Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics is the 21st episode of Season 1 on NBC drama The West Wing.

Synopsis Edit

"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Charlie

While President Bartlet and his staff nervously await the results of a poll to determine his favorability rating, he begins a heady transfer of ambassadors and members of the Federal Election Commission designed to kickstart campaign finance reform and defuse a embarrassing incident overseas.

Specifically, wheeler-dealer Bartlet recalls the married Ambassador to Bulgaria who is discovered to be romancing the daughter of the country's prime minister, but faces another crisis at home when Sam is photographed by a newspaper giving a graduation gift to a known call girl. Meanwhile, C.J. anxiously paces the White House corridors and wonders if she is being marginalized by Leo for past mistakes. In addition, Josh clashes with opinionated pollster Joey Lucas.

Summary Edit


Josh Lyman and Donna Moss are debating what time it is. While Josh believes it to be 6:50, Donna tells him that his watch sucks, and that it's 7:05. Donna points out that the clocks run by the Navy also have his watch 15 minutes slow, telling him, "in fact they [the Navy clocks] say your watch sucks in four different time zones!"


Leo, Ginger, Toby and the rest of the staff discuss the polling questions

They pass by C.J. Cregg's office, where she and Toby Ziegler are debating a question for the poll. Donna reminds them about the time and Toby gets up. Bonnie and Ginger follow. Josh has a problem with another question, but C.J. shoots him down as well. They make it to the Roosevelt Room where Leo McGarry, Larry, Ed and other staffers are waiting. Leo, as well, has a problem with the questions, but C.J. points out she has been doing this since 1993.

After a few final minutes of debate, Leo asks around the room how everyone thinks the job approval polling numbers will turn out. Larry and Ed think the numbers will hold steady, while Toby predicts a dip. C.J. thinks it will be up by a few percentage points. Leo says the President thinks it will hold steady. Leo has Toby call Sam Seaborn who is with Mandy Hampton at the polling center, where they begin making calls.

Act OneEdit



Toby tells Sam he can't go to Laurie's graduation

Sam enters the Communications Office where Bonnie and Ginger ask him why the polling takes so long. Sam says that it takes about 6,000 calls to get 1,500 responses. Toby calls Sam into his office and asks him if he plans on going to Laurie's graduation. Toby thinks that Steve Onorato knows about their friendship and will try and use it to embarrass him, and that someone might try and get a photo. Sam understands that he can't go, and doesn't argue, but he is clearly upset by it.

Margaret Hooper enters the Chief of Staff's Office, telling Leo that Barry Haskel has arrived. Leo makes Margaret wait in the office for a couple seconds before letting Barry in. Haskel has never been to the West Wing of the White House, despite being on the Federal Election Commission for nine years. Leo wants to talk to him about soft money and campaign finance reform, but Barry is anxious and asks for some fruit juice, pointing out that he passed a Marine on his way in. Leo has Rodney, the marine, come in and performs a rifle exercise at Leo's request.

Leo tells Barry to relax, they know he is in favor of Campaign Finance Reform. Barry tries to deny it, but Leo has anonymous quotes from two newspapers from Barry in favor of a soft money ban. While Barry is upset about anonymity, Leo points out that he was outed as a drug user. Barry said it never made much sense to go against the grain in the past.

Then Barry begins to recall conversations with his wife and her friends about how they would use the office and surroundings to manipulate or intimidate him. Leo says this is nonsense, and offers to show him around. Barry asks for a glass of water and Leo agrees.


Barry Haskel meets President Bartlet

However, the water Leo is getting is in the Oval Office where President Bartlet is having drinks with Secretary of the Treasury Ken Kato, Attorney General Dan Larson and CIA Director Rob Conrad, and invites Barry to join them. He pulls Leo aside and inquires about the polling, pointing out that if their numbers continue to tank "I'm just a guy with Barry Haskell in his office." Leo says that everyone expects them to hold at 42% job approval, except Toby who expects a slight dip. They joke about the Marine, and Leo exits.

Laurie is in the library where Janeane is hassling her about not having fun the day before her graduation. Laurie reminds her she still has to pass the Bar Exam. Sam calls to tell her that he can't come to graduation, but Laurie understands. They hang up, and Janeane tries to cheer Laurie up.

