The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 3, Episode 17 - The U.S. Poet Laureate - full transcript

Poet laureate Tabitha Fortis visits D.C. to attend a White House dinner in her honor, and Toby develops a bit of a crush on her, but he also must admonish the somewhat flighty beauty ...

Previously on The West Wing:

Toby keeps coming back
at me with this... .

- He says I let the pitch go by.
- What pitch?

I smooth myself out publicly.

You're not just folks.
You're not plainspoken.

Do not... Do not... Do not act like it.

I don't wanna be killed.

Then make this election
about smart and not.

Qualified and not.

Make it about a heavyweight.
You're a heavyweight.

-Morning, Mr. President.
- Good to be talking to you.

-You're in the Map Room this morning?
- The Mural Room.

Welcome to Sunrise Cincinnati, sir.

I know you only have a moment
and wanna talk...

... about Thursday's
prime-time press conference.

Right, and Thursday night we're
gonna talk about energy dependence...

...versus independence
and cleaner-burning fuels...

...that get up to 80 miles per gallon
versus oil-based fuels...

...that pump billions of pounds
of pollution into our air...

...and, perhaps just as important, are
vulnerable to very volatile price spikes.

We wanna talk about controlling
our destiny through innovation...

...instead of relying
so heavily on foreign oil.

Okay, now, you mentioned foreign oil...

Yeah. 65% of the world's oil reserves
are in the Mideast.

3% are here at home. I wouldn't mind
sending a little less of my money...

...over there, and the only alternative
is to use less oil.

Last question, Mr. President.
Governor Robert Ritchie of Florida...

... likely Republican nominee
for the fall campaign...

... in his new book, A Promise to Lead,
he says we should be exploring...

... the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve
for new sources of energy.

Will this be a hotly contested
campaign topic?

I hope so, but there's plenty of time
for campaigning come fall.

Thursday night
is about America's energy future.

Thank you very much,
President Jed Bartlet.

It's 12 past the hour. Don 't go away,
we'll be back with traffic...

- ... and weather updates.
- We're out.

- Thank you very much, sir.
- Thank you, Kim.

- Terry.
- Terry. I'm sorry.

-That's all right.
- That was my ninth interview.

Are you ready to run against Ritchie?

I guess we'll be ready to run against
whoever we have to.

- Well, good luck.
- Thank you.

- They wanna talk about Ritchie's book.
- We could talk about my book.

Theory and Design of Macroeconomics
in Developing Nations?

Okay, sir, we've got 2 minutes and 20
seconds, and it's WKZN in Philadelphia.

- Thanks.
- They say"exploring," you say"drilling."

There's a 12-point kick with ANWAR
between exploring and drilling.

- What else?
- Saudi Arabia, bad.

Got it.

- How's it going?
- Good.

- Do you have a minute?
- Well, that's all I've got.

Could you do me a favor?
I got faxed a letter from Tabatha Fortis.

She's not comfortable
with dinner next week...

...unless she can chastise
the administration...

...for backing off
on banning land mines.

It's just a matter of handholding.
Would you ask Sam to talk to her?

- I'll do it.
- Sam's more familiar with land mines.

- I'll talk to her.
- Why?



Is it possible you've got a little touch
of the poet?

Or would like a little touch of the poet?


Okay, then learn something
about land mines.

We don't wanna cancel. 300 of the
finest minds in the country are coming... some congressmen.
- I'll be fine.

Knock them dead, de Bergerac.


Okay, what?

Nothing, I just meant,
you know, okay.

We're back from commercial
in 20 seconds.

- Drilling/exploring.
- Yes, sir.

- Saudi Arabia, bad.
- Saudi Arabia, very bad.

- Okay.
- Okay.

Why are you smiling?

Happiness is my default position.

Joining us now from the Mural Room
of the White House is President Bartlet.

- Good morning.
- Morning, thanks for having me.

You wanna talk
about Thursday's press conference.

And to shill for my new energy plan... raise fuel economy standards,
working with Detroit... develop hybrid cars and using tax
incentives to promote alternative energy.

Why is alternative energy important?

After a decade of wars with Iraq
and the spread of religious extremism... Saudi Arabia, we still rely on this
very dangerous, very uncertain region...

