The West Wing: Celestial Navigation   Rewatch 
August 19, 2014 7:10 AM - Season 1, Episode 15 - Subscribe

While Sam and Toby go to Connecticut to get the President's Supreme Court nominee out of jail, Josh tells a group about a typical day at the White House.

Sam and Toby are dispatched to Connecticut for some damage control and to secure the secret release of President Bartlet's choice for the Supreme Court, who has been jailed for alleged drunk driving and resisting arrest. Meanwhile, Josh is a guest lecturer at a college class to talk about working for the President and he recounts the previous week's flare-ups, which include: his feeble attempt to fill in as the White House spokesman at a press conference where he promises that the President has "a secret plan to fight inflation," and the media glare that engulfs the African-American HUD secretary who publicly labeled a prominent Republican as a racist.

Airdate: Februrary 16, 2000
Director: Christopher Misiano
Teleplay by Sorkin; Story by Dee Dee Myers & Lawrence O'Donnell Jr
Yeah Count: 24
Times Mandy Speaks: 4
I love this episode, you guys.
posted by ApathyGirl (7 comments total)
The "Previously on" is just everyone introducing themselves. I love that.

I loved the first CJ-Josh scene riiight up until the very end, when he makes a spectacularly inappropriate joke that should have at least gotten him yelled at by her right then and there, and then by Leo later.

"Sir, I need you to dig in now. It wasn't a nightmare, and you really are the President." That may be the best throwaway one-liner in the entire series.

One of the overall structural things I like about this episode is that it moved the Mendoza arc, which had been only barely mentioned in the last half-dozen episodes as a thing that was happening. It could have easily been two or three episodes all in a row, bam bam bam, we've got Edward James Olmos, let's play it up.
posted by Etrigan at 9:49 AM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't love the framing device for this episode, I don't think it adds much. That said, the individual stories are superb. It unfailingly points out that racism exists and that even supreme court justices have to deal with it, but at the same time O'Leary is unable to call out racism because of the political reality of the situation.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:55 PM on August 19, 2014

I gotta find time to watch this again because it's terrific. If I recall correctly, it spends at least 25% of its time discussing New York City Metro Area highway options. LOVE. IT.
posted by aureliobuendia at 7:35 AM on August 20, 2014

I've adopted the phrase, "I didn't think it was my fault as much as...other people do." Also, "I'm sure that was an answer to some question."

The summer I lived near the Foggy Bottom metro station was a joy, as I thought of woot canaw CJ every time I waited for a train.
posted by casualinference at 8:05 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite episodes. This scene is freakin' hilarious.

Bartlet: "I'm tired, I'm cranky, and my wife's in Argentina. Let's get this over with."
Leo: "Mr. President, we experienced a few public relations... what's the word...?"
Toby: "Catastrophes?"
Leo: "...incidents!... in the few hours you were away last night."
Bartlet: "What kind of incidents?"

Everyone looks at Josh, who is looking at his feet.

Leo: "Josh!"
Josh: "Yeah? Oh. First, I'm happy to tell you that the incident involving Secretary O'Leary and Congressman Wooden has been dispensed with. Though not really, and I'll get to that at the end. Sam asked C.J. to move the briefing to two o'clock so that we could fold in the teachers. C.J. had emergency root canal surgery at noon and so was unable to brief."
Bartlet: "Who did?"
Josh: "I did."
Bartlet: "Oh God."
Josh: "Yeah. Long story short, you're gonna be reading a bit today about your secret plan to fight inflation."
Bartlet: "I have a secret plan to fight inflation?"
Josh: "No."
Bartlet: "Why am I gonna be reading that I do?"
Josh: "It was suggested in the Press Room that you did."
Bartlet: "By who?"
Josh: "By me."
Bartlet: "You told the press I have a secret plan to fight inflation?"
Josh: "No, I did not. Let me be absolutely clear, I did not do that. Except, yes, I did that."
Bartlet: "Josh, I'm a little confused."
Josh: "Sir, there was this idiotic round robin. It was sarcastic. There's no way they didn't know that. They were just mad at me for imposing discipline and calling them stupid!"
Bartlet: "Okay. Before we go on., C.J., if blood is gushing from the head wound you have just received from a stampeding herd of bison, you'll do the press briefing."
C.J.: "Yes sir."
Josh: "Mr. President..."
Bartlet: "A secret plan to fight inflation?"
Josh: "There was no turning them back. I denied it for half an hour. They wouldn't take no for an answer."
Bartlet: "Were you clear?"
Josh: "I was crystal clear! They said, 'Do you think if the President has a plan to fight inflation, it's right that he keep it a secret?' I said, 'Of course not!'"
Bartlet: "Are you telling me that not only did you invent a secret plan to fight inflation, but now you don't support it?"
Josh: "[looks stunned] When you put it like that..."
Toby: "Mr. President, much as we'd love nothing more than to stand here and watch you beat the living crap outta Josh...."
posted by zarq at 11:05 AM on August 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

"I've only seen one that I thought was so far off the mark that it was really a mistake, and that's when they had a Supreme Court nominee arrested for speeding, and two members of the White House staff went and broke him out of jail, which is an impeachable offense. And for any White House to really try that would have been stupid. First of all, everybody in the White House would have gotten fired. The president would have gotten impeached, and the Supreme Court nominee would have to be dumber than an owl to ever break the law by getting out of a speeding ticket. So that was the only one that I thought was really off the mark."
- Marlin Fitzwater

"Popular Politics"
by Terence Smith
September 8, 2000
Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:48 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Despite the real-life infeasibility of the situation, I love the exchange between Toby and Mendoza at the jail. It was a good depiction of race problems in this country, but poignant as well...the line about how Toby wouldn't want to go face his son either was especially good.

I like when Josh wrecks things for entertainment's sake, but objectively, does he EVER do anything right?

posted by terilou at 7:06 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

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