Act TwoEdit


Sam walks into the Communications Office and chats with Bonnie and Ginger about jogging or sculling when Toby tells Bonnie he needs to set up a meeting with Ross Kassenbach, and needs the President's next two minutes. Sam asks him if he "found one", and Toby has: The Federated States of Micronesia. While Sam jokes about the name, Bonnie says that the President has some time in two minutes, so Sam and Toby head to the Oval Office.

C.J. and President Bartlet are walking into the Oval Office from the outside. The White House has released a memo--the same that every administration has released for 30 years--and a staff member of the Senate Majority Leader is saying Bartlet wants to legalize drugs. C.J. advises to say it's the same memo that's been released for 30 years, but Bartlet is unsure as Toby and Sam enter the Oval Office as the same time as the President. C.J. high fives Charlie Young as they enter.


Sam, C.J. and Toby meet with the President

When the President asks for their thoughts, Sam repeats C.J.'s line and Toby says that what she should tell the press. The President comments on their predictions, but leaves C.J.'s out. C.J. points this out, and the President asks for odds. C.J says they will go up 5 points, and then leaves for a press conference.

Bartlet inquires to their efforts, and Toby again mentions Micronesia, and Bartlet spouts off a few facts about the country, then points out that he can't fire the Ambassador to Micronesia. Sam says you're going to promote him to Ambassador to Paraguay, who in turn is promoted to the Ambassador to Bulgaria. The Ambassador to Bulgaria, Ken Cochran is having an affair with the daughter of Prime Minister Toder Lukanov. Toby adds that the State Department says that Lukanov is upset by this.

Bartlet agrees to the plan, but knows Cochran's wife, and asks for them to come up with a different reason for firing him. He calls Charlie over to get Cochran to the White House, and Charlie seems to recognize the name. When Bartlet asks him; however, he denies it.


Joey Lucas and Kenny Thurman talk with Josh Lyman

At Joey Lucas' office, Josh and Joey (and Kenny Thurman) are arguing about the possibility of the Republicans putting out legislation dictating English as the official language of the United States. Joey is convinced it won't happen, and is unwilling to budge on the issue. Donna comes up to him and informs him that C.J.'s briefing has started. Josh begins to protest, but Donna reminds him about his watch. Donna gets Josh up to speed on Micronesia as they begin to watch C.J's briefing.

As C.J. is addressing the press, she opens for question. Danny Concannon asks "is the White House making a crusade on defending the rights of drug users?", which C.J. dismisses and tries to ask a question of Katie Witt. As Danny tries to ask his question again, C.J. hits him with a hard response. Another reporter asks about Onorato, which C.J. also dismisses quickly. She closes questions and Danny approaches her.


C.J. and Danny have a heated discussion

Danny asks how long he's going to be in the doghouse. He points out that Mandy's memo has vanished, no one cares about it anymore. He asks how long he is going to be punished. C.J. says the staff still talks about the memo, and they blame her for it. Carol Fitzpatrick sticks her head in and tells C.J. she's late for a briefing. C.J. tells Carol to check the polls.

Act ThreeEdit


Margaret walks into Leo's office and tells her C.J. is here. Margaret tells Leo a bizarre joke and then exits. C.J. enters to tell him the lids on, but Leo got that phone call an hour ago. C.J. then brings up the real issue she has: why Leo didn't mention to the President her prediction that the polling numbers would go up. Leo tells her not to read into it, and C.J. leaves to go to the polls.

Josh and Joey are still arguing about English as the official language, with Joey refusing to debate him, knowing that the Republicans will never raise the issue. Josh is trying to quote Teddy Roosevelt when Mandy interrupts, followed immediately by C.J. C.J. wants to know why everyone's here, and Josh says Mandy's supposed to be and Al Kiefer sent over Joey. That still doesn't explain Josh, who is there for "morale". C.J. says she needs to get the polling done, and Josh tells her to relax, that the polling is going fine, but that he is leaving to get coffee.


Sam is photographed with Laurie

Laurie and Janeane are drunk and walking about to Janeane's apartment, where Sam is waiting. Sam and Janeane had worked together to surprise Laurie, and Sam gives her a graduation gift: a briefcase. Meanwhile, Sam and Laurie are being watched through a lens, which takes a couple photos. A car speeds off into the distance and Sam realizes that no one entered that car.