...for a quarter of our oil reserves.

And l, for one, wouldn't mind not sending
quite so much of my money there.

Wouldn 't that suggest that Florida
Governor Robert Ritchie was correct...

... in his book, A Promise to Lead?
He says we should open up...

... the Arctic for exploration?

Exploring is what Magellan did,
and Balboa and Jacques Cousteau.

This is drilling, which is the only way
you know if there's oil there...

...and which will forever damage
natural treasures like ANWAR.

What about clean coal?

That's a term pollsters came up with
because it polls higher than regular coal.

We want real cleaner-burning fuels, to
control our destiny through innovation.

That's what we'll talk
about Thursday night.

Mr. President, thank you
for being with us today.

- My pleasure.
- It's 16 past the hour.

We'll be back with traffic and weather
as Wake Up Philadelphia continues.

- Okay.
- That was terrific.

- Leslie, right?
- Yes, sir.

- Thanks a lot.
- I mentioned Governor Ritchie's book...

... because I hoped
you'd rise to the bait.

There will be plenty of bait
in September, October.

- Have you read it?
- I'll read it when he does.

- What's your read on him?
- I don't know.

I think we might be talking about a.22
caliber mind in a.357 Magnum world.

- Okay.
- Okay, thanks again.

Who's next?

- You were hot.
- What?

When you said that just now,
you were hot. They've got it on B-roll.

- How did the tape get out already?
- We were discussing that.

A local AP reporter
was at the station.

- They didn't keep it exclusive?
- They want their call letters splashed...

And the networks will carry it tonight.

This is amateur crap, Sam.
How did it happen?

- First of all, I wasn't there.
- Who was?

My boss, the White House director
of communications.

It wasn't his fault either. It was
8 seconds, it was his 10th interview.

- He didn't see that the green light was...
- You're right. What's first?

- I have the briefing room in 20 minutes.
- What are you gonna get?

- Is he saying Governor Ritchie's stupid?
- Yes.

- No.
-"Yes" is the only answer to that.

Why not,"He has
the highest regard for Ritchie...

...believes he's a broad thinker
and a dedicated public servant"?

It's the Press Briefing Room, not
the lmprov. She can't walk this back.

She'll sound disingenuous at best,
naive at worst.

My concern
is how the president sounds.

I've got 80 people
who don't make the distinction.

If I pretend Ritchie's
a nuclear physicist...

Then don't answer. Our focus
is on energy independence this week.

No, we're focusing on this
this week.

I can try a non-apology apology.

Try it.

"The president didn't realize the camera
was hot, and he said something...

...he shouldn't have,
as we all do from time to time."

- Nice.
- Yeah.

- It's a head-fake towards contrition.
- And we hold our heads high.

All right. Good.
We'll see how it goes.

Why is this one so hard to spin?

It's the classic Washington scandal.
We screwed up by telling the truth.

All right. Let's try not to do that
that much.

I know.

- What's going on?
- Hi, sugar-lips.

- I'm sorry?
- Donna struck gold.

- What is it?
- Lemon-Lyman. Com.

- What is it?
- Your fan site.

- What?
- A website devoted to all things"Josh."

- You're kidding me.
- No.

- Lemon-Lyman. Com?
- You have fans, Josh.

Not many of them,
but what they lack in numbers...

...they make up for in fervor.
- What do they talk about?

You on Capital Beat, Meet the Press,
U.S. News and World Report.

There's a section called
"Sightings About Town."

This is reserved for actual
Josh encounters of the third kind.

Most seem to take place
in restaurants...'ve never been to,
unless you lead a double life.

- And we know you're not that clever.
- Lemon-Lyman. Com?

Right now we're viewing the section
devoted to the"Josh Fantasy Date."

This, it should be painfully
self-explanatory, is where the women...

...and more than a few men, I must
say, discuss what they'd do with you if...

All right, can everybody
who doesn't work here...

...please go work where they work.
- I wanna work here now.

You can get this at your own desk.

You better believe it.

See you at lunch.

You've got Senior Senior Staff
at the COS...

...then Senior Staff
at the Roosevelt Room.

Meeting with the economic team
to pre-brief for fed chair...

...then Advance, State and NSC to go
over the next 6 months of foreign travel.

Let me look at this thing.

