A plan for Qumar, a tax deduction for college, a surprise for the debates, and a rock concert.
Plus – a dream come true for continuity fans.
Jed, Leo, and Fitzwallace enter the Situation Room immediately following the end of 20 Hours In America. Jed explains that Nancy is in her office making calls that he requested. (Thank you for not thinking we would forget she was with them on the way to the Sit Room.) Jed says that this situation is somber and serious, but he wants them to know he’s never been in a street gang before. And, they are a well-financed gang.
Jed – "…It feels good. And I think when we’re done with this meeting, I think we should go out and get girls and, I don’t know, maybe knock over a fruit stand or something."
Leo – "Okay."
Jed – "We’re going to need to learn to sing and dance."
The military guys are discussing the fact that Qumar wants to blame Israel for Shareef’s death. Jed gets a note and tells the group that Josh and Toby are walking into D.C. now. The military guys continue to discuss Qumar; they’re calling our bluff. Jed seems fixated on Toby and Josh. Leo seems annoyed. Jed says he won’t get a cool gang nickname. Jed tells a little story; he’s serious about this. Jed tells Leo that they will need a lawyer. (I don’t know what was up with Jed in the Sit Room. He said he was serious, but he didn’t really contribute anything, ya know, relevant to the meeting.)
Air Force One is on it’s way to East Lansing where Jed is going to give a speech. CJ is in the press area. She’s disappointed that only four reporters knew how to spell a name. (So, Carol’s not the only one?) CJ answers questions about the upcoming speech and the pipe bombing at Kennison State University. Steve asks about Josh and Toby; are they still stuck in Indiana? CJ says they’re home and on vacation, for four hours. CJ leaves the press area and Bruno catches her in the corridor. Ritchie said that Title IX should be reexamined. Bruno doesn’t have an opinion on this; he has only so much room in his brain and he doesn’t care about Purdue’s fencing team.
Bruno leaves CJ and heads for Sam and Debbie. She’s introduced, but just stares at Bruno. He asks Sam about a case ruling that is coming today. It’s a lawsuit Sam says 500 people file every four years trying to get their candidates into the traditionally Democrat/Republican debates. Sam says these cases never go anywhere.
Bruno – "Fiderer’s a funny name." (A long pause ensues.) "It’s not ha-ha funny, it’s just, you know… okay."
When Debbie doesn’t respond, Bruno leaves. Sam tells an aide to follow this particular case, Sullivan, all day. Sullivan, it seems, wants Senator Howard Stackhouse to participate in the debates. (More continuity! I loved that old guy.) Debbie thought he was endorsing Jed.
Sam – "He is. He will."
Sam says it would be bad if Stackhouse was in the debate. But, even if he can get in, Sam says he won’t do it. Stackhouse isn’t trying to hurt the President. Sam and Debbie walk the plane as he tells her about her day. Josh will give her briefings on security and ethics. Charlie will also tell her some things. Debbie has provisional security now, pending different background checks. Debbie points out that she’s worked in the White House before and didn’t have to get this many security clearances. Sam reminds her that this isn’t her old job. Now, she’ll have a crash button on her phone that she’s to use if someone tries to take the Oval Office. CJ pops her head out of a conference room and says that they need Sam. Sam goes in.
Bruno, CJ, Larry, Sam, and Jed discuss the speech. Jed is supposed to discuss education. He can’t not mention the pipe bombing at KSU. Bruno thinks they should dump the speech they have and start over. Jed asks Sam to work on it. Jed goes to his office to call Leo.
Back at the White House Leo comes to the entrance to greet Jordan Kendall. (Even more continuity! I really like her too.) He compliments her and makes fun of her. Seems Jordan responded to this invitation with an email that described this meeting as "cloak and dagger". Leo says that’s ridiculous, but her office would be too public. They’ll just go somewhere quiet to talk: the Sit Room. Jordan’s not sure she’s allowed to be in there. Leo reassures her by having someone put up a nuclear attack scenario on the big screen. He shows Jordan how her hometown, Lincoln, Nebraska, would fare in a first strike from China and North Korea. (Leo really knows how to show a girl a good time.)
Leo – "Look at that. Lincoln survives the first of the… ahh. No, not so much."
Leo says Jordan can’t discuss this at all. She doesn’t remember hearing about Shareef’s plane going down, so Leo tells her about it. He tells her Qumar’s plan to bring forth phony evidence accusing Israel. Jordan doesn’t understand how he knows the evidence is fake.
Leo – "Jordan, we know any evidence of assassination is manufactured."
Jordan – "How?"
Leo – "’Cause we destroyed all the evidence."
