Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin – “The West Wing”, 1.06 “Mr. Willis of Ohio”

So I’m watching my favorite TV series for the purpose of criticizing its tendencies toward misogyny, tendencies that are exacerbated in creator Aaron Sorkin’s later works. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Physical comedy is used to undercut a female character’s competence.
  2. A female character’s sexual appeal or sexual/romantic relationship with a male character is primary.
  3. A female character displays “feistiness”. “Feistiness” is a frequent shorthand in liberal misogyny for “See? She’s strong and independent and we find that adorable! What’s the problem?”
  4. Femininity or feminine concerns are disparaged, by male or female characters.
  5. Any character is rude to his/her female subordinate with no consequences.
  6. A male character is lauded and glorified in an unlikely way by a female character or characters.
  7. A female character screws up at her job.
  8. Anger coming from a female character is unreasonable or mysterious, either to the audience or to another character.
  9. A female character plays the Exposition Fairy. Note: Having Exposition Fairies is not in and of itself a problem. It’s necessary in most fiction. But in The West Wing, the Fairy is almost always a female character, and is almost always asking a male character for explanation, and would almost always certainly know the information she’s asking for, so that the fact that she’s asking indicates that she’s not that good at her job.
  10. An episode goes by that does not pass the Bechdel test.

And,

!. When we see evidence that Toby & C.J. are doin’ it. Not misogynist, just entertaining to me personally.

This particular episode could also be mined for race and class stuff but I’m going to just stick to what I’m good at.

Previously, on “The West Wing,” the president marches along that outdoor walkway thing at the White House, the name of which I should probably learn if I’m going to do these recaps; Leo tells his wife that his work as Chief of Staff is, in fact, more important than their marriage; Sam tells a person he thinks is a random teacher but who is in fact his boss’s daughter that he “accidentally” slept with a prostitute; and Charlie and Zoey (the president’s daughter) flirt adorably.

Currently on “The West Wing,” C.J. deals a hand of poker to staffers in a dimly lit room in the White House. It is presumably evening or even late at night. The players are C.J., Leo, Josh, Toby, the president, Mandy, and Sam. Sam and Toby are smoking cigars. I continue to be wildly attracted to Toby despite said cigar. Everyone calls check except the president, who decides to quiz his staff about which fruit has seeds on the outside. The staff is not best pleased and is highly expressive of their displeasure, because they are very, very secure in their jobs. C.J. guesses the kumquat and Leo, next to her, laughs, and they all grin adorably. I do love the scenes on this show where the staffers are just enjoying each other. More poker-y things happen, including Toby raising the president’s bet. The president responds by informing them that the fruit is the strawberry, which they are all way too impressed with, and then asks for the fourteen punctuation marks in standard English. The table in general guesses the most obvious seven and then Toby finishes off with the last, earning an “Ooh!” from C.J. ! He’s totally getting some tonight. Toby insists that the president focus on poker. The president still does not. Instead, he wants to know which three words in the English language begin with dw-. Josh says this is why they never get anything done. Toby and Sam come up with dwindle and dwarf, and then the president raises his bet and reveals, via something Shakespearean, that the third is dwell. There is more general ribbing and everyone being totally fun together, and then Toby loses the hand to the president and they decide they’re done.

The president tells Leo to kiss Jenny for him, so we know that the president has not been informed of their marital troubles yet. Josh is going to go back to the office, because of course he is, and gets Sam to come with him so that Sam can explain the commerce report to him. So, okay, let’s throw in a -9 for that because Josh just admitted he didn’t know something, but let’s also remember this light, joking moment in which Josh basically orders Sam to do this for him and Sam acquiesces agreeably.

The president tells Charlie – who has been in the outer room this whole time, NOT invited to play poker, a shonda, I tell you – that he’s going back to the residence. Charlie says he’s going to stay and do more paperwork.

Mandy and C.J. converse! -10! They’re talking about poker! Mandy won $84 and C.J. lost money, some of it to Mandy.