Right. Yes. Let me know
when C.J. 's briefing starts.

- Sorry I'm late.
- Good morning, Mr. President.

- We hearing from Michigan's delegation?
- We will.

They'll want assurances, no mandates,
no timetables...

...make the whole thing voluntary
and industry-led.

Polluters won't write environmental
laws. And the Energy Workers Union?

They wanna know
it's Saudi jobs we're after.

- It is.
- The money's in raising...

...CAFE standards to 40 miles per gallon,
that's the meeting.

- What else?
- You're gonna be reprimanded...

...tomorrow night on the House floor.
- For what?

It's not nice to call people dumb.

Let me ask you something. You're
pretty dumb, did you take offense?

- Look, I did it again.
- Mr. President?

- Yeah.
- She's ready to start.

Seriously, the GOP's lining up
a bunch of people for order speeches.

- Calling me impolite?
- I guess.

He's here, you can send her in.

Anyway, the whip's got
about 150 Democrats ready to rebut.

You have any
special preferences?

I don't know,
I guess the biggest names.

You know what we'd do if we
were smart? We wouldn't send anybody.

We'd look so good by not showing up.
Let them whine by themselves.

Morning, C.J.

-Good morning.
-Was the president saying...

... Governor Ritchie
isn 't up to the job of being president?

He didn 't realize the camera was hot
and said something he shouldn 't have.

- Something we all do from time to time.
- Nice.

Isn 't it early in the season
to be going negative?

He said something he wouldn 't have...

... if he knew it was gonna be public.

C.J., has he made the same
kind of remarks in private?

There's a reason
they call it private, Stuart.

All right, I'm going back to work.

Is he saying
he's smarter than Governor Ritchie?

The voters get to make
those kinds of judgments.


Governor Ritchie asked
the president to apologize.

Will he?

As I said yesterday,
he didn't realize the camera was hot...

...and he said something
he shouldn't have.

- Katie?
- The Ritchie camp is challenging...

...the president to sign a pledge,
a promise to run a positive campaign.

While the governor is the presumptive
Republican nominee, it's presumptive.

So is the president's renomination.

But more important,
the president has been a candidate... seven statewide and national
elections, and all have been...

...substantive, issue-based campaign,
one reason why voters elected him...

...every time his name
has appeared on a ballot. Phil?

You're aware news
organizations are trying to obtain...

...Ritchie's transcripts
from the University of Florida?

- You mean since yesterday?
- Yeah.

- No, I wasn't.
- My question is...

...does he feel college transcripts
are an accurate barometer...

...of a person's fitness
to hold high public office?

I've never asked him,
but my guess is...

...he feels a person's college transcript
is a reasonable barometer...

...for how a person did in college.
The president graduated...

...summa cum laude
from the University of Notre Dame...

...majored in American Studies
with a minor in theology...

...received a master's and doctorate
at London School of Economics...

...and an honorary doctorate in humane
letters at Dartmouth...

...where he was a tenured professor.

I myself attended Cal Berkeley, go Bears.
Thank you very much, talk to you later.

Thanks, C.J.

- All right, so far not bad.
- What's next?

- Bud Wachtel's in my office.
- Of course he is.

- Don't give him what he wants.
- I seldom do.

We can't hold a bipartisan summit
on bipartisanism. We'll look ridiculous.

- We're used to that.
- Sam...

- I won't give him what he wants.
- Is it me, or are Ritchie's people wrong?

- It's not you.
- Why keep at it? They won't look good.

"The president was mean to me"?
Let it go.

By the way, my Princeton Tigers
could whip your Cal Bears anytime.

- At what?
- Logarithms, possibly.

- He's in your office.
- Thank you.

- Congressman.
- It smells of partisanism in the air, Sam.

Actually, you know,
they just sprayed for bugs.

How did Ziegler let this happen?

First of all, it wasn't Toby's fault,
it was mine.

And it happened quickly
and we regret it.

- How's reaction been so far?
- Our base is very happy...

...but when our base is happy
there's usually trouble someplace else.

- Moderates talk of bolting the party.
- Nobody's bolting.

It was an honest mistake.

And by the way,
it had nothing to do with partisanism.

- Something has to be done.
- Little can be done...

...from the Communications Office.

