Season 6 – Episode 5 – “The Hubbert Peak”

Episode Summary:

Josh (Bradley Whitford) test drives an oversized SUV and crashes into a hybrid car resulting in bad publicity for The White House. Annabeth (Kristin Chenoweth), the new Press Secretary, has been on the job for only a week and is preparing to face the press corps for the first time. Toby (Richard Schiff) is concerned that she looks too young and may not be prepared for their probing questions.

Script:

Previously on The West Wing: The position of White House chief of staff will be filled by Claudia Jean Cregg.
The president can send C.
J.
Cregg to Ramallah to swat at suicide bombers with her purse.
My purse?! Page Carol! Get him the hell out of there! Can I apologize again? No, but let’s move finding my replacement from priority three to one.
The president made me promise that when I got the degree, I’d leave this job.
He doesn’t want me holding his jacket for the rest of my life.
You don’t want a new press secretary.
And who exactly do you think is gonna brief the press? You.
Thinking about a Prius? Great car.
Hybrid.
Wave of the future.
No, the future’s here.
– There’s a waiting list.
– Sixty miles a gallon? – In the city.
Fifty-one, highway.
– Isn’t that? Backwards.
Yeah.
Electrical battery recharges every time you hit the brake.
– Perfect for D.
C.
Car that loves gridlock.
– Like Congress.
– And with gas prices at an all-time high – They’re not actually.
The record high was in ’81.
Adjusted for inflation, gas was 2.
80 a gallon in today’s money.
Okay.
In the ’50s, prices were equivalent to what they are now.
A little more, even, but per capita real income was less than half what it is today.
Cost your parents twice as much at the pump as what you pay.
Grandparents, in your case.
You’re really up on your I work at the White House.
Great statement for a government official: “Drive what reduces our dependence on OPEC.
” Yeah, it’s foreign-made.
The symbolism’s kind of a wash.
– Thirty-five hundred over sticker? – Some dealers getting 10,000 over.
So I should just be happy you’re gouging me less? – It’s a popular package.
– How many on your waiting list? Seven hundred.
– How long? – Eight months.
Wanna take a test drive? No, I’m just You know.
Can I drive that? Prius.
Congratulations.
Thanks.
– It’s a long wait, huh? – Oh, worth it.
Individuals need to take responsibility.
The government won’t do anything about improving mileage.
It’s so deep in the pockets of the oil and car companies.
– Yeah, Congress is a nightmare.
– Oh, Bartlet’s done squat.
Mr.
Lyman.
All set.
All right.
Thank you.
I know I sound like a dork – but this is way cool.
– Yeah, it’s a lot of machine.
All right, so easy out of the lot.
– Not like I’m off-roading in Baja.
– Not on the lot.
It’s a lot of machine.
Yeah? Hey, McNaughton at the DCCC needs you.
You should see this thing I’m driving.
It’s a monster.
– What? – My testosterone is flying.
Try not to get any on anyone.
I’ll put my hands-free thing in.
– What? – Hang on.
Look out! Josh? Are you all right? Tell McNaughton I may be a while.
Thank you again.
– Good morning.
– Hey.
– How was your weekend? – What weekend? You mean that two-day period where briefing material invades your domicile, finally and completely obliterating whatever pathetic distinction you’ve labored mightily to maintain? At least you can do it in your jammies.
– You’re picturing that, aren’t you? – A little.
– And you? – I don’t wear jammies.
– Your weekend.
– You know, boring.
You’ve got nothing to report? Nothing adventurous or illicit? – Boring.
Dull, even.
– In your non-jammies? – You’re picturing that, aren’t you? – Trying furiously not to.
You seen Toby? He’s briefing, isn’t he? – Okay, then.
– Yeah.
I have no information on that at this time.
Yeah? The CAFE standards amendment raising fuel-efficiency requirements comes up for House vote today.
Will the president sign the omnibus transportation bill without that provision? I can’t speculate on an amendment on a bill that hasn’t passed.
Does anybody know where your esteemed confreres might be? Is it a press holiday of some kind? H.
L.
Mencken’s birthday? Anniversary of the expense account? Excuse me.
– Yes? – Get out.
– C.
J.
! – All of you, you cannot be in here.
– Why couldn’t you? – A human wave.
I was overwhelmed.
– Toby is killing us.
– He won’t engage.
We do not do this anymore.
You have to leave.
We get nothing to file.
