The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 5, Episode 11 - The Benign Prerogative - full transcript

In inexplicably finishing the speech early Toby is left with nothing to do. However, the State of the Union speech needs testing, so Toby flies out to meet Joey Lucas to perform mall tests.

Previously on The West Wing:

-Oh, I hate this. Can I just go?
-I don't think so.

Mom's getting remarried.

I know that.

-You know that?
-She called me.

Do any of you guys know
where the dumpsters are?

Yeah. It's okay. I'll find them.

-Who's that?
-A walking lawsuit.

Toby's taking first chair on State
of the Union, not just writing it.

The agenda. Great.

-Now I remember why I love this night.
-Because in two hours...'ll have a sour mash
and nothing to rewrite.

-The press conference was a hit.
-The president did well.

Ranting on cable about
"that liberal pantywaist soft on crime"?

-What we expected.

Extra gum for your big night. It's okay.
We all get oral when nervous.

-You heading over to pace on the Hill?
-After I finish pacing here.

Did the special guests arrive?

--less than two hours to deliver
his State of the Union address.

It remains to be seen....

-It's Gentle Ben on hold.
-You put him on hold?

-That's what you told me to do.
-Carol, maybe you ought to--

-Donna, my darling...

...would you pick up line one
and tell this guy you can't find me?

What's wrong?

Leo won't wanna tell him
before the State of the Union.

Might throw him off his game.

-And hit him with it leaving the podium?
-Guy couldn't wait one hour.

My God, Toby.

Yeah. You're right. Sorry.

Has--? He hasn't left, has he?

They're having tea.

-You heard?
-It hit the wires?

I got a call.
Does the president know?


-Ms. Anders?
-"Ms. "?

-You sorry son of a--
-Charlie, are we...?

I beg your pardon.

Mr. President, may I have a moment?

-Oh, my God.

I am so-- What did I just do?

We can't do this. His speech.
Maybe you've heard of it.

-Any minute we hear, and he goes.
-I have never hit anyone.

-Not since my kid brother.
-You're a natural, then.

-You deserved it.
-We can't do this now.

-I shouldn't have come.
-How did you even get in?

What, without you to wave me in?

We really can't do this.

-A one-night thing was better?
-Three weeks was too long.

Charlie? They're ready.

Less than $ 100.

-Thanks for having me.

You sneaking out?
Gonna breakdance at 3.

Happy New Year.

Look, I'm not proud. I'll take my rights
on the installment plan.

-A voting delegate for the District?
-Give Utah their own chamber.

A specially-created House seat
could be an obstacle... D.C. statehood.
-Don't lose any sleep.

I disagree. A seat for us, balanced
by one for Mormon missionaries.

-That something-for-everyone feel?
-And from Congressman Drake.

Drake didn't propose a bill.
He floated a notion.

He took heat
over sponsoring D.C. vouchers.

-So you think it's just talk?
-Folks in the District are no closer... the vote than our ancestors.
-Can I quote you?

-You're a reporter?

I'm an intern at The Afro-American.

Meeshell Anders.

I read The Afro, every time
I'm in a barbershop.

That's our market penetration.

I can't really give you that
for attribution.

But if you wanna say
"White House staffer" ... .

-Am I mad at you?
-It's not my question. It's Ben's.

Of the husky voice,
no last name and the 907 area code?

He said you never return calls,
and are you mad at him?

-What'd you say?
-That you'd have to get back.

-Toby. Great draft, Shakespeare.
-Oh, thanks.

Really, you nailed it.
State of the Union's finished.


What are you gonna do
the next two weeks?

-Dot the I's.
-I've got pollsters waiting.

-They tested this draft?
-That's their job.

I'm sure they're gonna love it.

Really? Joey Lucas stopped by?

She was sorry you weren't in yet.
Nice suit.

Was it a heads-up, pre-meeting
kind of stopping by...

...or a "long time no see" kind of
stopping by?

You know, I couldn't tell.

-How'd she look?

-I heard she was seeing someone.
-I think she is.

