While White House counsel Babish (Oliver Platt) methodically grills staff members on their prior knowledge of the President’s (Martin Sheen) multiple sclerosis condition, Josh (Bradley Whitford) secretly commissions pollster Joey Lucas (Marlee Matlin) to conduct a hypothetical survey of public opinion before making the announcement. Meanwhile, Sam (Rob Lowe) is happy to learn of a lowered surplus estimate that will reinforce the administration’s case for a revised tax cut; Josh seeks more funds to support the overwhelmed Justice Department in its prosecution of tobacco companies; Donna (Janel Moloney) seems to be the only one concerned about the blazing earthfall of a failing Chinese satellite.
THE WEST WING "THE FALL'S GONNA KILL YOU" TELEPLAY BY: AARON SORKIN STORY BY: PATRICK H. CADDELL DIRECTED BY: CHRISTOPHER MISIANO TEASER FADE IN INT. OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL - 5:30 A.M. C.J. is sitting the desk outside the office. Oliver Babish enters. OLIVER Good morning. C.J. Good morning. OLIVER Did anyone see you come here? C.J. I really don't know. OLIVER Why not? C.J. I really wasn't paying that much attention. OLIVER I wish you would. Oliver and C.J. enter the office. C.J. I walked from my office to your office. OLIVER Was there press outside your office? C.J. Not at five-thirty in the morning, no. OLIVER When did you find out about the President's MS? C.J. Last night when Leo told me. OLIVER Who else was there? C.J. Nobody. OLIVER Nobody else in the room? C.J. No. OLIVER Have you ever lied about the President's health? C.J. [frowns, crosses arms over chest] Should I have my lawyer here? OLIVER I am your lawyer. C.J. You're the President's lawyer. OLIVER I'm the White House Counsel, C.J. Have you ever lied about the President's health? C.J. When did he tell you? OLIVER I'm sorry? C.J. When did the President tell you? OLIVER Six days ago. C.J. And Josh? OLIVER Two days after that. C.J. Toby? OLIVER Two days before he told me. C.J., have you ever lied about the President's health? C.J. And Leo he told more than a year ago. OLIVER Yeah. C.J. And I've had this for six hours now, so maybe giving me some room wouldn't be totally out of line. You know what I'm saying, Oliver? OLIVER C.J., I'm going to have to ask you some questions, and the less you can be pissed at the world for no particular reason the better I think. C.J. I don't know you. OLIVER I'm sorry? C.J. I was told to report to you. I don't know you. You've been here what...? OLIVER Three months. C.J. Three months, so why should I trust you? OLIVER I don't care if you trust me or not! C.J. Imagine my shock. OLIVER I've got better things to do with my imagination. C.J. I think this is going really well so far, Oliver. It's almost hard to believe that four different women have sued you for divorce. Oliver sits down behind his desk. OLIVER Well, you can do that if you want, C.J. I've been through it a couple of times with Josh and Toby, but sooner or later you're going to have to answer questions. C.J. Either to you or...? OLIVER A Grand Jury. C.J. Compelled by...? OLIVER A Justice Department subpoena. C.J. [as she sits down] Well, I have to tell you it'll be the first time I've been asked out in quite awhile, so... OLIVER It's entirely possible that the President has committed multiple counts of a federal crime to which you were an accomplice. C.J. [nods] That much has sunk in in the last six hours. OLIVER Has it? C.J. Yes. OLIVER So why don't you knock off the cutie-pie crap and answer the damn question? C.J. [pause] What was the question? OLIVER Have you ever lied about the President's health? What is your answer? C.J. [pause] Many, many times. SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES. END TEASER * * * ACT ONE FADE IN: INT. JOSH'S BULLPEN AREA - DAY MARTIN CONNELLY is waiting in his coat. Donna comes to him. DONNA Mr. Connelly? MARTIN CONNELLY Yes. DONNA I'm Donna Moss, I'm Josh Lyman's assistant. He's tied up with Mr. McGarry for just a couple of more minutes, I hope you don't mind waiting. CONNELLY No. DONNA [walking through the bullpen] Does anybody know if it's gonna rain this afternoon? They're asking me. WOMAN The paper said mid-afternoon. DONNA So we know it won't be that. Cal the Navy Yard for me, would you? WOMAN Yeah. Ed and Larry approach, laughing. LARRY Donna. DONNA Yeah. LARRY Have you seen C.J.? DONNA No. What's so funny? LARRY Ed just got a fax... [laughing] I'm sorry. Ed just got a fax from a man named Byron Talmadge. He's the Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of Space Cadets.... ED Flight. LARRY Office of Space Flight. ED The OSF. DONNA What's the fax say? LARRY A huge Chinese satellite is gonna come crashing to Earth, and we don't know where, and we don't know when. DONNA Seriously? ED Yeah, it's right here in the fax. DONNA I satellite is... crashing to Earth and NASA sent us a fax? ED Yeah. DONNA This is for real. LARRY Yes. DONNA [terrified] A satellite is gonna crush into the Earth? ED and LARRY Yes! DONNA Why are you laughing? ED We thought it was funny. [The two of them turn to leave.] DONNA I'm an assistant. What am I supposed to do with this information? LARRY The fax was for C.J., just give it to her when you see her. WOMAN Donna, they say it's not going to rain this afternoon. DONNA Well, that's a relief. [walks off] CUT TO: INT. LEO'S OFFICE - DAY Leo is sitting on his desk next to Josh and Toby. TOBY All right, hear me out on this, okay? LEO Yeah. TOBY We want to see some polling. LEO Why? TOBY 'Cause we need to know what to do next. LEO We know what to do next. TOBY No, we don't know which is the more insurmountable problem - the perception that... [stops abruptly as Margaret knocks and comes in with a note for Leo] LEO [returning the note] We'll call back. [Margaret leaves.] TOBY [sighs] ... the perception that he's not physically up to the job or that he lied about it. LEO There's no way to gauge public opinion on this until the issue occurs. Public opinion is gonna be shaped by the reaction of the press. JOSH All public opinion's shaped by the reaction of the press, but the fundamental foundation