Then some suited men come walking in all important-like. The building is not secure. They need to all stay in the Oval Office. Josh notes that this is happening too often and Leo tells us it’s pledge week and frat boys have a habit of hopping the fence. Josh is being somewhat shirty with the Secret Service and everyone gets tense for a minute. Then the president breaks the ice by starting a new trivia question. By the time Toby and the president are done razzing each other about it, one of the agents gives the all-clear. Mandy joking that “This is the kind of thing that didn’t used to happen at my old job” leads us into the credits.

And listen, I still don’t have anything against Moira Kelly, but her delivery of that line is kind of the perfect illustration of her not really getting the Sorkin rhythm.

Patriotism, swelling music, and shots of the cast!

Our misogyny count is in the negative right now! -2! Amazing!

After the credits, we’re in the ever-bustling Toby-and-Sam section of The White House. Toby would like Cathy (who I thought was Sam’s assistant?) to get him a copy of Article One, Section Two. Cathy asks, “Article One, Section Two of what?” which seems like a totally reasonable question to me. Toby says, “The Constitution,” like it should be obvious, and I’m going to go ahead and put in a 5 here. A soft 5, but a 5 nevertheless. Cathy wants to know if that’s something she’s supposed to have at her desk. Toby wants to know if anyone in the general Toby-and-Sam section has a copy of the Constitution handy. No one does. Toby thinks this is “discouraging.” Cathy orders Bonnie to get it. Bonnie wants to know “if it’s still in print” which is a ridiculous question. 7. Honestly. Toby shouts at them to “try Amazon DOT com” (or, I would suggest, the internet in general – I mean, I know it’s 1999 and the Internet isn’t quite what it is today, but I bet there was a copy of the U.S. Constitution up somewhere) or to “bust into the glass display case at the National Archives!” Toby, honestly. Send someone down to the gift shop; they probably have free copies.

C.J. comes up behind him and chastises him for yelling. Toby does not say, “That’s not what you said last night.” C.J. says, kind of awkwardly and weirdly, that she’s here to see Sam. Toby does not care and C.J. continues to be weird about it.

Sam is talking to someone named Jill about sampling data and the census. C.J. flatters him weirdly but I’m not going to give it a 6 for reasons that will become obvious in a moment. Sam grumbles about how the census needs to be taken seriously, despite the lack of glamour. C.J. compliments his hair and his suit and he looks good today. Sam correctly guesses that she needs a favor (which is why no 6).

C.J. tells Sam that there were parts of the commerce bill regarding the census that she didn’t understand. Sam says he can help her out. C.J. confesses that she understands nothing about the census. Because 9. Sam chastises her for not having understood the whole thing for weeks now and for faking it and  then very generously offers to “forget about the fact that you came a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all.”

So, let’s go over this. When Josh doesn’t understand this very same bill, he obnoxiously orders Sam to stick around well after working hours to help him understand it. Sam helping Josh takes place entirely off our screen and Sam is entirely cheerful and willing to help Josh with no commentary on what it means that Josh needs his help.

The very next day, mere hours later, considering these peoples’ work schedules, C.J. comes to Sam all flattering and penitent and pleading for help understanding that same bill, and Sam makes her debase herself a little about how much she doesn’t understand and then says she’s “late to the party.” I don’t know if I have enough 9s to give. So this scene will get two, the one above for simply the fact that it’s C.J.’s job to play dumb audience member even though we are given a set-up that would have allowed it to just as easily be Josh, and this one for how groveling she’s expected to be about it.

Donna has a question about the budget surplus that she’s posing to Josh. There’s a $32 billion dollar surplus (Oh, 1999. We miss you.) and the Republicans want to use it for tax relief – i.e., give it back – and the Democrats don’t. Donna wants to know why the Democrats don’t. Josh says, “Because we’re Democrats.” Donna doesn’t care; she wants her money back. Yup, another 9 for the episode. I don’t get the census (unless it’s “We count up all the people,” in which case, I get it fine) but I do get the whole concept of Republicans like not taxing people and Democrats like spending money on social programs just fine, and I’m not the assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House.