-She say she was seeing someone?

So who knows? Maybe the time is ripe.

Maybe not so much.

That's not very supportive,
here at the start of a new year...

...with clean slates, broad horizons
and anything's possible.


And with women the draft scored
even higher.

You can see spikes
in all your policy priorities.

In the 80 percentile
in education and job retraining.

Where's the "room to improve"

There isn't any.

We've never seen this before,
but two weeks out...'ve locked
the State of the Union message.

-Well, that's impressive, Toby.
-Come on, the section on anti-terrorism.

It didn't make people sing
"Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," but... .

She wants you to know
she actually sang that.

But it was well within
the "interested" range.

We'll put it out to mall tests next week,
get feedback on the key paragraph.

Yeah, because we haven't really
found that yet.

It's not the writing that we'll examine.

Mall tests are about tone, how
the president should deliver the speech.

-We'll hire a spokesman.
-An actor?

-Not a known actor.
-Oh, that's better.

-Purchase intent dramatically--
-"Purchase intent"?

What are we doing,
selling cornflakes?

-Come out and watch.
-Good idea, Toby.

It doesn't sound like you have
anything else to do.

The Freeway Alert Bill
is on a fast track.

The Senate may have something
to sign before recess.

Grants to track kidnappers? I think
the president would welcome that.

Yeah, well, there's an amendment.

All your plane tickets are e-tickets.

Flights confirmed.
Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Bradenton.

Joey Lucas will meet you at the mall.
Your research assistant has the itinerary.

-Then why tell me?
-I wasn't sure she--

She's new. This position
is kind of a jump for her.

She compiled clippings at Energy.

Leo's been pressuring you
to hire someone...

...and she was helpful
during the shutdown, but--

I thought I'd give her a shot.

-Just know if she doesn't work out... .
-Cab's here, Mr. Ziegler.

Ready for blastoff?

Have a good trip.

Can she write as well
as she slow-dances?

Leo and Josh are already in there.

You always move in so fast,
or is she special?

Not your business, but we hit it off.

-You find time for a love life?
-I did have to cancel Sunday.

-An attempted coup in Riyadh.
-Excuses, excuses.

Tonight, I was home free
with the president at the opera...

-...but he bailed, and you're here.
-Don't cancel.

Go late. A demanding job
is a strong aphrodisiac.

Are you the devil?

It's folks who act like angels
I worry about.

-It arrived?
-It did.

Hicks Amendment
not in disappearing ink?

-He can sign this.

The body of the bill is right-on.

Helps communities mobilize
when a child is abducted.

The amendment isn't limited
to kidnapping.

It toughens federal sentencing
for all offenses.

No congressman ever lost re-election
for looking tough on crime.

Any president vetoing a crime bill
risks becoming the Pillsbury Doughboy.

At least he's got 10 working days
to decide.

If he does veto, it can wait
until after the State of the Union.

Mr. President, Abbey.

-Turandot wasn't all you hoped for.
-Yeah, I'm becoming a cultural wimp.

Can't even sit through Puccini
without banking a good night's sleep.

You certainly haven't done that lately.

So Congress launched another assault
on judicial discretion?

I think they were aiming at kidnappers.

Slipped in the amendment
hoping we wouldn't notice.

Indiana's in a budget crunch.
They had to mothball a new state prison.

Hicks'd like to reassure voters...

...the Federal Bureau of Prisons
will take up the slack.

-I should've issued those pardons.
-You've had a few things to do.

Congress doesn't know I'm serious
about these Draconian sentences.

Sir, I don't think issuing pardons
would have stopped Congress.

-No. They've been at it for 30 years.
-Yeah, war on drugs. War on crime.

-It turned into a war on judges.
-We don't need subtle minds...

...on the bench? Is Counsel
even working on a list of pardons?

-Of course. That's ongoing.
-But never gets done.

Let's talk to Justice.
Get back into it.

Yes, sir.

Of course, with the run-up to the State
of the Union, this isn't the best time.

We need to stay focused. The fallout
over Gabriel Lessieur alone--

Someone wants to pardon Lessieur?

