Mr. Willis Of Ohio
The census, an appropriations bill, a bar in Georgetown, and poker.
The show opens on a poker game in Leo’s office. CJ is dealing. The rest of the staff is there, including the President. Of course, Jed is also bringing the trivia. He asks which fruit is the only one with it’s seeds on the outside (strawberry - I knew that one), what are the only three words in the English language that begin with ‘dw’ (he says "dwarf, dwindle, and dwell", what about "dweeb"?), and what are the fourteen punctuation marks in standard English grammar (Toby knows all of them and gives the last 7 when the rest of the staffers stumble).
(I found Jed’s trivia a little annoying. He kept stalling the game. If he weren’t the President, I’m not sure Toby would have put up with it.)
The game ends, with Jed the winner. As the gang is breaking up Josh persuades Sam into helping him with the commerce report. And, Jed tells Leo to say hello to Jenny for him.
The Secret Service shows up and corrals everyone into the Oval office. The building is "not secure". We learn that it’s pledge week at the fraternities and pledges are frequently jumping the fence.
Jed starts the trivia again and is (mercifully) interrupted by the "all clear".
Mandy - "This is the kind of thing that didn’t happen at my old job."
Toby is looking for Article I, Section II of the Constitution. Bonnie wants to know if it’s still in print.
Toby - "Oh for crying out loud. Try amazon.com. If they don’t have it then just bust into the glass display case at the national archives."
CJ asks Sam for help with the census. (There is a proposed census amendment to the pending commerce bill.) Apparently CJ doesn’t understand any part of the census. She admits that she’s been playing "fast and loose" at her briefings.
Sam - "You’ve been faking it?"
CJ - "Yes."
Sam - "The President?"
CJ - "I know. I should probably not do that."
Sam - "Ya think?"
They decide that Sam will help CJ during lunch.
Donna asks Josh about the $32 billion budget surplus. The Republicans in Congress want to use it for tax relief, give it back to the taxpayers.
Donna - "Why don’t we want to give back the money?"
Josh - "Because we’re Democrats."
(As a Democrat, I loved Josh’s line.)
Donna wants her money back.
Josh and Donna join the rest of the senior staff in Leo’s office for a meeting. They are discussing various additions to the appropriations bill (apparently interchangeable with the commerce bill - they switch around throughout the episode). Among the additions: $12 million for an Appalachian Transportation Institute and $1.5 million for a study of parking facilities at commercial truck stops.
Mandy - "2 million dollars for a volcano monitor in Alaska to warn passing airplanes about ash?"
Leo - "By the way, the FAA doesn’t know what that is."
Josh, Toby, and Mandy are to meet with the three swing votes on the commerce committee to get a prohibition of census sampling dropped from the bill. The three congressmen are: Gladman, Skinner, and Joe Willis (the widower who has temporarily taken his wife Janis’ seat). Toby plans to use the fact that Congress wants to vote quickly and leave for a 3-day-weekend to his advantage.
Ron Butterfield (head of the President’s Secret Service detail) is in the Oval office with Jed discussing checkpoints and security measures. Last night’s breach was a mentally unbalanced, middle-aged woman who was trying to get to Zoey. Leo comes in and assures Jed that there was no way the woman would have gotten to Zoey. Ron steps out to make a call. Leo starts to tell Jed something about Jenny. Then he decides it’s not the right time. (Chicken.) Ron comes back in and tells Jed not to lose sleep over this. That’s when Jed asks if the deranged woman had a gun. She did.
Josh and Mandy are waiting when the congressmen arrive for the meeting. Joe Willis points out that he’s not a congressman, that this is just temporary. He is an eighth grade Social Studies teacher. Toby arrives with two aides who bring in the latest copy of the appropriations bill - all 7000 pages and 55 pounds of it. (It looked big - but not that heavy.) Toby mentions some of the money being disbursed: $1.2 million for a lettuce geneticist, $1.7 million for manure handling, and $5 million for an eight state study on the uses of wood. (Who says the government is wasteful?) Congressman Gladman says that he thought they were there to discuss the sampling prohibition amendment.