Leo is going over some of the appropriations bill additions with the staff. They are pointing out all the nonsense things in the bill and then we learn the real point – if the three swing voters that Toby and Mandy are meeting with later will agree to something something something wrt the census, they’ll let the appropriations bill pass. Or something. I think that’s what’s being said, anyway. Also, one of the three is the husband of a recently deceased Congresswoman who is taking her place for the term. See, it’s a way to show that women are totally Congresspeople, without having to cast an actual woman to be involved in this meeting. I don’t have a number for that. Let’s call add one .

11. The show engineers things so that it pays lip service to the idea of women in power without actually showing it.

Actually, another good example of this would be C.J. dealing the cards. She is in the in-charge position in a group meeting, but it’s an irrelevant in-charge position, and it’s also undercut by her losing. So already two 11s for this episode!

Wait, and when Sam was on the phone and made sure to address the other person as Jill so we’d know he was having this important discussion with a woman even though we’d never see or hear from her! Another 11!

Anyway, Mandy and Toby think the dead congresswoman’s husband (the titular Mr. Willis, if you haven’t figured that out yet) is just going to vote with the others and are not worried about the meeting. They think they can threaten their three-day weekend in order to browbeat the congresspeople into voting their way. Leo simply commands them not to screw up or embarrass him and the meeting is dismissed.

A Secret Service agent having a meeting with the president to discuss the events of the night before. We learn that the person who jumped the fence the night before was not a frat pledge, it was a middle-aged crazy lady. Because dames. Crazy, right? 8. The president jokes that just trying to kill him doesn’t mean the woman is crazy.  But the president wasn’t the target. Zoey was. The president is taken aback.

Leo walks in and the president tries to pretend he’s okay, introducing Leo and the agent, Ron Butterfield (I love Sorkin’s character names) and marveling that the jumper was “a woman!” 4? And maybe another 11, since, again, we’re supposed to be impressed that the show had a woman doing the thing instead of a man, but we never actually see her.

Ron Butterfield excuses himself. Leo reassures the president that Zoey was safe, and the president decides not to tell his daughter her life was in danger. Because women. They can’t handle shit like this. I think I’m going with 8. Leo starts to try to tell the president about his marriage breaking up, but before he can, Ron Butterfield comes back in to report that their security worked as it was supposed to, and Leo decides not to go on. Ron advises the president not to lose sleep, but admits that the woman did have a gun before leaving.

A whole bunch of dudes come in to one of the meeting rooms, where Josh and Mandy are waiting. One of them is tubby and black and kind of wide-eyed, so that’s Mr. Willis. One of them is smarmy and says to Mandy, “If I had know you would be here I would have brought my sword and shield.” Mandy responds, “Champagne and flowers would have done the trick,” because women! You should always relate to them as if they are your lovers. 2. And 3 for how feisty Mandy is know to be.

Misogyny Points Thus Far: 

Smarmy dude introduces Mr. Willis, who explains to them who he is and why he’s there, which they already know. Mandy says she’s sorry for his loss and Mr. Willis is very nice about everything, and also explains that he’s not really a congressman; he’s an 8th grade social studies teacher.

Toby marches in ready for his performance. He has a bunch of assistants – Cathy and two dudes – put his copy of the appropriations bill on the table. It is many, many stacks of paper. Toby insincerely welcomes the two congressmen and tells Mr. Willis, sincerely, that he was a great fan of Mrs. Willis.

Then Toby turns his attention to the stacks of paper. It ways 55 pounds, he claims. I kind of doubt it. It includes very dumb things, like a study of the uses of wood. Toby tells them he’s thinking of some uses for it right now. I pant a little. The smarmy congressman smarms about how they’re supposed to be talking about the census. Josh, sitting across the table, says, “We are. The White House just wanted to point out that you are criminals and despots.” Oh, 1999. I miss you.

Josh and Mandy say they will pass the ridic appropriations bill if these three people vote against the law in it prohibiting sampling for use in the census. I’m so excited that Mandy actually gets to speak in this meeting I almost drop a number but then remember that THAT SHOULD BE NORMAL. My good mood from earlier in this post seems to have dissipated; I don’t know if y’all noticed.

