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West Wing Wiki

U.N. TREATY BANNING PROSTITUTION INCITES SHARP DEBATE; MAD COW DISEASE POSES UGLY THREAT -- At the First Lady's (Stockard Channing) urging, Josh (Bradley Whitford) meets with a powerful women's caucus over the proposed language of a U.N. treaty banning prostitution while the President (Martin Sheen) grapples with the possibility of a Mad Cow epidemic and ponders how much the public should know. Meanwhile, staffers are stunned at C.J.'s (Allison Janney) emotional outburst concerning the administration's renewal of its air base lease in a Mideast country that abuses its women. Some World War II veterans come to the White House to protest a pending Pearl Harbor exhibit at the Smithsonian and Bartlet is sued by an angry woman who intends to raise a public fuss over his remarks regarding the hot-potato issue of a national seat belt law.



C.J. is finishing up the press briefing and gets a question on whether she's aware of the President being sued.  She doesn't know anything about it and ends the briefing.  She meets Toby in the hall who tells her about some veterans who are threatening to not meet with the President.  Toby is going to meet with the veterans.  Sam tells Toby about the lawsuit, which he learned about from the Department of Justice - the President is being sued over the use of seatbelts in cars - in a speech he spoke of whether one should use them or not, then a couple got into an accident on the way home.

The President is on his way to the Oval Office and Toby mentions to him that he might hear something about seatbelts, he urges the President to ignore it.  In the Oval Office, Toby hears about the deal the US has made with Qumar, giving them tanks, munitions, and supplies in exchange for a ten-year lease on a base in the country.  The President asks Toby to pass the announcement off to the Defense Department, as the President feels a little edgy about this agreement with a nation like Qumar.

Act I[]

The First Lady comes to see Josh to tell him that he needs to meet with Amy Gardner, who sent a letter to the First Lady on women's rights issues.  She wants him to have a meeting with Amy on the issues.

Leo arrives for a meeting and is informed that a herd of cattle in Nebraska was quarantined after being fed banned feed - and now two of the herd have come back "presumptive positive" for Mad Cow Disease.

C.J. is meeting with the Communications staff on the various issues - Toby slips in the item about Qumar and C.J. is angry about the sale.

Toby and Sam talk about the lawsuit aimed at the President - Toby points out that suing the President is an exercise in futility.  Sam thinks they should come out for a national seat belt law.

The President returns to the Oval Office and Leo and C.J. come to see him to tell him about the possible Mad Cow case.  They decide to wait until the test results come back from the UK before saying anything.  C.J. follows Leo back to his office and raises concern over waiting - she fears nationwide panic if the story breaks on CNN. She also tells Leo of her objections to the arms sale to Qumar.

Act II[]

Josh goes to the offices of the Women's Leadership Council, headed by Amy Gardner.  They have a history together but they get to the matters at hand - talking about prostitution and trafficking in women.  He promises to see what he can do.

Toby meets with representatives of the Smithsonian - there is a veteran's group that is going to boycott the opening of an exhibition to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Leo comes to get him to tell Toby about the Mad Cow problem and that he needs to get with C.J.  Sam catches up with Leo to tell him about the seatbelt lawsuit - Leo points out it's not going to happen.

Josh returns to the White House after his meeting with Amy Gardner.  Donna points out that perhaps she has a point and the use of "forced" in the treaty might be construed as condoning prostitution.  Josh comes to see C.J. to talk more about this and then Toby arrives to talk about the Mad Cow scare.

Act III[]

The President is getting a briefing on "unfunded mandates" and other economic issues.  When the economic team leaves the President and Leo discuss the worst case scenarios if the test comes back positive.  It would have a crippling effect on the meat business in the United States.

Sam meets with two Congressional staffers to talk about the possibility of a National Seatbelt Law.  They both tell Sam it's a non-starter. 

Toby meets with the veterans who oppose the exhibition.  C.J. stops in to offer a hypothetical question to the veterans - what if the Nazis were still around and the US announced they were going to sell arms to them? (She is clearly agitated by the sale of arms to Qumar).

Act IV[]

Sam comes to make his case with the President about a National Seatbelt Law.  The President tells Sam its not going to happen but he would sign it if Congress were to pass one.