- A summit.
- Congressman...

- A summit on bipartisan cooperation.
- It'll get laughed out of the room.

- Why?
- It's election year. We want partisanism.

- We're trying to beat them.
- I've gotta tell... moderate friends something.

What about a Republican appointment
or a promotion?

- We've got Ainsley Hayes.
- Name sounds familiar.

She was associate White House
counsel, promoted to deputy counsel.

She's slightly to the right
of the Kaiser.

- I'd make her visible right now.
- Yes, sir, that's a good idea.

And learn to tell the difference
between red and green.

Yes, sir.

Okay then.

- Ginger, I need to see Ainsley.
- She's on vacation.

- When's she coming back?
- Next week.

Not so much, no.

- Donna!
- Yeah.

We're gonna post
a response on the site.

- What site?
- Lemon-Lyman...

- No.
- Yeah, we gotta post a response.

- It's a bad idea.
- Why?

- You don't know these people.
- Neither do you.

- I do.
- What's wrong with them?

- Nobody knows.
- These people...

...take an interest in government.
They should be applauded.

- Applaud, but stay off the site.
- These are the people talking.

- I'm not an elitist.
- You are.

I am, but I have respect for people
who don't measure up.

People on these sites tend
to be hysterical.

- We gotta correct something.
- What?

Irmatrude writes,"Three nights ago on
Nightline, Josh said we'll be asking...

...for a GAO study of Medicare drug
pricing. Apparently, no one's told Josh...

...that only Congress can ask the GAO
to do anything."

How cool is it that they know
what the GAO can and can't do.

- Oh, it's cool as all giddyup.
- Sit down.

- Please don't do this.
- Sit down.


...thanks for watching me
on Nightline.

Yes, I do know that only Congress
can instruct the GAO.

When I said,"we'll be asking," I meant
Democrats and not the White House.

Thank you for your concern.

- You sure you wanna sign off like that?
- It's playful.


You could get more
in the spirit of this.

- The people?
- Yes.

What Josh doesn't know
is that some of these people...

...haven't taken their medication.

Let's watch what happens now.

- Excuse me.
- Hey. You're done.

Is this tie all right?

- I'm sorry?
- This necktie, does it go with the jacket?

God, I don't know, Toby.
The tie, is it red or is it green?

Congratulations, you're the 100th
person to make that joke.

- The tie's fine. Why?
- I'm meeting someone.



Excuse me.

- Ms. Fortis?
- Yeah.

I'm Toby Ziegler.

I've been thinking a lot about it
since you called.


There's nothing that rhymes
with Ziegler.

- It's why no one writes about me.
- They could write in blank verse.

- Dylan could do it.
- Yeah, but he hasn't yet.

Am I really weird right off the bat?

Do you wanna be?

- No.
- Then you're not.

I think you're just being nice.

I think if you ask around,
you'll discover that's unlikely.

- You wanna come back to my office?
- Yeah.

So you know what everybody's
talking about out there?

The president's open-mike gaffe.

- That's exactly what I was gonna say.
- Toby.

Sam, say hello to the newly minted
U.S. poet laureate, Tabatha Fortis.

- Hi.
- Yes, indeed.

- Poetry, I must tell you...
- That's fine.

- Nice meeting you.
- You too.

- You guys poetry fans around here?
- Can't get enough of it.

- Oh, yeah? Who's your favorite?
- You.

- Nice.
- Come on in.

- Nice office.
- Exactly 63 feet from the Oval Office.

If you don't think we measure,
you're out of your mind.

Okay. So... .

- Hello.
- How you doing?

We have a problem?


We have arranged a dinner in your honor.
We've invited 300 important people.

We've invited press,
we've shined our shoes.

You gotta sign
the land mine treaty, Toby.

What happened to the nuance
of diplomacy?

- I'm sorry, the shoes are shined.
- No, we're there now.

- You can't go back.
- Sorry.

- Right.
- 142 countries have signed it.

84 have ratified,
12 destroyed their entire stock.

- Yes.
- You know who hasn't signed it?

- Us and Cuba.
- You know who initiated it? Us.

And the nations of the world
rallied around it... yet another impressive display
of American leadership.

- And then?
- We bolted.

- Right.
- The reason we did... because we love anti-personnel
land mines. We love them.

