"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Sam

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, gets a chilly reception from her co-workers and is humiliated by two other staffers. Also, when Josh's (Bradley Whitford) 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. In addition, C.J. tries to shame an outspoken general, who is critical of the President, into meeting with her.

Summary Edit


Josh is back in the West Wing, and is upset that his insurance company is trying to collect $50,000 USD for his medical expenses, but Sam tells him not to worry about it. Donna is in charge of escorting some visitors to the White House into the Oval Office to hear the President record his weekly radio address, but is concerned that the President might not take it seriously, citing a previous incident where the guests were sent home after 11 attempts. Things don't get off to a great start, as the President stops to laugh at the term "leaf peeping".

Act I Edit

C.J. has gotten over the hiring of Ainsley Hayes, but is concerned that sexism is holding her back. Toby warns her that a retiring Army Chief of Staff is going on the press shows, and they suspect that he's going to criticize the President.

Leo introduces Ainsley to her boss, the firebrand White House Counsel Lionel Tribbey (played by John Larroquette), who is already in a bad mood because White House staffers Steve Joyce and Mark Brookline lied to Congress about a memo, interrupting his vacation plans. Upset, Tribbey storms into the Oval Office, interrupting the recording of the weekly radio address, which had been going well until that point. The President convinces Tribbey not to have this discussion in front of the people there to hear him record the address.

Sam is trying to help Josh get out of trouble with the insurance company, but an off-hand comment from Toby makes him consider that they should attempt to sue the hate groups that are connected to the shooting.

Act II Edit

Donna and Josh discuss the fact that the President has not actually finished the recording yet, but are interrupted by Sam calling to ask Josh to come discuss the suing the KKK, using subpoenas and depositions to uncover the membership rolls and their ties to related groups.

Mrs. Bartlet asks Charlie to pass the President a note that they can begin having sex again, and the President is eager - but they have to plan around their schedules, before the First Lady has to fly out. The Army Chief of Staff has sent an aide to C.J.'s office. The aide conveys the General's disagreements with the President's policies, but CJ sends the aide back with a message: "tell General Barrie C.J. Cregg says he's a coward."

Leo is helping Ainsley find her office deep in the basement of the White House, and he tells her the others will come around, citing some of the attacks the staff have endured from various members of the Republican party, including Ainsley herself. "Don't worry about [the others]," he tells her. "You're here to serve the President. Anyway, welcome to the White House."

Act III Edit

Lionel Tribbey storms into Ainsley's basement office, demanding she tell him why she's here in the White House, and she tells him that she feels "a sense of duty." He assigns her to deal with Congress regarding the staffers who lied under oath, and she tells him that she knows he's also here out of a sense of duty.

Josh and Sam continue to discuss the lawsuit against the KKK, while Leo asks Sam to Joyce and Brookline about the Rockland memo, explaining that Ainsley has been sent to discuss it with Congress. Sam expresses concerns that they've sent her, but Toby tells Sam to back down, even though he later admits to Leo about having some of the same concerns. Josh asks Toby and Leo how they feel about the idea of suing the KKK, and they are both concerned about the counter-suits that could come up, forcing White House staffers to answer embarrassing questions, but they will back Josh if he decides to go ahead with the suit.

Donna brings a new audience into the Oval Office as they try again to record the radio address. The President realizes that it's time for his appointment with his wife, but Charlie tells him that the First Lady had to leave for Pennsylvania early.

General Barry storms into C.J.'s office, and they argue about his concerns about the defense policies. C.J. notes that the General is wearing a medal that he was never actually awarded, and implies that if he goes forward with his plan to denounce the President, she will reveal this to the media, and the General leaves.

Act IV Edit

Ainsley returns from the Hill and approaches Joyce and Brookline, telling them they can resolve all this by apologizing. They are incredibly rude and dismissive, an extension of the attitude that they used when testifying, and ignore Ainsley's suggestion.

The President meets the First Lady in the residence, but during the small talk is accidentally dismissive of Abby's mission to dedicate a statue to Nellie Bly, starting an argument about how the historical impact of women has been largely overlooked.

Josh tries to tell Sam that he doesn't want to sue the KKK, but is interrupted as Sam storms out to dress Ainsley down for speaking to Brookline and Joyce. Sam follows her to her office to apologize, where they see an arrangement of dead flowers with a card inscribed "Bitch". Sam realizes that it was Brookline and Joyce who sent her this, and storms out to confront them. He fires them both, and Tribbey is there to back him up.

Saturday morning has come, and the President is doing a live radio broadcast on some of the women who have had an important influence on the history of the United States, with the First Lady looking on. As they both head up to the residence, the President stops to instruct C.J. to let General Barrie express his opinion on the talk shows, saying his service to the country has earned him that right.

Josh tells Sam that a lawsuit doesn't feel like the right way to handle what happened to him, and they go down to wait with C.J. and Toby in Ainsley's office to greet her with an impromptu rendition of the song "He is an Englishman."

Trivia Edit

  • The title of this episode is taken from song "For He is an Englishman" (which is sung by the cast in the final scene of the episode) from Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta H.M.S. Pinafore.  The actual line reads: "He is an Englishman/for he himself has said it/and it's greatly to his credit/That he is an Englishman".
  • Despite everybody's insistence that all of Gilbert and Sullivan's plays are about duty, the operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, which is frequently referred to in this episode, is mainly about differences in social class.
  • Lionel Tribbey is correct in his statement that The Pirates of Penzance is about duty.  The full title of The Pirates of Penzance is actually The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty.
  • The words "Donna's Birthday" appear on Josh's blackboard, implying her birthday was around the time the episode was set.

