The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 2, Episode 17 - The Stackhouse Filibuster - full transcript

Josh finalizes a six billion-dollar health care that has strong support from both parties in both houses and appears to be a slam dunk for passage, but 78-year-old Senator Howard Stackhouse pulls a last-minute surprise: he wants money added for autism research or he'll filibuster. Thinking it's just a bluff, Josh blows off the senator, who then filibusters for more than eight hours while the w.w. staff waits desperately to begin their weekend, with the episode unfolding as staffers write e-mails to family members describing the evening's action. Elsewhere, Sam tries to eliminate various costly government documents, for which he's taken to task by a very young intern.

Previously on The West Wing:

I didn't make the decision to run again.
I wouldn't do that without you.

Sometimes I wonder
if I listened to you...

...would I be president right now?
You ever wonder that?

No, sir. I know it for sure.

- Do you get that you have MS?
- Abbey.

Do you get that your own immune
system is shredding your brain?

I've had one episode in two years.

Mr. President, is there anything
we need to talk about?

Not yet, okay?

..."teaspoon of salt,
one cup of corn flake crumbs.... "

Dear Dad: First of all, happy birthday.

Second of all, let me explain
why I'm not on my way there right now.

You're not going to believe this,
but it's because of a filibuster.

A filibuster that no one ever saw coming.

Not the Senate leadership,
not the party leadership, and not me.

And if you're angry at me,
well, you've got a lot of company.

I'm going to explain all this.

Right now, it's Friday night and
everyone's trying to get out the door...

...only I won't let them.

..."24 shrimp yield approximately
four to six servings.... "

This isn't happening.

- C.J.!
- Yeah.

- What is he doing?
- It's a recipe for deep-fried shrimp.

- What's he still doing up there?
- He's got a recipe book.

- How long will it go?
- I don't know.

How many recipes are there?

- All together?
- Yeah.

I can't cook, but I think
there are, like, 20 or 30.

- You're screwing with me?
- Yeah.

I'm about to miss the 7:30 shuttle.

If I miss the 8:30,
I miss the train to Sag Harbor.

- Spend the night in New York.
- I've only got 2 nights.

You gotta see this house.
It's a Frank Lloyd Wright.

- Isn't it cold in Sag Harbor?
- We wear sweaters.

It's a Tommy Hilfiger ad.

He can't last forever.

- He's got 30 recipes he can still read.
- There are more recipes than that.

Who cares? He's blowing
my weekend in the Hamptons.

He doesn't know about the sweaters.

The reason they needed to stay is, after
the filibuster's over, there'll be a vote.

And once they vote,
I need my spin boys.

- C.J.
- I know.

- Who gave him the recipe book?
- We can't blame this on the recipe book.

Plus, I now know the secret
to asparagus Chantilly... a quarter cup of cream.

I'm going to Port St. Lucie,
which may not mean anything to you...

- ... but it's the spring training home...
- New York Jets. You told me.

You can watch basketball on TV.

Yes, except the Knicks
are a basketball team.

The Jets are a football team,
and Port St. Lucie...

- ... is the spring training home of the...
- Mets! Yes, damn it, I'm inadequate.

A weekend at spring training, C.J.

Mike Piazza is gonna be standing
in the batting cage.

He's gonna turn and see me,
he's gonna say, " Dude. "

I wouldn't want you to miss
a legitimate dude sighting.

- So I can take off?
- No.

Why do I need the spin?

Because it's a bipartisan bill and
I'm all for it as long as we get the credit.

So I've taken the press corps hostage.

- C.J.!
- Guys, I'm sorry, but you know what?

Listen. Seriously.

You're looking at democracy at work.
It's a beautiful thing.

How much more beauty
can we be expecting tonight?

- I wouldn't think it'd be much longer.
- He's got a recipe book.

How many recipes can there be?

I'm supposed to have dinner
with my girlfriend. She's gonna kill me.

This is just the thing that can cleanse the
palate of a relationship that's gone stale.

We've been going out for 3 weeks.

And she's already bitching
about dinner? Lose her.

- C.J.!
- Listen up, everybody!

This was unforeseen.
Obviously, he's gotta finish sometime.

When he does,
there'll be a vote immediately.

Then the president will make his calls,
staff will be available for comment...

...and most important,
you will write about it.

In the meantime, I say pizza
for everybody. Who's with me?


We're gonna need a truckload of pizza
and some Cuervo 1800 if we've got it.

- How much?
- Just enough for me.

- I need to be at Telluride in the morning.
- That's a rough assignment you pulled.

No, I'm saying I already missed
the 6: 50 to Denver...

...but I can catch an 8:40 from National
if I change planes in Chicago.

And as your travel agent,
it's important you update me on that.

I'm supposed to be on my way
to Napa for my dad's 70th birthday.