We think the government should be
selling them, like the post office.

The post office is the venue
we're considering.

- Toby, l...
- It's Korea, Tabatha.

There are 900,000 North Korean soldiers
in the DMZ.

The only thing stopping them
from walking into South Korea...

...are 37,000 U.S. troops and about
a million land mines along the border.

We have said over and over that we
would be thrilled to sign this treaty...

...if we could have an exemption for
South Korea, and we have been rebuffed.

Rebuffed, I say.

Look, so we disagree on this.

Clearly. What's the big deal?

- It's not a big deal at all.
- Except?

If you voice your disagreement
at a party in your honor...

...hosted by the president,
with the press in attendance...

...then it's a gigantic deal which travels
the 63 feet right to this office.

All right then.

I'm sorry we can't have the party.

But I like talking to you.

Yeah, you're cute...

...and I love the way you write.

C.J., could you give it to us unvarnished?
Was the president calling...

...Governor Ritchie stupid?
- Oh, my God, day three.

- Was he?
- I think this one may be unspinable.

And that's saying something
coming from my office.

Yeah, he was calling him stupid.

How has his mood been
the last few days? Does he regret it?

He hasn't been able to feed
or bathe himself.

The governor's doing a 10-state tour.
His campaign indicates...

...they'll try to rally the nation
around his clean campaign pledge.

A quote,"A different kind of politics
is sweeping the nation.

Once the president understands
the American people...

...he'll have no choice
but to sign the pledge."

Mark, I swear to God,
as soon as the president needs help...

the American people...

...he'll call
Florida's Republican governor.

But this week, we're focused
on the press conference...

...on our National Strategy
for Energy Independence.

Speaking of which, we've been
dependent on foreign oil for far too long.

65% of our crude oil reserves come
from the Gulf, only 3% here at home.

C.J., policy is the president's forte.

Are you guys trying
to bait Governor Ritchie...

...into an argument on energy
because you'll win?

We tried to convince the president
that talking about policy...

...was unsportsmanlike,
but we didn't get anywhere.

Listen, I've had a lot of fun,
I know you have too. I'll see you later.

Thank you, C.J.

- C.J.
- Chuckles.

The president wants another
pre-brief and run-through tonight.

- Sure.
- Full-blown run-through.

Maybe then you can explain...

...your problem
with drilling ANWAR for oil.

If we wanna be energy-independent,
what's wrong with drilling in Alaska?

It'll do huge and lasting damage
to the environment...

...and won't reap that much oil.
- It won't impact the environment.

You won't know how much
is there until you explore.

- Explore?
- Yes.

- You mean drill?
- That's how you get where the oil is at.

- You've been reading his book.
- Excuse me?

-A Promise to Lead, Ritchie's book.
- Whoever ghosted it isn't bad.

Carol, put together a page
on the impact of drilling...

...the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

Note exactly how many caribou
we've made unhappy.

- Thank you.
- You bet.

Come in.

- Hey, welcome back.
- What?

- How was the vacation?
- It was 40 hours long.

- Where did you go?
- Hilton Head.

What did you do?

I unpacked and then I packed.

By the way, congratulations.
Babish is promoting you to deputy.

- When did this happen?
- Right after I told Bud Wachtel...

...that we already had.
- What the hell is going on?

Well, Monday morning there was a little
incident during the satellite interviews.

I read about it. How could you
let something like that happen?

Okay, for everybody who works outside
the building, I'll fall on the sword.

But for everybody who works inside,
I wasn't there!


- Didn't get much of a tan.
- What do you need?

Capital Beat, Capital Gang,
Inside Politics.

- To say what?
- The president isn't an elitist.

- He respects everyone.
- That's why he made...

...a Southern Republican
a deputy counsel.

- Congratulations, again, by the way.
- He is an elitist.

It's elitist, geocentric,
lvy League snobbery to think...

...if you haven't written
six journal articles...

...on monetary support mechanisms,
you're not fit to lead.

We believe that if you're gonna set
policy, it'd be a bonus to understand it.

At this point, we'd be astonished
to discover Ritchie had read...

...six journal articles on anything,
other than athletic support mechanisms.

There's a difference
between intellect and instinct.

252 million people in the country,
you don't think we should elect...