already exists in their current perception that the President... LEO Josh, how are you gonna take a poll without...? JOSH We can do it. LEO Look... TOBY Leo. LEO I don't' trust any of our people, and even if I did, what kind of questions could they ask that won't trip an alarm? TOBY Josh trusts Joey Lucas. LEO From California? JOSH Yes, she's flying in right now. LEO What did you tell her? JOSH I told her we were commissioning a poll to explore attitudes towards subsurface agricultural products. LEO Subsurface agricultural... what the hell...? JOSH Underground. We think Americans are eating more beats. LEO Beats? JOSH Yeah. LEO All right. JOSH Okay? LEO Yeah. Toby, you want to talk about when we tell Sam? TOBY I wouldn't do it right now. LEO Why? TOBY His head is in the SME speech for Chicago... JOSH The thing... TOBY Hang on. His head is in Chicago and that's where we need him. Would you want to write a speech with this other thing around your neck? JOSH No. LEO The President wants him to know by the end of the day. TOBY The end of the day, then. LEO Okay. Anything else? TOBY No. Thanks. LEO Thank you. JOSH Thank you. Toby and Josh exit to the HALLWAY. Toby waits for Josh to close the door, and they walk. TOBY When does she get here? JOSH Six o'clock. TOBY We do this carefully. JOSH No kidding. TOBY You trust this person? JOSH [beat] I gotta trust somebody, right? TOBY Good, 'cause I don't trust anybody right now. [walks off] DONNA [OS] Josh? JOSH [walking to her] Yeah. DONNA A fax was sent to the Press Office from the Office of Space Flight at NASA. A Chinese satellite called Zodiac has fallen off its orbit and will be falling to Earth at an unspecified time and place. JOSH What are you telling me for? DONNA What am I telling you for? JOSH Yeah. DONNA This giant thing is falling to Earth. They're watching it on radar. Isn't there something we do? JOSH Like what? DONNA Like sound the alarm? JOSH Sound the alarm? DONNA There is no alarm... JOSH There's really not. Josh approaches Martin Connelly in the LOBBY. JOSH Martin? CONNELLY [stands up] Yes. JOSH Sorry to keep you waiting. CONNELLY Oh, that's okay. JOSH Come on back. DONNA Josh... JOSH The fax is for the press office, give it to them. DONNA The deputies are at breakfast, and I don't know where C.J. is. JOSH Uh, Martin, you can have a seat in my office. [to Donna, quietly] C.J. is meeting with Babish. I'll be inside. Josh and Martin walk in JOSH'S OFFICE. JOSH I apologize again. CONNELLY No, that's all right. [sits, clutching his briefcase] I assume you know why I'm here. JOSH [as his beeper goes off] I don't, actually. CONNELLY Mack Sheridan was going to talk to you first. JOSH [waves his beeper] I have a call to return to Mack. CONNELLY I should wait until he talks to you first. JOSH Why don't you talk to me now? CONNELLY The case is running out of money. JOSH Which case? CONNELLY The US v... JOSH You're kidding me! CONNELLY No! JOSH Martin, we spent 13 million the first year, 23 million the second... Where's the money going? CONNELLY Outside counsel and staff, depositions, expert witnesses, processing database, research... JOSH Yeah. CONNELLY [raising his voice] We have 31 lawyers on a case against 5 tobacco companies, just one of which has 342. We won't count the 13 subsidiaries that have mounted their own defense. Tobacco has spent 380 million dollars to the government's 36, so when I come here asking you for money, it's not because the Justice Department blew its allowance on videogames! [beat] I should have let Mack talk to you first. JOSH Aren't allowed to transfer funds... CONNELLY Yeah, that's what we've been doing. We've been transferring money from Commerce and Health and Human Services to pay for the lawsuit. But then the House passed the HR-260 and now the Committees... JOSH Yeah. CONNELLY You understand? JOSH Yeah, let me run it by Leo. CONNELLY [gets up] This is a fight worth winning. JOSH You don't have to convince me. CONNELLY These people perpetrated a fraud against the public. JOSH I'm sorry? CONNELLY I said they perpetrated a fraud against the public. JOSH [stares at Connelly] The... tobacco companies. CONNELLY Yeah. JOSH Well, I'm... gonna talk to Leo and I'll tell Mack you were here. CONNELLY Thank you. He leaves, while Josh continues looking at the spot he just stood in. CUT TO: INT. OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL - DAY Oliver and C.J. are watching a videotape of C.J.'s press briefing. C.J. [on TV] Let me just finish this. He was hemodynamically stable at a blood pressure of 140 over 80. Cholesterol level is 185, the QRS interval on the EKG is slightly long but otherwise good. The President is pronounced in excellent physical health. Oliver turns off the recording. C.J. What was that? March of last year? OLIVER Yeah. How many times you've done that? C.J. I'd have to go back and check. OLIVER Estimate. C.J. If that was March of last year, then that was his fourth physical, then there were a couple of times during the campaign, and after the shooting... OLIVER Yeah. C.J. And the time he rode his bicycle into a tree. OLIVER When he sprained his ankle. C.J. Yeah. OLIVER [stands up and walks to pour himself more water] Tell me how it works. C.J. What do you mean? OLIVER When the President has a physical. C.J. The President's physician - right now it's Admiral Leonard Morrow - the President's physician calls me, gives me a short statement including vitals. OLIVER And then you make a statement to the Press? C.J. Yeah. OLIVER [sits down with the glass of water] Do you also speak with the President before you make the statement? C.J. Yes. OLIVER Why? C.J. Because of doctor-patient confidentiality there's only so much you're gonna get from the doctors. OLIVER So what do you ask the President? C.J. I say, is there anything I should know about your health that the doctors won't tell me. OLIVER I'm gonna ask you something. C.J. What? OLIVER Do you say, 'is there anything I should know' or do you say 'is there anything I need to know?' C.J. What does it matter? OLIVER Which do you say? C.J. What does it matter? OLIVER 'Is there anything I need to