I think Lessieur's case
merits consideration.

Sorry, ma'am.

Not as sorry as you'll be
if she gets started...

...on what the FBI did or didn't do
on that Indian reservation in 1977.

Sir, you know I'm only concerned
with timing. This bill isn't perfect.

But you sign it now, you arrive
for the State of the Union... a spirit of renewed cooperation.
-Something to sleep on.

-Speaking euphemistically.
-There's always hope.

-Good night, all.
-Good night.

Good night, Abbey.

Good night, Charlie. Go home.

Could there be a worse time
to consider pardons?

-I don't want him distracted.
-Should I drag my feet?

-Don't break your neck.
-Is that how it usually works?

-The First Lady tees him up?
-I've never seen her weigh in like that.

-Not on policy.
-You missed her homecoming.

-Okay. Enough.
-But is this their dynamic?

-It's new to me. Leo?
-He's sleeping on it. That's all I heard.

-Where's this coming from?
-Put a damper on it.

-The president isn't considering pardons?

He's not commuting tribal head

...convicted for killing two FBI agents?

-No clemency for a former Republican...

...governor indicted for fraud
and diagnosed with cancer?

-Why does all the press think he is?

Maybe because we called the assistant
A.G. in charge of clemencies...

...asking the pardon attorney
from Justice... meet with the Counsel's office.

So how about, "The ongoing process
of reviewing petitions is proceeding...

...but the president is not
considering pardons now. "

That works.

-What's all this?
-Counsel's office sent these over.

The case files for the meeting
with the pardon attorney.

-I didn't think there'd be so many.
-There're only 36, but no short stories.

Each file has the original trial record,
a petition by the prisoner...

...the Bureau of Prisons' recommendation,
DOJ recommendation...

-...Counsel's preliminary report.
-Don't leave them here.

-They said you wanted to take a look.
-I said "we," and when I said we--

-You meant me.
-I'll help you.

-Move them.

-You'll need a space to spread out.

We need to be familiar with the specifics
of each of these petitions.

-And when you say "we" ... .
-That's the spirit.

Each participant is paid $ 10
to answer a battery of questions...

...and then listen to one
of three versions of the speech.

In booth A, we have execution one.

And we know that the hard work
of forming...

... this more perfect union
belongs to us all.

-The state of our union is strong.
-Booth two is version B.

The state of our union is strong.

With courage, with faith
in our democratic foundation...

-...and the human spirit it fosters--
-And booth three.

--that the hard work of forming
this more perfect union belongs to us all.

-The state of our union....
-Which will they go for?

The Amana fridge, Samsonite luggage
or door number three?

Most of my political clients are reassured
to know that these tests work in sales.

What about your commercial clients?

-They like knowing they work in politics.
-It's gotta be version B.

It's strong but not mean.
That's the one, right?

It is. B's showing a significant
26-percent movement in purchase intent.

-I need some coffee.
-I'll get it.

No. I'd rather, thank you.

Okay, well, don't forget,
we're a left turn at the Mrs. Fields.

It's usually slow on weekends.
We'll get takeout.

And I'll give you a tour,
if that sounds okay.

-E-mail me...

...your date of birth and social so
I can wave you in. I'll call you later?

Any chance of five minutes
for a meet-and-greet next Friday?

-The vice president is in Atlanta...

...and the Kaehlers
are coming to town.

-They are...?
-Robert and Jean Kaehler.

WestCo Mining. One of our best
contributors west of the Rockies.

-I'll see.

Don't promise them.

Yes, sir.

Did you know Woodrow Wilson
averaged 344 acts of clemency a year?

-I didn't.
-Calvin Coolidge managed 326.

FDR was over 300 yearly,
for a grand total of 3687.

Until the last 40 years, presidents
routinely exercised their power... stated in the Constitution,
to give relief against harsh sentences.

Recent presidents have averaged 40,
20 and 7 pardons a year.

-Why'd we get so stingy?
-Law and order's a national concern.