Act FourEdit


Sam walks in to the area around C.J.'s office where a furious Toby is waiting. The President has ordered them to the Oval Office, and Sam says he's drafted a Letter of Resignation, which Toby won't let him turn in "because that would deny him the pleasure of throwing you out through a plate glass window." Sam takes the hits in stride. They run into Leo, who is talking to C.J. and then Toby.

Leo storms into C.J.'s office, upset that she didn't call him during the night. C.J. says they didn't know anything, and that it took her three hours just to confirm there was a photo. It seems the London Daily Mirror paid Janeane $50,000 to set up the photo and confirm Laurie was a call girl. The American press will have it tomorrow morning. Leo tells her to work the Post and the Times.


Sam is dumbstruck when Toby and the President stand behind him

Sam and Toby have caught up with the President, who asks Sam questions about the relationship. Toby has a complete reversal, defending Sam and saying that he is above reproach in the situation. Bartlet understands, but says that Sam will have to talk with White House Counsel to see if he's broken any laws. He also asks him to call Laurie and apologize on behalf of the White House for "the phenomenal

inconvenience she is about to experience" before adding that she will be admitted to the bar if she passes, and to tell her the President congratulates her. Sam is speechless.

The President then calls Charlie in, and Charlie informs him that Cochran is in the Mural Room, Ted Mitchell is waiting outside and Max Lobell and his staff will be in the Roosevelt Room. The President again senses that Charlie knows Cochran, but Charlie again denies it. Bartlet tells Charlie to wait with Cochran and to send Mitchell in.

Mitchell enters the Oval Office and seems to be friends with the President. Bartlet gets right down to business, saying that he needs him to hire the former Ambassador to Bulgaria, Ken Cochran. Mitchell states that he's the current Ambassador to Bulgaria, but Bartlet says "not for long" but thinks Ken will be a fine corporate officer. When Mitchell asks why he is being fired, Bartlet replies, "Gross incompetence" and leaves the room.

As he leaves, Nancy informs him that Lobell is waiting for him in the Roosevelt Room. Bartlet heads to the Mural Room and greets Cochran before telling him to resign. The President says he knows about the affair, and that he's going to resign for a higher paying job that he just arranged with Mitchell.

After Bartlet leaves, Cochran turns to Charlie, and states the claims are outrageous and that he will explain it to the President when he returns. Then he begins to recognize Charlie as a waiter from the Gramercy Club, an exclusive club. Cochran says he resigned his membership and that he finds exclusive clubs repugnant, but Charlie points out that didn't stop him from joining in the first place. Cochran becomes upset and asks to speak to his supervisor, whom Charlie points out is the President.


President Bartlet tells Ken Cochran he's no longer an ambassador as Charlie watches

Bartlet reenters, and Cochran, now convinced that Charlie has said something negative about him to Bartlet, tries to explain himself. Bartlet, who knew there was a past between Charlie and Cochran, chides Charlie for mocking his "finely honed sense." Bartlet says he does like Cochran's wife, and he doesn't want her to be made a fool of. Cochran says he never voted for Bartlet, which doesn't faze Bartlet much.

Bartlet then peers into the Roosevelt Room where Lobell and 14 members of his staff are waiting. Toby reminds Bartlet that he has a large staff, but Bartlet points out he doesn't bring them around with him. He enters, and Lobell greets him and starts to introduce his staff. Bartlet stops him, saying they don't need to do names. Lobell accepts this, and they get down to business: soft money. Bartlet and Lobell agree that they have totally different ideologies, and agree on next to nothing except campaign finance reform.

Bartlet wants his help, but Lobell says he doesn't have the votes in the house. The President informs him that he doesn't need the House, the FEC can change the regulations, and that he has already nominated anti-soft money candidates John Bacon and Patty Calhoun. He adds that Haskel has always been anti-soft money, but has been taken out of the closet. He adds that he has a plan to get the fourth candidate, and asks if Lobell will support his candidates. Lobell asks what he will get in return, and Bartlet says "The thanks of a grateful President." Lobell is impressed, and agrees.

Toby exits and returns to the Communications Office where Ross Kassenbach is waiting. He introduces himself, and Toby says that he's doing a great job at the FEC, and congratulates him on being named Ambassador to Micronesia.

Act FiveEdit


C.J. is staring out her window when Josh enters. The polling is complete, and the booklet is being sent over. Josh asks C.J. about a conversation she had with Joey suggesting that C.J. thought she was close to being fired. Josh says Bartlet thinks of her as a daughter, but C.J. says that her number isn't being called and her time may be up. Josh says that holding at 42% is a good number, and not to expect a bump, but she still does.