Leo, Toby, C.J., and Josh meet with the President on the Mad Cow test.  C.J. reaffirms her position about not hiding this - they should announce what they know.  The President comes around to C.J.'s argument and agrees for a statement to be made - but not from the White House.

Josh comes to see Amy Gardner - representatives from the White House will meet with UN representatives to discuss some new language in the UN Treaty.  The two of them engage in additional sarcastic banter.  She asks him point-blank about why he came to see her - if he's dating Donna or Joey Lucas.  When he leaves, she throws a water balloon at him from her office window. Nancy McNally comes to see C.J. to hear C.J.'s reservations about the arms sale to Qumar.  The two of them talk about it and C.J. is still very upset - but goes into her briefing to tell the press about the sale.  From the back of the room, Toby watches and acknowledges her announcement.


Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
John Spencer as Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
and Martin Sheen as President Bartlet

Special Guest Star

Mary-Louise Parker as Amy Gardner

Recurring cast

Anna Deavere Smith as Nancy McNally

Guest Starring

Christian Clemenson as Evan Woodkirk
Dinah Lenney as Mary Klein
Ty Burrell as Tom Starks
Bradley White as James
Bruce Kirby as Barney Lang
Sid Conrad as Ed Ramsay
Bill Erwin as Ronald Kruckshank


Kim Webster as Ginger
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Peter James Smith as Ed
William Duffy as Larry
Fort Atkinson as Frank Grant
Michael Canavan as Flynn
James Hornbeck as Dr. Bedrosian
Stan Sellers as Dr. Califf
Randolph Brooks as Arthur Leeds
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
Elizabeth Liang as Staffer
Larry Cox as Aide
Dean White as Aide
Kim Sykes as Secretary


Three weeks ago a woman in Qumar was executed for adultery. She didn't need a lawyer 'cause there was no trial. It was her husband's word against hers... Later today I'm going to be announcing that we're selling them tanks and guns
Sam Seaborn: Let's come out for a National Seatbelt Law
Leo McGarry:  A National Seatbelt Law is never going to happen
Sam Seaborn: Why?
Leo McGarry: What's the most important state in the primaries?
Sam Seaborn:  New Hampshire
Leo McGarry:  What's the most important state in the general?
Sam Seaborn:  Michigan
Leo McGarry:  What's the only state without a mandatory seatbelt law?
Sam Seaborn:  New Hampshire
Leo McGarry:  Where do they make the cars?
Sam Seaborn:  Fair enough.
C.J. Cregg:  What I meant was, that the public will not forgive a President who withheld information that could have helped them or saved lives.  Second, in a crisis, people need to feel like soldiers, not victims.  Third, information breeds confidence, silence breeds fear.  That's my argument.
C.J. Cregg: It’s the 21st century Nancy, the world’s gotten smaller. I don’t know how we can tolerate this kind of suffering anymore particularly when all it does is continue the cycle of anti-American hatred. But that’s not the point either.
Dr. Nancy McNally: What’s the point?
C.J. Cregg: The point is that apartheid was an East Hampton clambake compared to what we laughingly refer to the life these women lead. And if we had sold M1A1’s to South Africa 15 years ago, you’d have set the building on fire. Thank God we never needed to refuel in Johannesburg!
Dr. Nancy McNally: It’s a big world, CJ. And everybody has guns. And I’m doing the best I can.
C.J. Cregg: They’re beating the women, Nancy!


Sam and Toby, at least one of whom is a lawyer, say that the President is being sued for "contributory negligence" because someone heard him talk about seatbelts not always being fastened and then drove without a seatbelt. The apparent theory is that the President "contributed" to the person's negligence by suggesting seatbelts did not help (even under this theory, the person had to misunderstand the President).

While this sounds like a reasonable use of the term, it is not, and no lawyer would say such a thing. Contributory negligence is actually an affirmative defense, meaning that it can be raised to help a defendant when someone else sues them; it is not a reason to start a suit against somebody. It is a common law doctrine (not written down as a statute) that says if the plaintiff's negligence contributed to his own injury, then he cannot recover from a defendant, even where the defendant's negligence was the principal cause of the injury.