And the pardon process
has become less transparent.

No records kept, no rationales given.

The ones we do remember,
the Eugene Debs...

...the Jimmy Hoffas, were controversial,
if not downright scandals.

You understand, sir, I'm not against
you issuing pardons.

The benign prerogative,
that's what Hamilton called them.

Benign? It's a bag of lit dynamite.

Yeah, maybe the FBI bungled
its investigation...

...on an Indian reservation
30 years ago.

And maybe we let the wrong guy go...

...from puberty to retirement
in a prison cell.

And sure, maybe
it would be a generous act...

...of bipartisanship to forgive
an ex-governor who's battling cancer--

Who never would have gone to trial
if a Republican were sitting in this office.

I know the First Lady has received
letters from tribal leaders--

Is Josh sitting in on this meeting
with Justice today?

-He's in and out.
-The attorney general send...

-...a deputy with a heartbeat?
-Fisk didn't send a deputy A.G.

Just the pardon attorney.

The A.G. expects White House Counsel
to sit down without a--

Actually, Counsel isn't in this either.
It's more preliminary.

Is deputy counsel there?

Who is in this meeting, Leo?

So that's my main concern.
If Josh doesn't return--

-I'll get you an answer.
-We need guidance.

Is the president looking for
packing peanuts, or does he want--?

-"Packing peanuts"?

Please, everyone, sit.

-You're my pardon attorney?
-Yes, Mr. President. Portia Colgrave.

You've survived three administrations
in this job. Am I right?

-You are, sir.
-So how do I stack up?

-You're about at par.
-Which ain't saying much, is it?

-May I?
-Yes, sir.

This is the list
that we've been discussing?

These are first-time offenders
who've served at least five years...

...of a 10-year or longer sentence
under the guidelines.

Ten years or longer. All nonviolent?

Oh, yes, Mr. President.

So where were you?

We were about
to discuss packing peanuts.

The Roosevelt Room was
the president's office...

...until FDR built the Oval.
Here's the communications bullpen.

Slow down. I'm a little overwhelmed.

-My plan's to sweep you off your feet.
-You have.

You were pretty easy.

And, boy, was I relieved
when you called again.

I never do that.
I'm actually kind of a prude.

Fooled me. This is the West Lobby.

Get your bearings
for when you come back.

-What do you mean?
-I talked to C.J. about getting you--

-C.J. Cregg?
-Next week, the president's meeting...

...with college editors
for Martin Luther King Day...

...and I asked C.J. if it would be okay
for you to join.

Did you say something
after "president"?

lt'll be an intimate group of 60.

-Thank you. I'm nervous already.
-I read your piece. You got game.

-Hey, Donna.
-Hey, Charlie.

Donna Moss, Meeshell Anders.

-Hi, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.

-Giving Meeshell the nickel tour.
-It's great.

-We all forget.
-Yeah, it's amazing.

-Got food coming, if you wanna join us.
-You're too polite.

-He's too polite.
-What are you doing here today?

Don't ask. It's too depressing.

Nice to meet you.

Packing peanuts,
that's what they're called.

The low-profile cases?

Apparently, these nameless offenders
can be useful insulation for any cronies...

-...I may wanna spring.
-Getting pressure?

All over my call sheet.

If I commute a Chippewa and an indicted
Republican, they might cancel...

-...each other out.
-But they're off the front burner now?

I know how you feel about Lessieur.
I'll consider him in the future.

But it's these packing peanuts...

...these victims of minimums
that are bugging me.

That's what Congress pushed front
and center with this amendment.

I can't sign a bill that toughens
guidelines and ties judges' hands...

...then turn around next month
and advocate judicial discretion.

-What's in this?
-Just warm milk.

-Does this ever work?
-It has.

Are you worried this might be
another Wallace Turner?

A little, sure.

You were a new governor and listened
to the advice of your parole board.

His victim's family probably
isn't too comforted by that.

Leo's worried it's the wrong time
for pardons.

Leo hates to see you sleepless
and distracted... you're announcing
your agenda for the year.