know' implies you only want to know enough to face reporters while maintaining deniability. C.J. It's an expression. OLIVER Did you use it? C.J. I really don't remember, I don't. I don't choose my words that carefully? OLIVER With the President? C.J. You think I was speaking to the President in code? OLIVER No. I was just asking. Knocking on door. OLIVER Yeah! STAFFER [comes in] Excuse me, C.J., this is a note from Donna Moss, who wanted you to see it right away. C.J. Thanks. The staffer leaves, she reads the note and shows it to Oliver. C.J. The sky is falling down. FADE OUT. END ACT ONE * * * ACT TWO FADE IN: INT. THE ROOSEVELT ROOM - DAY A dozen aides are seated at the table listening as Sam paces around the table reading a draft of the SME speech. SAM "The debate over a tax cut - whether to have one or not, how large it should be, how small it should be, what share should be received by whom - all of this, my friends, is the wrong debate at the wrong time over the wrong issue." Yes. We need to get back to fundamentals. AIDE 1 Where is that? SAM Where is what? AIDE 2 "We need to get back to fundamentals." SAM It's not in the speech. I'm saying it. We need to get back to fundamentals. There's a knock at the door. Sam glances over at the door, then turns back to the aides. SAM Excuse me. Think about fundamentals. Sam steps into the hall. JANE GENTRY and RICHARD WILL are waiting for him. JANE GENTRY Ready for some good news? SAM Yeah. RICHARD WILL Not out here. They walk around the corner toward SAM'S OFFICE. JANE This is gonna be a front-page story tomorrow. SAM There's a front-page story tomorrow I don't know about yet? RICHARD Well, you're gonna know about it in two hours. SAM But I'm gonna know about it now, right? Sam closes the door of his office. They all remain standing. JANE The CBO's gonna issue a new estimate of the surplus. SAM They're projecting it down? JANE Yeah. SAM We don't have as much money as we thought? JANE No. SAM That's great news. RICHARD Yeah. SAM It's not great news that we have less money. I'm saying... RICHARD Yeah. SAM 'Cause the floor fight's gonna be easier. JANE Yeah. SAM How much less money? RICHARD Well, when they project eight years out, it's 200 billion less. Nine years out, it's 400 billion less. SAM That is great. JANE Yeah. SAM It's not great that we have less... JANE Sam, we get why it's great. SAM I can't even tell you how much this helps. I'm drafting the SME speech for Chicago and I could really... JANE That's why we're telling you. There's a line that ATJ and the Progressive Caucus want in the Chicago speech. RICHARD [hands sheet of paper to Sam] I got it here. SAM [reading] "We want a real tax cut for working families to help them pay for higher education and housing, while our opponents want to help the rich pay for bigger swimming pools and faster private jets. [pause] No, I don't think so. JANE They want it in. SAM No, no, no. JANE Why not? SAM Well, for one thing, it's very bad writing. RICHARD Summer homes and sports cars. SAM The poetry's not my problem. RICHARD They want it in Chicago. SAM Well, tell them to do their own speech. This one's for the President. RICHARD You wanna tell them that? SAM No. RICHARD Okay. SAM We have less money? RICHARD Isn't that great? SAM Yes, it is. Thanks. Jane and Richard leave. Sam watches them go. CUT TO: INT. OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL - DAY A glass pitcher and drinking glasses rest in the center of the table between Oliver and C.J. Her arms are crossed in a defensive posture. OLIVER C.J., are you aware that a year ago January the President had an attack? C.J. I am now. OLIVER You were there when he collapsed. C.J. I was outside the room. OLIVER But you went into the room when he was unconscious. C.J. Yes. OLIVER What made you go into the room? C.J. The sound of a Stueben glass pitcher crashing to the floor. OLIVER What did you think had happened? C.J. I didn't know. OLIVER Well, what did you think? C.J.'s tone becomes very sarcastic. C.J. Well, at first glance, I thought he might have a virus contracted from a rare African tsetse fly, possibly tropical sprue. I'm not an expert, but I did meet a man once in India. OLIVER Yeah. C.J. It could be anything with these Presidents. James Polk had diverticulitis. OLIVER Yeah. C.J. Couldn't digest nuts. I'll tell you what else. One in forty American men wear women's clothing, and we've had well over forty Presidents. OLIVER Yeah. C.J. I'm just sayin', one of these guys was dancing around the Oval Office in a prom dress. Now let's get to the bottom of that. OLIVER C.J.? C.J. Yeah? OLIVER In my entire life I've never found anything charming. C.J. [after long pause] Really? OLIVER You announced to the press it was the flu. C.J. Yes. OLIVER Who told you to say it was the flu? C.J. I wasn't told to say it was the flu. I was told it was the flu OLIVER Who told...? C.J. [yelling] I'm not getting into that! I'm not getting into who said what. We can do that at the next of what I'm sure will be many sessions. OLIVER Okay. [pause] Do you know what time it is? C.J. pauses and glances to her right, presumably at a clock on the wall. C.J. It's five past noon. OLIVER I'd like you to get out of the habit of doing that. C.J. Doing what? OLIVER Answering more than was asked... Do you know what time it is? C.J. stares at him silently for several moments. C.J. [annoyed] Yes. OLIVER We'll take a break and meet again later today. C.J. wearily gets up to leave. CUT TO INT. THE WHITE HOUSE MESS - DAY Sam walks into the Mess and spots Toby sitting alone at a table drinking coffee and reading a folded up section of a newspaper. SAM Hey. TOBY [holds up newspaper] You see this? SAM That was nice. TOBY We got good reviews on the commencement speech. SAM Yeah. TOBY From Maynard Wachtel, of all places. Toby tosses the newspaper on the table, stands up, and walks over to the coffee counter. SAM You got a second? TOBY He calls you and me the Batman and Robin of speech-writing. SAM Well, I don't think he does... TOBY He doesn't, but he should, 'cause that's what we are. SAM Okay. Toby grabs a pastry from the counter as