...somebody who's got both?
- Presidents can have good advisors.

And good advisors can better advise
informed and curious presidents.

But what if the lvy League presidents
are surrounded by intellectual snobs?

Let's clear up things.
That's the second time...'ve invoked the Evil 8. First of
all, Notre Dame isn't lvy League.

Their football is independent.
Basketball, in the Big East.

Second, education is important
in this White House.

What's wrong with the lvy League?
Should we discourage parents...

...from hoping their kids get
into Princeton and Yale?

All I know is, we got into Vietnam
via the Beltway Chapter...

...of the Harvard Alumni Association.

Yeah, except, that's not all you know,
because you're bright and curious... worked hard and got into Smith,
and got your law degree where?

Cambridge, Massachusetts.
You lose, I win, 'twas ever thus.

I was on vacation.

Life's tough
in the aluminum siding business.

Check the press office
on your TV schedule.

I will do the TV shows
because I serve the president.

But I do not want a promotion
I didn't earn.

- I'll talk to Babish.
- Let me check the pay differential first.

You bet.

- Toby.
- Yes.

Four networks are carrying
the press conference instead of one.

- Are you kidding?
- No.

- I guess we shouldn't be surprised.
- No.

- Where you going?
- Sightseeing.

- Really?
- Tabatha's never been to Washington.

You're gonna get that thing done,
or should I?

- It's gonna be fine.
- You sure?

She's a poet.
She's new to things like consequences.

- Okay.
- All four networks?

Listen, I have a crazy thought.
Is it possible...?


Never mind. I'll see you later.


- Donna!
- Yeah?

- Something weird has happened here.
- What?

- Lemon-Lyman...
- No.

They didn't take
my response in the spirit... which it was intended.
- Yeah.

Seems to be a very unusual
social structure.

For instance, there's a leader
who seems to pride herself...

...on her organizational skills
and discipline.

- That's what's called a control freak.
- She does do an awful lot of scolding.

"You posted it in the wrong place."
"Stay on topic."

"No capital letters."
"I don't have time to tell you twice."

Clearly, she does have time to tell
us twice. But that's not the problem.

"Someone needs to deal
with Josh's planet-sized ego... teaching him Government 101.

Who made him overlord
of the Democratic Party?"

And someone else writes,
"Is Josh delusional...

...or is he actively trying to destroy
the separation of powers?"

- Well, are you?
- No!

Then turn off the computer,
and go back to work.

- I need to clarify my post.
- There's a press conference tomorrow...

...on a new energy policy
that you've spent months...

...shepherding down the field. And now...
- Sit down in the chair.

- Has the pressure to get the energy pack...
- Sit down in the chair.

I think you've gone 'round the bend.

I'm dictating now.

I don't think it falls under the category
of outrageous... suggest that I might have friends
on the other end of the Avenue...

...who have the phone number
of the GAO.

Let me put this more plainly. The
White House can get a GAO review...

...of anything it wants without posing
a threat to the separation of powers.

And I believe I'll use capital,
lowercase or Sanskrit...

...right up until the moment the font
police cuff me and read me Miranda.

- That'll show them.
- These are good people by and large...

...but they're under the thumb
of a dictatorial ruler.

So as with a small,
Central American country... role is to incite the people
to topple her.

You're way 'round the bend.
Can I get you a damp towel?

- No, but do we have Yoo-hoo?
- Yeah.

- I'll take one.
- I'm on it.

- What are you doing?
- Crossing off the FDR Memorial...

...the Atrium and the Folger Library.

I like crossing off lists,
it's very satisfying.

Do you like lists?

- Yes.
- You like crossing things off?

I'll let you know if it happens.

Hey, how did you know
what hotel I was at?

We have you watched
when you're in D.C.

- Are you serious?
- No.


We always have you watched.

So you know what I was thinking
might be fun?

If I came to the White House dinner
and shut up?

That's not what
I was gonna say at all.

- What were you gonna say?
- If you came to the dinner...

...wore a beautiful dress
and shut the hell up.

I got a list of nine former l-Corps
commanders who served in Korea...

...who say land mines aren't necessary
to protect our troops anywhere.

- We're aware of all nine.
- And we have, do we not...