Goofs Edit

  • General Barrie is identified as the outgoing Army Chief of Staff and is depicted as a three-star general. However, all chiefs of staff for the Army and Air Force; the Chief of Naval Operations; and the Commandants of both the Coast Guard and Marine Corps all hold flag ranks (general or admiral) of four-stars. Historically, this was not always true, but it has been for the better part of the last century. Goofs involving military protocol, units, and hardware are common on The West Wing.

Quotes Edit

President Josiah Bartlet: Well, obviously, Lionel Tribbey is a brilliant lawyer whom we cannot live without, or there would be very little reason not to put him in prison.

Ainsley Hayes: Lionel Tribbey thinks hiring me was a great idea.
Leo McGarry: Why are you surprised?
Ainsley Hayes: Well, because I am a Republican and Lionel Tribbey is... incredibly not.

Ainsley Hayes: So you lied to me just then.
Leo McGarry: I'm a politician, Ainsley. Of course I lied to you just then.
Ainsley Hayes: My first day is getting off to a great start.

Leo McGarry: I'll be honest with you. I didn't even know we had offices down here.
Ainsley Hayes: That bodes well for me.
Leo McGarry: I wonder what else we got down here.
Ainsley Hayes: Bats, probably?

Leo McGarry: It's written down here. This is the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue.
Ainsley Hayes: I'm working in the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue?
Leo McGarry: No, you're working in your office.
Ainsley Hayes: Well... Thank you for the help.
Leo McGarry: Ainsley, don't worry about Sam or Josh and Toby or C.J. or the Democrats on the hill or Republicans on television. You're here to serve the President. Anyway... welcome to the White House.

Ainsley Hayes: Mr. Tribbey?
Ainsley Hayes: I'd like to do well on this, my first assignment.Any advice you could give me that might point me the way of success would be, by me, appreciated.
Lionel Tribbey, White House Counsel: [pause] Well, not speaking in iambic pentameter might be a step in the right direction.
Ainsley Hayes: Yeah.

Ainsley Hayes: The President's way too moderate for your taste.
Lionel Tribbey, White House Counsel: Excuse me?
Ainsley Hayes: On affirmative action, capital gains, public schools, free trade... You left a lucrative practice in Chicago and a seven-figure income.
Ainsley Hayes: It wasn't out of a sense of duty?

Sam Seaborn: See, I was told you were just going to be working in the Majority Counsel's office, which I wasn't wild about to begin with, but it's my understanding I'd be talking to Brookline and Joyce seeing as how they work for me.
Ainsley Hayes: I was taking initiative.
Sam Seaborn: Well, wasn't that spunky of you.
Ainsley Hayes: Sam, do you think there's any chance that you could be rude to me tomorrow? Tomorrow is Saturday. I will be here. You can call me and be rude by phone or you can stop by and do it in person. 'Cause I think if I have to endure another disappointment today from this place that I have worshipped, I am gonna lose it. So if you could wait until tomorrow, I would appreciate it.

Sam Seaborn: Do you have any idea how big a harassment suit you just exposed us to? She just... She works here. Which is more than I can say for either one of you.
[He takes a pen and scribbles on Joyce's desk blotter as they watch. He holds it up: "You're fired - S. Seaborn"]
Sam Seaborn: You're fired. S. Seaborn.
Mark Brookline: Sam, I don't know who you think you are around here, but you can't fire us.
Lionel Tribbey, White House Counsel: Oh... yes. He can. Leave here, and don't ever come back. It's time for both of you to write your book now.

President Josiah Bartlet: You know what I did, just then, that was stupid? I minimized the importance of the statue that was dedicated to Nellie Bly, an extraordinary woman to whom we all owe a great deal.
Abbey Bartlet: You don't know who she is, do you?
President Josiah Bartlet: [to himself] This isn't happening to me.
Abbey Bartlet: She pioneered investigative journalism.
President Josiah Bartlet: Then she's the one I want to beat the crap out of.
Abbey Bartlet: She risked her life by having herself committed to a mental institution for ten days so she could write about it. She changed entirely the way we treat the mentally ill in this country.
President Josiah Bartlet: Yes. Abigail...
Abbey Bartlet: In 1890, she traveled around the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds, besting by more than one week, Jules Verne's 80 days.
President Josiah Bartlet: She sounds like an incredible woman Abbey. I'm particularly impressed that she beat a fictional record. If she goes down 21 000 leagues under the sea, I'll name a damn school after her! Let's have sex.
Abbey Bartlet: When it comes to historical figures being memorialized in this country, women have been largely overlooked. Nellie Bly is just the tip of the iceberg.
President Josiah Bartlet: I couldn't possibly hear about the rest of the iceberg right now.
Abbey Bartlet: Elizabeth Blackwell was the first American woman to be awarded an MD. She founded the Women's Medical College...
President Josiah Bartlet: Keep talking. I'm just gonna sit here and think about plutonium and the things I can do with it.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit


References Edit

"The West Wing" And It's Surely to Their Credit (2000)