The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 1, Episode 19 - Let Bartlet Be Bartlet - full transcript

The West Wing staff are feeling malaise as it seems they never get anything accomplished. Meanwhile, a leaked memo is a land mine that could embarrass the administration.


You look like
you could use a client.

Wanna work for the leader
of the free world?

Our job approval's 48%,
and I think that number's soft.

I'm tired of being a captain for
the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

You ran great guns
in the campaign.

Then you drove to the middle of
the road the moment you took the oath.

I wanted a Democrat,
and instead I got you.

Leo, there are times
when we are absolutely nowhere.

- It looks like it's gonna rain.
- It's overcast.

Isn't that usually
what it is before it rains?

- But in this case?
- It's gonna rain later.

- If it rains, change the opening line.
- It's not gonna rain until maybe 2:00.

If you're wrong,
you gotta change the line.

This isn't from morning radio.

This is from Lt. Emily
of the Coast Guard...

...who wouldn't let me down.
She has a very comforting voice.

Here's my thing. If you're wrong,
if the Coast Guard is wrong...

...the remarks open with: "As I look
out over this magnificent vista. "

If it gets moved indoors, he won't be
looking out over a vista of any kind.

You think he can't change it,
that he wouldn't know where he is?

This isn't major.

This is the United Organization
of Trout Fishermen. If it's moved...

I got it from the U.S. Coast Guard.

They use satellites.
They use technology.

This is the same technology we use
to detect ballistic missiles, right?


- All right.
- We should move it inside.

Sam says it won't rain until later.

Have you heard about
a paper going around?

- What paper?
- I don't know.

Dave Trillin asked what I knew
about a piece of paper going around.

I haven't heard.

- You should find out.
- Good advice.

We're in the auditorium.

- Are they moving people inside?
- They moved 20 minutes ago.

The weather report called for rain.

- It did?
- Yeah.

Is it possible Lt. Emily
is yanking me around?

- Where's the president?
- How's his mood?

He had breakfast. He seemed upbeat,
energetic, optimistic.

How long will that last?

Can we hurry so I can go preside
over a civilization gone to hell?

Nice talk. You know what this is?
Your mood, sir.

- Nothing wrong.
- It's your diet. You need roughage.

I'd like to beat you senseless
with a head of cabbage.

Your immaturity about
vegetables isn't presidential.

- Who has my remarks?
- Sam's bringing them.

Is Toby on his way?
Why aren't they here now?

They didn't know it was raining.

Nothing like surrounding yourself
with the best.

- Good morning.
- You didn't know it was raining?

To our credit, we knew it was raining
once it started.

- Here are your remarks.
- Who am I talking to now?

- An organization of trout fishermen.
- Seriously.

Give me the speech.

There are anecdotes
about fishing.

- Have I ever been fishing?
- Probably not.

- Morning.
- What's going on?

The CBO is gonna
revise its projections...

...two FEC commissioners
resigned today...

- ...and the NGA endorsed trigger locks.
- How much?

The projections?
Maybe 200 billion.

Hang on.
Two FEC commissioners resigned?

There are two seats open on the FEC?
This is interesting.

This is not the best time
for an idealistic...

Two seats just opened
on the election commission.

- The Senate leaders will fill them.
- What if we want our guys?

- We won't win.
- We can try.

It's not a good idea.

You're thinking about
changing democracy.

I'm talking about dangling our feet.

Get Leo two candidates who back
campaign finance reform.

I gotta stand with Leo on this.

I'm not saying jump off the boat.
I'm saying dangle our feet.

- Mr. President?
- Yes?

- Somebody?
- United Organization of Trout Fishermen.

Is your head gonna be
in changing democracy?

No, I'm gonna be thinking
about trout fishermen.

- You felt better earlier.
- Try a year ago.

Does anybody know anything
about a paper?

- C.J., are you taller than usual?
- I'm my usual height.

Couldn't pick a trout out of a lineup.

- Two FEC seats open on the same day?
- Dream all you want. It won't happen.

That's what I thought,
but after your pep talk....

Thank you very much.
It's good to see you.

- Damn it!
- What?

I forgot to do something.

As I look out over this
magnificent vista....

How does the FEC work?

Commissioners are in for six years.
Two seats come up every two years.