he refills his coffee mug. His speech is a bit slurred as he chews. TOBY We're Batman and Robin! SAM Which one's which? TOBY Look at me, Sam. Am I Robin? SAM I'm not Robin. TOBY Yes, you are. SAM Okay, well, let's move off this. TOBY You bet, little friend. They walk through the Mess toward the STAIRS. SAM Listen, we're really not Batman and Robin. TOBY No, we'll keep those identities secret. I'm Bruce Wayne, and you're my ward... SAM Toby... TOBY ...Dick something. SAM Jane Gentry and Richard Will came to see me with some news. The CBO's projection... TOBY Really? SAM Yes. Has us 200 billion lower eight years out. TOBY That's fantastic news. SAM Yes. TOBY When is this real? SAM This afternoon. TOBY The projections are lower? SAM Measurably lower. TOBY I'm so happy I could spit. SAM This is really the first administration in history to favor slower economic growth. TOBY I favor it when it gives us a bat and ball on tax cuts. SAM Yeah. TOBY We offer 'em a deal. We lower the bottom rate from fifteen to ten percent, but we stand our ground on no tax cut in the top bracket, and you know why? They walk in the COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE. SAM 'Cause it turns out we might not be able to afford it. TOBY Isn't it great? SAM Yeah, it's Christmas in Paris, but there's a line ATJ and the Progressive Caucus want me to put in the draft for Chicago. TOBY What? They end up in TOBY'S OFFICE. SAM That we want to do great things, but our opponents want bigger swimming pools and faster private jets. TOBY Their private jets are too slow? SAM Toby... TOBY Change the writing. SAM It's not the writing. TOBY I know. [sigh] Listen... SAM Yeah? Toby walks toward the door, but doesn't say anything for several moments. TOBY Nothing. SAM Okay. TOBY Don't worry about it. SAM So... TOBY I have to go to a meeting. You should talk to somebody at ATJ or the Caucus. SAM Okay, I'm gonna do that then. TOBY Yeah. SAM Okay. They walk in opposite directions down that hall. CUT TO: INT. OUTER OVAL OFFICE - DAY Charlie is sitting at his desk working on the computer. Donna walks in with a smile on her face. CHARLIE Hey, Donna. DONNA Hey, Charlie. CHARLIE Is there anything you need? DONNA Nope. Just came in to say hi. CHARLIE How you doing? Charlie stands up to get something from the storage closet. DONNA Good. [long pause] So, NASA's OSF tells us that the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base believes that a Chinese satellite has fallen out of its orbital... flight plan. The last detection the 30th had placed it in what they call a "degrading orbital path" and it's now dropped off their radar, suggesting it's begun a rapid fall towards the Earth's atmosphere. CHARLIE [walks back behind his desk] Cool. DONNA No, it's not! What's the matter with you people? CHARLIE What'd I do? DONNA A thing the size of a garbage truck is gonna be in a two-thousand-mile-an-hour free fall and no one knows where it's gonna hit! CHARLIE I'm rooting for Zurich. DONNA Charlie... CHARLIE I've had it up to here with the Swiss. DONNA You don't... CHARLIE Hang on... [checks his pager] Excuse me. Charlie leaves. Donna sighs and walks back toward her office. CUT TO: EXT. WHITE HOUSE PORTICO - DAY Several female aides and a Secret Service agents are standing by the passenger door of a black limousine. The agent opens the door. Abbey is sitting inside with dark glasses on. She quickly steps out of the car. FEMALE AIDE 1 Good afternoon. FEMALE AIDE 2 Welcome back, Mrs. Bartlet. ABBEY Thank you. Abbey removes her glasses and walks briskly through the HALLWAY. She's all business. The aides follow her. Other aides join the pedeconference as Abbey heads toward the Oval Office. FEMALE AIDE 2 A couple of reminders. You're at the Board of the Children's Cancer Fund at the Sheraton. That's at 300. ABBEY Before that I wanna be... FEMALE AIDE 2 Yeah, you're gonna read at the Head Start program in SouthEast. BOBBY Welcome back, Mrs. Bartlet. ABBEY That's a snappy suit, Bobby. FEMALE AIDE 3 How did it go yesterday? ABBEY I had a medevac helicopter named after me. FEMALE AIDE 3 Yeah? ABBEY An AS335 F1 Twinstar named Abigail. I got to break a bottle of cider over its nose. [hands her glasses and briefcase to the aide] ABBEY Charlie. CHARLIE Welcome back, ma'am. ABBEY Thank you. Where's the President? CHARLIE He's waiting for you inside. ABBEY Thank you. Abbey opens the door to THE OVAL OFFICE and closes it behind her. Bartlet is standing by his desk reading. He turns at the sound of the door and walks toward her. BARTLET Hey. ABBEY Hi. BARTLET Welcome back. They are facing each other, about a foot apart. ABBEY How come I just found out about this? BARTLET How was the flight? ABBEY Jed... How come I just found out about this? BARTLET When Leo talked to you on the plane, he thought you already knew. Abbey starts pacing around the room and raises her voice slightly. ABBEY You think I'm saying this is Leo's fault? I'm asking how come you didn't tell me last week? BARTLET And I'm saying, we still do this. We're husband and wife and parents, and before we launch into palace intrigue, we do, "Welcome back. How was the flight?" Abbey stops pacing and nods, but only with her eyes. ABBEY What happened? BARTLET One of the forms Zoey had to fill out for Georgetown asked for a family medical history. ABBEY Yes. BARTLET Did Leo tell you the rest? ABBEY [testily] Not after he realized that you hadn't told me already! Which is a subject, I assure you, we will be turning to in a moment. BARTLET Zoey wasn't eighteen yet when she started. A parent had to sign the form. ABBEY Did you sign it? BARTLET No, you did, Hot Pants. ABBEY I signed it? BARTLET It's gonna be okay. ABBEY [exasperated] Why didn't you tell me this on the phone? BARTLET Look... ABBEY [gritting her teeth, really angry] We talk on the phone three times a day! BARTLET [shouting] Cause I didn't! 