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20 Hours in America (Part II)

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Donna

Part II of 20 Hours in America, chronicling the exploits of Toby, Josh, and Donna, who are trying to get home from Indiana.[1]

Preident Bartlet is informed that Qumar intends to accuse Israel of the assassination of one of its officials, which Bartlet actually ordered.

Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) tends to the President and is surprised by how difficult Josh's job is. Sam also gets a surprise visit from Mallory (Allison Smith), his former girlfriend and Leo's daughter, who asks Sam on a date.

The day culminates in a tragic bombing at a Midwest college women's swim meet that kills several participants, spectators, and even some male swimmers who rushed in to try to rescue some of the victims.

Summary Edit


Sam and the President are watching the closing numbers come in from Wall Street - the Dow is down more than 600 points and the President wonders aloud when he should say something - Sam suggests they wait to see what Japan does.  Charlie comes in to bring the President to meet Muriel Keith, who has shaken the hand of every President since Herbert Hoover.  Keith met Hoover the day before the start of the Great Depression.  The President is spooked by this and they decide to postpone the event until tomorrow.

Act IEdit

Sam is back in his office, on the floor reading, when C.J. comes in to ask him to be Anthony's Big Brother.  They talk for a moment - but C.J. realizes he doesn't have time for it.  Josh calls, still out in Indiana, to check in with Sam.  The two talk and then Sam talks with Toby.  Tyler delivers the three to the train.  Tyler promises them they will get where they are going - and then the train pulls out - in the opposite direction.

Leo and Admiral Fitzwallace are in the Situation Room when Nancy McNally arrives - she wants to attack Qumar.  They discuss the topic, and McNally points out there is a bigger problem if Qumar says that someone other than the US killed Shareef.

Act IIEdit

The President is meeting in the Oval Office with two Senators on "faith-based initiatives."  Sam and the President talk about the Executive Secretary candidates.  Debbie Fidderer has arrived for another interview with the President.  Sam is surprised to see Debbie, who used to work for Donald McKittridge at the Office of Presidential Personnel and hired Charlie.  Debbie and the President have another conversation.  The President presses her on why she was fired - but she refuses to tell him.  The interview ends again and as Debbie leaves the Oval Office, she runs into McKittridge, her old boss.  The President comes out of the Oval Office and has deduced why she was fired.  The President and Sam go back into the Oval Office and Sam asks her if she was funny.  The President realizes she is the one and has the guards stop her at the door.  He quizzes her on the numbers he was given during the interview - which she gets right - he motions to Charlie to bring her back.

On the train, Toby and Josh are talking about Governor Ritchie and the statements he has been making.  Josh points out that he wants to win, while Toby wants to beat Ritchie.

Act IIIEdit

C.J. gives a quick briefing to the Press before heading off with the President to a DNC fundraiser.  Just after she finishes, she gets word of an explosion at a swim meet at Kennison State University.  She comes back to the podium and begins to give updates in real time as she listens on an earpiece.  Leo returns to his office and notices that C.J. is still briefing - he turns up the volume.  He sends Margaret to find out what happened.

Josh, Toby, and Donna arrive at a hotel to await their delayed flight.  They arrange for a room, when first Toby, then Josh, and finally Donna come over to the TV to see the coverage from Kennison State University.

The President is concluding his remarks at a fundraiser - and evokes the tragedy that has befallen the nation.  Upon returning to the White House, C.J. finds Anthony waiting in her office, he's upset at having to wait around for her.  Charlie walks by and overhears Anthony insult C.J. - Charlie turns around, slams Anthony into a wall and tells Anthony that he will now be spending time with Charlie from that point on.

Act IVEdit

Sam returns to his office and Mallory arrives.  She tells him she liked the speech and to say that she has split with her boyfriend.  She offers to take him home.  Charlie comes to his office and finds a gift on his desk.  He opens it to find a framed photo - C.J. arrives to tell him the photo was from Charlie's sister, C.J. finally put it in a frame for him.  He gently puts it down on his desk and we see it is a photo of a young Charlie with his mother.

In the hotel in Indiana, Josh and Toby are continuing to argue about campaign strategy.  Donna finally is fed up with them, tells them off, and sends them away.  They go to the bar, where they meet Matt Kelley, a man who has been looking at colleges with his daughter.  They start talking and, as a result, will come up with a plan for tax-deductible tuition.

The President meets with Leo, Admiral Fitzwallace, and Nancy McNally and they talk about how to deal with the escalating problem with Qumar.