Jed calls Leo as he’s going in to give his speech. Leo tells him that he’s with Jordan. Jed’s going to get a briefing from Casper and then send him to Leo. Leo asks about the speech. Jed’s not sure what he’ll say, but he has two minutes. They hang up.
Casper gives Jed the note from the pipe bomber or his group. The bomber isn’t well educated, but English is his first language. The note says there will be more bombings within 48 hours. They guy didn’t make demands. This isn’t a threat; it’s an announcement.
Jed asks Bruno and Sam for the new speech. They give him some ideas, but Jed decides he’ll just talk. As he’s walking to the podium, Sam throws him a line.
Sam – "Joy cometh in the morning."
Jed starts the speech with Sam’s quote from the bible. He talks about Kennison State, evil in the world, and problems our schools face.
Jed – "We’re not doing nearly enough. Not nearly enough."
In the Sit Room, Leo is giving his lunch order to Margaret over the phone. Jordan wants to know why Leo told her about Shareef. He was ordered to by the President. He has Jordan’s file put up on the big screen. Leo likes her smile in the photo displayed. (Leo gets the biggest grin on his face when Jordan’s picture comes up.) Leo shows her her own work history: international law, various positions at the United Nations, and partner in her law firm. She’s been involved in a lot of high-profile cases. (The screen that shows this has some of her clients listed. The first is Leo McGarry. I liked that touch.) Jordan says she doesn’t have any experience with this.
Leo – "Nobody does."
Margaret interrupts over the speaker to tell Leo that the decision in district court has come in and it’s not what Leo thinks. Leo instructs Margaret to come down and escort Jordan out.
Toby arrives at the White House and meets up with Josh. They both want to talk to the other. Josh tells Toby about a newspaper article today that discusses tax deductions for corporate bonuses. He reminds Toby about Matt Kelley, the guy from the bar last night. They could make college easier. What about tax deductions for college tuition? Toby didn’t need the reminder. He had the exact same thought. Josh doubts that, so Toby shows him the newspaper article, over which he has written, "We can make college cheaper!"
Josh goes off to see if he can get time with Leo. He’s stopped in the hallway by Donna, who has just arrived. Donna tells Josh about his schedule for the day, including a Rock The Vote event in Boston. Donna tells him who will be performing. The President’s group is back from East Lansing. Donna jumps up and down, waving her arms. She yells that they are back. Josh says that everybody is over them being lost. CJ enters the building.
CJ – "Admiral Scott, your expedition’s returned. Let me take a look at you, Don Quixote of La Mancha."
Josh – "Don Quixote wasn’t an explorer."
CJ – "No, but he rode around on a horse. You sleep?"
Josh – "I did better than that."
CJ – "Well, keep it to yourself."
CJ needs Josh to weigh in on Ritchie and Title IX. No problem, Josh has already written a memo. CJ goes to her office and Josh goes down the hall. He meets up with Toby and tells him that everyone’s back.
Toby – "They being funny?"
Josh – "I think it’s over."
Bruno comes walking up to them at the same time Donna appears.
Bruno – "Barnum, Bailey, and their sister Sue."
Josh – "They’re almost over it."
Josh tells Bruno that they want to talk about a new issue for the campaign. Bruno reminds them of the court decision coming today. He doesn’t trust the judge; Bruno thinks he’s crazy. (Well, that’s saying something.) Sam joins them; he’s glad they’re home. Everyone tells Bruno not to worry about the decision. Bruno says how impressed he was with Jed’s off-the-cuff speech that morning as Leo comes up to the group. Leo tells them that the court ruled for Sullivan, the debates are open.
Bruno, Leo, Toby, Josh, Ed, and Larry are in the Roosevelt Room. CJ enters and reads the court ruling aloud.
CJ – "’The 15% rule benefiting the two major parties is partisan politics of the worst kind. Regulatory duopoly. Democracy by favoristic fiat. A bureaucratic junta that is clearly prohibited under federal law.’"
Toby – "There’s no way ‘favoristic’’s a word."
(My spell check agrees with Toby. Are we sure Ritchie didn’t say it?)
Sam agrees about the language but say that’s not reason enough for the decision to be overturned. Now, anyone can get into the debates. CJ supposes that they’ll have to let the Republicans in as well. Leo says that they don’t have time for an appeals process; they’ll have to go directly to the Supreme Court. The meeting disperses.
Josh and Toby tell Sam about their college tuition tax deduction plan. He thinks it’s a great idea. And, Sam has ideas for how to pay for it. They’ve ended up in Sam’s office where CJ finds them. She wants to talk to Josh about his Title IX memo.