We’re gonna get fired.
That’s not the best argument to make at the moment.
– You gotta help us.
– I’ll talk to him.
Now, and I say this with love, get the hell out of my office.
– C.
J.
, C.
J.
– Gotta get him out of there.
Have rules of engagement been finalized – for the Mideast? – I’m looking for something to hurl at you.
Mine-sniffing rats? Well, the Gambian giant pouched rat.
You hit a Prius with an SUV? Connecting my cell phone’s hands-free device.
– The ironies abound.
– Yeah, verily.
– What happened to training dogs? – Dogs get bored.
Sniffing for land mines? These are some jaded pooches.
– What kind of SUV? – A humongous one.
– Excursion, Expedition, Escalade, what? – One of those.
I just wanted to drive it.
Like a Hummer.
– Wouldn’t you wanna experience that? – I’ve had the pleasure.
It’s less of a giggle when taking weapons fire.
I don’t know how we get funding for giant mine-sniffing rats.
Three of them found 20 live mines in a test in Mozambique.
– Was the Prius just totaled? – Pretty much.
– Isn’t there a big waiting list? – Just got longer.
This is hilarious but not funny.
I’d say since it’s mostly expensive and embarrassing it’s funny but not hilarious.
You ever hear of the Hubbert Peak? Does it have to do with gradations of mirth or are we back on rats of an unusual size? Hubbert was a geologist who predicted, pretty much on the money when U.
S.
oil production would peak, then decline.
Did he win something? Weekend in Shreveport? – A year’s supply of Vaseline? – Oil supply’s a bell curve.
The worldwide Hubbert Peak may have hit.
No one thinks it’s more than 20, 30 years off.
Meaning within the lifetime of kids today, oil production will plummet.
– I just wanted to drive a Hummer.
– That’s half.
What’s gonna happen when everyone has a car? A good time to be in the insurance business.
– Glass houses.
– Point taken.
Exploding demand meets plummeting supply.
Whether we’ve ever fought one up till now, the next war will be about oil.
See you.
If you’re coming in with more to read, I will strangle you – with my bare hands and enjoy it.
– Will’s here.
– I can scrag him too.
– I don’t doubt it.
I’m thinking briefing books on tape for in the car, while jogging.
– You jog? – Not anymore.
The president wants the VP to meet the NSC on the nuclear fallout analysis.
– Absolutely.
The focus is evacuation? – Attribution, post-event forensics.
If terrorists know they can be traced they’ll less likely attempt.
Terrorists being notably responsive to logic and self-interest.
Almost sounded important for a minute.
The House defeated the CAFE standards amendment.
– Already? – They limited floor debate to 20 minutes.
Car companies won’t have to raise miles per gallon from venti to grande.
It’s the other way around.
– Not unexpected.
– Or entirely unwelcome.
– That’s the spirit.
– Dems get credit with enviros.
But the VP doesn’t have to defend it with voters in Michigan.
Politics more important than principle.
This administration’s had seven years to work on fuel efficiency.
Don’t take it out on me.
– With a hostile Congress.
– The public singing, “I want my SUV.
” – It’s regret, not guilt.
– Don’t have votes.
Art of the possible.
– What Leo would say.
– I’d spend the week deciding if sounding like a dyspeptic – Wanted to see me? – Where are we on a press secretary? – Getting up to speed.
– Time for a boost.
No one I don’t mean this unkindly, no one’s anxious to have you briefing.
Just curious, but how’d you have put it had you meant it unkindly? You’re hovering.
He’s hovering.
– Verging on looming.
– And he’s stalling.
– I’m crafting.
– They’re just remarks.
People listening won’t know they’re just remarks.
To them, it’ll sound uncannily like a speech.
– A short speech.
– Prompter needed this half an hour ago.
– You’re on your own.
– I’m the leader of the free world.
People pay attention when I speak.
The job’s not all waving from the chopper.
Not as good as it might be.
It’s your fault.
I’m prepared to live with the verdict of history.
Charlie, one sec.
Mr.
President, there’s a reception in the East Room today.
– What? – Girls’ National Field Hockey champions.
Sir, you have to be there.
– Charlie.
– I’ll get him there.
– Thank you.
– I’m noticing a slackening of awe.
A certain lack of trembling in my presence.
– Yes, Mr.
President.
– Yes, sir.
– Josh? – What is it? That gossip blog, DistrictScene.
– How did she get this? – Someone at the dealer, I guess.