Toby threatens their weekend plans, and Mr. Willis interrupts to say he has no weekend plans and no flights to miss or reschedule, so he’s down for the long haul on this. Toby is taken aback. So are the other two congressmen.

Oh, my God. C.J. and Sam pedeconference through the C.J. section of the West Wing and C.J. requests that Sam talk slow and assume she’s dumb. I don’t even. All the numbers. Okay, fine. Let’s go with 97, and maybe a little 4. And a 5 for when Sam makes a joke about being able to imagine her being dumb.

MPTF16

C.J. describes herself as “submissive” because she had to ask Sam for help. Note that Josh did not feel at all submissive when he asked, nor did we have to go through several conversations about how weak he was for needing it in the first place. 4. And then Sam insults her intelligence again. 4.

Finally we get to the explanation. The constitution decrees that every ten years, we count everyone. C.J. asks why. I mean, for fuck’s sake. 9. Because, duh, Sam does not say. Sam goes on to explain how the head count works – expensively and inaccurately. C.J. continues praising him unnecessarily but I’m still not throwing up a 6 because it’s not inexplicable.

Leo’s daughter in a gorgeous Irish fisherman’s sweater brings in some stuff for her dad and informs Leo that the marital difficulties he’s having are not, as he says, going to blow over.

Then we go back to the appropriations bill meeting. Mandy is saying this is a one-time experiment and the smarmy congressman is losing his cool. The one who is neither smarmy nor Mr. Willis appears to be asleep. Donna calls Josh out of the meeting and they pedeconference about why Donna is not getting her money back. I’m not even recapping this conversation. Go find a Facebook debate about taxes and government spending. I assure you it will be more sophisticated and informed than this conversation. I’m throwing in a 9 here for Donna being the originator of this dopey conversation. I do like when Donna whines, “I want my money back” and Josh says, “Then you shouldn’t have voted for us.”

Donna peels off and Josh enters that anteroom of the Oval Office where Charlie and Mrs. Landingham sit. He greets Charlie and Mrs. Landingham sends him in to the Oval. The president is on the phone but motions Josh over. He whispers that he’s on a conference call to the Postmaster General and doesn’t know what it’s about. He tells Josh he wants him to take Charlie out for a beer tonight. Because you should definitely be calling him out of meetings and interrupt your own call for this? Don’t get me wrong; I am a fan of this idea. In fact, I wish all episodes would include a scene of some portion of the gang going out for drinks together. I’m just wondering why this couldn’t have been discussed later.

The president is even going to give Josh some cash, which is adorable, except he doesn’t have any, which is also adorable.

Josh invites Charlie out and Charlie is confused. Josh offers to “speak as men do” which is a pretty funny and ridiculous line except that then Charlie implies that Josh is trying to take him to a gay bar because gay=gross and funny! I don’t have a number for that. If it keeps coming up, I’ll make one.

Mrs. Landingham suggests Josh is too old to be “leering at co-eds” and that is also adorable, as Mrs. Landingham is maybe the only person in the building who can legitimately use the word “co-ed.” Josh insists that there will be grad students at the bar, too. I’d call him out for being gross, but it’s not like we’ve ever seen him actually try to start a romantic or sexual relationship with a girl, so I’ll just go with him being funny here.

Somehow, as Josh is exiting the Charlie-and-Mrs.-Landingham room, Zoey (the president’s daughter) and Mallory (the chief of staff’s daughter) have already caught wind of this plan and want to go for beers, too. They insist the president says Josh has to take them, and Josh, instead of sniffing out the obvious lie, calls the president a “camp counselor”, which would be funny if it were not an obvious lie. Don’t let Josh babysit your kids, ladies and gentlemen. He’ll believe them when they say, “But Mom and Dad let me!”

