The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 6, Episode 5 - The Hubbert Peak - full transcript

Josh visits a car dealership and is seduced by both a hybrid and a monster SUV, despite knowing that Congress is unlikely to raise fuel efficiency standards. For political cover as well as genuine concern, he meets with representatives of the alternative energy industries. Charlie has graduated from college and is reluctant to keep his promise to the President of finding a "real" job. Following press complaints about Toby he agrees to take deportment lessons from Annabeth. C.J. visits Leo at his hotel and finds out why he's so insistent that the President play chess each week.

Previously on The West Wing:

The position of White House
chief of staff...

...will be filled by Claudia Jean Cregg.

The president can send...

...C.J. Cregg to Ramallah to swat
at suicide bombers with her purse.

My purse?! Page Carol!
Get him the hell out of there!

Can I apologize again?

No, but let's move finding my
replacement from priority three to one.

The president made me promise that
when I got the degree, I'd leave this job.

He doesn't want me holding his jacket
for the rest of my life.

You don't want
a new press secretary.

And who exactly do you think
is gonna brief the press?


Thinking about a Prius? Great car.

Hybrid. Wave of the future.

No, the future's here.

- There's a waiting list.
- Sixty miles a gallon?

- In the city. Fifty-one, highway.
- Isn't that...?

Backwards. Yeah.

Electrical battery recharges every time
you hit the brake.

- Perfect for D.C. Car that loves gridlock.
- Like Congress.

- And with gas prices at an all-time high...
- They're not...


The record high was in '81.

Adjusted for inflation, gas was 2.80
a gallon in today's money.


In the '50s, prices were equivalent
to what they are now.

A little more, even,
but per capita real income...

...was less than half what it is today.

Cost your parents twice as much
at the pump as what you pay.

Grandparents, in your case.

You're really up on your...

I work at the White House.

Great statement
for a government official:

"Drive what reduces
our dependence on OPEC. "

Yeah, it's foreign-made.
The symbolism's kind of a wash.

- Thirty-five hundred over sticker?
- Some dealers getting 10,000 over.

So I should just be happy
you're gouging me less?

- It's a popular package.
- How many on your waiting list?

Seven hundred.

- How long?
- Eight months.

Wanna take a test drive?

No, I'm just...

You know.

Can I drive that?

Prius. Congratulations.


- It's a long wait, huh?
- Oh, worth it.

Individuals need to take

The government won't do anything
about improving mileage.

It's so deep in the pockets
of the oil and car companies.

- Yeah, Congress is a nightmare.
- Oh, Bartlet's done squat.

Mr. Lyman.

All set.

All right.

Thank you.

I know I sound like a dork...

- ...but this is way cool.
- Yeah, it's a lot of machine.

All right, so easy out of the lot.

- Not like I'm off-roading in Baja.
- Not on the lot.

It's a lot of machine.


Hey, McNaughton at
the DCCC needs you.

You should see this thing
I'm driving. It's a monster.

- What?
- My testosterone is flying.

Try not to get any on anyone.

I'll put my hands-free thing in.

- What?
- Hang on.

Look out!


Are you all right?

Tell McNaughton I may be a while.

Thank you again.

- Good morning.
- Hey.

- How was your weekend?
- What weekend?

You mean that two-day period
where briefing material...

...invades your domicile,
finally and completely obliterating...

...whatever pathetic distinction
you've labored mightily to maintain?

At least you can do it in your jammies.

- You're picturing that, aren't you?
- A little.

- And you?
- I don't wear jammies.

- Your weekend.
- You know, boring.

You've got nothing to report?
Nothing adventurous or illicit?

- Boring. Dull, even.
- In your non-jammies?

- You're picturing that, aren't you?
- Trying furiously not to.

You seen Toby?

He's briefing, isn't he?

- Okay, then.
- Yeah.

I have no information on that
at this time. Yeah?

The CAFE standards amendment
raising fuel-efficiency requirements...

...comes up for House vote today.

Will the president sign the omnibus
transportation bill without that provision?

I can't speculate on an amendment
on a bill that hasn't passed.

Does anybody know where
your esteemed confreres might be?

Is it a press holiday of some kind?

H.L. Mencken's birthday?

Anniversary of the expense account?

Excuse me.

- Yes?
- Get out.

- C.J.!
- All of you, you cannot be in here.

- Why couldn't you...?
- A human wave. I was overwhelmed.

- Toby is killing us.
- He won't engage.

We do not do this anymore.
You have to leave.