It’s not the end of the world.
It’s a weblog.
It’s not The Washington Post.
Josh Lyman’s office.
Yeah.
C.
J.
‘s office.
Now.
– You didn’t think it was a story? – It’s obviously a story.
– I didn’t think – Every news organization surfs these blogs.
This will be everywhere.
– For God’s sake, what possessed you? – I don’t know.
I saw it and was taken over by my reptilian brain stem.
The press is gonna have a party with this.
Conga lines, pi�atas.
They’ll have fun and be done in a day.
Not the week raising CAFE standards goes down with us barely putting up a fight.
Alternative Energy Resources Council is threatening a press conference trashing our commitment, citing your demolition derby as exhibit A.
– I’ll call.
– Do better.
Head the White House Task Force on Alternative Energy.
– What? – The one I promised, to hold them off.
I want a meeting that ends with something.
You standing with people in Birkenstocks for press.
– Birkenstocks.
– And bicycle clips.
Yeah.
Bicycle clips? For your pants.
You gotta – Yeah.
– Not counting today.
Today was I don’t know what today was.
– But the briefings? – Yeah.
– They’re getting better.
– Good.
On a scale of one to 10, one being a chimp throwing feces, where do I rank? They’re getting better.
I gotta go get my ass kicked.
Yeah, me too.
Congressmen.
And woman.
Does the president believe fuel-efficiency standards should be raised? – We’re dispensing with the small talk.
– Answer the question.
A shame because I’ve been hoarding anecdotes, mordant observations.
This administration’s environmental record is an embarrassment to its party and a betrayal of its supporters.
– Mordant enough for you? – Betrayal.
Embarrassment.
It’s that temperate rhetoric that endears the Green movement to the electorate.
– You rolled over.
– We did the arithmetic.
Any increase in CAFE standards wasn’t gonna happen.
– You rolled.
– An 8-year-old can count.
– This is supposed to be about leadership.
– Leaders avoid losing battles.
– You live to fight another day.
– You’re missing the point.
Nobody thought we were gonna win this.
But you’ve made it easy for them.
Seat belts.
Air bags.
The first fuel-economy standards.
The auto industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming into them.
They didn’t go out of business.
They figured it out.
The White House doesn’t lead on fuel mileage.
Opponents get to cast their vote at no cost.
We don’t just lose a vote.
We lose out on a national debate.
Making it that much harder to win the next vote.
This isn’t a poli-sci seminar.
We didn’t have the votes.
Thank you all for your time.
– Well? – And a pleasant good morning to you.
You find someone? I slept extremely well.
Thank you for asking.
Sleep less and get us a new press secretary, will you? Sorry.
When you asked me I didn’t realize you expected to find someone the first hour, my first day.
Sooner you get someone, sooner I can stop.
I told you.
Your doing them for a while is good.
I’m glad someone doesn’t think they’re a total wreck.
Oh, no.
They’re horrible.
But I can help you.
Help me by doing the job you were hired for and find us a new press secretary.
Settling in just fine.
But the muffin basket, the flowers, it’s too much.
Donna, get some alternative-energy spokespeople in here for a meeting.
– You mean? – Wind, solar, hamsters in wheels.
Whatever’s out there.
Today.
– You have that – Cancel it.
This takes priority.
– Hey, Donna.
– Hey.
Is Josh expecting you? Actually, I came by to see you.
How you doing? Good.
I’m good.
How soon before you’re out of that cast? – Soon.
I can’t wait.
– I bet.
Look, we don’t know each other that well, but if you ever wanted to talk.
– Thanks.
But I – I’m sure you’ve spoken to somebody but I just thought if you ever wanted someone Another woman, I don’t know.
– Is this completely inappropriate? – No, no.
It’s fine.
I’ve seen the sort of thing you went through.
– I appreciate your concern.
– Okay.
Well, if you ever want to.
I should really get back to Okay.
– You’re all set for lunch.
– You sure he’s up to it? – He said so.
– He’s not being polite? – I’m sorry.
Leo? – He has a courtly side.
– Not with me.
– I don’t wanna overtax him.
He would’ve said.
A car will pick up the food, then swing by to take you to his hotel at 1.
– Great.
– He asked if you play chess.
Chess? Not really.
I’ll let him know.
There’s a picture? Get this blogger woman on the phone.
You didn’t think someone had a camera? – There wasn’t.
– There’s a picture.