Two just resigned?
How many times has that happened?

Including this? Once.

The president has the opportunity
to impact campaign finance reform?

- Do it, baby.
- It's not easy.

When a vacancy comes up,
the party leadership on both sides....

- Did you just call me "baby"?
- Yeah.

When a vacancy comes up,
the president fills it.

The party leadership on both sides
always dictates who to appoint.

One Republican, one Democrat.
That's how you keep the peace.

- You're gonna change it?
- No, but I'm gonna try.

Come on,
you're trying to change democracy.

You're right.
I'll need a bagel.

The Egg Hunt and the Egg Roll
are different.

This year's theme is "Learning is
Delightful and Delicious. "

As, by the way, am I.

The collection which will
be on display here...

...features eggs decorated by artists
from each of the states.

This is coordinated
by the American Egg Board.

I've hung with some of the Egg Board
cats, and they are party people.

Thank you, that's it
till this afternoon.

- Steve? You got a second?
- Sure.

What have you heard
about a paper that's out there?

Same thing you've heard.
There's a piece of paper out there.

- If you hear anything, you'll tell me?
- If I do, I'll tell my editor.

I keep forgetting
you don't work for me.

- See you.
- Bye.

There's a buzz
in the room, about a paper...

- Do you know anything?
- I know everything.

I wrote it.

What is it?

I wrote a memo for Russell,
outlining strategy...

- Excuse me, C.J.?
- Katie, they're in the Blue Room.

When I worked for Russell,
I wrote a memo...

...outlining the Bartlet
administration's weaknesses...

...and mapping out a strategy
to defeat him for renomination.

C.J., this is embarrassing
and a little mortifying.

But remember how mad I was...

You worked for us before,
and you work for us now.

- In between, you wrote how to beat us?
- I was working for Russell...

I need to see a copy of it right now!


I can't e-mail.
What's the problem?

Lynette, from the Council
on Fitness, remember her?

She's the one where you say, "Who?"
And I say, "Lynette from Fitness. "

She sent me an e-mail about the number
of calories in our raisin muffins.

I forwarded it to several
hundred secretaries in the west wing.

Jolene Millman, in Political Liaison,
hit "reply," which...

Margaret, I'm sorry. I'm gonna have...

I hung in there, but you passed
the point when I stopped caring.

If you're curious,
it was around "raisin muffin. "

- I'll leave you two alone.
- Fix the e-mail.

- Who'd you find?
- Bacon and Calhoun.

I know Bacon. Who else?

Patty Calhoun's director of economic
studies at the Heritage Foundation.

She worked for two Republicans.

- She favors campaign finance reform?
- Aggressively.

- The leadership will hate them both.
- What do you want me to do?

- Meet with the leadership offices.
- You want me to meet with the leaders?

No, meet their guys
outside the building, over a meal.

The president can't think we'll
get anywhere, can he?

The president doesn't think
we'll get anywhere, right?


- What happened with the e-mail?
- Has to do with the Fitness Council.

- Who'd you find?
- Bacon and Calhoun.

- Not in a million years.
- What are you doing?

It's our turn with the boys.
- Good luck.

Do you want me
to do the talking?

- Why?
- Just asking.

Morning. Morning.

We all know each other.
Why don't we sit down?

We've been meeting
with various senior staff...

...on the DOD, NSC, and House
and Senate Armed Services.

We feel a little hamstrung
because of the policy inherited...

...regarding gays in the military...

...and we'd like input before making
recommendations to the president.

- Can I interrupt for a moment?
- Sure.

What will come from
your recommendation?

Well, actually, it'll be
Sam's recommendation to the president.

I'm just helping out.

What do you think
will be the consequence?

Major, I would imagine
the consequences to be little.

I would imagine it to be very little.

If the president orders that gays
can serve openly...

...that's how it'll be. Anyone who
disobeys can stand court-martial.

The president can give
all the orders he wants.

It takes an act of Congress
to amend the Uniform Code...

...which makes sodomy
a crime. End of story.

- I guess it'll be a short meeting.
- Yeah.

There will be 25,000 wooden eggs
and 7500 other eggs.

What are the other eggs?

- The other eggs are...
- Real eggs.

- Mandy's waiting.
- Where's Josh?