Do you hate to see me
sleepless and distracted?

This is just your preamble.

You're about to be inspired.

-Wait. Never mind.
-No. It's right here.

-Good finale.
-As seen on TV.

-It's a little smaller than I thought.
-And dirtier.

Why the press can't clean up
after themselves... .

You enjoy the picnic?

On a porch outside the Oval Office?

-It was all right.
-And the president only called once.

-Was that really him?
-No. I faked it.

-It was Rick in Protocol.
-It's kind of sexy when you're all:

"Yes, sir, did you look on the bookshelf,
Mr. President?"

Go on. Get up behind the podium.
I'll take your picture.

You brought a camera?

Go on. You belong up there.

I started to bring this up before
but didn't want to on the phone.

-I do belong here.

-I know it.
-No, I mean I really do belong here.

-It wasn't for certain when we met but--

I'm coming to work here.

-My internship's ending...

...and I've been offered
an entry-level job in the press corps.

The White House press corps?

I'm gonna be an off-camera reporter
for NBC...

...making sure the on-camera reporter
gets called if something happens.

You're covering the White House...

-...the president for a network?
-I will be.

And you let me act like... .

-You didn't mention this.
-I know. I didn't wanna--

Everything I said today
was off the record.

-No, of course.
-He depends on my discretion.

-Charlie, I would never--
-He's not just the president.

What do you mean?

Never mind.

I really don't think this
should change anything.

We have seats on the 1: 10, Bill.
Is it Bill?

-We'd hoped to get something earlier.

This is murder. I'm out of here.

-Is something wrong, sir?
-Yeah, keep your 10 bucks.

That might work.

Is that into Dulles?

Hi, are you a registered voter?

Excuse me, sir,
I'm with the polling group inside.

-I saw you in there.
-I was curious, why'd you walk out?

-It's a waste of time.

Politics. What, are you guys trying
to target me or trying to find out...

...what makes me, I don't know--?
What is it you want?

You want me to feel like I'm part
of the club?

-Oh, maybe.
-Well, you won't do it with words.

Not words that are pre-tested
and reworked, sanded down...

...wrapped in a bow.
Hey, you wanna impress me?

Do something. Talk's cheap, pal.

Ever listen to the president
when he addresses the nation?

Yeah, sometimes. I usually end up
throwing something at the set.

Josh calling. What was that?

That's my guy.
That's who I write for.

-Toby, we need you back.

President's made some decisions
that will affect the State of the Union.


I'm saying, if he vetoes
the bill tonight--

How many times
do I have to tell you he's--?

He's vetoing the amendment.

It's a veto. It's not like Congress
will forget in a week.

Could be an icy reception
for the State of the Union.

I'm still not clear about the pardons.
Maybe the First Lady could explain it.

He's not pardoning Lessieur
or any ex-governors.

He's strictly granting commutations...

...where minimums and guidelines
resulted in unfair sentences.

Yeah. I've been trying
to say that, but--

When pardons are rumored,
lobbying takes on a life of its own.

-No chance he could delay?

-You're straight from the airport?
-Welcome to hell.

So Congress forced our hand
with a crime bill.

The president wants to run
into the fire and issue pardons.

Plenty of lemons we can't
make a thing out of.

Except hemlock.

Actually, I think the president's instinct
is right.

We don't run away from this. We--

We pack his veto
of the Hicks Amendment...

...and his policy-based pardons... with the speech,
make it more than an isolated speech.

Come out for gay marriage
in the military too.

I'm serious. I say the president
announces his veto on the eve...

...of the State of the Union. The next
morning, his pardons are act two--

Of respect for federal judges.

And prelude to his trip to the Hill
that night.

Which now is more than hat-in-hand...

...begging Congress
for a laundry list of priorities.

The State of the Union becomes
a few words about his agenda...

...from the president,
who is a busy guy.

It's the closest
to what the president wants.

-Can we pull it off?
-At least we come out swinging.

Well, we own the news.
Courage of our convictions.

Republicans will try to demagogue us
with these pardons.

