amadi: Text icon reading: "You want to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing?" (Tempt the Wrath)
[personal profile] amadi posting in [community profile] thewestwing
My apologies, this was meant to be posted on Friday. Better late than never? At least my next summary is already written?

Episode 1x16: 20 Hours in LA

Read the Transcript Here

Blurb from IMDb:
President Bartlet is making a whirlwind 20-hour trip to Los Angeles. On the flight he meets Zoey's new bodyguard, who assures him that she will protect his daughter from those who have been sending racist threats. Josh is excited to hear that Joey Lucas will be at the evening's fund raiser, but dismayed to learn that the host is threatening to cancel the party unless the President makes a public statement supporting gay rights. Back in Washington, Leo needs to convince Vice President Hoynes to break a 50-50 tie by voting for an ethanol gas tax.

Summary:We open with the President & Leo in the limo. It's 2:38 A.M. EST and they're en route to Andrews Air Force Base, discussing a vote on an Ethanol tax credit that's tied up in the Senate, putting them into the uncomfortable position of having to ask the Vice President to break the tie.

They also discuss Zoey's Secret Service detail. The President is set to meet Zoey's new key agent while he's on the plane.

Leo is concerned about the President's plan to travel from DC to Los Angeles and back again in just 24 hours. The President kindly but decidedly blows him off, ribbing Leo a bit over his concern. "Your impersonation of my mother is really getting sharper, you know that?"

At Andrews, the President, C.J. and Charlie board Air Force One. C.J. reports that the press is unhappy about a 3 a.m. flight to the west coast. Bartlet scoffs. "Ahh, it's gonna be great! We're gonna race the sun to the Pacific horizon!" The President is feeling his oats this morning, clearly. On board, Sam, Josh and Toby have all sorts of concerns about a meeting in L.A. The President is still all amped up. He placates them mildly, then gets the thrill of picking up the phone. "Colonel, this is the President. I'm ready to go." Cue takeoff and... credits. It's the little things, clearly.

It's now 3:45 A.M. EST and C.J. and Donna are having this episode's brief Bechdel passing moment by discussing... sunblock for their "sensitive alabaster skin." Toby mocks, but Josh shuts it down by announcing that a bill is about to be introduced in Congress to place an outright ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military. C.J. scoffs that the no one will care, because the House member behind the bill is a joke; Josh retorts that Ted Marcus, the gay man who is hosting a fundraiser in L.A. -- the reason why they're traveling -- is going to care. This is going to be a thing.

There's cuteness with Charlie and Zoey. He wants to be a better boyfriend, but he's going to be working hard on this trip and won't be able to give her as much attention which he would like. She's adorably understanding.

The President is introduced to Secret Service Special Agent Gina Toscano. She's impressive, an Army 2nd Lieutenant with a degree in Criminology from UVA and the first person to volunteer for Zoey's special protection detail at Georgetown. She briefs him on letters that have been received; presumed white supremacists are making threats against Zoey and Charlie because of their relationship. Frightening stuff, but Gina seems well-equipped to handle the work of assessing and monitoring threats. And won't rat Zoey out to her father if she cuts English class.

6:45 AM EST and we're back at the White House where Leo is managing the Ethanol Tax Credit situation. Ethanol usage makes money for farmers and creates jobs, that's the message they've failed to get out. Margaret is surly about missing the L.A. trip, and snarks her boss accordingly. Unhappy Margaret is really unusual.

Back on the plane, 5:40 A.M. PST, and they're preparing to land, C.J. briefs the press on the schedule. Down to Orange County (a Republican stronghold) for a town hall on a constitutional amendment banning flag burning, back up to South-Central LA (an African-American community) for a town hall on school choice vouchers, then the big fundraiser at Ted Marcus's house. It'll be a rip-roaring 20 hours in the sunshine.

At the hotel, Donna informs Josh that Joey Lucas is in town, in their hotel and will be at the fundraiser. He's a little overwhelmed; Donna advises that he needs to do something about his crush on Joey. He's about to have Donna call Joey when he learns that Ted Marcus has called, presumably angry about the gays in the military bill. Joey has to wait.

Josh goes to visit Marcus. He's not placated by Josh's assurances that the bill is never going to get to the floor for a vote, and threatens to cancel the fundraiser over it unless he can hear the President state publicly that if such a bill were ever to somehow pass, it would be vetoed.

Vice President Hoynes comes to visit with Leo to talk about the Ethanol vote. He's unhappy about casting the tiebreaking vote, because he doesn't agree with the White House position. He voted against it when he served in the Senate. The tax credit doesn't actually work, Ethanol is a boondoggle. Plus, it'll be politically disadvantageous for him when he runs for President again when Bartlet's term is over. He does not want to make the vote.

