POLITICAL OPPONENTS SEEK TO DERAIL PRESIDENT'S KEY BANKING BILL -- A crucial banking bill is at risk when political rivals of environmentally sensitive President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) attach a land-use rider to it that would allow strip-mining some of the Montana wilderness while C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to stamp out rumors -- however true -- that the Chief Executive chastised the Vice President (guest star Tim Matheson) during a cabinet meeting. An overworked Leo (John Spencer) isn't too keen on his independent daughter Mallory (guest star Allison Smith) dating the handsome Sam (Rob Lowe). C.J. continues to fend-off the romantic charms of a perceptive reporter (guest star Timothy Busfield, "thirtysomething") with a knack for sniffing out juicy stories. Former lovers Mandy (Moira Kelly) and Josh (Bradley Whitford) clash over the administration's attempt to jettison the land-use rider that might ruin passage of the more important banking bill.
Leo McGarry and his daughter, Mallory, are having breakfast at his hotel. She wants to pay for it but rethinks the idea when she learns how much it will be. Leo asks her how his soon-to-be ex-wife is doing, and Mallory wonders why he doesn’t just ask her. They are interrupted when Congressman Matt Skinner greets Leo and Mallory briefly, offering congratulations on getting the banking bill passed. After he leaves, Leo offers Mallory the subscription Opera tickets he used to share with his wife, and Mallory wonders why he didn’t talk to her while asking if she was going to use the tickets! “I had an opportunity to give you up for adoption, you know!”In the outer office of the Oval Office, Mrs. Landingham tells C.J. Cregg that the President kept Josh up until 2 a.m. talking about National Parks. The President comes out jubilant over their victory over the banking industry. C.J. asks him to confirm that he and Josh were up until 2 a.m., and when he starts to give C.J. the same history, Mrs. Landingham quickly interrupts telling the President an important call is waiting.
A Cabinet meeting begins in the Roosevelt Room. The president is late, so Vice President John Hoynes begins the meeting by welcoming everyone, and stressing to everyone that their number one priority should be to work with Congress. The President enters, and goes over the minutes provided by Mildred, the stenographer. Upon hearing what Hoynes had said, he wonders aloud if their first goal is to find the best way to serve the American people. The Vice President is obviously very upset at being embarrassed by the President.Toby and Sam are meeting in Toby’s office, and are wondering what has happened to their writing talent. Josh comes up and wants to know if they have heard anything about amendments being added to the banking bill. Toby assures him everything is fine.
Danny Concannon enters C.J.’s office and tells her he heard about the President roughing up the VP in the cabinet meeting, but he won’t reveal his source. She refuses to confirm it on the record, but confirms it off the record. He asks her to dinner, but she turns him down. The Vice President is talking to reporters, including Danny. Danny asks him about the cabinet meeting, but Hoynes tells Danny nothing happened.
Mallory is waiting for Sam in his office. She asks him if he would like to accompany her to the Opera with the tickets she obtained from her father.“You’re asking me out on a date?” No, she replies, she simply wants him to attend an opera with her. Sam wonders how that is not a date. “There will be, under no circumstances, sex for you at the end of the evening.” He agrees to go on their non-date.
C.J. and Sam are both waiting for Leo in his office, but for different reasons. CJ tells Leo that Danny asked her about the cabinet meeting, and they all think his source was Hoynes . Sam tells Leo Mallory has asked him to the Opera, and Leo is fine with it. Although his opinion seems to change after Sam leaves.
At Hoynes’s office, he again tells C.J. that he was not the source of the leak about the cabinet meeting. He is very upset that C.J. thinks he leaked privileged information to a reporter out of spite. He tells her that no matter how low her opinion of him is, she is still addressing the office of the Vice President.
Josh meets Sam and Toby and tells them that Broderick and Eaton attached a last-minute land-use rider to the Banking bill, which would allow strip-mining in Big Sky Federal Reserve. Sam wants them to swallow it, but Josh and Toby are reluctant.
At a press briefing, C.J. is discussing the banking bill when a reporter asks her about the very same rider. She clearly has no idea what he is talking about, but covers it well and ends the briefing. Danny follows her, having realized that she didn’t know what had happened. She tells him that she has confirmed that Hoynes was not his source on the cabinet meeting. He tries to convince her to go out with him.
Leo tells the President about the land-use rider. The senior staff is waiting for them in the Oval Office. Sam wants the President to swallow it, while Toby wants the President to veto it. Sam tells them that the gains in the banking bill are more important than carrying Montana and its 3 electoral votes. Josh tells them he hoped that when Sam started selling off states he would start with Delaware. Toby asks for a few hours, and the President tells him he doesn’t like these people and doesn’t want to lose. The staff leaves.