...other weapons that are more effective
and less deadly to our side...

...that are part of a U.S. response plan
to the North crossing the DMZ?

I work in communications.

And land mines
would actually slow a counterinvasion.

You have an answer to any of this?

The president of the United States
requests the honor of your presence...

...and I'm sorry, but you show up.

And I'm sorry, but I tell the truth.

Not every minute
of the damn day, Tabatha.

I've seen what I've seen,
and I've been told what I've been told...

...and I have an audience with the person
who can do something about it.

To smile for a photo-op and recite 64
couplets on the American experience...

...that's treasonous.
- Can we stop with the drama?

- Toby...
- You don't know what you're doing.

This isn't kid's stuff.
If you stand up in the president's face...

...that's the story and nobody will care
about what you care about.

Nobody is going to care
about what you care about.

And it'll be bad for you, for us,
for the land mines. Everybody.

Can we just not talk for a minute?


Yeah. I gotta give a lecture
tomorrow night at Georgetown.

I just need to...

I need to not talk for a minute.


- Wait a second.
-"Sunny honeymoon"... what you were looking for.
- No, wait a second.

He's absolutely right. Hang on.

Excuse me. Sorry for interrupting.
No, keep your seats.

- Leo, you're absolutely right.
- About what?

We shouldn't show up. Tell the whip
we wanna yield all our time.

While they complain on camera
about me making fun of Ritchie...

...Democrats caucus on literacy
and tuition tax credits.

- We wanna yield all our time.
- Yes, sir.

Thank you.

The president begins
his press conference at 9...

...or more accurately, the walk down
the red carpet will happen at 9:01:30...

...per the network's request.

He'll open with his
strategy for energy independence.

That will last about 15 minutes,
then he'll take questions for 45 minutes.

C.J., a senior official
in the communications office...

...of the Ritchie campaign said,
"If the president thinks his candidate... stupid, he should just come
right out and say so."

- Really?
- Really.

Let's start a pool to guess how long
the senior communications official...

... is gonna keep his job if once a day he
suggests we call his candidate stupid.

This has to stop.
We're the only ones scoring points...

... and we're not even playing.

She's got a point there.

Does it concern you that the smartest
presidents have been the worst?

- I don't grant your premise.
- John Quincy Adams was full of himself.

He could hardly build a coalition
around having eggs for breakfast.

Wilson's grand theories on international
relations were dead on arrival in Congress.

- I don't care.
- Why?

Before I look for anything,
I look for a mind at work.

Nobody's saying a president needs
to have a tenured chair in semiotics.

- But you have to have...
- What?

- And how do you measure that?

You don't,
but we know it when we see it.

And Republicans tend
to mock it when they do.

- You think I'm wrong?
- I do not.

No, you don't. The way I know you
don't is I saw you say so on television.

Hey, Toby.

- Why are you here?
- The TV isn't working in my office.

- You did good on TV.
- Thanks.

I'll be in my office.

- How's it going with the poet?
- I'm not sure.

Does she have
a strong history of activism?

She has no history of activism.

She said something yesterday.
She was talking about land mines.

She said,"From everything I've seen
and everything I've been told..."

You think she's getting pressure?

- Toby?
- Yeah?

It's someone from Georgetown
University. I think there's a problem.

- The Internet people have gone crazy.
- You're kidding!

They're calling the GAO
"General Josh's Standing Army"...

...and saying I don't understand
its purpose.

They say if I can get a review
of anything...

...I should start by reviewing the job of
deputy COS. One guy compares me... a poor man's Clark Clifford
and a page and a half of posts...

...debating whether I was mocking
Egyptians with the Sanskrit reference.

- I said they're hysterical.
- I thought you meant funny.

- They're not.
- I know! It's Lord of the Flies!

- Who invited you in the first place?
- It's got my name on it.

Look, I don't wanna hear
about it anymore.

- We've got an energy plan in 10 minutes.
- Oh, Josh!

- Yeah.
- The Federal Page...

...of The Washington Post called to
confirm you're the one who stated...

...on a website that the White House
could order a GAO review of anything.

Without threatening
the separation of powers.

- You posted on a website?
- I was communicating with the people.


C.J., it's a crazy place.
It's got this dictatorial leader...