Out in Orange County, several people rise to make impassioned speeches about the flag burning amendment, while Toby, Josh and Sam discuss what to do about Ted Marcus's ultimatum. They decide on a hardline approach, no public statement because it's politically disadvantageous. Marcus will get a brief sit-down with the President to voice his concerns. If that's not good enough, the President will just skip the fundraiser.

In the town hall, Charlie finally bails the President out, the pro-flag rhetoric was making him look (in Toby's words) like he was thinking about ways to kill himself. As they prepare to leave, Bartlet asks a pointed question
Is there an epidemic of flag burning going on that I'm not aware of?"
They head off to lunch, an "L.A. experience" where they'll make the guacamole right at the tableside.

At lunch, the President and Zoey share one table while senior staff dine with a pollster named Al Kiefer. He makes the recommendation that it would be advantageous to get ahead of the flag burning issue by coming out in favor of the constitutional amendment. Senior staff, especially Toby, are appalled. Kiefer tells Barlet that he has a problem with people who like authority, that he's seen as a weak, and coming out hard for the amendment would counter that image. As lunch ends, the president says he'll think about the issue, much to Toby's surprise.

Walking out to the car, Gina hurries Zoey along, troubled by two young men with shaved heads who stare malevolently, silent and stone faced in the midst of a boisterous throng behind the security barricade.

The party is underway at Ted Marcus's magnificent mansion, complete with string quartet on a stairway landing. The Senior Staff are shmoozed, especially C.J. who is offered a job in "development" which confounds her, as the executive can't explain what development actually means. David Hasselhoff quotes Justice Brennan to an uninterested Josh and a fangirling Donna. Josh confiscates her champagne as she goes off to meet Matt Perry (irony alert!) and Josh is pulled into an aborted conversation with Joey Lucas, darn that Toby.

Leo continues to try to convince VP Hoynes to vote for the Ethanol Tax Credit. Hoynes is recalcitrant to the point that Leo threatens that he'll be exiled from the West Wing and replaced when it's time to run for re-election. Hoynes menacingly tells Leo that he should call the President.

When Leo and the President talk, Leo points out, to Bartlet's chagrin, that the VP cannot be fired. Leo points out that Hoynes is actually right about the tax credit. Sam suggests a strategy to arrange the loss in the Senate more politically, and Bartlet angrily states that he'll call Hoynes. A dressing down is coming.

Outside, C.J. thanks Jay Leno for leaving Leo alone and Josh is basking in the presence of Joey Lucas, talking with her about the lunch with Al Kiefer.
Josh: So you want to know what we did for lunch today?
Joey: What?
Josh: We had a meeting with a democratic pollster who told us that we could sew up re-election if the President led the charge in favor of a flag burning amendment.
Joey: I heard.
Josh: How'd you hear?
Joey: I hear everything.
Toby, C.J. and Sam come and are introduced to Joey and her assistant/interpreter, Kenny, and Joey informs them that Kiefer's polling used problematic questioning models that didn't get accurate numbers. Joey's polling numbers indicated that the number of people who'd swing their vote on the matter of flag burning was minuscule. But Bartlet should come out and say that it's not a great thing to do because it's troubling, because it's what people want, more than laws, just the direction. She then breaks it to Josh that she's seeing someone, and yet asks that he call her the next time he's in California. He promises to call in advance. There are longing looks exchanged.

In a sumptuous study, the President and Ted Marcus bicker about why there won't be a public comment about the gay military ban. The President gets angry, and explains the political reality, that he minute he comments, there's a reason to debate, if he stays quiet, the bill will die. They then have a very human moment, where the President admits to being very tired and hoping to sleep on the plane back to DC, and Marcus is quiet as Bartlet literally hangs his weary head.

Back at the hotel, as he packs up, Donna encourages Josh to go knock on Joey Lucas's door to say goodbye to her. When he arrives, the door is answered by Al Kiefer in his bathrobe. Josh prevaricates and says that he just came to say goodbye and thank Joey for sharing her polling data. More longing looks. The tension is thick.

Back on the plane, talking to Hoynes on the phone, Bartlet admits that he agrees with him on the matter of the Ethanol Tax Credit, and praises Hoynes for never giving in on the matter, even when it cost him votes during their primary battle. He says that Hoynes had a good day. He got the win. The call ends and the President closes his eyes to sleep, but a moment later opens them again, to look out the window into the darkness.

Questions:
  1. Josh & Joey: adorable or a little offputting considering how much of an ass he was the only time they met before?
  2. Like "Take This Sabbath Day" this was a very politics-heavy episode (as opposed to policy-heavy). Where there was strife and pushback against the realities of the politics of the death penalty in Sabbath Day, did it seem that everyone was just accepting, with a note of cynicism, the realities of polling and fundraising and unpopular positions in this episode, except, perhaps, for John Hoynes?
  3. In the ongoing b-plot, is Zoey being cavalier about the need for protection (especially after the terrible scare her father gave her about worst case scenarios) or naive about the realities of being visible to the public?
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