- You hear me complaining?
- You just did.

Get out.

- It's your dad's 70th birthday?
- Yeah.

You doing anything?

We're all getting together in Napa.

- I meant right now.
- No, I'm sitting and waiting.

I'm ordering pizza.
I'm catching up on e-mails.

All right.

I got a basketball game on
in my office if you wanna come.

- Jets and the Mets?
- Nets and the Hawks.

- Jets and the Mets?
- I know, I'm joking when I do this.


You know, there's a 9:00 to SFO.
You can drive to Napa.


All right.

I'm in my office.

It'll end.

You have any idea
how many recipes there are?

I really don't.

"A pack of frozen chicken livers...

...a teaspoon of dry mustard.... "

The press is in the briefing room, staff's
in the west wing and I'm right here.

I'm betting when you read this,
you're gonna be glad I stayed.

You'll end up rooting for a Minnesota
senator named Howard Stackhouse.

Because I gotta tell you,
this doesn't seem like any old filibuster.

It's our first filibuster,
and I'm not a rules expert...

...but the rules of a filibuster
are simple enough:

You keep the floor
as long as you hold the floor.

What does that mean?

It means you can't stop talking ever.

You can't eat and you can't drink,
which is fine...

...because you can't leave the chamber
to use the bathroom either.

But all that's nothing compared to this:

You're not allowed to sit down.

You're not allowed to lean on anything,
or for that matter, anyone.

It started with a bill you'll read about
tomorrow called the Family Wellness Act.

Josh had been leading staffers
from the Legislative Liaison Office... negotiations with
the conference chairman for weeks.

And last Monday morning, he walked
into the Roosevelt Room and said:

We got the Family Wellness Act.

- It's done?
- Yes.

- What'd we get, what'd we lose?
- We got most of Title VII.

- That's infant hearing loss?
- We got hearing tests for every child born.

- What about...?
- We didn't get hearing tests...

- ... for those not born in hospitals.
- We can live with that.

The Special Needs
Adoption Awareness Program?

This is a campaign
to provide information...

...regarding the adoption
of special-needs children.

- How did we get it?
- By requiring health care staff... give pregnant women
information about adoption...

...on an equal basis
with all other courses of action.

National Organization for Women
will hate that.

- I know.
- Women seeking abortions...

...shouldn't be required
to be lectured at.

- You're gonna help me out there, right?
- I will.

I will once again betray the sisterhood.

I saw you, you, you
and you roll your eyes.

- You weren't even looking at me.
- I felt you.

We're done. Josh Lyman, everybody.

Nice job.

- I know, I'm thinking about turning pro.
- Yeah?

I got agents telling me
I could go high in the second round...

...maybe low in the first
if I have a good post-season.

You don't want to stay in school?

No, I'm white. Nobody's gonna mind.

Josh, this looks good.

I mean, he stuck sunsets
on a bunch of small-ticket items, but...

That's the way it's gonna happen.

You just spent $6 billion on health care,
how do you feel?

I'd feel better if it meant I could go to
a doctor without filling out a clipboard.

All right, what else?

Philip Sluman, chairman
of the Petroleum Producers of America...

...testified yesterday to the FTC:

"The Bartlet administration's relentless
pursuit of stricter emissions standards... the form of additives like MTBE... a big reason we've seen price hikes
in parts of the country. "

The energy secretary's gotta respond.

He's gonna respond, and I'd like to
mention that to the vice president.

- You want me to do it?
- I got it.

- He's gonna be pretty unhappy.
- Yeah.

- Anything else?
- No.

- No.
- No, sir.

Thank you.

So there it was,
the Family Wellness Act.

An omnibus health bill aimed at diseases
that disproportionately affect children.

This was a good day
because something got done.

The problem is,
we only thought it was done.

Dad, this would be a good time
to mention that it's possible...

...that an Egyptian cat goddess named
Bast has put an ancient curse on me.


- Charlie.
- Listen.

- May I call you Chip?
- No.

- Chipper?
- No.

- Gilligan?
- Listen.

- Hassan Ali is coming this week.
- He's got 38 wives.

Imagine being the girl he dated
who he didn't marry.

- Hassan Ali is coming?
- Yeah.

On the president's trip to Cairo,
Ali gave him a gift, a ceramic statue.

The State Department
told the Office of Protocol...'s important it be displayed
when Ali visits.

- Display it.
- Well, they weren't able to find it.

- Talk to the gift officer.
- They did.

- And?
- They say you have it.

- I'm sorry?
- Sherry Halpern, the gift officer...

...said she handed it to you in Cairo.

- Did you say a small ceramic statue?
- Yeah, of a cat.



- Okay.
- C.J.?

- You know anything?
- I'll have to think about it.

I don't have instant recall
of every ceramic cat statue...