Josh says these are plans among men, and Mallory says they don’t mind if he flirts with the co-eds, so I hope she’s just repeating what she heard Mrs. Landingham say, because she’s way too young to call them co-eds. Josh again insists there will be grad students there. Mallory wants Josh to bring Sam. Josh thinks Sam doesn’t need Mallory making booty calls, which just goes to show you everything you need to know about Josh. Stop cockblocking, dude. Sam can fail to have relationships with women without your assistance. Also 2.

As the girls wander off, Josh says, “The president’s daughter, the chief of staff’s daughter, a Georgetown bar, and Sam. What could possibly go wrong?” And dude, check yourself before you wreck yourself; why do you think Sam is going to be the troublemaker in this situation?

In the empty press room, Sam is explaining the totally obvious reasons why head counts disadvantage immigrants, the homeless, and inner city populations. Sampling is more accurate, but also, unconstitutional. Sam patronizes her and C.J. calls him out. I love C.J. Josh bursts in and invites Sam out. C.J. mentions she likes beer and Josh completely socially awkwards a “Oh, you can come too, if you want.” C.J. teases him about having completely swept her off her feet, and I should drop a 2, like I did for Mandy’s champagne-and-flowers comment, but C.J. has the gift of delivery, so I won’t.

Back in the appropriations meeting, Mandy is quoting statistics about how black people weren’t counted appropriately in the last census. Toby points out that sampling is more accurate and less expensive. Mandy and Toby trade off points for a few minutes. Smarm-meister doesn’t care. Non-smarm-and-non-Mr.-Willis insists that the Constitution makes it perfectly clear that sampling is not okay. They insist that the article in question is not arcane. Then they piss and moan about actually reading the Constitution and claim that none of them are Constitutional scholars. Although they are people who can claim to know what the Constitution says about sampling, apparently. Whatever, at this point, they are just straw men.

So Toby has Mandy read the article. But he has her read it while leaving a section out, you know, for the theater. Because if you’re going to burn your straw men, you want to make sure the flames look good. Non-Smarm insists that the phrase “number of whole persons” means that sampling is a no-go, although I would wonder how a Constitutional scholar would reconcile that with the inherent problem of ascertaining “whole number” by a head count. Toby lowers the boom, asking the black 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Willis, to confirm that Mandy left out the word “free” in front of “persons” and the phrase about 3/5 of all other persons. Toby really drives it home with a, “Three-fifths, they meant you, Mr. Willis, didn’t they?”

Well, no, Toby, they didn’t. Mr. Willis is a free person. His antecedents in this country may not have been but he is. And if I recall history correctly, there were free persons of African descent living in here when the Constitution was drafted. Their positions may have been tenuous, but they existed. Also, if I recall history correctly, there were non-black non-free persons at the time of the drafting of this Constitution, as well. So they didn’t just mean “black people” when they wrote that. But, excuse me, Toby. I’m interrupting your performance here. Carry on.

After Toby points out that this article is, in fact, arcane, Congressman Smarm wants to go. He and Congressman Non-Smarm say they’re not going to go change their vote. But Mr. Willis will change his vote, so hah. The two white men leave and Mr. Willis stays behind. Toby asks Mandy to go tell Leo and Toby asks Mr. Willis why he changed his mind. Mr. Willis says Toby made a strong argument. Toby is amazed that someone is voting his conscience. Then he admits that he took advantage of Mr. Willis, and that he didn’t mention the problems with sampling, like will it set a precedence for voting? Mr. Willis jokes that it’s okay with him, as long as it’s not the same people who decide what’s on television and they share a good laugh. Then Mr. Willis gets to give a Wise Black Man speech and we say goodbye to Mr. Willis.

Mrs. Landingham and an unnamed assistant help usher an impatient president out the door. The president is kind of rude to Mrs. Landingham but she calls him on it and it seems a natural and not at all power-trippy part of their relationship so I leave it alone. Leo comes in and reports success on the Toby-Mandy meeting. Leo tells Jed what’s going on with Jenny. Jed does not handle it well. He demands that Leo fix it! Leo yells at him. Jed is sad that Leo didn’t tell him about this for two weeks and Leo points out that he quite rightly expected Jed to take it badly. Jed continues to be an ass and Leo is gobsmacked.