'Cause that's... [lowers his voice slightly] 'Cause I didn't! They stare at each other for several long moments. They both look exhausted, miserable, and a bit scared. Bartlet sighs repeatedly, looks away from her, and shifts from side to side several times. Abbey watches him, sighs heavily, and slowly walks over to a chair. Wearily, she sits down. She stares straight ahead, not looking at him. She has a sad, resigned look on her face. BARTLET I talked to Zoey this morning. She's gonna ace her finals. ABBEY She told me. BARTLET I hate Ellie's boyfriend. Abbey looks up at him, but he's not looking at her. ABBEY She told me. Bartlet slowly and uneasily meets her gaze.> BARTLET I need you to speak to the White House Counsel, Abbey. ABBEY [quietly] I know. They stare at each other silently. FADE OUT. END ACT TWO * * * ACT THREE FADE IN: EXT. SHOT OF WHITE HOUSE AND WASHINGTON MONUMENT - DAY FADE TO: INT. THE WHITE HOUSE, MARGARET'S DESK - DAY Josh is seated beside Margaret's desk. Leo walks in and grabs his messages off the desk. LEO Hey. JOSH The First Lady's back? LEO Yeah. They walk silently into LEO'S OFFICE. Leo closes the door. LEO I was talking to her on the phone and I mentioned Zoey's application without realizing the President hadn't told her yet. JOSH Why hadn't the President told her yet? LEO What do you want from me? JOSH Thirty million dollars. LEO No. JOSH Martin Connelly, who's an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division, says they're out of money. LEO On the suit? JOSH Yeah. LEO [exasperated] They're always out of money. JOSH We don't give 'em enough. LEO We passed a law last summer that says they can transfer funds from Commerce, from Health and Human Services. They can take it from Veteran's Affairs up to what? I think twelve million dollars. JOSH Yeah, but the problem is the law says that those transfers are subject to approval by various House committees, each of which has a chairman elected with the eight million dollars Tobacco spent in the last election. And even if the transfers were approved, it wouldn't matter, 'cause twelve million isn't gonna get it done. LEO Neither is thirty million. JOSH Then let's give 'em more. LEO No. JOSH Why? LEO 'Cause we're gonna lose. JOSH So you give 'em enough to win. LEO We'd have to liquidate the Grand Tetons. JOSH They're saying thirty million and I think it's a steal at twice the price. Leo is reading his phone messages and only half listening to Josh at this point. LEO Staff it out to some people and report to me on it in what...? JOSH Two, three days? LEO Good. JOSH I'm going out to the airport. Josh stands up and walks toward the door. LEO [looks up from his messages] All right... Do a job. JOSH [turns to look at Leo] Yeah. CUT TO: INT. THE ROOSEVELT ROOM - DAY Sam walks into the room. Several members of the Progressive Caucus - including Henry, Helen, Bruce and Lewis - are standing around the table waiting for him. SAM Hi. HENRY Hey, Sam. SAM Henry, Helen. Hey, Bruce. BRUCE How you doing, Sam? Everyone except Sam and Henry sit. SAM Lewis. We just have a few minutes, right? LEWIS There's a caucus. SAM Well, you've already heard the good news. The CBO, when they project eight years out, has the budget surplus coming in 200 billion dollars lower than we thought. CAUCUS MEMBERS That's great. SAM Yeah, okay, there's something wrong with all of us, but that's for a different time. [finally takes a seat] What I wanted to mention was Jane Gentry and Richard Will say you guys want a line in the Chicago draft. HENRY "Jet planes and swimming pools." SAM Yeah, that "our opponents want to help the rich pay for bigger swimming pools and faster private jets." HELEN Yeah, hit 'em hard. SAM Well, we are hitting them hard, but I'm not gonna use the line. HENRY Why not? SAM First of all, it's bad writing. HENRY What's wrong with it? [sits] SAM It sounds like it was written by a high school girl. HELEN Is there something wrong with the way a woman writes? SAM There usually is when she's in high school. HENRY Sam! SAM It's not the writing. Come on, Henry! "Faster private jets and swimming pools?" HENRY We can take out the heavy bats now. SAM And do what with them? HELEN The line works. SAM So does "How about 'em Cowboys?" when you're playing a club in Dallas, but the line isn't gonna change the mind of anyone who doesn't already agree with us. HENRY Sam, are you in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy? SAM I am not. I am in favor of tax cuts for those for whom it will do the most good - and that's a tough enough battle - and it looks like, all of a sudden, we've got a fair fight. But I'm not talking about policy. I'm talking about rhetoric, and the men you work for need to dial it down to five. Several of the Caucus members exchange annoyed glances. SAM Henry, last fall, every time your boss got on the stump and said, "It's time for the rich to pay their fair share," I hid under a couch and changed my name. I left Gage Whitney making $400,000 a year, which means I paid twenty-seven times the national average in income tax. I paid my fair share, and the fair share of twenty-six other people. And I'm happy to 'cause that's the only way it's gonna work, and it's in my best interest that everybody be able to go to schools and drive on roads, but I don't get twenty-seven votes on Election Day. The fire department doesn't come to my house twenty-seven times faster and the water doesn't come out of my faucet twenty-seven times hotter. The top one percent of wage earners in this country pay for twenty-two percent of this country. Let's not call them names while they're doing it, is all I'm saying. HELEN You're not using the line? SAM No. HELEN Or anything like it? SAM No. And I hope you'll make it clear to your people that this has nothing to do with diluting our position or cozying up to Republicans. HENRY [sarcastically] No, why would they think that? LEWIS We've got a caucus. The Caucus members get up and start to leave. Sam remains seated. SAM [over his shoulder] I know plenty of women who can write, Helen. I know women who can blow the walls of brick buildings. This sounds like a girl. Helen doesn't respond, just stares at him for a moment, and leaves. CUT TO: INT. NATIONAL AIRPORT TERMINAL - DAY ANNOUNCER ...Airlines Flight 1106, arriving from Los Angeles, is now in Gate Six... Joey Lucas and a new interpreter, DALE BRACKET, walk through the terminal amidst waves of people. Josh spots them and catches Dale's attention.