We get nothing to file.
We're gonna get fired.

That's not the best argument
to make at the moment.

- You gotta help us.
- I'll talk to him.

Now, and I say this with love,
get the hell out of my office.

- C.J., C.J.
- Gotta get him out of there.

Have rules of engagement
been finalized...

- ...for the Mideast?
- I'm looking for something to hurl at you.

Mine-sniffing rats?

Well, the Gambian giant pouched rat.

You hit a Prius with an SUV?

Connecting my cell phone's
hands-free device.

- The ironies abound.
- Yeah, verily.

- What happened to training dogs?
- Dogs get bored.

Sniffing for land mines?
These are some jaded pooches.

- What kind of SUV?
- A humongous one.

- Excursion, Expedition, Escalade, what?
- One of those.

I just wanted to drive it.
Like a Hummer.

- Wouldn't you wanna experience that?
- I've had the pleasure.

It's less of a giggle when
taking weapons fire.

I don't know how we get funding
for giant mine-sniffing rats.

Three of them found 20 live mines
in a test in Mozambique.

- Was the Prius just totaled?
- Pretty much.

- Isn't there a big waiting list?
- Just got longer.

This is hilarious but not funny.

I'd say since it's mostly
expensive and embarrassing...'s funny but not hilarious.

You ever hear of the Hubbert Peak?

Does it have to do
with gradations of mirth...

...or are we back on rats
of an unusual size?

Hubbert was a geologist who predicted,
pretty much on the money...

...when U.S. oil production
would peak, then decline.

Did he win something?
Weekend in Shreveport?

- A year's supply of Vaseline?
- Oil supply's a bell curve.

The worldwide Hubbert Peak
may have hit.

No one thinks it's more
than 20, 30 years off.

Meaning within the lifetime of kids
today, oil production will plummet.

- I just wanted to drive a Hummer.
- That's half.

What's gonna happen
when everyone has a car?

A good time to be
in the insurance business.

- Glass houses.
- Point taken.

Exploding demand
meets plummeting supply.

Whether we've ever fought one up till
now, the next war will be about oil.

See you.

If you're coming in with more
to read, I will strangle you...

- ...with my bare hands and enjoy it.
- Will's here.

- I can scrag him too.
- I don't doubt it.

I'm thinking briefing books on tape
for in the car, while jogging.

- You jog?
- Not anymore.

The president wants the VP to meet
the NSC on the nuclear fallout analysis.

- Absolutely. The focus is evacuation?
- Attribution, post-event forensics.

If terrorists know they can be traced
they'll less likely attempt.

Terrorists being notably responsive
to logic and self-interest.

Almost sounded important
for a minute.

The House defeated
the CAFE standards amendment.

- Already?
- They limited floor debate to 20 minutes.

Car companies won't have to raise
miles per gallon from venti to grande.

It's the other way around.

- Not unexpected.
- Or entirely unwelcome.

- That's the spirit.
- Dems get credit with enviros.

But the VP doesn't have
to defend it with voters in Michigan.

Politics more important than principle.

This administration's had seven years
to work on fuel efficiency.

Don't take it out on me.

- With a hostile Congress.
- The public singing, "I want my SUV. "

- It's regret, not guilt.
- Don't have votes. Art of the possible.

- What Leo would say.
- I'd spend the week deciding...

...if sounding like a dyspeptic
60-year-old is a compliment.

- Wanted to see me?
- Where are we on a press secretary?

- Getting up to speed.
- Time for a boost.

No one... I don't mean this unkindly,
no one's anxious to have you briefing.

Just curious, but how'd you have put it
had you meant it unkindly?

You're hovering.

He's hovering.

- Verging on looming.
- And he's stalling.

- I'm crafting.
- They're just remarks.

People listening won't know
they're just remarks.

To them, it'll sound
uncannily like a speech.

- A short speech.
- Prompter needed this half an hour ago.

- You're on your own.
- I'm the leader of the free world.

People pay attention when I speak. The
job's not all waving from the chopper.

Not as good as it might be.
It's your fault.

I'm prepared to live with
the verdict of history.

Charlie, one sec. Mr. President, there's
a reception in the East Room today.

- What?
- Girls' National Field Hockey champions.

Sir, you have to be there.

- Charlie.
- I'll get him there.

- Thank you.
- I'm noticing a slackening of awe.

A certain lack of trembling
in my presence.

- Yes, Mr. President.
- Yes, sir.

- Josh?
- What is it?