Josh, Toby, and Donna are on an airport shuttle, making their way back to the White House.  They get off the shuttle [at the Memorial Bridge, in Virginia, just outside Arlington Cemetery] and walk back to the White House, while Toby tells him how they need to proceed in the coming months.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • Toby mocks Ritchie for thinking that Chamberlain led England in World War II; but actually Chamberlain was Prime Minister for the first 8 months of the war, only making way for Churchill after the Allied retreat from Norway.
  • Sam's description of chaos theory ("it has to do with there being order, and even --- great beauty in what looks like total chaos. And if we look closely enough at the randomness around us, patterns will start to emerge.") is entirely wrong. Chaos theory actually says that small differences in initial conditions can yield widely diverging outcomes in dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible.
  • The President refers to the President of France - D'Astier - which is the same name as the President of France that visits the White House for a State Dinner in The American President.
  • Kennison State University is fictional. It is possible that it is meant to stand in for the University of Iowa, which is a Big Ten school and is also known as the Hawkeyes. Kennison State University is said to be in Cedar Rapids, while the University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, IA, placing it in the Central time zone. Cedar Rapids, IA and Iowa City are about thirty miles from one another. [2] It is probably named after Lt. William Kennison, a naval officer during the Civil War.
  • Bartlet’s line — “The streets of Heaven are too crowded with angels” — was lifted from Tom Hanks’ eloquent acceptance speech when he won the Best Actor Oscar for Philadelphia. [3]Aaron Sorkin may have had this in mind when he had Sam Seaborn say the line, "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright."
  • The Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper ceased to exist in April, 1995 when it merged with the Milwaukee Journal. The resulting newspaper, and the only daily paper in the city of Milwaukee, is known as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. [4]
  • Josh uses the name "Mohammed al-Mohammed al-Mohammed bin Basir" as a stereotypical terrorist's name.  The name was used again by Aaron Sorkin as an unseen character briefly mentioned in his 2012 series The Newsroom.  That series stars John Gallagher Jr., who appeared in 20 Hours in America as Tyler. 

Quotes Edit

Nancy McNally: Leo. Yeoman Fitzwallace.
Admiral Fitzwallace: Dr. McNally.
Nancy McNally: Let's attack.
Admiral Fitzwallace: Who?
Nancy McNally: Qumar. Let's recommend to the President that we attack.
Leo McGarry: Why?
Nancy McNally: 'Cause I've had it.
Admiral Fitzwallace: I don't think the UN is going to let us do it for that reason.
Nancy McNally: That's 'cause you're a sissy. You want peace in the Middle East? Give me a pair of third generation ICBM's and a compass. You get B-2 Spirit stealth bombers over Qumar right now; as if the Qumari Air defense system requires stealth capability. Just fly in at night, and while you're at it, could you order the USS Louisiana to fire off a D-5 Trident just to see if it works? What's the worst that could happen?
Admiral Fitzwallace: Is she talking to me?
Nancy McNally: Yes!
Admiral Fitzwallace: Well, 98% of all living organisms within a seven mile radius would die instantly in a torrent of fire.
Nancy McNally: Admiral Sissymary... We're running out of options on the menu.

Nancy McNally: They're building a case for sure but I think we got to start talking about there's something worse than Qumar saying it was us.
Admiral Fitzwallace: She's right.
Leo McGarry: What?
Admiral Fitzwallace: Qumar saying it was someone else.
President Bartlet: Hey, do we have a GPS-read on Josh and Toby? Have they been sighted?
Sam Seaborn: I talked to them a little while ago, they're on their way.
President Bartlet: 300 IQ points between them, they can't find their way home. I swear to God, If Donna wasn't there they'd have to buy a house.
President Bartlet:  Debbie?
Debbie Fidderer:  Yes, sir?
President Bartlet:  Where's the dollar?
Debbie Fidderer:  I'm sorry, sir?
President Bartlet:  What's the dollar doing right now?
Debbie Fidderer:  Oh, it's down; .3% against the yen; .4% against the Euro.
President Bartlet: Three swimmers from the men's team were killed, and two others are in critical condition, when, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They're our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars.

Bruno Gianelli: When did you write that last part?
Sam Seaborn: In the car.
Bruno Gianelli: Freak.

Charlie Young: [to Anthony] This is Ms. Cregg. She's the White House Press Secretary and senior counsel to the President. And if she wasn't, she would still be Ms. Cregg! I don't mind you not respecting people. I mind you doing it out loud. I mind you doing it in this building. You wanna be a punk, fine, but I don't think you've got the size for it. You wanna go to juvey, get out, deal, and kill cops? Okay, but every time you do a crime, you get caught, so I think you're gonna have to do something else. 9:00 on Saturday mornings, I eat breakfast at Cosmo's on Delaware. I come here for an hour and do office work, and then I go to St. Jude's for an hour to play basketball. You can go to juvey, or you can be at Cosmo's 9:00 on Saturday morning. It's entirely up to you.

Sam Seaborn: Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.

Admiral Fitzwallace: Well, I'm with Dr. Strangelove on keeping our military secrets secret.
Donna Moss: Alright that's it I can't take it. I'm not kidding. I have such an impulse to knock your heads together. I can't remember the last time I heard you two talk about anything other than how a campaign was running in Washington. Cathy needed to take a job so her Dad could be covered by her insurance. She tried to tell you how bad things were for family farmers, you told her we already lost Indiana. You made fun of the fair but you didn't see they livestock exhibitions and give prizes for the biggest tomato and heirloom apple. They're proud of what they grow. Eight months of transpiration, the kindness of strangers, random conversation with (??) and nobody Bartlett versus Richie but you.

Toby Ziegler: If our job teaches us anything, it’s that we don’t know what the next president’s going to face. If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas, who’s connected to other people’s lives and cares about making them better, if we choose someone to inspire us, then we’ll be able to face what comes our way, and achieve things we can’t imagine yet. Instead of telling people who’s the most qualified, instead of telling people who’s got the better ideas, let’s make it obvious. It’s gonna be hard.
Josh Lyman: Then we’ll do what’s hard.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit


References Edit