Josh and CJ leave Sam’s office. Josh thinks that a 50/50 split for sports programs is silly when more men are interested in sports than women. CJ recommends that Josh touch base with Stackhouse as a courtesy. He agrees. As Josh leaves CJ at her office she tells him that since Title IX was instituted, participation in women’s sports has gone up 800%. It’s working.
Charlie meets Debbie in the Mural Room. She says that her day has been very exciting. Charlie wants to discuss her answers on the security form she filled out three years ago. In it, she answered that she belonged to a group who supported the violent overthrow of the government. She says she did it to point out how lame the form is. She thinks the questions should be more subtle.
Debbie – "Is this gonna screw me up?"
Charlie – "Not this probably as much as when you suggested killing the President."
Debbie says that she didn’t. Charlie quotes her as saying that someone should put arsenic in the President’s water and see how much he delegates to the World Bank then. Debbie tries a little joke, but Charlie’s not amused. Debbie wrote a letter about Jed’s decision to leave a problem in Bangladesh (millions of people drinking contaminated water) to the World Bank. She says that it was just a letter. Charlie says it was a threat; she thinks that’s ridiculous.
Charlie – "I’m not being ridiculous, Debbie. I was, however, four feet away from him when the guns started firing."
Debbie – "I know. I, uh… uh, apologize. Who can I talk to? I want this job, Charlie. I didn’t before, and I do now. Who can I talk to?"
Charlie will find out. Through the door we see Jed and CJ coming down the hall towards the Oval.
CJ tells Jed that Ritchie is trying to wrangle an invitation to speak at the KSU memorial service where Jed has already accepted an invitation to speak. Jed is disgusted. By the time they reach his office, Jed has told CJ to talk to KSU’s chancellor. If it’s easier for him, Jed will sit in the 19th row and not speak, and CJ will keep the press out. This shouldn’t be about politics; it should be about the students and families.
Leo and Fitz are waiting in the Oval.
Fitz – "Good afternoon, Mr. President. Claudia Jean."
CJ – "Sailor."
Leo – "In the Oval Office, you’re really gonna…"
CJ – "I know."
(You gotta love a girl who can flirt with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the Oval Office, and in front of the President.)
CJ leaves. Jed asks about Jordan. Leo thinks he can probably get another date with her. Seriously, she went home to think about it. They need to stall. Leo and Fitz think they should wage a misinformation campaign that Shareef’s alive in Libya. He faked his death to overthrow the Sultan and install a military regime. Fitz leaves as Charlie announces Special Agent Casper. They’re on the trail of the Liberation Cause, a splinter group of the Patriot Brotherhood. They have good leads. Jed says that pipe bombs usually only kill two or three people and wants to know why so many were killed at Kennison State. The bombs went off inside, causing a huge fire. Casper leaves. Jed’s concerned about the impending attacks, but Leo assures them that have good leads. Leo goes to his office. Jed asks Charlie to get all three of his daughters on the phone.
The Barenaked Ladies are performing "One Week" at the House of Blues in Boston. Josh and Toby are sitting, drinking beer. Josh says that he tried calling Stackhouse a couple of times, but there’s been no response to his messages. Toby is using Matt Kelley’s income as an example of how much the tuition tax deductions would help. Matt would save about $10,000 a year. Josh checks that they’ll be making the books tax deductible too.
Toby – "Personally think that beer should be tax deductible, but we’ll live to fight another day."
They’ll discuss this with CJ when she’s done. Barenaked Ladies finish their song.
CJ – "Barenaked Ladies helping out in the labor/delivery room of American democracy: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Whoo! Twenty-five years ago half of all 18-24 year-olds voted. Today it’s 25%. 18-24 year-olds represent 33% of the population, but only account for 7% of the voters. Think government isn’t about you? How many of you have student loans to pay? How many have credit card debt? How many want clean air and clean water and civil liberties? How many want jobs? How many want kids? How many want their kids to go to good schools and walk on safe streets? Decisions are made by those who show up. You’ve gotta rock the vote."
(CJ brought the "decisions" line. What more could you ask for?)
Back in Washington, Leo and Jed are outside walking from the Residence to the Oval. They are met outside by Casper who has information. He tells them that they’ve tracked down the suspects. These guys were buying a lot of allergy medicine. Casper explains that allergy medicine and tractor starter fluid when poured through a coffee filter is methamphetamine.
Jed – "Tractor starter fluid doesn’t kill you?"
Casper – "No. It’ll definitely kill you. But first, you’ll get pretty high."