Imagine that Josh was test-driving a giant Hummer SUV, driving 20 miles over the speed limit, curving back and forth across the road. Donna was driving her Prius toward Josh, driving below the speed limit in a perfectly straight line. She and Josh collided when he crossed the center line, but at that time she was looking away from the road toward her pocketbook to pull out her ringing cell phone. Of course Donna would want to sue Josh, but she would be barred from recovery under a theory of contributory negligence because her negligence in looking away from the road to get her phone contributed to the accident, even though most of the fault lies with Josh. That result angers many people, and in fact, because the doctrine is so harsh, many states no longer recognize the defense of contributory negligence or have created so many exceptions that it is no longer quite so harsh.

Contributory negligence might come up in the President's case, but it would be his defense against the claim Sam is concerned about. The President might argue that even if he bore fault for the accident, he has no legal liability because the contributory negligence of the driver who chose not to wear a seatbelt defeats any liability on the part of the President. For more information, see Law.com's dictionary entry for contributory negligence.

I PilotPost Hoc, Ergo Propter HocA Proportional ResponseFive Votes Down
The Crackpots and These WomenMr. Willis of OhioThe State DinnerEnemiesThe Short List
In Excelsis DeoLord John MarburyHe Shall, from Time to Time...Take Out the Trash Day
Take This Sabbath DayCelestial Navigation20 Hours in L.A.The White House Pro-Am
Six Meetings Before LunchLet Bartlet Be BartletMandatory Minimums
Lies, Damn Lies and StatisticsWhat Kind of Day Has It Been?
II In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part I)In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part II)The Midterms
In This White HouseAnd It's Surely to Their CreditThe Lame Duck CongressThe Portland Trip
ShibbolethGalileoNoëlThe Leadership BreakfastThe Drop-In
Bartlet's Third State of the UnionThe War at HomeEllie
Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to JailThe Stackhouse Filibuster
17 PeopleBad Moon RisingThe Fall's Gonna Kill You18th and PotomacTwo Cathedrals
III Manchester (Part I)Manchester (Part II)Ways and MeansOn the Day BeforeWar CrimesGone QuietThe Indians in the LobbyThe Women of QumarBartlet for AmericaH.Con - 172100,000 AirplanesThe Two BartletsNight FiveHartsfield's LandingDead Irish Writers
The U.S. Poet LaureateStirredEnemies Foreign and DomesticThe Black Vera Wang
We Killed YamamotoPosse Comitatus
IV 20 Hours in America (Part I)20 Hours in America (Part II)College KidsThe Red Mass
Debate CampGame OnElection NightProcess StoriesSwiss DiplomacyArctic Radar
Holy NightGuns Not ButterThe Long GoodbyeInauguration (Part I)
Inauguration: Over There (Part II)The California 47thRed Haven's on FirePrivateers
Angel MaintenanceEvidence of Things Not SeenLife On MarsCommencementTwenty-Five
V 7A WF 83429The Dogs of WarJefferson LivesHanA Constituency of OneDisaster ReliefSeparation of PowersShutdownAbu el BanatThe Stormy PresentThe Benign PrerogativeSlow News DayThe Warfare of Genghis KhanAn KheFull DisclosureEppur Si Muove
The SupremesAccessTalking PointsNo ExitGazaMemorial Day
VI NSF ThurmontThe Birnam WoodThird-Day StoryLiftoffThe Hubbert PeakThe Dover TestA Change Is Gonna ComeIn The RoomImpact WinterFaith Based Initiative
Opposition Research365 DaysKing CornThe Wake Up CallFreedoniaDrought ConditionsA Good DayLa PalabraNinety Miles AwayIn God We TrustThings Fall Apart2162 Votes
VII The TicketThe Mommy ProblemMessage of the WeekMr. FrostHere Today
The Al Smith DinnerThe DebateUndecidedsThe WeddingRunning Mates
Internal DisplacementDuck and CoverThe ColdTwo Weeks OutWelcome to Wherever You Are
Election Day (Part I)Election Day (Part II)RequiemTransitionThe Last Hurrah
Institutional MemoryTomorrow