- FEC commissioners.
- Tell him I'd like to see him.

- 25,000 wooden eggs.
- Added to the 7500 eggs that are....

- They're just regular eggs.
- Right.

Is that it?


Who has it?

I don't know.

But somebody does.


Okay. I'm gonna read it now.

Go back to your office
and don't answer any questions.

You'll call me
when you're done reading?

I'd count on it.

Soft money renders the 1974
Campaign Reform Act toothless.

Soft-money contributions, which were
designed for party building...

...only eviscerate election controls.
We are, by definition, corrupt.

- I wouldn't say that.
- No, but this money isn't 1 Os and 20s.

It's coming in in denominations
of 100, 200, 500,000 dollars!

It comes from special interests
whose interests aren't the same... those who don't have money. It's
going to issue ads and candidates.

It's called free speech.

If the insurance industry wants
to buy ad time, they can.

If the airplane industry wants to back
a candidate, they can.

If big tobacco wants to wave a sign,
they are free to do so.

That's free speech, money isn't.

I like it when Josh comes here and
teaches us a lesson we richly deserve.

I came at the request of Leo McGarry.

The president is
strongly considering...

...John Branford Bacon and
Patty Calhoun to fill the two seats.

We've already got our guys.

- It's Kalen.
- Grant Kalen and Joe Barkley.

People who oppose
any campaign finance reform.

I thought you liked Kalen.
He's elected Democrats from Indiana.

He's raised money in Indiana.

Barkley says people can
spend whatever they want on politics.

So does the Supreme Court.

We can't do this every time Bartlet
wants to make the world better.

The party leadership's gonna choose
a Republican and a Democrat.

That's the way it's been, the way
it's gonna be, and the way it is.

- Really?
- Yes.

- The president makes FEC appointments.
- The Senate confirms them.

I'm speaking for the majority leader.

Embarrass us, and we'll
give the same back to you.

Any legislation you want
off the table will show up.

Our greatest hits: 541, school prayer,
family support, entertainment decency.

- English as the national language.
- That will be our leadoff hitter.

- Why not just not confirm our guys?
- We'll do that too.

In addition to voting down
our nominees...

...there will be retribution
for nominating them?

Yes. You know why?

Because you know you're gonna lose,
and we're gonna look bad winning.

I reject maintaining free speech
through government regulation.

- Reject what you want.
- What?

Reject whatever you want.

This was a fool's errand for me
and the president knew it.

This was a test balloon,
an "out of curiosity, what if" meeting.

- But you've got me on board.
- Steve, we've got a caucus.

We gotta go.

- I'm going to lunch.
- The president won't eat his.

Why is he dissatisfied?

- It's entirely vegetables.
- It's a salad.

He'd prefer a sandwich.
Roast beef, pastrami, steak.

He will eat it, and if he doesn't
like it, he knows where to put it.

I don't think I will tell him that,
but I appreciate your help.

- If it ain't broke....
- "Don't ask, don't tell" works.

It doesn't. Want to know
how much it doesn't?

- 1145 gays were discharged in 1998.
- That's a record.

A 92% increase since
"don't ask, don't tell. "

414 Air Force discharges,
the highest in two decades.

271 of them during basic training
at Lackland Air Force Base.

- What's going on there?
- I don't like your humor.

- I get that a lot.
- Sorry, I need Toby.

Yeah. Come here a sec.

You're doing good.

- What?
- I know what the paper is.

A strategy memo Mandy wrote.

- Strategy to do what?
- Beat us.

- Did you read it? Is it bad?
- Yeah.

Let's go to my office.

How'd it go?

- How do you know to be here?
- I see you out your office window.

- Why are you in my office?
- Looking for you out the window.

How'd it go?

- It went fine.
- Fine? You don't want to say more?

I don't, and you know I don't
because I'm not.

- This is our time together.
- I can't mess around.

I need to be prepped on
English as the national language.

- Why?
- Might come up.

It doesn't matter.

If we do the FEC thing, English as
the national language is on the table.

Are we for it or against it?

We don't favor another language,
do we?

Dutch or something.

Didn't I just tell you
I can't mess around?

- Bullet points? Give me 30 minutes.
- Thank you.

Toby said to come by
as soon as you got back.