> JOSH Joey! Dale taps Joey on the shoulder and points at Josh, who is walking quickly toward them. JOSH Joey... How you doing? JOEY Hey! JOSH [to Dale] I'm Josh Lyman. DALE BRACKET Dale Bracket. [They shake hands.] JOSH What happened to Kenny? JOEY [DALE] He's on vacation. JOSH [to Dale] So you're the substitute interpreter? DALE Yeah. JOEY [pleased] You came here to pick me up at the airport? JOSH Not exactly. Uh, Dale, I'm gonna ask you to wait over her, okay?... Uh, Joey, you're gonna read my lips, and if I can't understand what you're saying, you'll write it down, all right? Joey nods, looking perplexed but amenable. JOEY Okay. JOSH [to Dale] Excuse us. Josh and Joey walk away from Dale. JOSH Dale? Josh looks over his shoulder at Dale. JOEY Yes. JOSH Pretty good-looking for an interpreter, wouldn't you say? JOEY He's good-looking for anybody. JOSH Dale Bracket? JOEY Yes. JOSH [sarcastically] He's not a television detective? JOEY We can't talk about this in the car? JOSH I'm sorry? JOEY [a bit louder] We can't talk about this in the car? JOSH You're not getting in the car. JOEY Why? JOSH 'Cause you're getting back on a plane in an hour and ten minutes. They sit down at a table in the middle of a bar that is along the side of the terminal. Joey, increasingly confused, drops her bags next to her chair, Josh sighs heavily. JOSH All right, if we sit like this, can Dale Bracket, PI, read my lips? JOEY [slightly annoyed] No. JOSH Okay... You're not talking to me about an agriculture poll. JOEY No kidding. JOSH You guessed that? JOEY You think we're eating more beets? JOSH Well, we are, but... that's not important. JOEY What's important? WAITRESS Hi, what can I get for you? Joey grabs a napkin and writes on it while Josh orders. JOSH Uh, cranberry juice and club soda...and, um, I'll have a large glass of ice water. Joey slides the napkin across the table to Josh. She's written, "What's important?" JOSH I told Leo McGarry that we could trust you, and Toby backed me up. JOEY [nodding] What's important? JOSH [swallows apprehensively] Eight years ago, the President was diagnosed with an illness that was never disclosed. Joey absorbs this information pretty calmly. She writes on the napkin again and Josh picks it up. She's written, "Is it serious?" JOSH [softly] Yes. JOEY What is it? Josh stares at her as he signs the letters "M" and "S." WAITRESS Cranberry and club... and a large glass of ice water. Joey looks sad and concerned, but doesn't say anything as the waitress sets their drinks on the table. CUT TO: INT. WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE - DAY There's a knock on the door and it opens. Oliver's aide steps into the room.> AIDE Excuse me... The First Lady. OLIVER Thank you. Abbey nonchalantly but resolutely strides into the office. ABBEY Oliver. OLIVER Good afternoon, Mrs. Bartlet. [They shake hands.] ABBEY How are you? OLIVER I'm fine, thank you. ABBEY [paces nervously] You know, I haven't been in this office since you moved in. It looks great. OLIVER Thank you. Oliver paces a bit, then stops and turns to face her. Abbey keeps pacing. ABBEY I haven't come in here because it seems that every time I do, there's a new White House Counsel. I think Leo keeps them in the basement, like those two ladies in Arsenic and Old Lace. OLIVER Yeah? ABBEY Anyway, the President is very glad you're here, particularly in this time of nonsense. OLIVER Ma'am, would you mind if I asked you a few questions? ABBEY [allows just a bit of a nervous smile to appear] I'm not as experienced in this as the senior staff... I've read a book about Daniel Webster. I've read a book about Benjamin Disraeli. It seems the little experience I do have is with dead lawyers. OLIVER Just out of curiosity, ma'am, how'd they die? ABBEY If you're under the impression that you're the fifth White House Counsel instead of the first White House Counsel because of me, you're mistaken, Oliver. OLIVER I wasn't under that impression, but I think we should stick to the matter, if it's all right with you. ABBEY [sighs] You want to ask me some questions? OLIVER Yes, ma'am. ABBEY About Zoey's health form. OLIVER Yep. ABBEY [shrugs slightly] It was a form. It asked for, among other things, the family's medical history. It was left blank. It was a form - it was one of many forms. I signed it without reading it. OLIVER Was anyone else in the room when you signed it? ABBEY Oh, it was over a year ago. I really don't remember. OLIVER Was the President in the room? ABBEY I really don't remember. OLIVER You understand that when I ask the President that question, he's gonna tell the truth? ABBEY [testily] And I imagine the President will also resent your implication that I didn't just do the same. OLIVER So the President wasn't in the room when you signed it? ABBEY [exasperated, shaking her head] I don't remember; he doesn't remember. OLIVER Mrs. Bartlet... ABBEY Oliver, you have kids, there are forms. School trips and soccer and band uniforms and report cards and notes to get out of gym. You've signed those forms for your kids. OLIVER Their mother usually signs them. ABBEY And so do I. And, by the way, when you're the daughter of the Governor of New Hampshire and the President of the United States, there's a lot more forms on top of that. OLIVER I understand. ABBEY [a bit sarcastically] Do you? OLIVER Yes. But a lawyer half my size, while cross-examining you during deposition, will say the following, he will say "Mrs. Bartlet, do you have an M.D. from Harvard?" ABBEY Yes. OLIVER "Are you board-certified in Internal Medicine?" ABBEY Yes. OLIVER "Are you board-certified in Thoracic Surgery?" ABBEY Yes. OLIVER "Are you an Adjunct Professor of Thoracic Surgery at Harvard Medical School?" ABBEY Yes. OLIVER "Are you on the staff of Boston Mercy Hospital and Columbia Presbyterian?" ABBEY Yes. OLIVER "Have you been practicing medicine for twenty-six years?" ABBEY [annoyed] Yes. OLIVER "Are you not able to recognize a standard medical history form when it is put in front of your