed asks about who almost got the job. Debbie says that he’s testing her memory; it was David Dweck. Larry sticks his head in to tell Jed where the dollar is in comparison to the opening markets around the world, and then pops back out. Jed asks several times why Debbie was fired. She gives a lame answer, then refuses to tell him. Jed says his memory may not be great, but his powers of deduction are extraordinary; he’ll figure this out. Debbie makes a crack about that and Jed tells her that the interview is over.

Debbie - "But let’s do this every once in a while?"

Charlie escorts her out of the Oval to his area where Mr. McKittridge, the personnel guy, just happens to be standing. (What a coincidence.) McKittridge isn’t happy to see her. He gets short with Charlie as well. Jed bursts out of the Oval. He’s figured it out. In some (convoluted) way David Dweck is connected to McKittridge. McKittridge fired Debbie because David, the son of a bigwig, didn’t get the job he was told was his. McK (yeah, not typing that name anymore.) tells Jed that whatever Debbie said was wrong. Jed says he figured it out; she didn’t give McK up. Jed, disgusted, goes back into the Oval followed by Sam.

Sam asks if Debbie had a sense of humor, something sorely missing from the other candidates. Jed has Sam call the guards to have Debbie stopped at the gate. Jed jogs through the west wing with Charlie and some Secret Service guys. He finds her at the security desk.

Jed - "Debbie."

Debbie - "Yes, sir?"

Jed - "Where’s the dollar?"

Debbie - "I’m sorry, sir?"

Jed - "What’s the dollar doing right now?"

Debbie - "Oh. It’s down, .3% against the Yen, .4% against the Euro."

(Well, now we know why Larry came in during the interview.)

Jed looks to Charlie and points at Debbie. She’s the new secretary. Nancy, the assistant, snags Jed as he’s leaving and tells him that Abbey is back.

Jed - "Bring her on."


Act III:

P 8:25 - President attended DNC fundraiser at Capitol Hilton.

P 8:33 - Called-p-Sec. Berryhill, Sec. Hutchinson.

Jed enters his bedroom calling Abbey "Medea". He starts in on her about the "just a mother" quote. He’s teasing. Abbey says she’s so sorry, she’ll talk to the staff, this isn’t funny. When Jed is contrite, Abbey calls him a "jackass". She’s not upset about it; he needs to get off her back. Jed starts to get changed and mentions he hired a new secretary. Abbey thinks Debbie is great.

Jed - "She doesn’t scare you a little?"

Abbey - "She scares you?"

Jed - "No." (Well, he almost convinced me.)

Abbey is going to make fun of Jed while he gets ready after watching some of CJ’s briefing.

CJ is in the Press Room.

CJ - "The First lady loves two out of the three of her children. But, she doesn’t like to tell them which two."

CJ finishes up her briefing with a couple more things. She says she’ll see the reporters at the fundraiser and calls a "full lid". Carol stops her on the way out and CJ stops the reporters. She goes back to the podium and tells the press that there were two pipe bombs that exploded at a swim meet at Kennison State University with 3 other schools in attendance. 44 people are dead. About 100 are injured, 20 of them critically. They don’t have much information and CJ tells them that she has to listen in while she answers questions. She puts an earpiece in her ear and calls on three reporters.

Leo and Margaret head into Leo’s office. Apparently Leo had forgotten about the fundraiser; he would rather watch his cooking show that Margaret likens to soft porn. (Must have some recipes!) Leo notices CJ on the T.V. He tells Margaret to find out what happened. The image of CJ on the T.V. gets unfocused as "I Don’t Like Mondays" by Tori Amos starts to play.

(Here are some of the lines from that song, in case you’re unfamiliar with it:

"I don’t like Mondays.

I don’t like, I don’t like…

I want to shoot the whole place down.

Down. Down. Shoot it all down.

And all the playing’s stopped in the playground now.

She wants to play with her toys a while.

And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning.

And the lesson today is how to die.")

Josh, Toby, and Donna make their way out of the rain into a hotel somewhere. Donna asks for one room for about an hour. At the desk clerk’s look, Josh explains that their flight was delayed. They just want to dry off and watch the news. They had a paper at one point, but now it’s soaking wet. (Much like them.) Toby sees a television and heads for it entranced. Josh starts to tell Toby something about Tokyo when he catches sight of Toby and the T.V. Donna joins the two in silence in front of the T.V. On the screen we see a report of the bombing with a picture of body bags lying on the grass.

At the fundraiser Jed is near the end of his speech. Leo and Abbey are sitting at a table in front. Sam and Bruno are standing at the back on one side; CJ and Charlie are at the back on the other side.