A guy, his wife and teenage daughter.
That was it.
Daughter have a cell phone? Josh Lyman’s office calling, please.
– One moment, please.
– I wouldn’t do this.
– This is Josh Lyman.
This is off-record.
– She’s not a journalist.
There may be more disreputable ways to make a living than gossip and clandestine photos, but none spring to mind.
My and this administration’s environmental bona fides are well-established.
To use this incident to imply otherwise is scurrilous and irresponsible.
Cheap and easy irony from what I can only surmise is a cheap and shallow person.
– I said this was off-record.
– She’s not a journalist.
You’re gonna post this? She’s posting it now.
He made the sushi.
– It’s his hobby.
– Nothing against the ambassador but I want my raw fish prepared by a professional.
Said you’re not to use a lot of wasabi.
Said it’s considered disrespectful to the fish.
Isn’t it pretty much past caring? And there’s such thing as sushi being too fresh.
– Not for me.
– Need to age the fish.
Do I wanna know why? So the rigor mortis has time to pass.
I knew you were gonna ruin it for me.
Surprise! A little bird told me.
– Congratulations.
– Thank you, Mr.
President.
– You know what this means, right? – Yes, sir.
Enjoy your party.
I think everyone’s blocked off all of eight minutes.
– Way to go, Charlie.
Congratulations.
– Thanks, man.
God, how did you do it? I don’t even have time to learn my TiVo.
When the president asks if you did your homework, it gets done.
– I’m glad you told me.
– I just hope he is.
I gotta get back to work.
Carol.
Cake? Totaled a hybrid with an SUV.
He’s like an ecoterrorist in reverse.
– We’ll point that out to the press.
– What do you need? Draft a release about the alternative-energy summit Josh is holding.
– Not gonna work.
– I don’t recall asking.
No meeting’s gonna counteract the symbolism of that accident.
You need to laugh it off.
Refer questions to the Department of Metaphor.
Put out a statement from the undersecretary for Whimsy and Caprice.
Just draft the release.
– Will you be briefing? – I imagine.
– What? – How do you get women? – Excuse me? – Briefing the press is a seduction.
– You got a hot ex.
How’d you get her? – Get out.
– Know what she says? – God, you called Annie.
“Smart and funny.
” That’s how guys who don’t look like Jude Law – or Denzel Washington get babes.
– You trying to get fired? I’m trying to help you.
That Mencken line was funny.
No one laughed because you flung it at them.
Briefing the press isn’t a seduction.
It’s war.
What C.
J.
did for seven years wasn’t combat.
It was charm and disarm.
Just draft the release.
Smart and funny.
Seduce them.
– Worked on your wife.
– We’re divorced.
Living with you is a whole other ball game.
I get that already.
Charlie.
Thanks, C.
J.
, for whatever part you played in that.
I just showed up and ate corn chips.
Leo e-mailed me something about reminding the president to play chess.
He and Leo played weekly chess games.
– Okay.
– What did Leo say about it? Just to remind him.
Guess that’s just it, then.
Yeah.
– C.
J.
– Mr.
Vice President.
– How you adjusting to the new job? – It’s an adjustment.
I gotta admit, I was surprised.
We all were.
But the more I thought – it started making sense.
– Thanks? Leo is Leo.
No one expects you to be him.
You’ll find your way.
I’m finding it, actually.
– I’m here to help.
– I appreciate that, sir.
I look forward to working closely with you.
As do I, Mr.
Vice President.
I work well with strong women.
– Good to know.
– My mother – a strong woman.
– Well, there you go.
If you’ll excuse me.
This where I might find the puling poster boy for Bartlet’s indifferent energy policy? Yeah, I was shopping for a Prius.
– Just performing your own crash test.
– A joke the blogger missed.
Should shoot her an e-mail.
You just had the quintessential consumer experience.
Your head said hybrid, your heart said SUV.
Reptilian brain is what I’ve been going with.
People don’t want them because they get lousy mileage.
It’s the argument for mandating higher mileage standards.
No one’s saying it’s the wrong argument.
You’ve got a pretty tight relationship with Michael Hirsch, yes? Well, people in show business are charming for a living.
I’m one of his 4 or 5000 closest buds, yeah.
– Enough to call? – For the vice president? You’re one of few who doesn’t regard him with disdain.
Or at least has courtesy to hide it.
Hollywood support’s all going to Baker.
He’s raised enough to greenlight movies.
