Ways and Means (The West Wing)

Ways and Means (The West Wing)

Infobox Television episode
Title = Ways and Means
Series = The West Wing

Caption = Doug suggests a veto.
Season = 3
Episode = 47
Airdate = October 24, 2001
Production = 227203
Writer = Aaron Sorkin (teleplay)
Eli Attie & Gene Sperling (story)
Director = Alex Graves
Guests = Oliver Platt
Ron Silver
Emily Procter
Connie Britton
Evan Handler
Mark Feuerstein
Miguel Sandoval
NiCole Robinson
Nicholas Pryor
Thom Barry
Edmund L. Shaff
Episode list = List of "The West Wing" episodes
Season list = Template:Infobox The West Wing season 3 episode list
Prev =
Next =

"Ways and Means" is the 47th "The West Wing" episode and 3rd of the third season. It originally aired on NBC October 24, 2001.cite web|url=http://www.nbc.com/The_West_Wing/episode_guide/50.shtml|title=Ways and Means|accessdate=2008-07-01|publisher=NBC.com] The episode sees the beginnings of President Bartlett's Congressional hearings, as well as negotiations over the estate tax. Written by Aaron Sorkin, Eli Attie and Gene Sperling, and directed by Alex Graves, [cite web|url=http://www.westwingtranscripts.com/search.php?
|title=The West Wing: Ways and Means|last=Lindy, Irene and Amanda|date=2001-12-17|publisher=West Wing Transcripts|accessdate=2008-07-05
] the episode contains the first appearances by Mark Feuerstein as Clifford "Cliff" Calley.cite web|url=http://imdb.com/title/tt0745725/|title="The West Wing": Ways and Means (2001)|publisher=IMDb|date=|accessdate=2008-07-01] There are also guest appearances by Thom Barry, Nicholas Pryor and Miguel Sandoval.cite web|url=http://www.westwingepguide.com/S3/Episodes/48_WAM.html|title=Ways and Means|accessdate=2008-07-01|publisher=The West Wing Episode Guide]


The subpoenas are handed out in the hearing over Bartlett's concealment of his multiple sclerosis. The special prosecutor, Clement Rollins (Pryor), appears to be both fair and responsible, but C.J. believes the White House will be better served in the public eye if investigated by a partisan agent. She therefore decides—against the strong objections of White House counsel Oliver Babish—to present Rollins as an ally of the administration, thereby forcing Congress to take control over the investigation. Meanwhile Donna, unwittingly, becomes entangled in potential problems over the hearings. Ainsley Hayes sets her up on a date with the Republican Senate Majority Counsel Clifford Calley, but even though the date seems to go well, Calley then leaves her quite abruptly in the middle of the street. Donna later realizes the reason: his congressional committee is the one that will be in charge of the investigation, and a relationship between the two could constitute a conflict of interest.

While Sam and Bruno are concerned about the loyalty of a powerful California lobbyist (Sandoval), Toby and Josh are preparing for a meeting with the congressional opposition to re-negotiate the estate tax—or the death tax as the Republicans have labeled it—but are then surprised by a last-minute cancellation. It soon becomes clear that the Republicans are planning to repeal the estate tax altogether, and might have the votes to do so. An attempt to win over the black caucus, led by Congressman Mark Richardson (Barry), fails. At a loss over what to do, an initiative comes from unexpected quarters. The previously over-cautious political strategist, Doug Wegland, suggests the president responds by doing something he has never done before: veto the bill.

President Bartlett himself is confronted with a forest fire in Wyoming, and decides to follow the counter-intuitive advise of his experts, and let the fire burn. Meanwhile he is still struggling to deal with the death of his perennial personal secretary, Mrs. Landingham. Charlie insists that it is necessary to appoint a new person to fill the position, but the president is reluctant to take the step. As the episode ends, Bartlett is searching for a good pen, and realizes the full depth of his dependence on Mrs. Landingham.cite web|url=http://www.tv.com/the-west-wing/ways-and-means/episode/78315/summary.html|title=Ways and Means|accessdate=2008-07-01|publisher=TV.com] cite web|url=http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/show/the_west_wing/ways_and_means.php|title=Ways and Means|accessdate=2008-07-04|publisher=Television Without Pity]


According to Sorkin, the episode benefited greatly from input by two former White House employees. The scene where Donna stays up all night sorting through documents in cartons was the idea of Eli Attie, Al Gore's chief speechwriter.cite news|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A4393-2002Apr5.html|title='West Wing' View|last=McGrory|first=Mary|date=2002-04-07|publisher=Washington Post|accessdate=2008-07-06] Meanwhile Gene Sperling, Bill Clinton's chief economic adviser, came up with the sub-plot involving the estate tax. Sorkin, however, had certain misgivings about the estate tax story's appeal, considering the prevalent bipartisan spirit of the time, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In one scene Sam Seaborn speaks to a Latino lobbyist, and as the discussion heats up he switches into highly fluent Spanish. The lobbyist, Victor Campos, claims that he has been used for public relations purposes, something Sam denies. [cite web|url=http://westwing.bewarne.com/discontinuity/languages.html#spanish|title=Languages|publisher=The West Wing Continuity Guide|date=|accessdate=2008-07-01] Rob Lowe, who plays Seaborn, had to learn to speak the language convincingly especially for this episode. Sorkin commented "I tend to torture Rob a little." [cite web|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,173629_3,00.html|title=High and Lowe|publisher=Entertainment Weekly|date=2001-09-05|accessdate=2008-07-01]

Cultural references and reception

In one scene, C.J. says that special prosecutor Rollins was the editor of the "Yale Law Review". There is no such thing as the "Yale Law Review", as the journal of legal scholarship affiliated to the Yale Law School is called the Yale Law Journal. Gene Sperling, however, one of the writers on the show, presumably knew this, as he was a Senior Editor of the journal, so it is more likely that the name change was in consideration of trademark law.cite web|url=http://westwing.bewarne.com/third/quibbles/education.html|title=Queries on Education in the Third Season|publisher=The West Wing Continuity Guide|date=|accessdate=2008-07-01] A more likely error is when Connie Britton, as Connie Tate, says that she has a "Ph.D. in political economy from Oxford". The University of Oxford, however, does not award Ph.D.s; the corresponding degree from Oxford would be a D.Phil.

TV.com gives the episode a rating of 8.7; which is about average for the season. [cite web | url = http://www.tv.com/the-west-wing/show/189/episode_guide.html?season=3&tag=season_dropdown;dropdown;2 | title = Season 3 | publisher = TV.com | accessdate = 2008-07-01] On Television Without Pity it was given a grade "B-". On IMDb, based on 35 votes, it has a user rating of 8.2/10.0.


External links

* [http://www.nbc.com/The_West_Wing/episode_guide/50.shtml Ways and Means] at NBC.com
* [http://www.westwingepguide.com/S3/Episodes/48_WAM.html Ways and Means] at The West Wing Episode Guide
* [http://westwing.bewarne.com/third/47ways.html Ways and Means] at The West Wing Continuity Guide
* [http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/show/the_west_wing/ways_and_means.php Ways and Means] recap at Television Without Pity
* [http://www.tv.com/the-west-wing/ways-and-means/episode/78315/summary.html Ways and Means] at TV.com
* [http://imdb.com/title/tt0745725/ Ways and Means] at the Internet Movie Database

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