Later in the afternoon, the President enters Leo’s office and discusses his breakfast with Mallory. He tells Leo that Mallory’s anger towards him is irrational, but there is nothing to be done about it.
Mandy enters Josh’s office, and pushes him to accept the banking bill with the rider. He doesn’t want to because he doesn’t want to encourage more of the same in the future. She tells him that when he gets combative, he encourages the President to act the same way. He leaves, but not before she tells him she isn’t done with him.
Charlie enters Leo’s office and tells him that Nancy Becker needs a birthday message from the President for the Deputy Transportation Secretary’s fiftieth birthday. Leo is about to staff it out to the speechwriters, but then gets an evil idea and tells Charlie to give it to Sam. Charlie meets Sam and gives him the assignment. Sam wonders why they didn’t give it to someone far less overqualified, but dives into the job anyway.
Mandy is trying to convince Toby to accept the land use rider, without much success. Mandy leaves to talk to Josh again. C.J. walks with her and asks her how she can deflect Danny from the cabinet story. Mandy suggests offering Danny a half-hour exclusive interview with the President on any subject. In return, Mandy wants C.J.’s help with Josh and Toby, but C.J. tells her that the neither the President nor Josh nor Toby like being ambushed at the last minute.Sam delivers the birthday message to the President, and the President likes it, but tells Sam to re-write it. Mallory, dressed for their non-date, meets him in the hall and he tells them he needs to talk to her...
Danny is writing on his laptop, and CJ comes in questions him about the leak. He tells her that the President, the Vice President, and the cabinet weren’t the only ones in the room. She realizes the Stenographer was his source, and threatens to fire her. Danny tells her not to. She offers him the trade to kill the story. He accepts, but warns her that if anyone is fired over this everyone will find out why.
Mallory wonders why someone as overqualified as Sam is writing a birthday message. She thinks he is trying to weasel out. He asks her to give him a half-hour for the new draft.
Act IVJosh meets with Toby and tells him that his friend Congressman Crane was the one who really put on the land use rider. Toby wants to swallow it, but Josh wants a few hours to come up with a solution. C.J. enters the Oval office and tells the President about her deal with Danny. He accepts the deal. She tells him she knows who the leak was, and he shrugs it off. Sam is clearly having trouble with his assignment, much to Mallory’s exasperation. When he tells her that he was asked to do it by the President, she asks Sam if he mentioned their date to her father. When he confirms that, she heads off quickly in the direction of Leo’s office.
Leo is dictating a letter to Margaret when Mallory storms in. He greets her, and she is less than happy. “Don’t ‘Hey baby’ me you addle-minded Machiavellian jerk!” Margaret quickly leaves, and before Leo and Mallory can really get into it, the President enters. He defuses the situation by detailing Leo’s busy schedule on what was considered a 'light' day, and tells her to take it easy on her dad. She relents, and invites Leo to go with her to catch the rest of the opera. He asks her why after the schedule she has just heard, why she would torture him with Chinese opera? She suggests coffee and dessert instead, which he is happy to do, with Sam, which makes him less happy.Sam, in his office, is clearly growing frustrated with his increasingly less effective efforts. Mallory and Leo interrupt, and Leo tells him his first effort was fine, but it has gotten personal for Sam, and he really wants to nail it. Mallory tells Sam he is very much like her father, and he tells her that’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to him. Hoynes meets with the President in the Oval Office. The VP wants to clear the air between them. Hoynes wants to know what he has done to merit such poor treatment. The President tells him that he shouldn’t have made him beg Hoynes to be the Vice President. It weakened the President from the beginning.
Mandy is still trying to convince Josh to accept the rider, without much success. Mandy finally slams Josh’s door closed and tells him they are fighting the wrong fights for the wrong reasons. Josh needs information from Donna, but she is having trouble getting it because the computer files are antiquated. This stirs something in Josh’s brain, and he becomes ecstatic as he realizes he has a solution for the President.
Sam has drawn Toby into his assignment, and they are now both having trouble with it. Josh enters with his solution: The Antiquities act. The President is empowered to designate any federal land a National Park. Josh leaves to tell the President.In the Oval Office, the President lectures Charlie on the National Parks. Josh enters and rescues Charlie, and tells the President his solution. “You understand it’s a bunch of rocks, right?” “I’m sure someone with your encyclopedic knowledge of the ridiculous and dork-like will be able to find a tree or a ferret that the public has a right to visit.” As the jubilant President leaves, Josh wonders why they talk about their enemies more than they used to. The President is brought back down to Earth by the statement, and walks away dejectedly.
- Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
- Moira Kelly as Mandy Hampton
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
- John Spencer as Leo McGarry
- Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
- and Martin Sheen as President Bartlet
Special Guest Star
- ❝We talk about enemies more than we used to. I wanted to mention that❞
- —Josh to the President
- Jed Bartlet: These are just some of the things your father did today. He met with the director of the CIA, and received an intelligence briefing regarding stores of plutonium in a country which...uh... shall we just say is not on our Christmas card list. He brokered a compromise among Senate Democrats for funding of something fairly trivial, but I can't quite remember what--of course! The U.S. Army! He met with my chief counsel to discuss the news that it's possible I've broken several federal laws in the week and may have to serve from one to three years in prison after resigning my office in disgrace. Uh, how'd that go, by the way?
- Leo: We're fine.
- Bartlet: Cool. He received a security briefing, a central American briefing, and he wrote a position paper. And he's been counseling me throughout the day on a bad decision I have to make. Oh and by the way, this was a very "light" day.
- Mallory: Due respect, Mr. President, what's your point?
- Bartlet: Uh, that's a perfectly fair question.
- Leo: You know what, sir? I can take it from here.
- Bartlet: Okay.
- Leo: Thank you
- Bartlet: I'm right next door.
- Leo: Thank you.
- Bartlet: Oh, my point is: Give your dad a break. He's your father.
- Mallory: Thank you sir.
- Bartlet: Are you blowing me off?
- Mallory: Yes sir.
- Bartlet: Okay.
- ❝ Leo – Did you hear the President tell you about my day?
- Mallory – Yes
- Leo – And now Chinese Opera?!❞
- — Father/daughter time
- ❝Leo – Sam I gave you the thing to do because I was pissed you were taking, you know, blah, blah, blah
- Mal – Well said, dad❞
- ―To Sam
- Sam Seaborn: Say, you mind if I skip the coffee? I wanna nail this thing.
- Leo McGarry: Oh, forget it. Your first draft was fine.
- Sam Seaborn: I wanna nail it, Leo.
- Mallory O'Brian: Sam, the President was in on it. Your first draft was fine.
- Sam Seaborn: But still...
- Mallory O'Brian: You wanna nail it.
- Sam Seaborn: I do.
- Mallory O'Brian: You're so exactly like him.
- Sam Seaborn: Well, that is the nicest thing you've ever said to me. Thank you.
- Bartlet: Both Black and Grizzly bears inhabit Glacier Park, Charlie. And hikers are told to talk or sing along the trails to keep them at bay.
- Charlie: (looking simultaneously bored and skeptical) If I see a Grizzly bear, I'm supposed to sing to it sir?
- Bartlet: It's not as silly as it sounds.
- Charlie: Well, it sounds pretty silly.
- Bartlet: I suppose.
- Charlie: Was there anything else?
- Bartlet: Yes. Glacier Park was the tenth. We have 44 to go.
- Josh: (Walking into to Oval Office) Forty-five!
- Charlie: I quit.
- Josh: I hear ya.
- The Antiquities Act is an actual law officially named The Antiquities Act of 1906. It was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt and empowers the President to restrict the use of Federally owned land. However, the Antiquities Act only allows the President to create National Monuments, rather than National Parks, as suggested in this episode.
- At one point in Act two, John Hoynes tells CJ "Whatever regard you may hold for me personally, you are addressing the office of the Vice President." This is a reference to the fact that at one point during the campaign while he was still married to his first wife he seduced CJ into having a one-night stand with him, which CJ greatly regrets. This is revealed during the season 5 episode Full Disclosure.
- In the opening scene President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) lists off places he's visted to Josh. One of them is "Badlands." Martin Sheen starred in a movie called "Badlands" in 1973 with Sissy Spacek.
- The baseball cap on the display case behind Sam Seaborn's desk changes from one bearing the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency (ATF) logo to one bearing the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) logo between Mallory storming out to confront her father and returning later to ask Sam out for coffee and dessert. 
- Although Roger Tribbey has been the only named Secretary of Agriculture, in this episode the Secretary is played by someone other than Harry Groener, who is seen later in season 1.
- Not a goof so much as a character continuity error: Josh and Toby are angry about the attachment of the land use rider to the banking bill, while Sam counsels expediency and is very comfortable angering the environmental lobby. Sam and Toby wind up on precisely the opposite sides of this issue later, in "The Drop-in."
Notes and references
- ↑ Shirley Y. Scott was credited as playing a Court Stenographer but her character actually minuted a cabinet meeting and was identified in dialogue as Mildred. Colin K. Gray was credited as playing a reporter, his character is identified as Bruce in later episodes.