– Governor Baker hasn’t declared.
– But he’s still a front-runner.
I mean, no offense to your guy.
It would be great if you’d make a call.
– Let me get back to you.
– Sure.
You know, Hirsch has a hybrid.
Typical Hollywood.
Drives his Prius right up to his private jet.
I’m about to go into a meeting with the Commerce secretary.
A man so soporific one shouldn’t operate heavy machinery in his presence.
A meeting that would feel interminable at three minutes is certain to stretch into a soul-annihilating 50 minutes.
Presenting a perfect opportunity for you to get started on a particular errand pertaining to your postgraduate career.
Fiderer prepared them.
I checked for typos.
Thank you, sir.
Now let’s get to work and fatten up that r�sum�.
Yes, Mr.
President.
Meeting’s set.
Representatives from solar, ethanol, hydrogen and wind.
– Copy Toby on the roster.
– You know when we run out of oil – it’ll precipitate global food crisis? – Don’t start.
Fossil fuels are key components of fertilizers and pesticides not to mention, fuel used in farm machinery and irrigation.
Said the woman with the electric wheelchair.
I’ve given it up.
You inspired me with your commitment to renewable energy.
You know, the SUV came through without a scratch.
You’re going to hell.
C.
J.
, this is Gail Addison from the Office of Administration.
– Hello.
– She’s here about changing your office.
To a day spa, I hope.
I don’t know how you approach your space.
If you have a vision or would like options.
– I’d prefer not to think about it.
– Then I’m happy to.
– And have you not either.
– I’m sorry? I’ll have Margaret call you once I’m more settled in.
Thanks.
– Baker’s running, right? – Yeah.
And he’ll have it wrapped up by Super Tuesday.
Will asked me to call Mickey Hirsch.
He thinks Baker’s not gonna run? Vice president will be virtually unopposed.
President Russell.
You worry he’d win.
I worry he’d lose.
Republican administration? GOP Congress? They’d dismantle everything – we’ve accomplished in eight years.
– Baker’s gonna run.
Hey, how do you get women? Smart and funny, right? Plus I got that, you know, boyish thing.
– I don’t have that.
– Yeah.
Okay.
And the IRS is stepping up their look into nonprofits.
More charities playing loosely with contributions.
Blessings for the not-so-unfortunate.
What else? The CAFE standards amendment went down.
– That was fast.
– Floor debate was limited to 20 minutes.
Those guys take longer to decide what to order for take-out.
Quick reconciliation, a bill to sign by Wednesday.
– Yeah.
– Oh, and Josh hit a Prius with a Land Cruiser or something.
We’re handling it.
– We done? – Yes, sir.
Thank you, Mr.
President.
Oh, sir, I’m sorry.
Leo mentioned to remind you to play chess.
Please tell Leo when he’s healthy enough to give me a game.
I’ll be glad to school him at chess.
Thank you, sir.
– Josh.
Got a moment? – Sure.
The president and I had an understanding.
Actually, it was more of an executive order that once I graduated I look for what he calls “a real job.
” So I’m handing out r�sum�s.
– Great – That I’d like you to ignore.
– Okay.
– I don’t wanna leave the president.
Especially now that he’s without Leo.
– Not that I compare myself to – I understand.
Here I’ll put it in a safe place – in case you change your mind.
– Thanks.
The alternative-energy release.
So, what else? Smart and funny, that’s the sum total of your expertise? You could wear a little makeup.
– Oh, jeez.
That’ll happen.
– You want my help? Not if it involves makeup, wardrobe or alternative facial-hair strategies.
– Body language.
– What about it? Projecting comfort and command.
– I don’t do that? – One might say.
– So, what do I? – Follow me.
And personally, the way you trim your beard a little fussy.
I’ll brief the vice president.
How often? Occasionally.
A continent at a sitting.
I assume he’s got a handle on North America.
There’s the odd confusion, that’s all.
Sudan and Somalia.
Iran, Iraq.
– You’re kidding.
– One time.
Actual confusion or slips of the tongue? We won’t presume for these purposes.
He knows Pakistan is Muslim, India is Hindu? – Of course.
– Just trying to calibrate.
– I wouldn’t bet the farm on Bangladesh.
– Okay.
He has a little trouble with the whole Shiite-Sunni thing.
– We should start.
– That’s what I’m thinking.
– I’ll come by and bring my flash cards.
– Great.
– What? – Nothing.