Jed - "…securing peace in a time of global conflict, sustaining hope in this winter of anxiety and fear. More than any time in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek, nor did we provoke, an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect, nor did we invite, a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. Forty-four people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition, when after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. But, every time we think we’ve measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes. And we reach for the stars. God bless their memory. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."

Everyone stands applauding while our guys look touched and proud.

Bruno - "When did you write that last part?"

Sam - "In the car."

Bruno - "Freak."

A limo pulls up at the White House. CJ steps out and goes into the building. The song ends. Anthony is waiting just inside the door. He looks ticked. CJ apologizes for being late. She tells him a little about the bombing. He doesn’t seem to care. CJ looks sad and weary.

CJ - "You know, I really miss Simon too. That’s probably something we can talk about."

Anthony’s not interested. CJ says she tried to find someone for him but didn’t. She says she’s not done trying and she’ll take him home. She turns to head towards her office as Charlie walks by. Anthony mutters that he doesn’t need a babysitter. CJ didn’t hear and asks him what he said.

Anthony - "I said, I don’t need a babysitter, bitch. Are you deaf?"

Charlie comes roaring back and slams Anthony against the wall with his arm under Anthony’s neck.

Anthony - "Yo. What the hell’s the matter with you, dog?"

Charlie - "This is Ms. Cregg. She’s the White House Press Secretary and Senior Counsel to the President. And if she wasn’t, she’d still be Ms. Cregg. I don’t mind you not respecting people. I mind you doing it out loud. I mind you doing it in this building. You wanna be a punk? Fine. But, I don’t think you’ve got the size for it. You wanna go to Juvie, get out, deal, and kill cops? Okay. But every time you do a crime, you get caught. So, I think you’re gonna have to do something else. Nine o’clock on Saturday mornings I eat breakfast at Cosmos on Delaware. I come here for an hour and do office work. And then I go to St. Jude’s for an hour to play basketball. You can go to Juvie or you can be at Cosmos nine o’clock on Saturday morning. It’s entirely up to you."

Charlie walks away. CJ just looks stunned. (I can’t express the beauty with witch Allison Janney played this scene. She looked so vulnerable and desperate to connect with Anthony. And how much more could we love Charlie?!?)


Act IV:

Sam walks into his office taking off his bowtie. He is facing away from the door when a woman walks up. She says, "Schmutzy Pants". He turns slowly saying that he knows that voice. It’s Mallory. (For those who don’t remember, Mal is Leo’s daughter. We haven’t seen her since the mid- Season 2 episode "Galileo".) She was at the dinner although Sam didn’t see her. She just wanted to stop by and say that she liked the speech, and quotes a bit of it. Sam asks how New York is, but Mal broke up with hockey player. (I guess in the year we didn’t see her she moved to New York with him.) Sam says that’s awful; the worst news he’s heard. Of course, he’s smiling the whole time. Mallory had talked to her dad and asks how Sam liked staffing the President. Sam starts talking about the chaos theory, fractal geometry, and the beautiful patterns in randomness.

Sam - "I love Josh like a brother. And he’s a world-class political mind. But, until today, I didn’t know he was smarter than me."

Sam says that he had one good moment in the Oval today and tried to catch up the rest of the day. Sam thought it was the greatest and wants to "get back in there". (A little foreshadowing?) Sam’s exhausted, so Mal’s going to take him home. The walk out past Charlie and say goodnight.

Charlie gets back to his desk and sees a present. He opens it and looks moved. CJ comes to the door and says that the picture is from Deanna; she just put it in a frame. CJ says she’s had it in her desk for a while and kept forgetting to give it to him. CJ leaves as Charlie puts the picture on his desk. It’s a photograph of Charlie (at about 6-years-old) and his mom (in her police uniform). (I loved this. I love that we are getting to see a hint of the relationships these people have outside the White House.)

Josh and Toby are still arguing about the campaign. They are now sitting at a table with Donna in a bar somewhere that has a disco ball. Donna’s patience has finally snapped. She tells them that she’s had it.

Donna - "I am not kidding. I have such an impulse to knock your heads together. I can’t remember the last time I heard you two talk about anything other than how a campaign was playing in Washington. Cathy needed to take a second job so her dad could be covered by her insurance. She tried to tell you how bad things were for family farmers. You told her we already lost Indiana. You made fun of the fair. But, you didn’t see they have livestock exhibitions and give prizes for the biggest tomato and the best Heirloom apple. They’re proud of what they grow. Eight modes of transportation, the kindness of six strangers, random conversations with twelve more, and nobody brought up Bartlet versus Ritchie but you. I’m writing letters on your behalf to the parents of the kids who were killed today. Can I have the table please?"

