The West Wing: Take Out the Trash Day   Rewatch 
August 12, 2014 4:21 AM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

The staff has to deal with a possible hearing involving Leo, a sex-education bill, funding for PBS-TV and the source of some news leaks.

While President Bartlet and his staff debate the appropriate response to a controversial new sex education study, there are fears that the parents of a murdered gay teenager should be excused from attending the signing of a hate crimes bill because of the father's embarrassment about his son's homosexuality. Josh and Sam meet with an appropriations subcommittee which is investigating Josh's lack of cooperation in the White House staff drug probe -- all of which is designed to expose Leo's former substance-abuse problem. Toby relishes his verbal duel with some congressmen who have held up the newest appointments for the Public Broadcasting Corporation. C.J. is advised to save a few embarrassing stories for release on Friday to blunt the effect on the media over the weekend, but she also finds time to continue her frisky flirtation with a White House reporter.

Airdate: January 26, 2000
Director: Schlamme
Writer: Sorkin
posted by ApathyGirl (18 comments total)
 
I'm only moderately embarrassed to ask this question- could someone please explain how "sticky wicket" is a regrettable choice of words?
posted by casualinference at 6:08 AM on August 12, 2014


Sticky wicket from cricket is used to describe a damp field and its effects on the players and the ball, and has expanded to describe any sort of awkward hard to manage situation. But if you didn't just look up the actual definition of the phrase on wikipedia, it seems like it must refer to the actual wicket, which is three fairly phallic sticks of hard wood, being made sticky by some substance. Urban dictionary has a couple of competing definitions for sex-related use of the term by which it basically refers to body parts glued together by bodily fluids.

On a related note, "everything butt". I have a hard time imagining Sam going for an oblique anal sex joke (that seems much more firmly in Josh territory), and an even harder time imagining the oblique anal sex joke making its way past standards and practices at NBC.

I liked the bit with the Lydells. It's heavy handed in that Sorkin sort of way, but when you're figuratively slapping Bill Clinton for DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a heavy hand is really required.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:39 AM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hah, thank you! And I completely missed the "butt" joke, too...

Agreed that the Lydell storyline doesn't feel out of place. It could be another idealistic Sorkin rant, but it feels like a grieving father who loves his son and is fed up with government double-speak and politically expedient public positions. It reminds me of how in 2007, in a candidate forum sponsored by HRC, one of the panelists said to Hilary Clinton, "So, you're against gay marriage." She sort of laughed and said (something like), "I prefer to think of myself as really strongly supporting civil unions," as if of course she was fully aware of the ridiculousness of the line she had to walk.

I also love the storyline between staffer-Paris and Leo. They have such an open, frank conversation about their commonalities (recognizing the dangers of unchecked alcoholism, admiration for public service) and differences (understanding addiction or not). I definitely learned something about addiction when I first saw this scene.
posted by casualinference at 7:13 AM on August 12, 2014


The best thing about this episode might be the moment when Leo asks the staffer if she liked working at the White House. The smile that she can't quite contain, even in such an awful, tense situation, is amazing.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:02 AM on August 12, 2014


My favorite bit because it drives me nuts:

C.J.
There will be 15 pen recipients. The President will sign the bill with 15 pens, and I guess someone on my staff wanted you to know that.

DANNY
C.J.?

C.J.
Tell me you don't have a question about the pens.

DANNY
C.J., I have a question about the pens.

C.J.
Yes, Danny?

DANNY
Josiah Bartlet has 13 letters in it, how's the President gonna use 15 pens?

C.J.
Danny...

DANNY
I just....

C.J.
You know you were the only one in the room doing the math on that, right?

DANNY
I, I just...

C.J.
Only one in the room.

DANNY
My readers expect a little bit more. [laughter]

C.J.
[leafing through notes] 15 pens, 13 letters, they must have stuck something in here about... Yes... he's gonna... interesting... he's gonna literally dot the "I" and cross the "T"s.

DANNY
Thank you.

C.J.
Freakboy.

DANNY
Thank you again.

Why does that drive me nuts? Because if he dots the I and crosses the T's, that's sixteen pens.
posted by Etrigan at 8:17 AM on August 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Josiah Bartlet has 13 letters in it

Pedants should note that while the fictional Josiah Bartlet is a descendent of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, the spelling was changed across generations. Both the real Josiah Bartlett and the eponymous New Hampshire town are 'Bartlett.'

(Fun fact: in the lead-up to the 2004 New Hampshire presidential primary, Martin Sheen traveled to Bartlett, NH to stump for Howard Dean!)
posted by casualinference at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2014


Pedants should note that while the fictional Josiah Bartlet is a descendent of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, the spelling was changed across generations. Both the real Josiah Bartlett and the eponymous New Hampshire town are 'Bartlett.'

I never got why they did that. "Bartlett" is a pretty standard spelling (12M Google hits vs. 284K for one-T).
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 AM on August 12, 2014


And they could get 18 pens out of it!
posted by casualinference at 8:44 AM on August 12, 2014


Maybe it was one pen for dots and one for the crosses. *shrug*

My personal nutty in this episode?

TOBY
We're gonna see to all those things. In the meantime, a time when the public is rightly concerned about the impact of sex and violence on TV this administration is gonna protect The Muppets, we're gonna protect Wall Street Week, we're gonna protect Live From Lincoln Center and by god, we are going to protect Julia Childs.

CHILD. JULIA CHILD. Toby knows this, he said MISS JULIA CHILD earlier in the episode and claimed her as a formative experience, for butters sake!
/rant_off
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2014


PS: This episode's Yeah Count: 25.

This always makes me wonder.. do I talk this way because of Sorkin, or do I love Sorkin because his characters talk like my friends and I do?
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:25 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


HE WAS ON A ROLL.
posted by zarq at 3:01 PM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


But was the roll buttered?
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 4:28 PM on August 12, 2014


Maybe it was one pen for dots and one for the crosses.

I have been telling myself this FOR YEARS.
posted by dogwalker at 12:51 AM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why does that drive me nuts? Because if he dots the I and crosses the T's, that's sixteen pens.

You know you were the only one in the room doing the math on that, right?

Actually, I thought the same thing myself years ago.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:15 AM on August 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I totally counted the Is and Ts at one point in my West Wing watching history. How could anyone not, really?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:34 AM on August 13, 2014


Also, I always felt like the person who was getting the I-dotting pen was getting totally ripped off, unless Jed dots his Is with a little heart or something.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:55 AM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm just ridiculously excited that "Celestial Navigation" is next. It's maybe my all-time favorite episode for lightheartedness.

(That's right, "Take This Sabbath Day" does not exist.)
posted by aureliobuendia at 5:25 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll take any Joey Lucas episodes that I can get!
posted by casualinference at 5:58 AM on August 15, 2014


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