I'm not taking any calls.
I'll call them back.

"The reality of the Bartlet
White House is a flood of mistakes.

An agenda stalled
and lacking a coherent strategy.

An administration
plagued by indecision. "

- Ginger.
- What's going on?

Mandy wrote a manual for Russell,
and it's out. I don't know where.

How bad is it?

She takes us to town.

We don't look like rocket scientists,
but we're not.

- Who is it bad for?
- The president and Leo.

- Who has this?
- I'm finding out.

Do it quietly.

Quickly. Whose paper is it in
tomorrow? We have to know.

Our second year doesn't seem to be
going better than our first, does it?


- Does he have a minute?
- He's finishing with the chairman.

They almost done?
I'll wait.

You having problems
with your e-mail?

Support says the pipeline's
been flooded.

It happened when I forwarded an e-mail
to people and one tried to reply.

E-mail boxes are clogged.
Replies are...

...automatically bouncing
back and forth at subatomic speed.

I've passed the point
where you're interested, haven't I?


- Thank you, Fitz.
- Thank you.

- Good afternoon.
- You here for me?

Is the Philippines redundant?

- It is. That's the beauty of it.
- You'll have to convince him.

- I will.
- If you say so.

- Who are those guys?
- A meeting on gays in the military.

- Why?
- Sam's trying to build a position.

If he comes up with one,
let me know.

There may be a security breach
with the computers.

- White House computers aren't secure.
- That explains that.

- He wants to put A1-M1 s in Manila.
- The president will say it's redundant.

- How much does it cost?
- Not much. 20 billion.

- So there's gonna be a thing.
- About what?

Mandy wrote a memo for Russell,
and someone's got it.

- Who?
- C.J.'s finding out.

That's politics.
She was playing for the other guys.


There's some observations
the president won't be wild about.

I move him to the middle.

The sense is that he's aggressive
and you take him to safe ground.

Don't worry about it.

Don't worry about it.

- Want to see a copy?
- No.

Six pages on English as the national
language. Stuff on James Madison...

James Madison? I didn't ask
for a damn social studies paper.

- Don't snap at me, Josh.
- Donna...

Look at the memo. I gave you
what you asked for. Don't snap.

What's wrong with everyone today?

It's been all day.
Is it Mandy's memo?


Why is everyone walking around
like they've already lost?

I wasn't snapping at you.

I didn't realize that you
also gave me what I asked for.

I thought you just
gave me James Madison.

Look at the James Madison.
It's gonna help you.


- How will Madison help you?
- I don't know.

The president
wants two reformers on the FEC.

Onorato will retaliate with
English as the national language.

- The president won't look good.
- Tell me what else I should know.

The president won't look good
fighting that one.

You oppose flag burning, school
prayer, gays in the military.

Say no to this,
and they'll paint a picture...

I understand, Mandy.

Fine. I'm just saying
it's my job to tell you that.

Today isn't the best day
for you to tell me what your job is.

I wrote an op memo.
We've written 20!

- Ever hear of a burn bag?
- They got it off my hard disk.

Do you know who has it?
Then there's not much you can do.

Don't let the president
debate English...

It won't happen. The president won't
nominate who he wants to the FEC.

Why not?

Because that's not what we do.

All right.

- I'll leave you alone.
- Thanks.

- Everyone's feeling this way today?
- Yeah.

Okay. Thanks.

Hang on.
A lot of those cases...

- This report, by the way...
- We can read. We know the report.

Lots of cases of gays being discharged
came from voluntary statements.

These aren't voluntary, not by any
definition given by a court.

It's not voluntary
if given to a therapist... in
Corporal David Blessing's case.

It is not voluntary
when it's in a personal diary... in Nicole Garrison's case.

It's not when it's made when asked,
as in Officer Diane Kelli's case.

And it is not when it is coerced
out through fear...

...intimidation, death threats,
and prosecution... in the case of Bob Kiddis, Kevin
Keys and four sailors on the Essex.

We'll take care of our guys.

- Your guys are looking for jobs.
- Those weren't our guys.

- Oh, my God.
- Attention!

- Good afternoon, Sam.
- Mr. Chairman.

- How do you do, admiral?
- Good to see you.

We haven't met.

From Oregon.
Percy Fitzwallace.