That gossip blog, DistrictScene.

- How did she get this?
- Someone at the dealer, I guess.

It's not the end of the world.
It's a weblog.

It's not The Washington Post.

Josh Lyman's office. Yeah.

C.J.'s office. Now.

- You didn't think it was a story?
- It's obviously a story.

- I didn't think...
- Every news organization...

...surfs these blogs.
This will be everywhere.

- For God's sake, what possessed you?
- I don't know.

I saw it and was taken over
by my reptilian brain stem.

The press is gonna have a party
with this. Conga lines, pi?atas....

They'll have fun and be done in a day.

Not the week raising
CAFE standards goes down...

...with us barely putting up a fight.

Alternative Energy Resources Council
is threatening a press conference...

...trashing our commitment,
citing your demolition derby as exhibit A.

- I'll call.
- Do better.

Head the White House Task Force
on Alternative Energy.

- What...?
- The one I promised, to hold them off.

I want a meeting that ends
with something.

You standing with people
in Birkenstocks for press.

- Birkenstocks.
- And bicycle clips.


Bicycle clips?

For your pants.

You gotta...

- Yeah.
- Not counting today.

Today was...
I don't know what today was.

- But the briefings?
- Yeah.

- They're getting better.
- Good.

On a scale of one to 10,
10 being C.J... being a chimp throwing feces,
where do I rank?

They're getting better.

I gotta go get my ass kicked.

Yeah, me too.

Congressmen. And woman.

Does the president believe fuel-efficiency
standards should be raised?

- We're dispensing with the small talk.
- Answer the question.

A shame because I've been hoarding
anecdotes, mordant observations.

This administration's
environmental record... an embarrassment to its party
and a betrayal of its supporters.

- Mordant enough for you?
- Betrayal. Embarrassment.

It's that temperate rhetoric that endears
the Green movement to the electorate.

- You rolled over.
- We did the arithmetic.

Any increase in CAFE standards
wasn't gonna happen.

- You rolled.
- An 8-year-old can count.

- This is supposed to be about leadership.
- Leaders avoid losing battles.

- You live to fight another day.
- You're missing the point.

Nobody thought we were gonna win
this. But you've made it easy for them.

Seat belts. Air bags.
The first fuel-economy standards.

The auto industry had to be dragged
kicking and screaming into them.

They didn't go out of business.
They figured it out.

The White House doesn't lead
on fuel mileage.

Opponents get to cast their vote
at no cost.

We don't just lose a vote.

We lose out on a national debate.

Making it that much harder to win
the next vote.

This isn't a poli-sci seminar.
We didn't have the votes.

Thank you all for your time.

- Well?
- And a pleasant good morning to you.

You find someone?

I slept extremely well.
Thank you for asking.

Sleep less and get us
a new press secretary, will you?

Sorry. When you asked me...

...I didn't realize you expected to find
someone the first hour, my first day.

Sooner you get someone,
sooner I can stop.

I told you. Your doing them
for a while is good.

I'm glad someone doesn't think
they're a total wreck.

Oh, no. They're horrible.
But I can help you.

Help me by doing the job you were hired
for and find us a new press secretary.

Settling in just fine.

But the muffin basket,
the flowers, it's too much.

Donna, get some alternative-energy
spokespeople in here for a meeting.

- You mean...?
- Wind, solar, hamsters in wheels.

Whatever's out there. Today.

- You have that...
- Cancel it. This takes priority.

- Hey, Donna.
- Hey.

Is Josh expecting you?

Actually, I came by to see you.
How you doing?

Good. I'm good.

How soon before
you're out of that cast?

- Soon. I can't wait.
- I bet.

Look, we don't know each other that
well, but if you ever wanted to talk....

- Thanks. But I...
- I'm sure you've spoken to somebody...

...but I just thought
if you ever wanted someone...

Another woman, I don't know.

- Is this completely inappropriate?
- No, no. It's fine.

I've seen the sort of
thing you went through.

- I appreciate your concern.
- Okay.

Well, if you ever want to....

I should really get back to...


- You're all set for lunch.
- You sure he's up to it?

- He said so.
- He's not being polite?

- I'm sorry. Leo?
- He has a courtly side.

- Not with me.
- I don't wanna overtax him.

He would've said.

A car will pick up the food, then
swing by to take you to his hotel at 1.

- Great.
- He asked if you play chess.

Chess? Not really.

I'll let him know.

There's a picture? Get this
blogger woman on the phone.

You didn't think
someone had a camera?