Meanwhile, Bartlet, Leo, Toby, Sam, Joey, Kenny and Mandy are all waiting for the results in the Oval Office. Mandy confirms that C.J. will bring it in as soon as she gets it as Charlie brings in some coffee. Bartlet inquires about Kassenbach taking the position, and points out all the qualities of Micronesia, even though there wasn't much of a fight to get him to accept.


Joey Lucas sticks out her tongue at Josh Lyman

Josh enters the Oval and says C.J. will be in shortly. He makes a crack, and tries again to debate Joey Lucas about designating English as the official language of the United States. Joey blows a raspberry at him, which further exasperates him. Joey then explains (through Kenny) that Hispanics are overwhelmingly against the law and are the second largest ethnic voting block in the country, but if they need a counter-argument, it's foolish to think they will need laws to protect the language of William Shakespeare. Josh says that's what he wanted all week, and Joey blows another raspberry at him.

As another silence sets it, Bartlet asks Sam about the briefcase he bought Laurie. After Sam mentions the brand he purchased, the President suggests additional brands that are also quite good. Toby comments on how surreal the conversation is.


"What's next?"

C.J. finally enters with the front page of the report. She was wrong. They went up nine points. Everyone smiles before Bartlet asks "What's next?" Leo says they should talk about the new projections, and everyone begins a discussion.

Trivia Edit

  • The full saying referenced in the title of the episode is "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." The phrase was made popular in the United States by Mark Twain, among others. [1]

Quotes Edit

Toby Ziegler: Since when are you an expert on language?
C.J. Cregg: In polling models?
Toby Ziegler: Okay.
C.J. Cregg: 1993. Since when are you an uptight pain in the ass?
Toby Ziegler: Since long before that.

Josh Lyman: Okay, I'll be back and when I get back, you're going to argue with me and we're going to argue about the things I want to argue about and you're going to do your best not to annoy me so much.
Joey Lucas: (via Kenny Thurman) It's almost hard to believe you're not married.

Donna Moss: A guy takes his assistant on a quick trip to Maui. It's not like unheard of.

C.J. Cregg: I'm trying to meet a deadline, Josh. I've got a 48-hour window and you can't stand here distracting the female callers.
Josh Lyman: (to room) Have I been distracting the female callers?
Women: No.
Josh Lyman: Not even a little bit?

Sam Seaborn: I've drafted a letter of resignation.
Toby Ziegler: Well you're not going to give it to him, Sam, because that would deny me the pleasure of throwing you out through a plate glass window.

President Josiah Bartlet: Toby, are you in here sticking up for Sam?
Toby Ziegler: I know it's strange, sir. But I'm feeling a certain big brotherly connection right now. You know, obviously, I'd like that feeling to go away as soon as possible, but for the moment I think there's no danger in the White House standing by Sam and aggressively going after the people who set him up.

President Josiah Bartlet: It's nice when we can do something for prostitutes once in a while, isn't it?

President Josiah Bartlet: He's a good man, a smart man; I think he'd make a very good corporate officer.
Ted Mitchell: Why is he being fired, sir?
President Josiah Bartlet: Gross incompetence.

Ken Cochran: I'm sorry to do this, but I'd like to speak to your supervisor.
Charlie Young: Well, I'm personal aide to the President, so my supervisor's a little busy right now looking for a back door to this place to shove you out of. But, I'll let him know you'd like to lodge a complaint.

President Josiah Bartlet: We agree on nothing, Max.
Senator Max Lobell: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Education, guns, drugs, school prayer, gays, defense spending, taxes, you name it, we disagree.
Senator Max Lobell: You know why?
President Josiah Bartlet: 'Cause I'm a lily-livered, bleeding-heart, liberal, egg head, communist.
Senator Max Lobell: Yes, sir. And I'm a gun-totin', redneck son-of-a-bitch.
President Josiah Bartlet: Yes, you are.
Senator Max Lobell:We agree on that.
President Josiah Bartlet: Max, can I count on your support to confirm my candidates?
Senator Max Lobell: And what do I get in exchange?
President Josiah Bartlet: [beat] The thanks of a grateful President.
Senator Max Lobell: Good answer, sir.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarEdit

Guest StarringEdit


References Edit

"The West Wing" Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (2000)