We focus on
the most sympathetic cases.

Personal stories will make it
less abstract.

I gotta keep writing.

Josh, I need you to hone this list
of commutations to a perfect few.

I understand Justice has given
some 30 names to Counsel.

-Thirty-six. We're taking a look too.
-We need poster kids.

-Former and future altar boys and girls.
-Are they all in for crack?

Not all, but we're talking mandatory
minimums. That means drugs.

-You want 10 names?
-Five or six.

Remember how they're gonna look
in the Times photo...

...and let's spare him any recidivists.

The First Lady called to remind you
of your invite to New Hampshire...

...for President's Weekend.

She doesn't wanna pressure you,
but they won't take no for an answer.

Do we wanna comment on a rumor
that FBI agents will picket...

-...if the president pardons Lessieur?
-No comment on rumors. Did the FBI?

Bureau chief said it would
only be off-duty officers.

-Oh, good. Any other calls?
-Ben of Glacier Bay.

Is he really a park ranger?
He did this Smokey the Bear riff--

What are you--? Don't talk to him.

-You want me to hang up?

Put him on hold, and find me
if he calls again.


-You were looking for me?
-Your friend's name...

-...for the MLK college junket.
-Yeah, that's-- Forget that.

-Isn't gonna happen.
-Are you sure?

I'm sure.

C.J., with the press,
could you ever trust a reporter?

-Is this the beginning of a joke?
-Never mind.

Mr. Ziegler asked if you could give
this a read and get him notes ASAP.

-Was he smiling?
-Does he smile?

-The Kaehlers are in the Mural Room.
-Who are they?

Moneybags from Colorado.
The vice president's out of town.

The president got held up
with the Joint Chiefs.

You don't have to be pissy.

This is not pissy.

It's a huge risk for the president.
We have to cull the list.

-We have to be brutal.
-These 36 people...

...haven't been culled enough
from thousands?

-And in prison for at least five years.
-For committing crimes.

They submitted petitions
that took two years... inch from desk to desk. None are
violent, although by now I would be.

None have priors. A lot of them,
their judges spoke at sentencing...

...against what they had to impose.

-Doesn't mean we stop scrutinizing.
-Scrutinize away. You tell me, do we...

...toss out Daisy Aimes,
mother of three, two jobs...

...had a boyfriend who stored
a kilo in her closet?

She's done eight years
and is facing 11 more.

That's longer than rapists
and child molesters get.

There's about 15 Daisys in here.

-Do we pick three?

You haven't read these files or looked
at these photos, and I don't blame you.

I wish I never had.

But I don't see a list anymore.

These are people.

If you wanna cull them, jump in.
I'm done.

Sorry, am I...?

No. He's got the Kaehlers
in the Mural Room, we know.

You may wanna skip them.
They're not here by chance.

-What do you mean?
-Their son petitioned for clemency.

-They're here to plead his case.
-There's a major party contributor...

...with a family member
under consideration?

-No Kaehler on the list.
-The wife's son, a former marriage.

His name is Morrisey.

Donovan Morrisey?

Estes Park. High school senior
who FedEx'd LSD.

-I can tell them you're tied up.

I will.


-He's gone for the day.
-She's gonna be working here.

-You can't ignore her.
-Good night, Angela.

Take her calls. Don't get mad
and write her off the guest list.

She's beyond college editors.
Way beyond.

-Her family founded The Afro-American.
-lf you wanna know a girl's whole life...

...before getting involved, I have
two words for you: search engine.

-You knew about the corps?
-I didn't. I'm friends with her aunt.

Should've guessed. The web
of District aunts can't be avoided.

Unless you date
the president's daughter.

Have a nice weekend.

-How did it ever get this far?
-He has his mother's name.

He fit all our criteria for commutation.

We didn't put it together.
Maybe the press won't.

-Sir, if they do--
-Your message gets stampeded.

"White House bends justice
for big bucks. "

-Even though we weren't.
-And who's gonna believe that?

The kid's parents practically
bankroll the Colorado party...