- There wasn't.
- There's a picture.

A guy, his wife and teenage daughter.
That was it.

Daughter have a cell phone?
Josh Lyman's office calling, please.

- One moment, please.
- I wouldn't do this.

- This is Josh Lyman. This is off-record.
- She's not a journalist.

There may be more disreputable ways
to make a living than gossip...

...and clandestine photos,
but none spring to mind.

My and this administration's
environmental bona fides...

...are well-established.

To use this incident to imply otherwise
is scurrilous and irresponsible.

Cheap and easy irony
from what I can only surmise... a cheap and shallow person.

- I said this was off-record.
- She's not a journalist.

You're gonna post this?

She's posting it now.

He made the sushi.

- It's his hobby.
- Nothing against the ambassador...

...but I want my raw fish
prepared by a professional.

Said you're not to use
a lot of wasabi.

Said it's considered
disrespectful to the fish.

Isn't it pretty much past caring?

And there's such thing
as sushi being too fresh.

- Not for me.
- Need to age the fish.

Do I wanna know why?

So the rigor mortis has time to pass.

I knew you were gonna ruin it for me.


A little bird told me.

- Congratulations.
- Thank you, Mr. President.

- You know what this means, right?
- Yes, sir.

Enjoy your party.

I think everyone's blocked off
all of eight minutes.

- Way to go, Charlie. Congratulations.
- Thanks, man.

God, how did you do it?

I don't even have time
to learn my TiVo.

When the president asks
if you did your homework, it gets done.

- I'm glad you told me.
- I just hope he is.

I gotta get back to work.

Carol. Cake?

Totaled a hybrid with an SUV.
He's like an ecoterrorist in reverse.

- We'll point that out to the press.
- What do you need?

Draft a release about the
alternative-energy summit Josh is holding.

- Not gonna work.
- I don't recall asking.

No meeting's gonna counteract
the symbolism of that accident.

You need to laugh it off. Refer questions
to the Department of Metaphor.

Put out a statement from the
undersecretary for Whimsy and Caprice.

Just draft the release.

- Will you be briefing?
- I imagine.

- What?
- How do you get women?

- Excuse me?
- Briefing the press is a seduction.

- You got a hot ex. How'd you get her?
- Get out.

- Know what she says?
- God, you called Annie.

"Smart and funny. " That's how guys
who don't look like Jude Law...

- ...or Denzel Washington get babes.
- You trying to get fired?

I'm trying to help you.
That Mencken line was funny.

No one laughed
because you flung it at them.

Briefing the press isn't a seduction.
It's war.

What C.J. did for seven years
wasn't combat.

It was charm and disarm.

Just draft the release.

Smart and funny. Seduce them.

- Worked on your wife.
- We're divorced.

Living with you is a whole other
ball game. I get that already.


Thanks, C.J., for whatever part
you played in that.

I just showed up and ate corn chips.

Leo e-mailed me something about
reminding the president to play chess.

He and Leo played
weekly chess games.

- Okay.
- What did Leo say about it?

Just to remind him.

Guess that's just it, then.


- C.J.
- Mr. Vice President.

- How you adjusting to the new job?
- It's an adjustment.

I gotta admit, I was surprised.
We all were. But the more I thought...

- started making sense.
- Thanks?

Leo is Leo. No one expects you
to be him. You'll find your way.

I'm finding it, actually.

- I'm here to help.
- I appreciate that, sir.

I look forward to working
closely with you.

As do I, Mr. Vice President.

I work well with strong women.

- Good to know.
- My mother...

- ...a strong woman.
- Well, there you go.

If you'll excuse me....

This where I might find
the puling poster boy...

...for Bartlet's indifferent
energy policy?

Yeah, I was shopping for a Prius.

- Just performing your own crash test.
- A joke the blogger missed.

Should shoot her an e-mail.

You just had the quintessential
consumer experience.

Your head said hybrid,
your heart said SUV.

Reptilian brain is
what I've been going with.

People don't want them
because they get lousy mileage.

It's the argument for mandating
higher mileage standards.

No one's saying
it's the wrong argument.

You've got a pretty tight relationship
with Michael Hirsch, yes?

Well, people in show business
are charming for a living.

I'm one of his 4 or 5000
closest buds, yeah.

- Enough to call?
- For the vice president?

You're one of few who doesn't
regard him with disdain.

Or at least has courtesy to hide it.

Hollywood support's all going to Baker.
He's raised enough to greenlight movies.