We come to a bar called the Georgetown Station. Mallory asks about the prostitute. And apparently Zoey already knows. Because Mallory told her. And Mallory knows because Sam told her. C.J. is amazed that Sam is that f-ing stupid. Sam asks Mallory if her father knows. She says no. Sam asks Zoey if her father knows. Zoey bats her eyes and says, “Not yet.” Gosh, Elizabeth Moss is terrific. And it’s nice to see her play happy and silly. She’s so miserable on Mad Men these days. She should have sex with Stan.

Anyway. The bartender didn’t bring C.J.’s grasshopper. Zoey volunteers to go get it and asks the table to hold her lipstick, panic button . . . you know, that stupid shit in her pocket. Charlie looks hangdog about this. Are they going to give the young-looking nineteen-year-old Zoey a drink? Am I hopelessly naive?

When she leaves, Charlie asks what a panic button is. Hey, Charlie is appropriately and sensibly playing Exposition Fairy! -9! Although Mallory and C.J. totally don’t explain anything. Josh then wants to know if Charlie is having a good time and he and C.J. get into a little nonsense about whether Charlie’s good time is affected by Josh asking him if he’s having a good time. Charlie is only concerned that they know he’s not in college. C.J. assures him he’s the smartest kid in the room. Charlie is scanning the crowd, presumably for Zoe.

Zoe is approached by that dude who (spoiler alert!) gets turned into a vampire in the first episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and then (more spoiler alert!) gets killed in the second. He has two henchdudes with him. They ask her name. Zoey can’t believe they don’t already know who she is. Neither do I. I mean, I know 1999 (or 2000?) was basically the Dark Ages as far as the Internet is concerned, but everyone knew what Chelsea Clinton looked like. Maybe they wouldn’t believe that they were walking into a bar and seeing the First Daughter, but they would have probably said something like, “Hey, did anyone ever tell you you look just like Zoey Bartlett?”

Anyway, they want to guess her name. They already seem menacing, and not flirtatious – I mean, am I just a prude, or is it menacing when three boys get all up in your personal space to hit on you like that? – but Zoey goes with it, delighted with the idea of being anonymous.

Meanwhile, Charlie has spotted their menacing-ness and decided to swoop in. He reveals that her name is Zoey and they become even more menacing, stepping in between Charlie and Zoey and calling Charlie “Sammy” (as in Sammy Davis, Jr., because . . . he, like Charlie, is black? I’m not sure that this has quite the sting these boys imagine it does.) and “Superfly” (also not quite as mean as they’d like it to be?). Then Zoey tries to go with Charlie and the boys physically block her and she looks scared. Her transition from “totes flirting with these boys” to “scared and happy Charlie has come to protect her” happened in nanoseconds, btw. Charlie tries to end this conflict with kindness, but they continue calling out names of other black people.

Then Josh notices the trouble and picks up Zoey’s panic button. The boys are throwing more nonsensical names at Charlie as Charlie remains cool and polite, focused only on getting Zooey away from these boys.

Sam approaches and menaces the boys, who are unimpressed. And have switched to gay slurs, which they can apply equally to Sam, and to Josh as he comes up.

Then, THEN, the best thing happens. One of the henchdudes – you know, the guy who didn’t recognize the First Daughter – looks at JOSH and says, “Hey, I recognize this dude.”

Excuse me while I clean up the Diet Coke I just spurted all over my monitor.

The idiot racist homophobic girl-menacing asshole didn’t recognize the First Daughter, but he recognizes the Deputy Chief of Staff?

Okay, quick. Picture Sasha and/or Malia. Got ’em? Got ’em in your head? Pretty clear picture, right? I mean, the Obamas are sort of protective of their girls, but you know what they look like, right?

Okay, now picture Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

Nothing, right?

Can you even NAME Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff? No? Me, neither.

Oh, Aaron Sorkin and his avatars. Gotta love ’em.

So Josh tells the assholes that they’re having a pretty bad night just as federal agents bust in arrest the assholes. Charlie yells at them and Josh gloats, although, really, in any scene where Josh is present, you should assume he’s gloating. And I’m not really sure why we should be counting Charlie, Sam and Josh as the manly men here when it’s the federal agents they called in who brought these guys down.

