"I'm buying new bikinis"
Episode Airdate 01/30/02

President Bartlet won the Iowa Caucus. But considering he was unchallenged, we kinda saw that one coming. What we didn't necessarily expect is the personal losses suffered by each of our type A++ staff members who run around the West Wing like so many "ER" inspired politicos.

Josh Lyman, the always moaning Deputy Chief of Staff…I could be wrong here, but seeing Josh Lyman's apartment is possibly the first glimpse we've had of any West Wing staff members' personal living situation. Hasn't the voyeur in you always wanted to know what these wonks do when they go home, seeing as it seems like they never do? Up to this point, we've been privileged to peek into the fictional halls of power, but it's the private lives of the power brokers that bring us back week after week. Apparently, Amy Gardner, the potently liberal women's rights activist and overly quick-witted potential girlfriend of Mr. Lyman, is drawn to his apartment as well. After a platonically romantic invite to Tahiti, Josh decides his career is more important than his rapidly boiling tete-a-tete and cancels the trip. Potential girlfriend Gardner recoils in horror. Josh loses.

C.J. Cregg, the long-legged, quick-worded Press Secretary.... Her desire to see the Butter Cow, Butter Elvis, and Butter Last Supper (with pats of butter on the table) spun a deeply down home image of this mouthy matron. I love that she made a personal call from Air Force One to her dad. Unfortunately, the turbulence of the presidential plane was too symbolic of the poor communication between her and her father during that tax-payer funded, satellite-routed conversation. Her later discussion with Toby regarding her father's fading memory shows signs of her guilt regarding her career success at the expense of her personal life fulfillment. We were given an allusion to this in a previous episode where C.J. gave the president her resignation in his New Hampshire barn. C.J. is losing.

Donna Moss, the snide and beautiful Executive Assistant to Josh Lyman…Why Josh isn't filling her with executive perks on the side I'll never know. The very least he could do is subjugate himself to her sophisticated feminine wiles and help her get out of jury duty. As unethical and dubious as that may be, at least he'd be satisfying her immediate need. And what happened to the ultra-cute Republican investigative committee member she didn't date for three episodes??? Donna loses.

Sam Seaborn, the presidential speech writer who dates hookers…How did that nut-job requesting a presidential investigation into the contents of Fort Knox because he suspects that the remains of the spacecraft that crashed at Area 51 is being housed there ever get into the White House? I know, that was a grammatically convoluted sentence, but so was the premise that this crack-pot was a serious West Wing visitor. Anyway you slice it, Sam loses just because he had to sit with this guy.

Toby Ziegler, the brooding, bearded baldy and Josiah Bartlet, POTUS multiple sclerosis…It's abundantly clear that Toby needs to get checked for a hernia, because the size of his balls are HUGE and he must be under a tremendous strain carrying those boys around. There are few people in the world who would personally attack the President in the Oval Office with allusions to his abusive childhood and his inability to cope with the lack of love from his hard-fisted father. Toby is the master of double-entendre. His attack on the President's sensibilities are meant to be a subtle foreshadowing to the attacks the President may receive on the campaign trail from a competing candidate who, like Bartlet's father, doesn't appreciate a smartly smug adversary. While Ziegler's point is not lost on the Mr. MaGoo-ish Bartlet, the delivery is underhanded and overly personal, both characteristics the President doesn't like to confront. Toby and Josiah…losers.

Toby prophetically tells us, "When the Gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." The team has an easy campaign victory, but they're all paying in other ways. The deciding battle is yet to come, and there are many skirmishes yet to be had by this engaging gang of liberals.

In the meantime, let's see more of Abigail Bartlet, the pill prescribing presidential wife so strongly played by Stockard Channing. I, for one, would love to see her and Oliver Platt (the White House Counsel) go mano-a-mano. They're banter is decidedly the most colorful and heated on the show. And bring back the blond, long-haired Republican advisor who sits in the basement!!! She's smart, sassy, emotional, witty, and just a little bit slutty under her adroitly conservative façade.

The theme of the election campaign for the Bartlet team is "Writing a New Book." If the writing of that book is half as good as the writing on the "West Wing," then we are in for one hell of a good rest of the viewing season.

Kully Mandon

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