- Governor Baker hasn't declared.
- But he's still a front-runner.

I mean, no offense to your guy.

It would be great if you'd make a call.

- Let me get back to you.
- Sure.

You know, Hirsch has a hybrid.

Typical Hollywood. Drives his Prius
right up to his private jet.

I'm about to go into a meeting
with the Commerce secretary.

A man so soporific... shouldn't operate
heavy machinery in his presence.

A meeting that would feel
interminable at three minutes... certain to stretch into
a soul-annihilating 50 minutes.

Presenting a perfect opportunity
for you... get started on a particular errand
pertaining to your postgraduate career.

Fiderer prepared them.
I checked for typos.

Thank you, sir.

Now let's get to work
and fatten up that r?sum?.

Yes, Mr. President.

Meeting's set. Representatives from
solar, ethanol, hydrogen and wind.

- Copy Toby on the roster.
- You know when we run out of oil...

-'ll precipitate global food crisis?
- Don't start.

Fossil fuels are key components
of fertilizers and pesticides...

...not to mention, fuel used
in farm machinery and irrigation.

Said the woman
with the electric wheelchair.

I've given it up. You inspired me with
your commitment to renewable energy.

You know, the SUV came through
without a scratch.

You're going to hell.

C.J., this is Gail Addison from
the Office of Administration.

- Hello.
- She's here about changing your office.

To a day spa, I hope.

I don't know how you
approach your space.

If you have a vision
or would like options.

- I'd prefer not to think about it.
- Then I'm happy to.

- And have you not either.
- I'm sorry?

I'll have Margaret call you
once I'm more settled in. Thanks.

- Baker's running, right?
- Yeah.

And he'll have it wrapped up
by Super Tuesday.

Will asked me to call Mickey Hirsch.

He thinks Baker's not gonna run?

Vice president will be
virtually unopposed.

President Russell.

You worry he'd win. I worry he'd lose.
Republican administration?

GOP Congress?
They'd dismantle everything...

- ...we've accomplished in eight years.
- Baker's gonna run.

Hey, how do you get women?

Smart and funny, right?

Plus I got that, you know, boyish thing.

- I don't have that.
- Yeah.


And the IRS is stepping up
their look into nonprofits.

More charities playing loosely
with contributions.

Blessings for the not-so-unfortunate.
What else?

The CAFE standards amendment
went down.

- That was fast.
- Floor debate was limited to 20 minutes.

Those guys take longer
to decide what to order for take-out.

Quick reconciliation,
a bill to sign by Wednesday.

- Yeah.
- Oh, and Josh hit a Prius...

...with a Land Cruiser or something.

We're handling it.

- We done?
- Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. President.

Oh, sir, I'm sorry.

Leo mentioned to remind you
to play chess.

Please tell Leo when he's healthy enough
to give me a game.

I'll be glad to school him at chess.

Thank you, sir.

- Josh. Got a moment?
- Sure.

The president and I
had an understanding.

Actually, it was more
of an executive order...

...that once I graduated...

...I look for what he calls "a real job. "

So I'm handing out r?sum?s.

- Great...
- That I'd like you to ignore.

- Okay.
- I don't wanna leave the president.

Especially now that he's without Leo.

- Not that I compare myself to...
- I understand.


...I'll put it in a safe place...

- case you change your mind.
- Thanks.

The alternative-energy release.

So, what else?

Smart and funny, that's the sum total
of your expertise?

You could wear a little makeup.

- Oh, jeez. That'll happen.
- You want my help?

Not if it involves makeup, wardrobe
or alternative facial-hair strategies.

- Body language.
- What about it?

Projecting comfort and command.

- I don't do that?
- One might say.

- So, what do I...?
- Follow me.

And personally, the way
you trim your beard...

...a little fussy.

I'll brief the vice president.
How often?

Occasionally. A continent at a sitting.

I assume he's got
a handle on North America.

There's the odd confusion, that's all.

Sudan and Somalia. Iran, Iraq.

- You're kidding.
- One time.

Actual confusion
or slips of the tongue?

We won't presume
for these purposes.

He knows Pakistan is Muslim,
India is Hindu?

- Of course.
- Just trying to calibrate.

- I wouldn't bet the farm on Bangladesh.
- Okay.

He has a little trouble
with the whole Shiite-Sunni thing.

- We should start.
- That's what I'm thinking.

- I'll come by and bring my flash cards.
- Great.

- What?
- Nothing.

You know why people buy hybrids?

I mean, aside from smugness
and moral superiority.