...I've ever been handed in Cairo.

- Should I tell them...?
- Tell them I'm searching my recollection.

Their recollection seemed pretty good.

- Leave me now.
- Sure.

- Toby?
- I'm going to see Hoynes, talk later.

- Okay. Carol?
- What do you need?

Some information. Possibly a disguise
and a fast getaway car. Come inside.

Tell me, how did they
not anticipate the flooding?

There was an unexpectedly high

The snow fell months ago. Did they
not think it was gonna melt this year?

- Thank you, everybody.
- Thank you so much.

- Thank you.
- It was a pleasure.

- Thank you. Beautiful quilts.
- Thank you very much, sir.

- The temperatures were warm last month.
- We don't know why.

It could have had something
to do with the sun, right?

- Sir?
- We're done. Yeah?

- Can you see Toby Ziegler?
- Yeah.

25 million acre-feet of water, Candy.
That's 8 trillion gallons.

- Hey, Toby.
- Good morning, Mr. Vice President.

The California Aqueduct is twice
the length of Pennsylvania.

- I knew it was pretty big.
- What do you need?

Philip Sluman, testifying yesterday
in front of the FTC...

...charged that it was the White House's
pursuit of tighter emission standards...

- ... that's caused the rise in prices...
- Sluman had a good point.

Mr. Vice President, I don't want
to go round and round on Sluman.

He had no point.

Policy forces them
to use expensive additives...

- ... whose benefits are questionable.
- It's price gouging.

It costs marginally more to refine
the fuel with the additives...

...and the cost is being passed on to
the consumer at an outrageous markup.

If a refinery shuts down...

...if there's a fire, which isn't
out of the question with petroleum...

...production comes to a halt,
gas becomes scarce.

The prices go up.
Then they come back down.

Well, it's good to know the companies
can make it through the lean times.

Anyway, sir, tomorrow night Bill
Trotter's gonna be delivering a speech... the Detroit Economic Council on
" Energy Efficiency in the 21 st Century"...

...and we'll rewrite the draft to include
a strong rebuttal to Sluman's remark.

- You shouldn't have Bill Trotter do it.
- Why?

His rants against the oil companies
have become familiar.

- The press stopped writing about him.
- Still...

It's also pretty dicey political terrain
for the energy secretary.

- Who would you send?
- To punch back?



I'm having a press conference... announce an advisory group
for the antitrust policy.

I'll take questions at the end,
open it up for anything.

And they will ask me
about Sluman and oil.

- Mr. Vice President...
- If you think I'll be too soft...

...stand in the back of the room.

If you don't like what I say, call Trotter
and say you're on for tomorrow night.

Would you mind if
I prepared some notes for you?

Oh, not at all. Would you mind
if I shoved them up your ass?

No, sir. I....

Well, thank you, sir, we appreciate it.

- I heard you got the Family Wellness Act.
- They're scheduled to vote Friday at noon.

You'll have the bill by 12:05.

"Six egg yolks,
three cups of heavy cream.

Six tablespoons of sugar.... "

I'll get back to the cat story
because I have to interrupt to say this:

If you ever have a free two hours
and are so inclined...

...try standing up without leaning
on anything and talking the whole time.

You won't make it. I wouldn't make it.

Stackhouse wasn't
supposed to last 15 minutes.

He's 78 years old. He has a head cold.

This bill is gonna pass. He has no hope.

To say nothing of I can't imagine
what it is he's fighting for.

Stackhouse wasn't
supposed to last 15 minutes.

...that is how you prepare
Virginia green apple pie.

Let's turn now to David Copperfield.

Well, somebody forgot
to tell Stackhouse, Dad...

...because he just went into
hour number eight.

"... whether that station will be held
by anybody else, these pages must show.

To begin my life
with the beginning of my life...

...I record I was born,
as I have been informed and believe...

...on a Friday at 12:00 at night.

It was remarked
that the clock began to strike...

...and I began to cry simultaneously. "

- Hey.
- Hey.

What are you doing?

Well, it's a little complicated and indeed
difficult to explain in layman's terms.

You can put the black seven
on the red eight.


Hey, Sam, who's your favorite writer?


Who's your favorite fiction writer?

- You're listening to him right now.
- You like Dickens?


You know,
I never got a chance to say....

I mean, I feel bad
about your dad and everything.

We're doing better.

You know, the ice is starting to thaw.

I'm in the middle of an e-mail
to my father.

- Do you talk to him a lot?
- Not enough.

You're gonna miss the last plane.

I'll take Amtrak to Penn Station
and rent a car.

Okay. Well, I just came down
to get this coffee.

Go back to your e-mail.

Hey, did I hear you got spanked
by some 14-year-old kid...

- ... interning at the GAO?
- I did not get spanked.