Josh - "We are. The White House just wanted to take this opportunity to point out that you are criminals and despots."
Our guys say that the proposed amendment will cause the President to instigate a long floor fight and then a certain veto. (Big, bad Jed.) Toby emphasizes the long floor fight and reminds the congressmen of their non-refundable plane tickets. Mr. Willis tells Toby that he’s not going anywhere. He’s staying in town for the weekend and so Toby should feel free to take as much time as he likes, Joe is in no rush.
Sam starts to explain the census to CJ, as she steals his fries. (What is it with the women in the White House, do they not get enough to eat?)
Sam explains that the constitution mandates that a census be taken every ten years. Population is used to determine the number of political representatives on a municipal, state, and federal level. (Did CJ not take eighth grade Social Studies? ‘Cause she seems pretty well-informed most of the time.) 950,000 workers take the census in a door-to-door headcount, and it costs $6.9 billion. (That seems to be fairly acceptable.) The problem is that the census is inaccurate, particularly with inner-city populations, recent immigrants, and the homeless. (No wonder the Republicans are okay with it. ;) This is one of those times that Aaron Sorkin appears really biased.)
Mallory comes to see Leo and bring him some stuff from his house, since he’s in a hotel now. She asks him if he realizes that this "thing" with Jenny won’t just blow over. He doesn’t answer.
Donna pulls Josh out of the meeting to speak with Jed. And, she still wants her money back.
Jed is on a conference call with the Post Master General, but he has no idea what it’s about. (That’s comforting. Good thing he’s not in charge. Oh wait, he is.) He asks Josh to take Charlie out for a beer because Charlie has no life. (This from the trivia geek.) So, Josh dutifully asks Charlie to go with him to a bar that evening in Georgetown. Charlie reluctantly agrees. Mrs. Landingham asks Josh if he isn’t too old to be leering at college co-eds. (Not just the girls?)
Josh - "I’m a Fulbright scholar, Mrs. Landingham. I don’t leer. Also, there’ll be plenty of grad students there."
Mrs. Landingham - "Oh well, good then."
Mallory and Zoey corner Josh on the way back to his office and tells him that he should take them along. Zoey hints that it might be a Presidential Order. Mallory also requests that Josh ask Sam to join them.
Josh: - "The President’s daughter, the Chief of Staff’s daughter, a Georgetown bar, and Sam. What could possibly go wrong?"
Sam is still tutoring CJ. He finally comes around to the point: sampling is unconstitutional.
CJ - "But, if sampling is already against the law, why would Congress be trying to pass legislation saying sampling is against the law?"
Josh sticks his head in and asks Sam to go out that night for beers. CJ invites herself along, turns out she likes beer too.
Back in the meeting, Mandy says that in the last census 8 million people (mostly black) weren’t counted, and that 4 million people (mostly white) were counted twice. Toby points out that sampling costs $4 billion less, and is more accurate. Gladman and Skinner say that sampling is unconstitutional. Finally Toby gets to bring out the Constitution. (I guess Bonnie was able to find it at amazon.com.) Toby instructs Mandy to read Article I, Section II.
Mandy - "Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding the whole number of persons including those bound to service for a term of years."
Aha! Skinner says that they just proved his point. It says "whole numbers". The constitution doesn’t mention statistical equations. (Are these guys honestly dumb enough to believe that Toby would help them?) Toby plays his trump card. Mandy left out certain words. Mr. Willis knows this. The words left out were: "the whole number of free persons and 3/5 of all other persons". (Why haven’t we gotten an amendment to change that?!?)
Mr. Willis decides to change his vote, despite the other two telling him that the chairman of their committee wouldn’t like that. (Ooh, I bet he’s scared now.) Mr. Willis says that they should drop the amendment until a court rules on the constitutionality of sampling. Gladman, Skinner, and Mandy leave.