Also, I think I might have occasion for another number here. Let’s call it:

12. Male characters play the white knight and the show implicitly or explicitly praises them for it, whether the damsel needed saving or not.

Because as far as I can tell, Zoey didn’t need saving. Not yet, anyway. It was probably good of Charlie to walk over there and check on her, but even if he hadn’t, if she had felt uncomfortable, she could have walked away. And if they restrained her – as they did when Charlie tried to take her away – then she could have yelled for help and the boys could have galloped in.

And it doesn’t really matter whether she needed saving, what matters is that the show had this moment at all.

And I’m applying this number retroactively to the bullshit Sam pulled on his escort friend when he showed up while she was on a work-date and made threatening noises at her.

Anyway, we cut to Zoey on a couch with her father questioning her about the incident. He wants to know if she did anything to “provoke” these guys. Oh, Jed. Do I have to add a number for rape apology? At least Zoey stands up for herself on this particular issue.

Then Jed starts yelling about how they’re upping her protection because her getting kidnapped is “the nightmare scenario.” Then he lays out a whole scene about her being in a nightclub, kidnapped out of the bathroom, two agents dead, whisked away in their car, no one realizes she’s gone for a while, the airports are not shut down in time, and she’s in a cargo hold in Uganda while Israel refuses to release the terrorists that the kidnappers want released and now the U.S. doesn’t have a president; they have a father who’s out of his mind because his little girl is in a shack in Uganda with a gun to her head. He’s shouting by the end of it and Zoey is crying. It’s a pretty effecting scene, but I also want you to remember this scenario that the president spells out.

After apologizing to his daughter for scaring her, Jed goes and apologizes to Leo for being an asshole. Leo accepts just as graciously, but with less hugging.

Josh, Sam, and Charlie are sitting around waiting for their lecture. Josh and Sam are discussing which guys they could have “taken”, you know, if they didn’t just call for federal agents instead.

Donna brings in sandwiches but refuses to give Josh his change because of their argument about tax refunds from before. Still not recapping, also don’t believe that Josh handed her a $20 to go get her sandwiches, like she’s his daughter, rather than there either being money in the White House budget for employee sandwiches and a credit card to which assistants have access, or a credit card she shares with Josh for these purposes. Or a running tab at their favorite sandwich place. Donna gets a 3 here.

Charlie insists neither of them could have taken any of the guys, which is true.

Jed calls Josh in. He wants to know why Josh took Zoey to a bar. Josh still thinks he was acting on orders from the president, which is of course not the case. The president says, “When Zoey told me she was going, I just assumed you were going to have malteds or something.” So a) Josh, you’re an idiot, and b) malteds!

Josh snarks on the idea of “malteds” because he’s very secure in his job. And I guess he should be because the president just thanks him for doing whatever it is he did. Which is, hit the panic button so that actually strong, capable men could come in and deal with this.

Josh insists he did nothing (mostly true) but that Charlie didn’t blink before putting his body in between danger and Zoey. Well, at first it was just perceived danger. But that’s also true. Jed nods and calls Charlie and Sam in. Leo is in the room, too, by the way.

Jed invites Charlie to their poker game, as is appropriate. C.J. wants to know why Josh isn’t being punished. They all sit down to review their days. Toby is impressed with Mr. Willis for being unafraid to say, “I don’t know,” and listening to other people. A rare quality indeed in this particular room. C.J. says she’s happy she said “I don’t know” to Sam and now knows everything about the census. Except the total number of people living in the United States! Hah hah, girls are dumb! 7.

Toby wants to watch Mr. Willis place his vote. Because it’s so damn incredible when black people think, or something. And yes, I know that Toby/Aaron Sorkin didn’t mean it that way but it kind of sneaks in there anyway.

End of episode! End of recap!

Total Misogyny Points: 24. And we added two numbers to our list! An exciting day, and again, welcome to any new blog readers! Please make comments if you like!

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