And she was 19 years old...

...and I demonstrated once again
that I am open to all forms of debate.

- With an intern?
- If need be.


- She was very crafty.
- Who?

- The intern from the GAO.
- Yeah.

- Go back to your e-mail.
- I am.

- I'm taking my coffee with me.
- I'll see you upstairs.

"Then she made a frown
and a gesture to my mother... one who was accustomed
to be obeyed, to come open the door.... "

Dear Jackass.

" 'Mrs. David Copperfield,
I think,' said Miss Betsey...

...the emphasis referring to my mother's
mourning weeds and her condition...

...not having been lighted, indeed,
since my father's funeral. "

Dear Dad:

C. J. Cregg is writing an e-mail to her
father to kill time during the filibuster...

...and it reminded me I haven't told you
any tales in the last few weeks.

Let's start again, okay?

Here's one about how I got yelled at... a 19-year-old intern
from the General Accounting Office.

Josh was having his twice-weekly
meeting with assistant deputies.

He was basically staffing out
inbox material for the next few days.

I was looking for a good piece of fruit.

Write this down. Find out if sufficient
funds have been appropriated... the FAA to begin work
on data-link communications.

- They'll ask what sufficient funds mean.
- That's when you get me on the phone.

- What are you doing?
- Looking for a piece of fruit.

Can we show you something
from the back, or...?

- I'm fine.
- Okay, here's one.

The White House has been instructed
by Congress to compile a list...

...of 400 government reports
that should be eliminated... they serve little purpose and cost
taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

We'll assume,
though the modifier was dangling...

...they mean the reports serve
little purpose, not Congress itself.

- Who wants to lead it?
- I will.

You're not in this meeting.
You're shopping for fruit.

I'm done with the fruit.
I was listening to you.

- You want to do this?
- Absolutely.

- Why?
- Because it's insane!

We got over 3000 reports
from federal agencies last year.

Agriculture spent $40 million
producing 280 reports.

Four years of college, three years
of law school, I spent $30 at Kinko's.

- Give me the thing.
- All right, we're done.

Let me tell you something.
The GAO needs a little housekeeping...

...and that's my nickname, okay?
I'm "The Housekeeper. "

- God, that's a terrible nickname.
- Well, start getting used to it.

- Let me talk to you a second.
- I'm not going with that anymore.

I was just with Hoynes.

About Sluman's testimony?
What'd he say?

- He defended it.
- Isn't that what you expected?

- Did you tell him Bill Trotter was gonna...?
- Yeah.

He said he wanted to do it himself.

- Really?
- Yeah.

I don't understand.

He said he's doing a press conference
tomorrow on antitrust...

...and he'll take questions at the end.

They'll ask about the Sluman testimony
and he'll step up.

- Well, somebody's gotta be there.
- Oh, I'm gonna be there.

If he ducks, Trotter goes on in Detroit.
But is it clear to you what he's doing?


Me neither.

Okay, so I got a team together
and I went about the task...

...of recommending 400 government
reports for elimination.

- Report on Pell Grants for the incarcerated.
- What's that?

- Education scholarships for prisoners.
- Wasn't that terminated?

- But we write reports anyway?
- Yeah.

- Lose it.
- Report on the study of Route 66.

Which tells us?

Condition and traffic flow
of America's oldest highway.

Anything I don't get from the song?
Lose it.

Excuse me?

- I didn't say anything.
- You made a sound.

- I'll be out of your way in a moment.
- Okay.

Apparently there are tiny mussels
taking over the Great Lakes.

Lose it.

- Can I help you?
- No, you're screwing the world up.

- Who are you?
- I'm an intern at the GAO.

- It's almost noon. They'll start the vote.
- Let's go watch.

You stay a second.

- You're an intern?
- Yes.

- What are you, 14 years old?
- I'm 19 years old.

And what's your problem
with my cutting reports?

Nothing, other than it being
utterly bogus.

- What's your name?
- Winnifred Hooper.

- Should I call you "Winnie"?
- If you want me to spit at you.

- I don't.
- Okay.

The accounting office tells me
I can save taxpayers $3 million... cutting 400 reports.

Now families can realize their dream of
a college education for their children...

...with the penny and a half
you just saved them.

You blow through these
like they don't mean anything.

- They don't.
- You're an idiot!

- Hey, you're talking to senior staff.
- Gee, genuflect when you say that, fella.

" Report on the Obstacles to State
and Local Training Needs... Waste Management
and Resource Recovery. "

- Know what this is?
- Yes.

- Career opportunities for garbage men.
- And what's wrong with that?

It's a tough sell,
and I don't need a report to tell me.

Do you have any idea how much MSW
this country generates in a single year?

- That's....
- Municipal solid waste.

- I knew that.
- 209 million tons of MSW...