Toby admits that he took advantage of Mr. Willis. But, Joe thinks Toby made a good argument. He tells Toby that his wife was much smarter than he is. He thinks it will take men wiser than Solomon to make decisions in the coming century. Mr. Willis thinks the only place they can start is to say, "fair is fair." Toby wishes Congressman Willis good luck on his first and only vote in the House of Representatives.
Leo finally confesses to Jed in the Oval that he moved out of his house two weeks ago and that Jenny is asking for a divorce. Jed asks Leo why, and then proceeds to lecture him on how to make a marriage work. On his way to dinner in the Residence, Jed tells Leo to "fix this… You’re the man. Fix it." (Great advice there, Jed.)
At the Georgetowne Station Josh, Sam, Mallory, Zoey, CJ, and Charlie are having drinks. Zoey goes to the bar to get a grasshopper for CJ leaving her panic button on the table. Josh pesters Charlie about having a good time. CJ points out that it’s hard to have a good time when Josh keeps hounding Charlie to do so. At the bar three college guys surround Zoey and ask her her name. As they move closer, Charlie gets concerned and goes to intervene. The boys, we discover, are racist and homophobic. They give him a hard time, calling him "Sammy", "Ice Cube" and "Ice Tray". (Okay, I laughed at that last one.) Sam sees this and goes over to help, followed by Josh, who brings the panic button. The three boys get excited, now they can fight more "fairy boys." The leader calls Sam, "Fairy Poppins". (You gotta love the ignorant guy who can bring the Julie Andrews reference.) Josh tells them that they are about to have a "pretty bad night." Josh has pressed the panic button and several Federal Agents burst into the bar. They take Zoey out and put the three jerks in cuffs. The leader makes one last threat to "Sammy".
Charlie - "My name is Charlie Young, jackass. And if that bulge in your pocket is an 8-ball of blow, you’ll be spending your spring break in federal prison." He turns to Josh. "Now, I’m having a good time."
Back at the White House Jed asks Zoey what happened. He then tells her that she’s getting Secret Service protection. When she argues against it he describes "the nightmare scenario": Zoey kidnapped and taken to a shack in Uganda with a gun to her head until Jed arranges the release of terrorists. And that is something he can’t do, even for his own daughter. Zoey agrees to the protection and goes to bed.
Jed goes to Leo and apologizes to Leo for their earlier conversation. And for the fact that Leo is getting divorced.
Charlie, Josh, and Sam are waiting to talk to the President. Josh and Sam are discussing which guys they could have taken. Both are sure they could have handled two guys each. (Boys, boys, boys.) Donna comes in with sandwiches but doesn’t give Josh his change. She still wants her money back. Josh tells Sam that that was a little parable from Donna. When Donna leaves they pick up the conversation about "taking" those guys.
Charlie - "There were no two guys that either one of you could have taken." (Charlie is so wise for his years.)
Jed calls Josh into Leo’s office to lecture him, and to thank him for helping Zoey. Josh says that the credit is Charlie’s. Sam and Charlie are summoned. Jed shakes Charlie’s hand and invites him into the poker game. CJ, Mandy, and Toby join the group. As they set up for the poker game they discuss their day.
CJ - "By the way, I now know everything there is to know about the census. Go ahead, you can ask me anything."
Jed - "How many people live in the United States?"
A long pause ensues.
Sam - "There is some material we haven’t covered yet."
Toby goes over to the television set that is airing the vote. Leo tells him that they won 40 votes ago.
Toby - "I just wanna hear this one."
From the TV - "Mr. Wilder, Mr. Wilder of South Carolina votes yea. Mr. Willis, Mr. Willis of Ohio votes yea. Mr. Zantowski, Mr. Zantowski of…"
I really enjoyed this episode. It just gets better and better with repeated watchings. What I like best about this episode is that it lets us see a little more into the characters. And, who knew the census could be so fascinating? - JanneyFan