face?" ABBEY I didn't read it! I didn't think it was important! OLIVER What else have you signed without thinking it was important? Prescriptions? ABBEY No! OLIVER Patient instructions? ABBEY No! OLIVER Oh, so just this? ABBEY Oliver, I am not an expert in the diseases of the central nervous system, but I can tell you that MS is not hereditary. The President's condition has absolutely no relevance to Zoey's health status. OLIVER Well, now you're changing your story, Mrs. Bartlet. ABBEY No, I'm not. OLIVER Did you sign it because you were absent-minded or did you sign it because you knew best? ABBEY I signed it 'cause...I just signed it...It was a form...And I think making a big thing out of it is what makes it into a big thing! OLIVER Really? ABBEY And I'm not a hundred percent sure that that's not what you're going for. OLIVER Why would I want to make it a big thing? ABBEY Because defending the President in primetime looks good on a resume. OLIVER Well, I've got a pretty good-looking resume already, Mrs. Bartlet. And it's not a big thing because I say so, ma'am; it's a big thing. You're gonna get all the questions I just asked you, and quite a few more. And then they're gonna ask the President if he was in the room when you signed it. And that's when he's gonna give everyone's favorite answer from a President who has just announced that he has MS: "I don't remember." Oliver sighs, walks to his desk chair and sits down. Abbey remains standing with her back turned to him. She looks a bit shaken. Neither of them say anything for several moments. OLIVER When are you gonna go public? ABBEY [faintly] Probably in a week. They're still strategizing. OLIVER Probably a live interview on the networks? ABBEY Yeah. [turns to look at him] OLIVER Jim Lehrer, Tim Russert, Barbara Walters... you... somebody... the President sitting in a den. ABBEY Yeah. OLIVER Followed by a live conference. ABBEY They're working on the strategy. OLIVER [imitating what the President might say] "I regret that I concealed my condition from the public. I regret the appearance that I tried to deceive the voters in order to win an election." ABBEY Yes. OLIVER And if we don't make it a big thing, they won't make it a big thing? [pause] Mrs. Bartlet, I'm not sure you have an appropriate appreciation of the size of what happens next. Abbey stares at Oliver. She looks completely shell-shocked, but does not respond. FADE OUT. END ACT THREE * * * ACT FOUR FADE IN: INT. NATIONAL AIRPORT CONCOURSE - DAY Joey and Josh are still talking. JOEY When are you going public? JOSH Probably in about a week. JOEY A week? How? JOSH We're deciding. Probably a live interview, followed by a press conference. So we need to know what we're talking about. Joey, we need you to put a poll in the field. You got to come up with a model that gets us the answers we need without asking the questions we can't ask. You gotta come up with the model by yourself, you got to break down the results by yourself. Not even the callers can understand the questions they're asking. And you got to do it all in 96 hours. Is what I'm describing possible? JOEY [nods] We make it a Governor. JOSH A Governor? JOEY Of an industrial state. JOSH I don't... Joey writes on the napkin. JOSH The Governor of an industrial state. JOEY Michigan. JOSH And you give him a degenerative illness. Joey nods. JOSH Joey, you understand that before this is over we're probably all going to be spending some time in front of a grand jury. Joey nods. JOSH You can do this? JOEY No problem. WOMAN [on P.A.] Los Angeles passengers pre-boarding for flight 1217... JOSH That's your flight. JOEY Josh? JOSH Yeah. JOEY How is the President? JOSH [leaning away] He's fine. Joey touches Josh's chin and tilts his head up. JOSH He's fine. I'll tell him you asked. JOEY 96 hours? JOSH Yeah. JOEY I have to go to work now. Joey gets up and exits. Josh takes the napkin and carefully crumples it in his drink. DONNA [VO] The Chinese Embassy won't even admit it's their satellite. CUT TO: INT. OUTER OVAL OFFICE - NIGHT Donna and Charlie are talking. DONNA We know it's their satellite. We've been looking at it for seven years. It's like looking through a telescope and knowing Mars is Mars. CHARLIE Donna, please tell me you didn't call the Chinese Embassy. They start a walk and talk. DONNA I didn't call the Embassy -- "people" called the Embassy. It's not like this isn't cause for concern. CHARLIE That's right. DONNA That's right. The Chinese news networks don't report it 'cause they won't admit it's happening. CHARLIE Why do you suppose the American news networks aren't reporting it? DONNA That's a fascinating question to me. CHARLIE To all of us. DONNA We didn't know what kind of satellite it is. CHARLIE Could be anything. DONNA Communications. CHARLIE That's right. DONNA Weather. CHARLIE Yep. DONNA Could be a spy satellite. CHARLIE Could have plutonium. DONNA That's right. Charlie stops. Donna walks through double doors, stops, realizes what Charlie just said, and comes back. DONNA Plutonium? CHARLIE Yeah. DONNA Plutonium. CHARLIE Well, nuclear reactors on a satellite aren't that common, but you never know. DONNA No, I suppose you don't. Donna goes back through the doors, and walks by Abbey for another walk and talk. ABBEY Hey, Donna. DONNA Good evening, ma'am. Welcome back. ABBEY Thank you. DONNA How was the trip? ABBEY Well, I got a MedEvac helicopter named after me. [as she passes staffers] Hello. [back to Donna] How are you? DONNA I'm fine, but there's a giant object hurtling its way towards us at devastating velocity. ABBEY Tell me about it. Donna peels off, and Abbey walks into C.J.'S OFFICE. ABBEY [knocks] C.J.? C.J. Good evening, ma'am. ABBEY Can I talk to you for a second? C.J. Sure. Abbey closes the door, sighs, and sits down on the couch. ABBEY How was your day? C.J. Well, I got pretty well bitch-slapped by the White House Counsel, ma'am, how about you? ABBEY [long pause] I wanted to be here when you were told. [beat] I didn't know they were going to tell you last night. C.J. [sighs] You know, Leo called me into the Oval Office... It was about 11, and I was standing with