-...and that White House visit.
-So this kid gets screwed...

-...for having an important family.
-You can commute him in the future.

How's Counsel doing
on the rest of the list?

I touched base with them about an idea.
I know you and Toby need to work on...

-...the new speech parts.
-We need to settle this.

If you wanna throw light on how
minimums and guidelines...

...conspire to produce
disproportionate punishment--

And worse, leave judges impotent.

Our judicial system is predicated on
an individual's right to a fair trial.

But how individual is that process
if a 258-box grid seals your fate...

...before you ever step foot
in front of a federal judge...

...that my office has invested
considerable effort in selecting...

...who is then constrained
from exercising basic common sense...

...while 29-year-old prosecutors, making
their bones on their win-loss record...

...hold the only discretion
in the whole system?

-Were you taking notes?
-Got it.

Sir, let's say the list stays at 36 names,
or 35 without this Colorado man.

We don't monkey around
creating a few poster kids.

We say all these cases represent a
larger injustice. It's not just about them.

-Is she waiting outside?
-She is.

-But honestly, sir, l--

She took the bullet we all managed
to dodge. Show her in, please.

Hey. You can come in.

Mr. President.

I understand you have a message
for me.

Yes, sir. I promised Mrs. Kaehler
I'd do my best.

What did she say?

She said her son, Donovan,
made a terrible mistake...

...when he was still a teenager.

It doesn't excuse anything,
but her divorce was very hard on him.

By the time he went to trial,
the shock of his arrest...

...had given her family a wake-up call.

Donovan had completed
a drug-treatment program...

...finished high school
and been accepted to college.

The guidelines prevented the judge
from considering any of those things.

She said after Donovan finished
one year in prison...

...missed one birthday, one Christmas,
one fly-fishing season...

...the other six years he spent
in Leavenworth have been a frozen hell.

Her words, "a frozen hell. "
She wasn't-- She's--

She's someone who copes.

But she said if it would make
a difference, she'd get on her knees.

She begged for your mercy.

That's all.

Thank you, Donna.

Mr. President?

Take him.

Take Donovan off the list.

You can pardon him in the spring,
after the dust settles.


The price tag for our failure
to learn this lesson is far too costly.

We must listen to what our
federal judges are telling us...

...about the sentencing guidelines
and mandatory minimums.

Congress has to wean itself from
the expensive high of enacting laws...

...which appear tough on crime
but are ineffective.

I will never surrender
in the war on drugs...

...but if you're consistently
getting slaughtered on the battlefield...'ve probably misjudged
your enemy.

I don't offer these pardons today
to kingpins or career traffickers...

...who lay waste
to our innocent citizens.

But I do extend these clemencies
like amnesties...

...after a prolonged, bloody war... some among us who have fallen
to a ravaging and confounding enemy.

I offer these clemencies confident
that if we re-enlist...

...our judges ' wisdom, we stand a better
chance of prevailing against crime.

We have to accept
that to be truly tough on crime...

... we must first understand
how to be smart.

That's our boy.

It is not a simple lack of....

If it was you whispering pardons
in his ear, it was the right thing.

I don't whisper, Leo.

That's not how it works between us.

My job is to help Jed
be as good a president as he is a man.

I'm not gonna sit back
and judge anymore.

I'm gonna jump in
and get my hands dirty.

We can use the help.

Come on in here.

Let's have a cup of tea...

...unless you ignore my invitations
on principle these days.

About President's Weekend,
I'm thrilled.

-But I thought I'd give you a chance--
-To back out?

We want to see you. We invited you.

It's been ages since we stayed up late,
arguing the proper sequence...

-...of hands in Shanghai Rum.
-It's one set, one run, a run and a set.

I thought you might reconsider. You
may not have gotten your invitation yet.

-Is this about Jenny's wedding?

I can't dress for this thing without you.
Which one screams "dominance"?

-Do I get to wear it afterwards?
-No comment.

-Thank you.

Leo thinks we should reconsider
attending his ex-wife's wedding.

-No way.
-You're old friends.