- It's an honor, admiral.
- I imagine it would be.

This is Chairman Fitzwallace.

They won't speak until I speak
to them. They're well-trained.

Stand easy.

- This Danish for anybody?
- Yes, sir.

We're discussing gays in the military?

What do you think?

- I said, what do you think?
- We're here to help...

- I'm asking what you think.
- We're not prejudiced.

- You just don't want them serving.
- No, I don't.

They pose a threat
to discipline and cohesion.

That's what I think too.

The military wasn't designed
as an instrument of social change.

Problem is, they said that about me
50 years ago.

Blacks shouldn't serve. It disrupts
the unit. Know what? It did.

The unit got over it and changed.

I'm an admiral and chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Beat that with a stick.

We'll see you, Ken.

Excuse me.

Mr. Chairman.

Just... Thanks for stopping in.

You're not gonna get anywhere.

The president wanted
some exploratory meetings.

- I was hoping to find you. I wanted...
- Hang on.

- I wanted to ask...
- Hang on.

- Is it the Magna Carta...?
- I'm finishing a thought.

I'm finished.

You've heard there's a paper?
Know what it is?

- A strategy memo for Russell.
- That's right.

You gotta know I don't like
exploiting our friendship...

...and I don't like taking advantage
of any feelings you have for me.

- You have them too.
- I don't.

I need to be ready for this.

- Do you know who has it?
- Yes.

Who has it?

I do.

You have it?
You're gonna write about it?

- Sure.
- Why?

- Because it's news.
- It's not news.

Just because it's entertaining!

It's news. The president's
media director...

...wrote a memo to a party leader
describing his weaknesses.

People in the party buy my paper.
They'd like to know what Mandy thinks.

- Mandy wasn't working here then.
- I don't care where she was working!

She's a key player, and she says
the president's vulnerable.

That may not be
good news for you, but it's news.

You asked us
to write about Easter eggs...

Fine. We'll have a comment
for you by day's end.

- None of this is our fault!
- None of what?

Mandy's letter was pretty accurate.

She was working for Russell.
You knew why.

Why didn't you ask her,
"What are we doing wrong?"

Because you knew what she'd say.
There was nothing you could do.

You guys are stuck in the mud
around here...

...and none of it is the press' fault.

I know you're frustrated.

But that's nothing compared
to the people who voted for you.

"We'll have a comment
for you by day's end"?

When I want the White House to
comment on a story, I'll ask for it.

I have to do this work.

- I'd like to go on record...
- There is no record.

I have no objection to what somebody
does in their own home.

But when we're talking about schools
or Boy Scouts, we're talking about...

Why does being gay mean
you can't keep your hands to yourself?

And how can the armed forces
lay claim to restraint in that area?

Want me to get the file
on sexual harassment in the DOD?

I've had enough of this.

"Don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue"
is federal law.

It takes an act of Congress to change.

If the president was serious
about changing it...

...he would not send you in here
with me and two junior DOD staffers.

He'd call his staff together and say,
"I want a resolution in the House.

I want 50 high-profile cosponsors.
I want a deal right now. "

- Has the president done that?
- The president...

Has the president done that, Sam?


Okay, then.

Is this meeting anything more
than a waste of time?


Okay, then.

I.T. Support is now accusing me
of being a hacker.

They're accusing me of smurfing.

They asked me if I was running
a Trojan horse. I said no.

I was simply telling people the raisin
muffin calorie count was wrong.

You don't believe me, take one
of those muffins down to the lab.

- I'll do that.
- Will you?

Get me a muffin. Use gloves. Slip it
in a bag. I'll send it to the lab.

You're mocking me now,
aren't you?


Come in.

Margaret thinks the FBI's
gonna bust in here any minute.

Got a second bit of bad news
for you today.

- You got new numbers?
- Yeah.

How bad is it?

CNN/USA Today puts
our job approval at 42%.

We dropped five points.
In a week?

Unfavorables are higher
for the first time.

54% of the country is likely to vote
for a Republican in November.

We dropped five points?
We didn't do anything last week.

I'll say.

Toby, when you start thinking about
jumping ship, you'll let me know?

One victory in a year.
We got Mendoza on the court.

This president was elected with
48% of the vote. Without a mandate.