...or 4.3 pounds per person per day.

And we only have hard data
available from five years ago.

- So they would be even higher today?
- You bet they would.

Trash collectors play an incredibly
important role in our society.

They start work at 4 a.m. A three-person
crew services 1200 homes in six hours...

...collecting 50,000 pounds of garbage.

How do you know all that?

- I've read the report.
- You've read the report?

- Yes.
- Why?

- I'm allowed. Anybody's allowed.
- No, I mean, why?

Well, they're all sitting
in the room I work in.

So it just happens you read
the report I pulled off the top?

- I've read them all.
- You've read them all.

I like to read.
They let me come early and stay after.

Mr. Seaborn, because of
the low rate of unemployment...

...people can be a lot more choosy...

...and the sanitation departments
are having trouble...

...hiring qualified trash collectors...

- ... which I think you'll agree we need.
- Yes.

Okay. I have to go back to my room.

Winnie. Yeah, I said it.
Listen, you're talented.

When you get out of school,
come see me for a job.

I suppose you're not a complete loser.

And you write very well.

So when I get out of school,
you should come see me for a job.

Back to the cat story.

I've done my research,
and sure enough, I was quite screwed.

I was in trouble and I needed
to tell someone, a cohort.

Someone whose criminal mind
was equal to my own.

- Donna, I need to talk to you right now.
- I have to get these to people.

- So we went to Cairo last year, right?
- Not me. I had strep.

- I didn't, which is sad for me.
- Are you in trouble?

- I may be in a spot of trouble.
- What happened?

Hassan Ali gave the president a gift,
a small ceramic statue of Bast.

- Bast?
- Bast. A cat goddess. She was...

- Did Josh leave?
- He went to lunch.

She was the patron saint of Bubastis...

...and rose to prominence
during the 22nd Dynasty.

- How do you know this?
- I looked it up.

- The cats in the temple...
- What temple?

The Temple of Bubastis maybe,
I don't know.

The cats in the temple wore jeweled
collars. They were treated royally.

They thought cats controlled
the movement of the moon.

They had total authority
over royal houses...

...because of their ability
to see in the dark.

Anyone who killed a cat
was put to death.

- I'm sorry, C.J., I'm not...
- I broke the damn statue.

Not badly...

...but, you know, in several pieces.

Since it came out of his collection,
breaking it would amount... a personal affront
implying he had bad taste...

...and that it was of little value
to the president.

They're asking for you
back at your desk.

- How did you break it?
- I tossed it in my suitcase.

- You tossed it?
- Do you know how much crap...

...gets stuck in the president's hands?

Didn't the gift officer
know it was priceless?

Apparently not, because she handed
it to me with T-shirts and baklava.

- Donna?
- Yeah.

- Why are you telling me?
- I thought maybe you'd have an idea.

There's nothing I can think of, except
agree you're monumentally screwed.

- I hate to leave it at that.
- But you're gonna.

- What's going on?
- It's this phone message for Josh.

- From?
- Howard Stackhouse.

Who has my wallet?

Thank you.


Did Stackhouse ask you
to meet with one of his aides?

- I'm not taking it.
- Why?

He wants an amendment added
to the Family Wellness Act...

...for autism care and research.

- And we don't want to?
- This is a " Christmas tree bill. "

Everyone hangs amendments on it.
We just closed it this morning.

- We try and hang a star on top...
- The tree topples and it doesn't pass.

Stackhouse doesn't have
a lot of muscle on this, so...

You got this phone message.

- From his office?
- From him.

" Meet with me or there's not gonna
be a vote while I'm alive. Stackhouse. "

"... as if it were her fault, poor thing,
and said, sobbing, that indeed...

...she was afraid she was
but a childish widow. "

Maybe it's the curse of Bast that made us
not take the Stackhouse threat seriously...

...but whatever the reason,
it's time to take it seriously...

...because he's gassing me
out of time.

I've got two hours
till the 11:00 print deadline...

...and there's no way, there's no way,
he goes another two hours.

Let's move on
to the rules of cards.

There's no way.

The message was pretty cryptic, like
something you'd slip to a bank teller.

And it was unusual to get it from a
senator who'd normally dispatch an aide.

Leo agreed,
but was in no way concerned.

He told me to take the meeting,
but not to sweat it...

...and under no circumstances
give anything away.

So I headed up to the Hill wearing,
by the way...

...the new shoes you bought me
which I'd never worn before.

Since Dad's not here to do it, I think
it's my job to bore you with history now.

The filibuster's been a part of
parliamentary stratagem...

...for over 150 years.

The reason we weren't
sweating Stackhouse... that he isn't someone you sweat.

He's been around forever,
but he has little influence...

...little power and few friends.

So Dad would want me to tell you
where the word "filibuster" comes from.