-Jenny'd like it.
-We plan on sending them...

-...something nice, don't we?
-For the kitchen.

-A juicer, maybe.
-Encourage Howard to lose weight.

Or his-and-hers binoculars.
They have these prism optics now.

I don't think Howard goes outdoors.
He's more of a Discovery Channel type.

That's probably better, with his asthma.
A nice book, then.

-Something with large print, of course.

-We'll think of something.
-You two are evil.

We've always loved Jenny.

But you're the one
we wanna spend the weekend with.

To union.

-All states of it.
-Hear, hear.

Josh Lyman's office.

Now I remember why I love this night.

That's me. I'm Donna Moss.

-The press conference was a hit.
-The president did well.

Ranting on cable about
"that liberal pantywaist soft on crime"?

What we expected.

Extra gum for your big night.

-Guess this makes it official.
-You do your family proud.

Shouldn't I just stick
my head in and say hello?

-I wouldn't.
-I'd keep it professional.

You know, just shake hands.

-I don't want it to be awkward.
-I don't believe you.

"Broken heart" is written all over you.
State of the Union's in less than an hour.

-I just thought--
-Don't be a fool. Stay out of there.

-It's Gentle Ben on hold.
-You put him on hold?

-That's what you told me to do.
-Carol, maybe you ought to--

-Donna, my darling...

...would you pick up line one
and tell this guy you can't find me?

What's wrong?

I just had a call from Anne Kaehler,
Donovan's sister.

He killed himself.

Who's Donovan?

I lost Mr. Ziegler. He was here.

Sorry. Can't help.

-You heard?
-It hit the wires?

I got a call.
Does the president know?

-Looks like the gang is hovering.
-Come on in, guys.

What's up?

-Go on.
-We've got this.


-Ms. Anders.
-"Ms. "?

-You sorry son of a--
-Charlie, are we...?

I beg your pardon.

Mr. President, may I have a moment?

-There's nothing you could've done.
-It's stupid.

-I don't even know why--
-It's not stupid.

You met them.

They got to you.

I need to learn how to not be so... .

How to keep things at arm's length.

I hope not.

We're heading over.
The president asked if you'd escort...

...the special guests.

-A one-night thing was better?
-Three weeks was too long.

Charlie, they're ready.

Actually, the first two weeks
were pretty great.

When you thought I was nobody?
No threat?

I protect him. It's my job.

And I meant no threat to you.

When you said he wasn't
just the president, I understood.

I'll see you around, Meeshell.

Were you surprised by the warmth
of the reception?

I was. Consider our government
gridlock two months ago...

...over budget disputes, tonight's State
of the Union had a forward momentum.

Absolutely. Let's take another look
at some of the high points.

The hard work of forming
this more perfect union belongs to us all.

We need to be as wise
as we are resolute... smart as we are strong.

The president will join us shortly
for photos.

If anyone would like refreshments... .

That was quite a speech
the president made.

-Quite a day for your organization.
-Yes, ma'am.

I wish that you could've been in there
when we made those 35 phone calls... the families this morning.

-President Bartlet. Wonderful speech, sir.
-Thank you.

Mr. President, this is Mr. Holmes of
Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

-How are you, sir?

-And his sister, Kandy.

She just got home a few hours ago.

Sir, there are no words
to express our gratitude.

-Today has been overwhelming.
-Thank you, sir.

Kandy was saying
she feels like she's been hit by lightning.

I hope it's not quite that random.

I can never repay you.

Oh, yes, you can.

You got the second chance you deserve,
but it's also a heck of a burden.

If you screw up, you don't just
hurt yourself and your family.

You damage me, and worse, you hurt
all those prisoners still hoping...

...for the fair shake most
of them won't get.

-Am I right, Donna?
-Yes, Mr. President.

You need to take your life
in your hands...

...and make sure that none of those left
behind are ever more deserving than you.

I will, sir. I promise.

-Thank you.

-Keep in touch.
-Yes, sir.

Bless you all.

It must be an honor to work for him.

It is.