Funny, I was gonna say,
"Conscience and civic responsibility. "

They think gas prices are too high.

- You know why they buy SUVs?
- Because they're not.

Record high was in '81.

Adjusted for inflation, gas was 2.80
a gallon in today's money.

The only way you'll get
real conservation.

Hold an economic gun to their heads.

We should slap
a 3-bucks-a-gallon tax on gasoline.

- A popular position.
- Wait till gas lines come back.

- See how popular that'll be.
- I'm about to solve it.

An alternative-energy summit.

Children of your villages
will sing my name.

Morning. Thank you all for coming,
particularly on such short notice.

I've been waiting to have
this meeting for seven years.

Let's get right to making up
for lost time. Let's go around the table.

Terry Anders, the Solar Cell Project.

Riley Sheets, Ethanol Works.

Wind Now, Corrine McKenna.

Paul Tyminiski, Hydrogen Caucus.

- I've been waiting a while for this too.
- You guys sound like my mother.

When I call, all she does
is complain how I never call.

I'll try to keep everybody straight.

I should've made little symbols.
A picture of the sun...

...corn, cloud blowing out its cheeks...

- ...and for hydrogen...
- The Hindenburg.

Hydrogen didn't cause the Hindenburg
fire. It was aluminum powder coating.

- Really?
- It's used as rocket fuel.

- But hydrogen is extremely flammable.
- So is gasoline.

Flammable? She meant combustible.

Hydrogen burns with a colorless flame.
The Hindenburg burned red.

- Where's your humanity?
- Okay, then.

This is your room.

You're not venturing onto their turf.

They're treading onto yours.

- You have to own it.
- You didn't really just say, "Own it. "

I'll show you
what you look like up here.

Thanks. Helpful.

- Smart and funny.
- Come here. Come here.

You try it.

Good afternoon.

- Good afternoon.
- I'll take your questions.

I'll take your questions.

Okay, you look like you loathe this,
like you can't wait to get out the door.

- Wonder why.
- You're literally hunching over.

You need to lean back.

Not too much. You don't wanna look
hostile and pugnacious.

- I don't?
- Relax your hands.

Look up. Look up.

Okay. Now...

-'s that feel?
- Like a poodle in a dog show.

Let's try it again.

This time, with more confidence.

Good afternoon.

I can't do this.

Solar energy is, very simply,
the answer.

It's clean, accessible, and we're
not running out any time soon.

And when we do,
we'll be having bigger problems.

We could replace all the fossil fuels
we're burning today...

...simply by covering 220,000
square kilometers with solar cells.

- Isn't that a lot?
- A piece of land 300 miles on each side.

Yeah, see, that's kind of a lot.

This will give you an idea
of what we're talking about.

- That's huge.
- Drive it.

It's 300 days of sunshine,
and nothing there.

That covers Las Vegas.

Appropriately. The most wasteful
energy abuser on the planet.

Your cells look attractive
covering the Grand Canyon.

You adjust this, obviously.

Finding square footage in the desert
west will not be the problem.

- What will?
- Manufacturing that many solar cells.

- We'd have to pick up the pace some.
- Yeah. Since all solar cells ever made...

...would barely cover
10 square kilometers.

So just 219,990 to go.

I don't wanna leave the president.
And I just don't think the timing's right.

So if I could leave you my r?sum?,
then have you ignore it.

Got it.

- C.J. Cregg.
- Please.

- Hey, you.
- Are you a sight for sore eyes.

And sore legs, sore chest.

- You having a lot of pain?
- The Vicodin helps.

- What you got?
- Take-out from Terrazzo.

- The arugula.
- With the pecorino and walnuts.

And the gnocchi.

Supposed to be very "gnice. "

So much trouble.

- If only you were worth it.
- I don't have much appetite.

- He needs to eat.
- I'll eat when I'm hungry.

Put it in the fridge.

- I'm actually not that...
- Don't be silly. Go ahead.

I can enjoy it as a spectator sport.

You sure it won't bother you?

It'll be great. Voyeuristic.

That sounds like the Vicodin talking.

It has its compensations.

- So how's it going?
- It's overwhelming.

The amount there is to tend to.

I thought I was busy before.

How in the world did you manage it
for seven years?

I had a heart attack.

You remind the president
about playing chess?

He pretty much blew me off.

You need to insist.

I obviously don't know the president
as well as you...

...but already, I can tell when
something's a no-go.

You have to insist.

The president gets regular physicals...