...who, surely, wears a muumuu
and chain-smokes Parliaments.

- Why did you go there in the first place?
- It's called Lemon-Lyman. Com.

Let me explain something to you, this
is my field. The people on these sites?

They're the cast of
One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest.

The muumuu-wearing Parliament smoker?
That's Nurse Ratched.

When Nurse Ratched is unhappy,
the patients are too.

You're McMurphy. You swoop in
with your card games and fishing trips...

I didn't swoop.
I came in like everybody else did.

Well, open the wardroom window
and climb out...

...before they give you
a prefrontal lobotomy...

...and I have
to smother you with a pillow.

- You're Chief Bromden?
- Yes, at this moment.

I'm assigning an intern
to that website.

They'll check it.
If they discover you've been there...

...I'm gonna shove a motherboard
so far up your ass... What?

- Well, technically, I outrank you.
- So far up your ass!

- Okay.
- Okay?

- How you doing?
- Are we ready?

- We are.
- I believe we are. You wanna walk over?

Donna, let's go. It's time.

- Excuse me.
- Are you Mr. Ziegler?

What happened?

Well, she was giving her lecture,
and then towards the end, something...

I don't know.
I think she's okay.

But I asked her
if there was anyone I can call.

- Where is she?
- She's sitting out on the steps.

Okay, thanks.

Was there any press there tonight?

For a poetry lecture?


There was a man
in Banja Luka that I met.

He took his son and I... go fishing in the Sava River.

And the little boy...

...hooked a piece of garbage...

...and when he tried to take it off
the line, it blew him up.

Right in front of his father,
and right in front of me.

What happened tonight?

I decided to highlight poets
who were never chosen poet laureate...

...because they were too rebellious.

Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton,
Allen Ginsberg.

And I went into"Howl." I know"Howl"
like you know voting districts.

I saw the best minds
Of my generation destroyed by madness

Starving hysterical naked

Dragging themselves through...

And then... .


I couldn't remember anymore.

I couldn't... .

You know,
I couldn't remember anymore.

You think I think that an artist's job
is to speak the truth.

An artist's job... to captivate you for however long
we've asked for your attention.

If we stumble into truth,
we got lucky.

And I don't get to decide
what truth is.

What you said about South Korea
makes sense.

You know,
people know more than I do.

I shouldn't be... .

You know.

I write poetry, Toby,
that's how I enter the world.

I was thinking maybe, you know...

I don't know
if you can do this...

...but I was thinking if I could get
a few minutes alone with the president... that I can tell him
what I saw in Banja Luka.

Then it wouldn't have to be a thing.
You know, the dinner.

And there I could... .

I have 64 couplets
on the American experience...

...that I think might be appropriate.

Yeah, we can do that.

What's that say?

"Meet Tabatha Fortis."

I have to be at a press conference.


So as a matter of cold fact, Chipper...'ll see it's the porcupine caribou
and ANWAR's their calving ground...

...and you can't put a price tag on that.
But that's hardly the point.

36 species of fish, 36 land mammals,
160 different bird species.

- I admit, this is a lot of wildlife.
- Forget the wildlife.

It hurts subsistence hunters in the area,
changes migratory patterns... ways we don't know, increases
freezing depths of rivers and lakes...

- And the emissions from drilling.
- Welcome home.

It'll cause pollutant haze, acid rain.
All this in exchange for?

- Not a lot of oil to begin with.
- Here we go. What time is it?

9:00, sir.

- We'll see you inside.
- Thank you, everyone.

Thank you, sir.


- Yes.
- I've been meaning to tell you...'ve done well
with the open-mike thing.

- Thank you.
- Didn't turn out too bad.

No, sir, it didn't turn out
too bad at all.

The whole country's talking about if
Ritchie's smart enough to be president.

You didn't take a hit
because it was an accident.

It occurs to me even your choice
of language was interesting.

"A.22 caliber mind
in a.357 Magnum world"...

...that's unusual for you,
a gun metaphor.

Toby mentioned to me
that when each interview was over...

...the interviewers wanted
to talk to you about Ritchie...

...and you took a pass each time.

Until Philadelphia.

Mr. President, is it possible
you saw the green light was on?

Ladies and gentlemen,
the president of the United States.

That was old-school.

Go knock them dead.