It's from the Dutch vrijbuiter, which
translated literally means "freebooter. "

But what they meant was "buccaneer. "

- Afternoon, senator.
- Afternoon.

- Sounds like a bad cold.
- It's fine.

Are you taking anything?

I don't want to talk about my cold.

- I want $47 million to fight autism.
- Sir...

Five centers of excellence
at universities around the country... help scientists coordinate
their research.

Three special units for autism
epidemiology at the CDC...

...and a centralized facility
for gene and brain banking.

- That's 43 million.
- Senator...

The other 4 million
is for a federal program... educate doctors to reduce the
staggeringly high percentage of cases... which autism is misdiagnosed.

- We can't do it.
- Of course you can.

- You simply call the conference chair...
- The bill started out at 2 billion.

- It's 6 billion now.
- That's right.

- So another 47 million hurts you how?
- Sir...

It's 8/10 of one percent of a bill aimed
at health issues affecting children...

...which is the same as the percentage
of children affected by autism.

I don't need to tell you,
in these negotiations...

In these negotiations about a bill aimed
at health issues affecting children...

...we've allocated funds for Alzheimer's,
glaucoma and erectile dysfunction.

You know a lot of 2-year-olds afflicted
with that horrific condition, do you?

There's no doubt that
that's a good point.

But in order to ensure that more
important things were in the bill...

- So there was a determination made.
- I'm sorry?

A determination was made,
an order of priorities.

Senator, there's gonna be a vote.
The bill's closed.

Open it back up again.

That would mean to postpone the vote
and everyone's breaking for the recess...

And you want the story
before everyone goes home.



Sir, the next time around,
and there will be a next time around...

That's all. I'm done with you now.

And that was that.

Also at this hour, parliamentary
procedure in all of its glory... a Senate filibuster watches
day turn into night...

...and possibly back into day again.

78-year-old Minnesota Senator Howard
Stackhouse stands alone tonight... the well of the Senate chamber... his colleagues,
somewhat impatiently, wait for a vote...

...that was scheduled to take place
more than nine hours ago.

who once ran for president....

- Hey, Zack?
- Yeah.

You guys record the news feeds, right?

Could I get the B-roll they're showing
on the Stackhouse story?

It's 3 or 4 seconds. It's a campaign stop
and his grandchildren are with him.

The voiceover's talking
about his seven grandchildren.

- Sure, what's the problem?
- It's nothing.

- I'll have it sent up.
- Thanks.


You're booked tomorrow morning, 8:55,
United, direct to West Palm Beach.

- Which gets in at?
- 12:58.

It's still a 70-mile drive to Port St. Lucie.
I'll miss the game.

- I thought they weren't playing yet.
- It's an exhibition game.

You're going to see the Mets play another
team in a game that doesn't count?

Actually, it's an intra-squad game.

So you're going to see the Mets play each
other in a game that doesn't count.

- Yeah.
- Okay.

There's a flight out of Dulles at 7 a.m.
You change planes in Newark.

I've gotta fly to New Jersey
to get to Palm Beach?

- Look...
- Just make sure that tomorrow morning...

- Mike Piazza calls you "dude. "
- Yes.

What are you doing?

- I'm writing an e-mail to my mother.
- Why?

To thank her for
a pair of shoes she sent me.

- Your mother sent you shoes?
- Donna, please try and keep it...

- That is the sweetest thing...
- Donna.


Donna says hi, Mom.

Anyway, I didn't think much
about the meeting.

There are always people
who don't get what they want.

I was thinking about other things.

Like Toby, I was puzzled
as to why the vice president...

...who made his money from
and champions the oil industry...

...volunteered to admonish
the oil industry.

Sir, I'm sure you're aware that
Philip Sluman testified before the FTC...

...that the administration's relentless
pursuit of stricter emissions standards... the form of additives
is why we're seeing price spikes.

- Yeah.
- Would you comment on that?

Yeah. Our relentless pursuit
of cleaner air standards...

...has resulted in lower asthma rates...

...and the cleanest air in California
in 50 years.

It costs marginally more
to refine fuel with additives...

...but the costs are being passed on
to consumers at an outrageous price.

- Mr. Vice President.
- Yeah, Chris.

Are you accusing members
of the PPA of price gouging?

Some of these CEOs
are old friends of mine...

...but they do know how to turn a profit.

They'll claim prices will go down
after production increases....

Hoynes just kept hammering away.

And I was reminded how close
he came to being elected president.

Toby said it was an impressive display...

...but couldn't get past the question
of why he volunteered to do it.

If you wonder what the president
does during a filibuster...

...I don't know. This is our first.

A t the moment, he's in his private
dining room having dinner.

There's a famous French chef visiting,
and every time he comes...

...he cooks for the president.


- Good evening, sir.
- You busy?