You know why people buy hybrids? I mean, aside from smugness and moral superiority.
Funny, I was gonna say, “Conscience and civic responsibility.
” They think gas prices are too high.
– You know why they buy SUVs? – Because they’re not.
Record high was in ’81.
Adjusted for inflation, gas was 2.
80 a gallon in today’s money.
The only way you’ll get real conservation.
Hold an economic gun to their heads.
We should slap a 3-bucks-a-gallon tax on gasoline.
– A popular position.
– Wait till gas lines come back.
– See how popular that’ll be.
– I’m about to solve it.
An alternative-energy summit.
Children of your villages will sing my name.
Morning.
Thank you all for coming, particularly on such short notice.
I’ve been waiting to have this meeting for seven years.
Let’s get right to making up for lost time.
Let’s go around the table.
Terry Anders, the Solar Cell Project.
Riley Sheets, Ethanol Works.
Wind Now, Corrine McKenna.
Paul Tyminiski, Hydrogen Caucus.
– I’ve been waiting a while for this too.
– You guys sound like my mother.
When I call, all she does is complain how I never call.
I’ll try to keep everybody straight.
I should’ve made little symbols.
A picture of the sun corn, cloud blowing out its cheeks – and for hydrogen – The Hindenburg.
Hydrogen didn’t cause the Hindenburg fire.
It was aluminum powder coating.
– Really? – It’s used as rocket fuel.
– But hydrogen is extremely flammable.
– So is gasoline.
Flammable? She meant combustible.
Hydrogen burns with a colorless flame.
The Hindenburg burned red.
– Where’s your humanity? – Okay, then.
This is your room.
You’re not venturing onto their turf.
They’re treading onto yours.
– You have to own it.
– You didn’t really just say, “Own it.
” I’ll show you what you look like up here.
Thanks.
Helpful.
– Smart and funny.
– Come here.
Come here.
You try it.
Good afternoon.
– Good afternoon.
– I’ll take your questions.
I’ll take your questions.
Okay, you look like you loathe this, like you can’t wait to get out the door.
– Wonder why.
– You’re literally hunching over.
You need to lean back.
Not too much.
You don’t wanna look hostile and pugnacious.
– I don’t? – Relax your hands.
Look up.
Look up.
Okay.
Now – how’s that feel? – Like a poodle in a dog show.
Let’s try it again.
This time, with more confidence.
Good afternoon.
I can’t do this.
Solar energy is, very simply, the answer.
It’s clean, accessible, and we’re not running out any time soon.
And when we do, we’ll be having bigger problems.
We could replace all the fossil fuels we’re burning today simply by covering 220,000 square kilometers with solar cells.
– Isn’t that a lot? – A piece of land 300 miles on each side.
Yeah, see, that’s kind of a lot.
This will give you an idea of what we’re talking about.
– That’s huge.
– Drive it.
It’s 300 days of sunshine, and nothing there.
That covers Las Vegas.
Appropriately.
The most wasteful energy abuser on the planet.
Your cells look attractive covering the Grand Canyon.
You adjust this, obviously.
Finding square footage in the desert west will not be the problem.
– What will? – Manufacturing that many solar cells.
– We’d have to pick up the pace some.
– Yeah.
Since all solar cells ever made would barely cover So just 219,990 to go.
I don’t wanna leave the president.
And I just don’t think the timing’s right.
So if I could leave you my r�sum�, then have you ignore it.
Got it.
– C.
J.
Cregg.
– Please.
– Hey, you.
– Are you a sight for sore eyes.
And sore legs, sore chest.
– You having a lot of pain? – The Vicodin helps.
– What you got? – Take-out from Terrazzo.
– The arugula.
– With the pecorino and walnuts.
And the gnocchi.
Supposed to be very “gnice.
” So much trouble.
– If only you were worth it.
– I don’t have much appetite.
– He needs to eat.
– I’ll eat when I’m hungry.
Put it in the fridge.
– I’m actually not that – Don’t be silly.
Go ahead.
I can enjoy it as a spectator sport.
You sure it won’t bother you? It’ll be great.
Voyeuristic.
That sounds like the Vicodin talking.
It has its compensations.
– So how’s it going? – It’s overwhelming.
The amount there is to tend to.
I thought I was busy before.
How in the world did you manage it for seven years? I had a heart attack.
You remind the president about playing chess? He pretty much blew me off.
You need to insist.