Josh and Toby, duly chastened, get up and go to the bar. (Reading Donna’s speech doesn’t have nearly the same impact. When you read it, you can see errors; soy-diesel truck + jeep + train + the plane they have yet to get on = 8 modes of transportation? And I could be wrong, but wouldn’t the President not the Deputy Chief of Staff or Communications Director be sending the condolences? But, and it’s a big but, this speech, when seen, just slammed into me. I didn’t notice the errors until I started transcribing it.)

At the bar, Toby and Josh stand at opposite ends. Toby is near a man who starts up a conversation. His daughter is going to college and they just checked out Notre Dame. Toby says his boss went there. This guy starts talking about how expensive things are after saying he has a mutual fund to send his daughter to college. The drop in the Market certainly won’t help with that. He says that public education needs help; his son loves the piano, but there’s no music class at his school. He worries about having an accident and leaving his family out on a limb. He thinks that providing for his family should be hard; he likes it hard. But, it would help so much if it could be a little less hard. Toby is (uncharacteristically) at a loss for words. The guy realizes that he’s said all this without introducing himself.

Guy - "I’m Matt Kelley."

He shakes Toby’s hand as Josh gestures for Toby not to follow up on the bet.

Toby - "I’m Toby Zeigler." There is a long pause. "I work at the White House."

Matt’s surprised. Toby says he and Josh would like to buy him a beer if he has time to talk. Matt’s fairly impressed and agrees.

A 5:05 - President met with Mr. McGarry, Ch. Fitzwallace and Dr. McNally.

It’s still dark outside as Jed walks into the Oval from outside. He’s been in the Residence. He makes a comment about this being the "happy, fun" group. Leo tells him that within 48 hours, Qumar is going to announce that Israel shot down Shareef’s plane. Jed asks if Qumar can just make this stuff up. Nancy says they can as long as the U.S. doesn’t step up. Leo confirms that Qumar knows it was the U.S. Jed asks about options and if they should fess up.

Nancy - "I am, however, beginning to lean towards reducing our nuclear arsenal one at a time. If you know what I mean, sir."

Fitz - "Well, I’m with Dr. Strangelove on keeping our military secrets secret. But, Nancy and Leo and I think there’s a third option which, is to say it was us, but insulate you."

Jed points out that he signed a piece of paper. Fitz thinks they can get around that.

Jed - "You just hated my living guts when I got this job, didn’t you?"

Fitz - "No, sir."

Jed - "Yeah. You did. I didn’t know anything and I didn’t have any respect for the Chiefs. You became by counselor. And you wrangled the Chiefs. And you brought ‘em to me."

Fitz - "You got the Chiefs, sir. They respect you."

Jed - "You brought ‘em to me. And you talked Leo into Shareef and he talked me into it. It was my order and you executed it flawlessly. And I stand by it. I stand by you. I stand by you all. I stand by it until I die. Plus, I’m going to need some cellmates in Holland."

Jed wants to know what’s next. They head to the Sit Room.

The three lost little lambs are on a shuttle bus from the airport. Josh is pondering the soy-diesel truck and whether soy sauce would have helped. Donna is planning a long, hot bath when she gets home. Toby asks the driver to stop at the bridge. He can walk to work from there. Josh says he’ll get off too. Donna’s not too wild about the idea. Josh says she can be dropped off at home. Donna decides to go with the boys. The bus stops and they get off and start walking. It’s just pre-dawn, so there is a little light.

Toby - "If our job teaches us anything, it’s that we don’t know what the next President’s gonna face. And if we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas, who’s connected to other people’s lives, and cares about making them better… If we choose someone to inspire us, then we’ll be able to face what comes our way and achieve things… we can’t imagine yet. Instead of telling people who’s the most qualified, instead of telling people who’s got the better ideas; let’s make it obvious. It’s going to be hard."

Josh - "Then, we’ll do what’s hard."

We see their backs as they walk towards the White House, all lit up against the gray morning.

The End


I loved this episode. It started from the solid foundation of the first part and just kept building. There were some errors, and some heavy-handed emotional pulls. But, I got past them. Didn’t even notice some the first time around. Debbie Fiderer is so much better than when we last saw her. Mallory came back. Fitz and Nancy were together for the first time ever, and they rocked! We saw Charlie’s mom, and he kicked ass. CJ was trying so hard with that kid. And Jed’s speech at the fundraiser, though obvious, put tears in my eyes. (That may have had to do with the timing of this episode - two weeks after I saw the documentary of the firefighters rushing into the Twin Towers.) And Jed stepped up!

I laughed, I cried, I thanked God that the Wing was back. (Finally.) JanneyFan