...and because of the MS, rather more
regular MRIs and neurophysical tests.

But MS is a disease
of the central nervous system.

It can affect cognition,
perception, reasoning, judgment.

What the doctors actually term...

... "executive function. "

As president of the United States...

...this needs to be monitored
on a weekly basis.

You need to get the president
to play chess.

Finish your lunch.

And so it burns clean...

...and most important, ethanol's made
right here in the U.S. of A.

And is already subsidized up the
ying-yang by the U.S. of A. government.

How much more funding
do you want?

Hang on. Some claim
it's not all that clean.

The EPA has certified
it reduces carbon dioxide...

...and hydrocarbon tailpipe
emissions by up to 30 percent.

Releases more nitrogen oxide
and makes the entire fuel mixture...

...evaporate easier than pure gasoline,
causing more smog.

It's climate-dependent.
Helps in cold weather, hurts in hot.

It consumes more fuel
to make than it replaces.

- We dispute that.
- It only replaces 10 percent of gasoline.

So at best, it's a stopgap.

It's practical now.

Not pie in the sky,
like some people's solutions.

Let's be honest. All of us know
what the biggest thing is...

- ...that ethanol has in its favor.
- The Iowa caucuses.

C.J.? Gail's back...

- ...with a quick question.
- Yes?

I know you said you weren't prepared
to consider redecoration schemes...

...but I took the liberty of pulling
some pictures of our inventory.

It's just so dark and masculine in here.

And martial. Do you feel it?

It's just militaristic and martial
and male.

- You said, "A quick question"?
- Oh, sorry.

This was Dolley Madison's desk.

Most people think
she spelled her name L-L-Y...

...but in actuality, it was L-L-E-Y.

- Perhaps we should...
- But it's lovely and feminine.

Dolley, with an E, Madison
was maybe 5'3".


Of course.

Briefing time.

- I know.
- Won't say a word.

But that tie's gonna bleed.

Keep it up, it'll have company.

Don't look at them
with veiled contempt.

- I don't.
- Yeah, right.

It's not veiled.

Charm and disarm.

- Good afternoon.
- Good afternoon.

- I'll take questions.
- What's your response to criticism...

...of the administration's lukewarm
support for higher CAFE standards... reflected in today's defeat
in the House?

Well, what today's vote reflected...

Between anti-regulatory Republicans
and auto-state Democrats...

...we were outgunned.

As far as our lukewarm support,
I'd characterize it as more of a parboil.

White House commitment
to fuel conservation...

...can be measured by the Alternative
Energy Task Force meeting in progress.

Isn't this hastily-convened
task force...

...just an attempt to counteract
the symbolism...

...of a White House senior staffer
totaling a hybrid...

...while driving one of the most
fuel-inefficient passenger vehicles sold?

Questions as to symbolism...

...and meanings are the purview
of the Department of Metaphor.

I refer you to the undersecretary
for Whimsy and Caprice...

...for further comment.

But really, this alternative-energy
summit's not gonna fool anyone.

Good. Then maybe we can
stop thinking of it... something to fool people
and think of it as a way... maybe get something done.

Fuel conservation is a critical issue.

We were outgunned today in Congress
but not outflanked.

So, what are the obstacles to using
hydrogen as a replacement fuel?

Distribution. To transport and then
dispense it, you'd have to liquefy it.

- Is that an issue?
- Just freeze it, then open it.

- At enormous pressure.
- I don't understand. What's the problem?

- When you do that, it can...
- Have the tendency to explode.

Like the Hindenburg.

- So you could file it, toss it or...
- The president wants you to quit.

- I don't...
- You promised...

- ...once you graduated you would.
- It was implied.

- Yes or no, Charlie?
- Yes.

- I guess.
- It's a dilemma.

- All you have to do is...
- What's my job?

- Excuse me?
- My job. It's to serve the president.

It seems to me the president
has expressed a clear wish.

- I don't...
- If he'd handed me your r?sum?...

- you imagine I could ignore it?
- I should just take this back.

Yeah, you probably shouldn't
come in here with that...

...deputy special assistant
to the chief of staff.

- Sorry?
- Your new title.

Come work for me.

- What?
- You're smart...

...responsible, you know the president.
Why wouldn't I hire you?

The title's a little gaudy
but mostly means you'll do...

...whatever's needed to be done.
A catchall, but grown-up. Policy stuff.

- You're serious.
- Be a stone's throw from the Oval.

The president can't miss you
if you haven't really gone.

I don't know what to say.