I obviously don’t know the president as well as you but already, I can tell when something’s a no-go.
You have to insist.
The president gets regular physicals and because of the MS, rather more regular MRIs and neurophysical tests.
But MS is a disease of the central nervous system.
It can affect cognition, perception, reasoning, judgment.
What the doctors actually term “executive function.
” As president of the United States this needs to be monitored on a weekly basis.
You need to get the president to play chess.
Finish your lunch.
And so it burns clean and most important, ethanol’s made right here in the U.
S.
of A.
And is already subsidized up the ying-yang by the U.
S.
of A.
government.
How much more funding do you want? Hang on.
Some claim it’s not all that clean.
The EPA has certified it reduces carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions by up to 30 percent.
Releases more nitrogen oxide and makes the entire fuel mixture evaporate easier than pure gasoline, causing more smog.
It’s climate-dependent.
Helps in cold weather, hurts in hot.
It consumes more fuel to make than it replaces.
– We dispute that.
– It only replaces 10 percent of gasoline.
So at best, it’s a stopgap.
It’s practical now.
Not pie in the sky, like some people’s solutions.
Let’s be honest.
All of us know what the biggest thing is – that ethanol has in its favor.
– The Iowa caucuses.
C.
J.
? Gail’s back – with a quick question.
– Yes? I know you said you weren’t prepared to consider redecoration schemes but I took the liberty of pulling some pictures of our inventory.
It’s just so dark and masculine in here.
And martial.
Do you feel it? It’s just militaristic and martial and male.
– You said, “A quick question”? – Oh, sorry.
This was Dolley Madison’s desk.
Most people think she spelled her name L-L-Y but in actuality, it was L-L-E-Y.
– Perhaps we should – But it’s lovely and feminine.
Dolley, with an E, Madison was maybe 5’3″.
Yes.
Of course.
Briefing time.
– I know.
– Won’t say a word.
But that tie’s gonna bleed.
Keep it up, it’ll have company.
Don’t look at them with veiled contempt.
– I don’t.
– Yeah, right.
It’s not veiled.
Charm and disarm.
– Good afternoon.
– Good afternoon.
– I’ll take questions.
– What’s your response to criticism of the administration’s lukewarm support for higher CAFE standards as reflected in today’s defeat in the House? Well, what today’s vote reflected Between anti-regulatory Republicans and auto-state Democrats we were outgunned.
As far as our lukewarm support, I’d characterize it as more of a parboil.
White House commitment to fuel conservation can be measured by the Alternative Energy Task Force meeting in progress.
Isn’t this hastily-convened task force just an attempt to counteract the symbolism of a White House senior staffer totaling a hybrid while driving one of the most fuel-inefficient passenger vehicles sold? Questions as to symbolism and meanings are the purview of the Department of Metaphor.
I refer you to the undersecretary for Whimsy and Caprice for further comment.
But really, this alternative-energy summit’s not gonna fool anyone.
Good.
Then maybe we can stop thinking of it as something to fool people and think of it as a way to maybe get something done.
Fuel conservation is a critical issue.
We were outgunned today in Congress but not outflanked.
So, what are the obstacles to using hydrogen as a replacement fuel? Distribution.
To transport and then dispense it, you’d have to liquefy it.
– Is that an issue? – Just freeze it, then open it.
– At enormous pressure.
– I don’t understand.
What’s the problem? – When you do that, it can – Have the tendency to explode.
Like the Hindenburg.
– So you could file it, toss it or – The president wants you to quit.
– I don’t – You promised – once you graduated you would.
– It was implied.
– Yes or no, Charlie? – Yes.
– I guess.
– It’s a dilemma.
– All you have to do is – What’s my job? – Excuse me? – My job.
It’s to serve the president.
It seems to me the president has expressed a clear wish.
– I don’t – If he’d handed me your r�sum� – do you imagine I could ignore it? – I should just take this back.
Yeah, you probably shouldn’t come in here with that deputy special assistant to the chief of staff.
– Sorry? – Your new title.
Come work for me.
– What? – You’re smart responsible, you know the president.
Why wouldn’t I hire you? The title’s a little gaudy but mostly means you’ll do whatever’s needed to be done.
A catchall, but grown-up.
Policy stuff.
– You’re serious.
– Be a stone’s throw from the Oval.
The president can’t miss you if you haven’t really gone.
I don’t know what to say.
– Can I think it over? – Not really.