Sheriff’s deputies have surrounded the house where these guys are. These are definitely the pipe bombers. They guys inside the house admit to it. They also have weapons and have already shot at the police officers. There are children inside the house, as well. Jed tells Casper that nobody goes in until he gives the order. Jed and Leo go into the Oval Office where Fitz is waiting. (Waco, anyone?)
Jed – "Allergy medicine and tractor fluid we’re getting high on now."
Fitz – "All right. You guys getting strippers or something?"
Fitz lays out the final plan for faking Shareef’s being alive. Jed says to make sure that no misinformation is given to the American press; they only get misinformation about Jed’s medical history. (The strippers comment was funny. This not so much.) Jed gives the go ahead and Fitz leaves.
Jed and Leo go to Leo’s office where Jordan is waiting. She’s still not sure about all this. Jordan lays out some of the possibilities including the President being tried for War Crimes internationally. This is unprecedented. Jordan has defended guilty clients before; but never one who admitted culpability and still expected that there would be no penalty.
Jordan – "How can justice that has to be served in secret, be justice?"
Jed – "I don’t know. I’m working on that."
Jordan’s having problems seeing possible outcomes because most of the international law doesn’t exist yet. Jed says he just wanted to say hello. He goes back to the Oval alone.
Charlie brings Debbie in before Jed heads to the residence. Debbie apologizes. They argue a little about the World Bank thing. Jed says not to worry though; she can keep the job. She wants to know why. Jed says she knocked him out because when writing an angry letter condemning Jed’s policy she showed respect for him and for the office.
Jed – "You’re a class act."
Debbie – "Thank you, Mr. President."
Jed – "Whack job."
Jed heads for the Residence while Debbie does a little dance in the Oval Office.
Back at House of Blues, Aimee Mann starts singing, "Shed a Little light". (For those not familiar with the song, I’m adding a few of the lyrics now.)
"Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King,
And recognize that there are ties between us.
All men and women,
Living on the earth.
Ties of hope and love,
Sister and brotherhood.
And we are bound together
By our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children can grow free and strong."
Donna and Josh are talking about Title IX. Donna says that the problem is football. They have over 100 hundred players and something like 80 scholarships. She thinks if they took away just 15 scholarships, a school could have a wrestling team. Josh excuses himself because he sees Amy across the room.
Josh meets up with her in the middle of the crowd. He didn’t know that she would be there. She does some work for Rock The Vote. She says she heard that he got left behind in Indiana. Josh mentions that Stackhouse hasn’t returned any of his calls. Amy tells him that she has been offered to do debate-prep for him. Stackhouse is getting in the game. Josh is unhappy; this wasn’t part of their deal. Josh walks off and doesn’t hear Amy say that she misses him. (So, it’s been a rough summer for this couple. They obviously haven’t spent too much time together or Josh would know where Amy would be. I wish I could say that I’m sorry to see things aren’t going smoothly… but I’m not. Not even close.)
Sam and Toby are talking to CJ about the college tax deductions. Josh joins the table and tells them that if the Supreme Court upholds the Sullivan decision that Stackhouse will be in the debates. Josh gets up to go call Bruno. CJ tells the boys some possible negatives to their tuition plan. Toby recounts meeting Matt Kelley.
Toby – "There are a lot of reasons not to do it. But, during the first campaign, the President said there were two kinds of politicians…"
Sam – "The ones who try to say ‘yes’, and the ones who try to say ‘no’."
Toby – "And we’re gonna throw these guys out ‘cause they wanna say ‘no’."
CJ – "Well, I guess if we’re gonna get thrown out, I don’t want it to be for that. Let’s take it to Leo."
Toby gets up to make a phone call to a bewildered Matt Kelley while Aimee Mann winds down the song.
Toby – "Now lemme tell you what we’re working on."
I thought this was a great episode. It had lots of humor. And it seemed to fly by, a sure sign that there are no "slow" parts. Were there problems? Of course. In real life, Debbie wouldn’t be allowed 100 feet from the President. And Toby wouldn’t call some guy he met in a bar to discuss campaign plans. Was I bothered by these "lapses of reality"? Not at all. The only thing in the episode that I didn’t like was Jed’s behavior regarding Qumar. You assassinated the guy, it’s time to suck it up and do what’s necessary. I loved seeing Jordan again. And please tell me that we’ll be seeing Fitz more often from now on. The House of Blues stuff was enjoyable. I love "Shed a Little Light". I am so thankful that Aaron has obviously taken a continuity refresher course. This season seems to be just getting stronger and stronger. Now, if we could only find a way to have Amy abducted by the same aliens that took Mandy and Danny…. JanneyFan