- Can I think it over?
- Not really.

- That was...
- Absolute misery?

- What?
- Lean forward, but not too far...

...but don't lean back.
How my bleeding tie's distracting...

...from my fuzzy beard.
Be smart, be funny, look pleasant.

I've never been more self-conscious
in my life.

I don't wanna be good at this.

Don't worry. It was better.

Good's still a ways off.

You're welcome.

Wind turbines in California
produce enough electricity... light San Francisco...

...saving the state the equivalent
of well over 10 million barrels of oil.

Wind provides 1.27 percent
of California's electricity?

From 13,000 turbines.

So in order to get
all of its energy from wind...

- ...California would have to build...
- Only 1 million more.

By the way, they're an eyesore.

- No one wants them.
- What if wind doesn't blow?

What happens if the sun isn't shining?

- This really isn't helpful.
- Wind is clean.

Increasingly competitive.

The fastest-growing energy
technology in the world.

The Bartlet administration could restore
U.S. leadership in wind power.

I can see the slogan now.
"Breaking Wind Together. "


Only have a minute.

What'd you wanna tell me?

I got an interesting offer...

...that you're pretty much
responsible for.

- What?
- In appreciation...

...I'd like to tell you about it
over dinner.

Are you asking me on a date?

- A thank-you dinner.
- Well, that's a date.

So far, it isn't anything.

You haven't said that you'll go.


- So?
- What?

- What are we announcing?
- Don't know yet.

- C.J. wants an announcement.
- Tell her that's not happening.

- Nice try.
- What?

- She's pissed at you. You tell her.
- She wasn't pissed.

- Nettled, maybe.
- Whatever. You're telling her.

- Nothing came out of it?
- Wind power, turns out the churn...

...from turbines
changes the weather on the ground.

Probably not ideal
from an environmental standpoint.

- Three hours of stuff like that.
- That you're telling her.


I'm not ready.

I have spoken to experts,
and they told me what to look for...

...and I don't have to look very hard.

I do get angry over everything,
cry over nothing, right down the list.

Rejecting offers of help,
that's on there too.

I'm sure talking to you
would be helpful.

Actually, I'm...

I'm not sure of that.

I'm not sure of much of anything...

...except that I'm not ready.

I understand.



How was your energy meeting?

It was pretty Darwinian.

They're so great at knocking
each other... makes you wanna
buy stock in Chevron.

- They know we can't fund everything.
- I don't know what we can announce...

...other than the world's out of oil,
and in 20 years, we're gonna starve.

You know, those that haven't
already been wiped out... an energy war with China,
because the fuel alternatives...

- ...are less ready than you thought.
- Yeah.

It's all economics.

- Mr. President.
- Sir.

Why do the Saudis fight
to keep oil prices from rising?

To discourage conservation.

And the development
of alternative fuels.

And it works because we let them.

- Economics.
- So, what do we do?

Veto the omnibus transportation bill.

- Why?
- To demand the higher CAFE standards.

- Because Josh demolished a hybrid?
- Because improving fuel economy...

...deserves far more
than a 20-minute debate.

There aren't the votes to sustain.
They'll just override.

It pushes the subject out there.
Jump-starts a national debate.

Hummer sales had their best month
ever this year...

...and Prius is expanding
its production 50 percent.

The market's doing what markets do.

It's sorting itself out,
messily and with contradiction.

Better fuel economy's an idea that
just has to reach its tipping point.

A veto maybe nudges it a little closer.

And keep having those meetings.

Wait till the alternatives are perfect,
it's all gonna be too late.

Thank you, Mr. President.

- What was it you wanted?
- Sir, if you'll follow me....

Mr. President.

Sir, this is Roger Quast from HUD.

He was on the Stanford chess team.
He's here to play a game with you.

Roger, unfortunately, you've been
dragged here for nothing.

I've cleared your schedule
for the hour.

I spoke with Leo. You're going to play
chess, Mr. President.

You heard the lady.

- Where do you think you're going?
- Sir?

- You're gonna play me.
- Sir, I don't really...

Stanford here is gonna stay
and help you. Sit down.

- Chess team, huh?
- Yes, sir.

I'm trying to imagine the cheer.

Check them to the left
To the right

- Stand up, sit down
- I was on the chess team.


- I really have no clue.
- He's gonna help you.

And I'll know if you're holding back,
young man.

You are hereby directed by presidential
fiat to try your damnedest... kick your commander in chief's ass.

King's pawn over two spaces.