Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
Season 1, Episode 2
Josh Lyman: Victory is mine, victory is mine. Great day in the morning, people, victory is mine.
Donna Moss: Morning, Josh.
Josh Lyman: I drink from the keg of glory, Donna. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land.
Donna Moss: It's going to be an unbearable day.
You know that feeling when you have successfully completed a thing that was really challenging? You’re on top of the world and need everyone to know it? Maybe you just won a big deal or Senate vote and you really like to gloat about it? That is this moment. Josh is high on his victory, Donna knows he is going to be insufferable. In Josh’s defense, he deserves all the muffins and bagels in all the land for, y’know, executing a masterful political deal that would prevent the President from facing a Democratic challenger in the next presidential election.
Five Votes Down
Season 1, Episode 4
Josh Lyman: You know, I'm so sick of Congress, I could vomit.
At the top of the episode, Leo finds out that they’re five votes down on a gun control bill and passes it off to Josh to fix – and then everyone else also loses it about being five votes down. The team has seventy-two hours to gain back five votes to pass the bill while the White House staff publicly discloses their financial records. After sleuthing out which five votes they lost, Josh meets with Congressman Wick, who pulled his vote because the Congressman doesn’t have an individual photo-op with the President. Which is, in fact, a petty reason to pull your vote on a major piece of gun control legislation. After learning this, Josh dramatically laments that he is “so sick of congress that [he] could vomit.”
Are you also so sick of Congress that you could vomit? Tell the world with this mug, t-shirt, or baseball cap. And then once you have your items, call your Members of Congress and make your opinion on the myriad of issues they are juggling today heard. (202) 224-3121.
The Short List
Season 1, Episode 9
C.J. Cregg: What are you holding?
Danny Concannon: It's a goldfish.
C.J. Cregg: Why?
Danny Concannon: It's for you.
C.J. Cregg: Really?
Danny Concannon: Josh said you liked goldfish.
C.J. Cregg: The crackers, Danny. The cheese things that you have at a party?
Danny Concannon: Ah. Well... you know what? I'm not a hundred percent sure I was supposed to know that.
C.J. Cregg: The crackers, Danny.
Here at Mischief Merch, we will go down swinging with the CJ/Danny ship. This is the ultimate slow burn. Danny asks CJ out and she turns him down because the White House Press Secretary dating a reporter is a conflict of interest. And then he so genuinely and earnestly gives her a goldfish named Gail because he wants to impress her and win her over. Danny Concannon displays his love through small gifts and subtle encouragement and this moment is only the beginning.
Gail (and Gail’s ever-changing fish bowl decor) becomes a staple of CJ Cregg’s office throughout the series, and honestly, we would not get those Easter eggs if Danny Concannon had not misunderstood “goldfish” to mean an actual, living animal versus the cheesy, delicious snack.
What Kind of Day Has It Been
Season 1, Episode 22
Jed Bartlet: I just want to mention that at several points during the evening, I was referred to as both a liberal and a populist. And the fellow fourth from the back called me a socialist. Which was nice, I hadn’t heard that for a while. Actually, I’m an economics professor. My great-grandfather’s great-grandfather was Dr. Josiah Bartlet, who was the New Hampshire delegate to the second Continental Congress, the one that sat in session in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776 and announced to the world that we were no longer subjects of King George III, but rather a self-governing people. We hold these truths to be self-evident, they said. That all men are created equal. Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down. Decisions are made by those who show up. Class dismissed.
Would this even be a favorite episodes list if it didn’t include the season finale? What Kind of Day Has It Been is truly a cliffhanger finale of all cliffhanger finales – especially because when it aired twenty years ago, you couldn’t go buy it on your preferred streaming service the next day. You had to wait for it, but I digress.
President Bartlet is at a town hall, where he’s being the most President Bartlet – telling anecdotal stories that have some larger, nebulous point that makes you go “ahhh, I see what you did there” at the end. The rest of the White House team we know and love are dealing with sixteen other problems. It’s a packed episode, but it’s a true piece of theater or maybe poetry. There is a rhythm to this episode that stays on beat all the way until the end of the episode, when you are shocked out of it very suddenly. Right before the Big Moment™, President Bartlet wraps up his town hall by re-introducing himself – which is a very specific narrative choice, since Jed Bartlet is never truly introduced in this way in the previous 21 episodes. He’s telling you who he is – and reminding you that you have a part to play in government.
Decisions are made by those who show up – are you going to show up on November 3, 2020? When you do, you can sport our favorite (fictional) president’s words on this sweatshirt or even put this sticker on your water bottle. Also, please check your voter registration status by visiting vote.org and make sure you have a plan to vote!