- What do you need?
- Come have dinner with me.

- Why?
- Pierre Boileau is cooking tonight.

- You want to have dinner?
- What's he serving?

- That's your answer?
- I'm just asking.

Well, I can tell you that the man
specializes in a reinterpretation...

...of classic Provencale cuisine.

- Cassoulet, duck with green olives...
- Yeah.

...saffron chicken.

I haven't had a good saffron chicken
in some time.

- Well, don't you think you deserve one?
- Yes.

His specialty is his dessert,
tomate du saltambique.

That's gonna be a big seedless
beefsteak tomato...

...stewed for three hours
in crème de caramel...

- ... and stuffed with...
- Passion fruit, kiwi and hazelnuts. And....

- Served on a pomegranate reduction.
- Let's go.

- Leave the cell phone.
- I'm taking my phone.

We're not leaving the building.
People can find you.

- Let's go.
- What's he on to now?

- He's reading the rules of cards.
- Oh, brother.

Don't worry about it.

Could Howard Stackhouse possibly be
a bigger horse's patoot?

I don't know what part
of a horse that is exactly...

...but I've always thought
he was a decent guy.

He's a curmudgeon,
a grouchy old crank.

- So are we.
- You are. I am full of mirth.

He was all over me the first year.
He called me " Bartlet the Inert. "

- It was funny.
- I'm a reformer.

I'm the most liberal president
he's served under.

His hero, Hubert Humphrey...

- Shook your hand.
- That's right.

- I feel bad.
- Why?

His wife died a few years ago.
I didn't go to the funeral.


- I was busy running for president.
- That's right.

- Tomate du saltambique, my friend.
- Yes, indeed.

Good evening.

Hi. Hang on.

They thought I was gonna
be eating with Abbey... we'll just, you know,
pretend there's no candlelight.

Or that we're not paranoid
homophobes in any way.


Leo, you have a deputy who's,
frankly, a lot smarter than you are.

- Let him handle it. Who you talking to?
- My deputy. Yeah.

What does he say?

- He says there's no end in sight.
- Okay, let's eat.

"To get cash for your chips, you have to
go to the cashier's cage of the casino. "

- C.J.?
- Yeah.

I was looking at the B-roll they're
showing on the Stackhouse story...

- ... and there's something odd.
- What?

They show two different events
during his last campaign...

...and his grandchildren are next to him.
He's got seven.

- What's the problem?
- There are only six in the shot.

I don't think this is what we think it is.
I don't think he's just being ornery.

I think he has a grandson
who's autistic.

Oh, holy hell.

- Tell Josh. Find out for sure.
- Yeah.

- More brandy, sir?
- No, I'm fine.

I hope the first lady's not feeling ill.

- No, she's up at the Manchester house.
- Very good, sir.

- No, it really sucks, but thanks.
- Yes, sir.

You hear that? He said, "Very good, sir. "
Where do they learn that?

- Yeah. I'm sorry?
- Nothing.

I'm sure that was moved for a reason.

We're prepping for a G-8 with Barney,
and we're going to Tel Aviv.

- I just feel like we don't talk anymore.
- Tel Aviv is the week after.


See, you're not even listening.

Ben, let me call you back.

What's your problem?

I'm just saying we work all day,
then the day's over...

...and we go out to dinner,
and you're still working.

And, you know, I'm sitting here....
No time to talk.

You know, conversations like this
are the reason I got divorced.

No, it's not.


What's wrong?

- I made...
- I'm fine, Billy.

I made a deal with Abbey.

Because of my thing.

One term?

My thing, by the way, is the reason
that Hoynes stepped up on oil.

- Because he thinks maybe....
- Yeah.

It was three years ago,
she can't expect...



It's C.J.
Stackhouse has an autistic grandson.

- Let's go.
- C.J., we're coming up.

- Charlie.
- He's just coming over.

- Thanks. Can we wait?
- Yeah.

Look, one of us is going to have to tell
the president that the statue's broken.

- It's not broken.
- It is broken.

- She Krazy Glued it back together.
- You Krazy Glued it?

I didn't know what it was.
I needed a potpourri holder.

I have the ancient curse of Bast on me,
so get off my back, Sparky.

Okay, but when you tell him,
I'd leave out the Krazy Glue.

- And potpourri, right?
- Yeah.

Here we go.

- How does he not just tell me?
- Sir.

How does he not come to me
and say, "Jed, this is my grandson.

There are lots more like him
and more to come. Can you help us? "

- Because he...
- Damn it, we would've gotten it done.

- Why doesn't he tell me?
- He doesn't wanna make political hay...

...out of his grandson,
which is commendable.

He's a crank.

- Good evening, Mr. President.
- Hey.

- Hey, Donna, you need something?
- She's the one who started sniffing.