- The majority voted for somebody else.
- I don't care.

He was elected and sworn in.
I was there at the time.

It's not the easiest circumstance...
One victory isn't so bad.

One victory stinks
for an administration.

It's not the ones we lose that bother
me. It's the ones we don't try for.

And I'm not too crazy about you
questioning my loyalty.

The president's reading the memo.

I wish you hadn't done that.
It's gonna piss him off.

- It'll be in the paper tomorrow.
- Did you find out who has it?

- Danny.
- And he's writing it?

- Right next to the poll numbers.
- How do we drop five points?

It happened.
Let's move on.

I think the Senate
will confirm Bacon and Calhoun.

They'll have to.
Voters want campaign reform.

As punishment, their agenda
is to force the president... be unpopular on everything.
Like English as the national language.

We're not going
to let it on the table.

- We shouldn't be afraid...
- He won't let it on the table.

- Then we'll take their FEC candidates.
- As we always have.

- What about you?
- My meeting?

It was the same meeting
we've been having for...

It was fine.

I'm sorry to interrupt.

- Who's got this?
- Danny Concanon.

- Why am I finding out about this now?
- We learned about it today.

I really did wake up
energized this morning.

- I never go to bed that way.
- I know.

Just once I'd like to end a day
feeling as good as when it started.

- Are you bothered by this?
- The memo?



We've heard it before. You drive
me to safe ground. It's not true.

- I know it's not true.
- Good.

You drive me there.

- What did you say?
- And you know it.

We're in neutral because
that's where you say to stay.

- You're wrong.
- I'm not.

You want to do this now?

You came to my house, Leo, and
you said, "Let's run for president. "

I said, "Why?"

You said, "So you can say
what you think. "

- Where'd that part go?
- You tell me.

I don't see a shortage of microphones.
What the hell were you waiting for?

Everything you do says, "I don't
wanna be a one-term president. "

- Didn't I say put our guys on the FEC?
- No, you did not.

No. You said,
"Let's dangle our feet... the water like we do when
we want to look like we're trying. "

That's a fascinating version
of history.

Take a look at Mandy's memo.
That's a fascinating version.

You brought me in
on teachers, on capital gains.

You brought me in
on China and on guns.

From where? You've never been
out there on guns or teachers.

You dangle, and I'm the hall monitor.

It's my job to make sure
nobody goes off too far.

Josh goes to the Hill on campaign
finance, he knows nothing will happen.

Sam can't push "don't ask, don't tell"
and everyone knows that.

If I said to get aggressive on
finance or gays in the military...'d tell me, "Don't go too far. "

If you said be aggressive, I'd say:

"I serve at the pleasure
of the president. "

We'll never know,
because you won't...

- I have! Nothing happens!
- Want me to orchestrate this?

You wanna see me mobilize these people
who would walk into fire for you?

These people who showed up to lead,
who showed up to fight.

He gets threats because
he dates your daughter.

He was warned, "Don't show up.
You're in danger. "

He said, "I'm going anyway. "
You said no.

Prudent or not prudent, this
21-year-old, at $600 a week, said:

"I'm going where I want to,
because a man stands up. "

Everyone's waiting for you.
I don't know how much longer.

I don't want
to feel like this anymore.

You don't have to.

- I don't wanna go to sleep like this.
- You don't have to.

I want to speak.

Say it to me.

It's more important than
re-election. I want to speak.

Say it again.

This is more important than
re-election. I want to speak now.

Now we're in business.

We got our asses kicked,
but it's time to get up. Say it.

More important than re-election.
I want to speak now.

I'm gonna take the staff
off the leash.

You have a strategy for all this?
What is it?

I'm gonna try that for a while.

The ground game isn't working.
We're gonna put the ball in the air.

If we're gonna walk into walls,
I want us running into them.


Tell the Hill the president's
named his nominees to the FEC.

We're gonna lose some battles.

We might even lose the White House.

We won't be threatened by issues.
We'll put them front and center.

We'll raise the level
of public debate in this country...

...and let that be our legacy.

That sound all right
to you, Josh?

I serve at the pleasure
of the president.

I serve at the pleasure
of the president.

I serve at the pleasure
of President Bartlet.

I serve at the pleasure
of the president.


Let's get in the game.