– That was – Absolute misery? – What? – Lean forward, but not too far but don’t lean back.
How my bleeding tie’s distracting from my fuzzy beard.
Be smart, be funny, look pleasant.
I’ve never been more self-conscious in my life.
I don’t wanna be good at this.
Don’t worry.
It was better.
Good’s still a ways off.
You’re welcome.
Wind turbines in California produce enough electricity to light San Francisco saving the state the equivalent of well over 10 million barrels of oil.
Wind provides 1.
27 percent of California’s electricity? From 13,000 turbines.
So in order to get all of its energy from wind – California would have to build – Only 1 million more.
By the way, they’re an eyesore.
– No one wants them.
– What if wind doesn’t blow? What happens if the sun isn’t shining? – This really isn’t helpful.
– Wind is clean.
Increasingly competitive.
The fastest-growing energy technology in the world.
The Bartlet administration could restore U.
S.
leadership in wind power.
I can see the slogan now.
“Breaking Wind Together.
” Hey.
Only have a minute.
What’d you wanna tell me? I got an interesting offer that you’re pretty much responsible for.
– What? – In appreciation I’d like to tell you about it over dinner.
Are you asking me on a date? – A thank-you dinner.
– Well, that’s a date.
So far, it isn’t anything.
You haven’t said that you’ll go.
Sure.
– So? – What? – What are we announcing? – Don’t know yet.
– C.
J.
wants an announcement.
– Tell her that’s not happening.
– Nice try.
– What? – She’s pissed at you.
You tell her.
– She wasn’t pissed.
– Nettled, maybe.
– Whatever.
You’re telling her.
– Nothing came out of it? – Wind power, turns out the churn from turbines changes the weather on the ground.
Probably not ideal from an environmental standpoint.
– Three hours of stuff like that.
– That you’re telling her.
Yeah.
I’m not ready.
I have spoken to experts, and they told me what to look for and I don’t have to look very hard.
I do get angry over everything, cry over nothing, right down the list.
Rejecting offers of help, that’s on there too.
I’m sure talking to you would be helpful.
Actually, I’m I’m not sure of that.
I’m not sure of much of anything except that I’m not ready.
I understand.
Okay.
Hey.
How was your energy meeting? It was pretty Darwinian.
They’re so great at knocking each other it makes you wanna buy stock in Chevron.
– They know we can’t fund everything.
– I don’t know what we can announce other than the world’s out of oil, and in 20 years, we’re gonna starve.
You know, those that haven’t already been wiped out in an energy war with China, because the fuel alternatives – are less ready than you thought.
– Yeah.
It’s all economics.
– Mr.
President.
– Sir.
Why do the Saudis fight to keep oil prices from rising? To discourage conservation.
And the development of alternative fuels.
And it works because we let them.
– Economics.
– So, what do we do? Veto the omnibus transportation bill.
– Why? – To demand the higher CAFE standards.
– Because Josh demolished a hybrid? – Because improving fuel economy deserves far more than a 20-minute debate.
There aren’t the votes to sustain.
They’ll just override.
It pushes the subject out there.
Jump-starts a national debate.
Hummer sales had their best month ever this year and Prius is expanding its production 50 percent.
The market’s doing what markets do.
It’s sorting itself out, messily and with contradiction.
Better fuel economy’s an idea that just has to reach its tipping point.
A veto maybe nudges it a little closer.
And keep having those meetings.
Wait till the alternatives are perfect, it’s all gonna be too late.
Thank you, Mr.
President.
– What was it you wanted? – Sir, if you’ll follow me.
Mr.
President.
Sir, this is Roger Quast from HUD.
He was on the Stanford chess team.
He’s here to play a game with you.
Roger, unfortunately, you’ve been dragged here for nothing.
I’ve cleared your schedule for the hour.
I spoke with Leo.
You’re going to play chess, Mr.
President.
You heard the lady.
– Where do you think you’re going? – Sir? – You’re gonna play me.
– Sir, I don’t really Stanford here is gonna stay and help you.
Sit down.
– Chess team, huh? – Yes, sir.
I’m trying to imagine the cheer.
Check them to the left To the right – Stand up, sit down – I was on the chess team.
Right.
– I really have no clue.
– He’s gonna help you.
And I’ll know if you’re holding back, young man.
You are hereby directed by presidential fiat to try your damnedest to kick your commander in chief’s ass.
King’s pawn over two spaces.
Good.

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