That phone message was for real,
he's not gonna stop till he drops.

He might.

Let me tell you something, don't ever
underestimate the will of a grandfather.

We're mad. We don't give a damn. We got
here before you, and they'll be here after.

We'll make enemies,
we'll break laws, we'll break bones...

...but you will not mess
with the grandchildren.

There was quite a bit of sugar
in the crème de caramel.

If I told you to screw the print deadline,
what would you wanna do right now?

I'd want to see if there was
a way I could help him out.

Give him some dignity, right?
And give him a rest, he's gonna collapse.

- Yes, sir.
- Screw the print deadline.

Leo, we will talk about
the other thing later.

I'm just asking
how we're gonna do this.

- Excuse me.
- The chairman's gonna gavel him off.

Excuse me.

- What are you doing?
- I didn't know if I'm supposed to.

- We usually don't raise our hands.
- Though it's not the worst idea.

The senator's allowed to yield for
a question without yielding the floor.

- What do you mean?
- He's allowed to yield for a question...

...without yielding the floor.

I was in the House,
I know nothing about Senate rules.

Yes, sir, but Josh does
and he likes to explain things.

I'm pretty sure it's true.

What time is it?
Let's wake up a parliamentarian.

Yeah, but the only people
who ask questions are senators.

- We're gonna get one. Charlie!
- The Senate wants to go home, to vote.

- Yes.
- I wanna call senators.

Start with friends. And after those two,
we'll go on to the other 98.

- Yes, sir.
- Charlie.

- Start with grandfathers.
- Yes, ma'am.

There's no damn holiday for us either.

- We'll be in the dining room.
- C.J., no kidding.

- Make this happen.
- Yes, sir.

Oh, and I broke your statue.

- I don't think he heard you.
- No.

The water peaked
at 3690 feet last month...

...because of an uncontrolled
release from Lake Powell.

- You mean the leak of Lake Powell.
- I suppose.

- I am going home.
- Good night, sir.

- Good night.
- Mr. Vice President.

- Didn't I do it right?
- No, you did it very well. I appreciate it.


I'm sure you know I was curious
about why you'd volunteer for that.


So I got ahold of some
private polling you've had done.

Oh. Yeah?

A significant number of people are
concerned over your close ties to big oil.

- Well, not anymore.
- Yeah.

But what I was wondering was, why
did you put the poll in the field at all?

Mr. Vice President,
what do you know that I don't?

Toby, the total tonnage
of what I know that you don't...

...could stun a team of oxen
in its tracks.

Good night.

And then came the big moment, Dad.

Everyone was enlisted.

You called whoever you knew...

...and if that didn't work,
they got a call from the president.

Do I have your word on that?

We'd been at it 20 minutes,
coming up with nothing until....

Got it!

Senator Tom Grissom of Washington
State was headed to the chamber...

...and everybody started flooding
into the communications bullpen to see.

The problem being Stackhouse would have
to know about rules and procedures...

...and not think
we were trying to screw him.

We stared at 14 different television
sets while calculating...

...the time it would take Grissom
to walk to the floor.

And we were in frozen silence while
we listened to the rules of blackjack.

..."unless you are counting cards. "

And then it happened.

Point of order, Mr. Chairman!

Mr. Grissom?

Will the senator yield for a question?

Come on.

- Mr. Stackhouse?
- Come on.

Trust me just this once
you grouchy, old son of a bitch.

Mr. Chairman...

...I yield to the senator
from Washington for a question.

My question is in 22 parts
and might take quite a while.

Perhaps you'd like to sit and
have some water while I ask it.


And that was it.

Grissom gave him a rest
and an opportunity... answer some real
questions about autism.

And when Grissom was done,
McNamara took over.

And after McNamara came Gianelli.

Grandfathers, all.

I'll have to finish this now
and go into the press room...

...and explain what happened.

There will be no vote tonight,
and the Senate will go home.

Stackhouse, with our help,
blew the print deadline anyway...

...there's really no reason for Josh
not to go back and reopen the bill.

There are so many days where you can't
imagine anything good will happen.

You're buried under a fog of partisanship
and self-promotion and stupidity...

...and a brand of politics
that's just plain mean.

Yes, Hoynes had us nervous
with his admonishment of big oil...

...and the president was making us
nervous too. But that's for tomorrow.

Tonight, I've seen a man
with no legs stay standing, Dad...

...and a guy with no voice keep shouting.

And if politics brings out
the worst in people...

...maybe people bring out the best.

Because I'm looking at the TV right now,
and damn if 28 U. S. senators...

...haven't just walked
onto the floor to help.

I'll catch a plane in the morning...

...and if you wouldn't mind not turning
70 until tomorrow, that'd be great.

In the meantime, I love you so much.
Your daughter, Claudia.

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