The West Wing: And It's Surely to Their Credit   Rewatch 
October 25, 2014 4:35 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Ainsley Hayes meets her new boss, White House counsel Lionel Tribbey, and receives her first assignment: clean up after two domestic-policy staffers who presented inaccurate testimony before a House committee. Meanwhile, Sam hits upon the idea of Josh suing the hate group whose members shot him; and C.J. stares down a soon-to-retire general who's planning to blast the Administration on TV talk shows.

President Bartlet's controversial -- and conservative -- new choice for associate White House counsel has rough sledding on her first day when she suffers the wrath of her hostile boss Lionel Tribbey, gets a chilly reception from her co-workers and is humiliated by two other staffers, Mark Brookline and Steve Joyce . Also, when Josh's insurance company turns down his claim for his recent life-saving medical bills, Sam tries to convince him to sue the people who shot him -- the Ku Klux Klan. In addition, C.J. tries to shame the outspoken General Ed Barrie who is critical of the President into meeting with her.

Airdate: November 1, 2000
Director: Christopher Misiano
Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin; Story by Kevin Falls & Laura Glasser
Yeah Count: 30
John Larroquette's Lionel Tribbey is a goddamned treasure and I love every second he's on screen.
posted by ApathyGirl (12 comments total)
It's both a shame and a blessing that John Larroquette wasn't able to stick around for the MS storyline, for whatever reason. I would have really enjoyed his take on it. All the same though I'd be pretty sad to lose out on Oliver Platt's performance. Why did Larroquette only get to do the one episode anyway?
posted by wabbittwax at 5:58 PM on October 25, 2014

I still can't believe this is the only episode that Larroquette was in. He owns that character, and that character owns every frame he's in, so hard that it honestly feels like he's in 6 or 7 episodes.

But yeah, Platt was great too. Something about the President's lawyer must make for a great role.
posted by dogwalker at 7:35 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, Sorkin and your Gilbert & Sullivan obsession. Somehow, it really works here. Like "of course these nerdy political wonks would all be into it." He inserts it into Studio 60, and it's a total misstep, but pretty much everything about this episode works great.

And GOOD LORD, Larroquette is just fucking great in this episode. Completely steals it. It's a real shame he never reappears in this role.
posted by sparkletone at 7:59 PM on October 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

There was a running joke about Bartlet not being able to hold on to WH Counsels. Oliver Platt/Babish is pretty great too.
posted by ApathyGirl at 8:49 PM on October 25, 2014

I brought it up to Aaron that everyone loved John Larroquette's performance and the character of Lionel Tribbey in general, and asked if he'd be back, and this was his answer:
I thought John was great and I like the character, so sure, why not? - Aaron Sorkin

Posted at
by List Owner
February 1, 2001
Message 2178

posted by ApathyGirl at 8:50 PM on October 25, 2014

He [Aaron Sorkin] also mentioned that he stays away from contemporary pop references, as in, we'll never hear them discussing Britney Spears, and/or "Survivor" (personally..that could be one hell of an interesting episode... ) and that's why he uses things like Gilbert and Sullivan.

Posted at
by Kel
October 6, 2001
Message 9150
Notes from Sublime Primetime : An Evening with Emmy-Nominated Writers

posted by ApathyGirl at 8:51 PM on October 25, 2014

And yet, "I'm Too Sexy" as sung, sort of, by C.J.?
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:09 PM on October 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

That was already a pretty old reference by that point I think.
posted by wabbittwax at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2014

I'm Too Sexy came out in 1991, and the scene pretty successfully illustrates CJ being in a good mood and also being a little dorky.

C.J. Cregg: [singing as she crosses the room to Toby] I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my skirt, too sexy for the other things...
Toby Ziegler: What in God's name is...
C.J. Cregg: He got the question.
Toby Ziegler: Who?
C.J. Cregg: The Majority Leader.
Toby Ziegler: When?
C.J. Cregg: Last night. Local news, Cleveland, Ohio - oh me-o, oh my-o, oh Cleveland, Ohio! He got the question.
Bonnie: What's the question?
Toby Ziegler: "Why do you want to be president?"
Bonnie: And what did he say?
C.J. Cregg: [reading from a transcript of the interview] "The reason I would run, were I to run, is I have a great belief in this country as a country and in this people as a people that go into making this country a nation with the greatest natural resources and population of people, educated people."
C.J. Cregg: [makes a shotgun motion with her arms] Chk-chk, boom!
Toby Ziegler: I'll spread it around.
C.J. Cregg: [singing her way out of the room] I'm too sexy for my shoes, too sexy for the blues, too sexy...
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:58 PM on October 26, 2014

This episode has my favorite Sam Seaborn moment, when he fires the misogynist staffers. Is it just me, or was the floral card holder flipping Ainsley off for good measure?
posted by pmdboi at 8:36 PM on October 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am coming to this post late, but this episode is one of my favourites. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Gilbert and Sullivan (I was the only eight-year-old dressed as Yum-Yum from The Mikado for Halloween) and as a teen I deeply loved Sam Seaborn for this and other things. I then went to Princeton (not entirely because of Sam, obviously, but...) in my quest to both be the female version of him AND possibly marry him, and I was going to be recording secretary of the Princeton Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and then I got there and there was no Princeton Gilbert and Sullivan Society. The West Wing lied to me through song, which is the worst kind. :(

(I forgave it.)
posted by ilana at 11:56 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sam's generally such an affable guy, but he can do cold rage when he has reason, as when he fired the woman who leaked Leo's history of substance abuse, and these guys for their misogyny.

The Bartlets trying to carve out time for Abby to wear the "special garment" was pretty funny. No mention of this subplot in the recap, or of the many takes of the radio message?
posted by orange swan at 7:11 PM on October 4, 2017

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