Toby when Leo called me in and Toby said, uh, "I'll be right here in my office when you're done." [beat] I didn't know what he meant or why he said it. ABBEY Yeah. C.J. Babish said there's a difference between asking the President, "Is there anything else I *should* know," and, "Is there anything else I *need* to know?" He seemed to think "need to know" implies I know something already, but I don't want it confirmed in order to maintain... deniability. ABBEY Well, he's a lawyer, C.J. He's vetting. It's his job. C.J. I told him I couldn't remember which one I say. ABBEY There were a lot of things I couldn't remember. C.J. Abey... [sits on couch] During the campaign, we were in Manhattan, Kansas, at a Sheraton, or a Marriott, I can't remember, but we were in Manhattan, Kansas... And I came to your suite early to tell you we'd be doing Nightline that night and we had to get to an ABC affiliate. And I think by then the two of you were so used to people walking in and out of your room that you didn't hear me open the door. And I was almost sure I saw you giving the President an injection of something. ABBEY It was Betaseron. It reduces the frequency of the attacks. C.J. When the President has his physical, and I do the release, I only ever ask, "Is there anything else I need to know?" CUT TO: INT. LEO'S OFFICE - NIGHT Leo is inside. A knock on the door. LEO Come on in. Josh enters, and closes the door behind him. JOSH She's in. LEO What's she going to do? JOSH "If the Governor of a major industrial state had a degenerative illness which he hadn't disclosed during the election but which has yet to impair his job performance, would you still support him?" LEO Which one? JOSH Michigan. LEO Well... then we'll wait. JOSH Yeah. [pause] Listen, about this Justice appropriation... LEO You gonna do a report? JOSH Yeah. LEO Then, can I *read* the report before you ask me to green light another multi-million dollar battle that'll have no support in Congress? JOSH Yeah. [pause] I just brought it up because this Assistant A.G., Martin Connelly, when he left my office this morning he turned and said, "They perpetrated a fraud against the public." And the look on his face when he said it... They want to get these people. LEO We're not big tobacco. JOSH Yeah. LEO He's expecting me. JOSH OK. Leo crosses to the door to THE OVAL OFFICE. Bartlet inside, at his desk. LEO Good evening, Mr. President. BARTLET Leo, how could you tell Abbey about the health form before I did? LEO I didn't know you hadn't told her. BARTLET My wife and I are fighting battles on several fronts at the moment, including one with each other; can you and I be men? Can we have a bond? LEO We're putting a poll in the field. BARTLET How? LEO We're using a woman Josh and Toby trust named Joey Lucas. BARTLET I met Joey Lucas. LEO She's basically giving MS to the Governor of Michigan. BARTLET How's he gonna feel about that? LEO Don't worry about it. BARTLET This is a bad idea. LEO We've got to do it. BARTLET I'm coming clean, I'm doing it voluntarily. Anyone finds out, it's going to look like I did it because a poll told me to. LEO Then it'd be a good idea if nobody found out. BARTLET All right. [pause] Why don't you get Sam? Leo exits. CUT TO: INT. TOBY'S OFFICE - NIGHT Sam enters. SAM So... TOBY Yeah. SAM I think I may have offended... TOBY Oh, God. SAM Yeah. TOBY Who? SAM Well, I met with some of the staffers for Americans for Tax Justice and The Progressive Caucus. TOBY And you think you may have offended them? SAM Yeah. [beat] And girls, possibly. TOBY Were you right? SAM Yeah. Toby, it's class... TOBY That's all you need to tell me. I trust you. LEO [enters] Sam? SAM Yeah. LEO Come see the President and me a minute, would you? SAM Yeah. TOBY Sam? SAM Yeah? TOBY I'll be here in the office when you're done. SAM Yeah, OK. Sam and Leo exit. CUT TO: EXT. WASHINGTON D.C. - NIGHT C.J. is walking, and Josh catches up to her for a walk and talk. JOSH C.J.! C.J. Hey. JOSH You walking? C.J. Yeah. JOSH I met with Joey Lucas today. C.J. I heard. JOSH So now the President's got Leo worried it's going to look like we announced it because we took a poll. [beat] What do you think? C.J. starts to laugh, then completely loses it. JOSH What? C.J. The President and Leo are worried about that? JOSH Yeah. What? C.J. You guys are like Butch and Sundance peering over the edge of a cliff to the boulder-filled rapids 300 feet below, thinking you better not jump 'cause there's a chance you might drown. The President has this disease and has been lying about it, and you guys are worried that the polling might make us look bad? It's the fall that's gonna kill ya! JOSH "Us." C.J. What? JOSH You said, "It's the fall that's gonna kill you." You meant, "us." C.J. turns away. JOSH Where're you going, C.J.? C.J. I'm going home. JOSH No, I meant... C.J. I know what you meant. I want to sleep for a while. I'm going home. Josh follows after her. JOSH You know, uh, Donna got a hold of this fax that was sent to the press office from the O.S.F. at NASA. C.J. What, something falling out of the sky? JOSH Yeah. C.J. We get that fax once a week. JOSH Yeah, but Donna doesn't know that. She thinks it's an emergency. C.J. And you didn't want to tell her? JOSH No, 'cause the other way you get a day's worth of entertainment without leaving the office. She doesn't know that these things fall out of the sky all the time... once every ten days, as a matter of fact. Since the first year we started putting man-made objects in space, 17,000 have come back and remarkably, not one person has been hit. [beat] So I suppose there's an argument to be made that we're due. C.J. Yeah. You picked me right up there, Josh. C.J. crosses the street. JOSH See you tomorrow! We PAN UP to the "Pennsylvania Ave 1600 Block" street sign and -- DISSOLVE TO: END TITLES. FADE TO BLACK. THE END * * * The West Wing and all its characters are properties of Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Production, Warner Brothers Television, and NBC. No copyright infringement is intended. Episode 2.20 -- 'The Fall's Gonna Kill You' Original Airdate: May 2, 2001, 9:00 PM EST