Wing and a Prayer

A new administration of democracy begins on The West Wing

by Peter Ritter and Michael Tortorello

It has nothing to do with real events. It has as little to do with the Clinton administration as the Buchanan administration....I hope that if it's a Bush White House, we'll be able to establish the same kind of relationship with them.

--Aaron Sorkin, creator of NBC's hit
presidential drama,
The West Wing


EPISODE 1: "The Wages of Spin"



Present are White House chief of staff Andrew Card, White House press secretary Karen Hughes, and the president of the United States (POTUS) himself. There is an aura of palpable, almost electric tension in the air, as the new cast of The West Wing faces the first crisis of their administration. We pick up the action in medias res.

Karen: So are you prepared to...

Andy: Yes...yes.

Karen: And what about the Rumsfeld situation?

Andy: What's the Rumsfeld situation?

Karen: Rumsfeld, our pick for Secretary of Defense...

POTUS: [...]

Andy: I know who Don Rumsfeld is. How is he a situation?

Karen: Well, it occurs to me that certain episodes from Rumsfeld's past could become an issue during his confirmation hearing.

Andy: Episodes?

POTUS: [...]

Karen: Well, for one, what do we tell the press about the Nixon tapes? Is the Republican party going to risk its deep support in the black community when people hear Rumsfeld saying, "That's right," while the President talks about the quirks of "the Negroes"?

Andy: Karen, I'm not in the mood for jokes this morning. Anyway, Negroes is not the word I hear on the tape.

Karen: What are you talking about?

Andy: The liberal national archivists might have transcribed the word Negroes into their liberal history books, but I distinctly hear the word kilos.

Karen: I'm starting to catch on. Nixon had a Colombian connection, and Rumsfeld stood behind the president's courageous advocacy for free markets in Central America.

[POTUS appears disoriented]

Andy: Or maybe the tape garbles the word Milos.

Karen: Rumsfeld isn't agreeing with Nixon about America's dark-skinned citizens, because the conversation is actually about someone named Milos?

Andy: That is certainly a possibility to consider.

POTUS: [...]

Andy: At another point in the tape, I would swear Nixon and Rumsfeld are talking about TaeBo.

[POTUS shifts in his seat. A tiny, though noticeable, rivulet of saliva courses down his chin]

Karen: We could say they're talking about their heroes...

Andy: That's preposterous, Karen. We've got to keep it real, here.


V-POTUS: Wassup?

Karen: Morning, Dick. The Rumsfeld situation...

Andy: It's not a situation. It's been dealt with. The tape clearly has Nixon and Rumsfeld talking about dildos.

[POTUS smiles serenely as a dust mote floats across the presidential seal]

V-POTUS: Good. Good. We'll show those know-nothing bastards at Senate Judiciary who's boss. We already lost Chavez because she may have employed Guatemalan street urchins to manufacture Sears activewear. And we lost Ashcroft just because he may have been peripherally involved in some unfortunate events in Europe more than 50 years ago. We can't bend to this kind of character assassination. We're here to change the tone in Washington. That's why the American people elected us.

[All laugh heartily]

V-POTUS: What's next?

Karen: Secretary of the Interior.

V-POTUS: What's the problem?

Karen: Well, Dick, she supports the harvesting of panda bears for their fur.

POTUS: [...]

V-POTUS: Look, that's a non-issue. We have to do something to deal with America's overcrowded zoos. The way I look at it, those bears have a fur surplus. Why should the American people support a bunch of free-loading--not to mention foreign and possibly Communist--pandas? We're just giving the fur back to the folks who pay the bills.

Karen: ...and on Meet The Press yesterday she advocated privatizing the nation's oxygen supply.

V-POTUS: We've got support for that. Everyone knows the nation's air supply has been an underutilized resource for too long.

[Still behind the presidential desk, POTUS makes a series of noises signaling gastrointestinal distress, which are ignored by the assembled West Wing staff]

Karen: Some people aren't going to be able to pay for their oxygen, and none of us wants to see another government entitlement program...

V-POTUS: It's all a matter of positioning. What we need to do is offer them some sort of assurance--you know, "Satisfaction guaranteed, or your democracy back."

Andy: As long as we're not serious about it.

[Deep-throated chortling erupts from Karen, Andy, and V-POTUS]

Karen: What about Kashmir?

V-POTUS: What's that? A sweater?

Andy: Good one, Dick.

Karen: There's a war or something going on over there...

V-POTUS: Now that you mention it, I am in the mood for a vegetable samosa. What about you, George?

[The volume of saliva oozing from the corner of POTUS's mouth increases]

Karen: They have nuclear weapons...

[At this, POTUS's head jerks slightly and a brief glimmer of sentience passes across his face]

V-POTUS: So do we. We've got nuclear weapons coming out of our cornholes. We've got 'em in cornfields. We've got 'em floating around in space, for Moses' sake. This is America, babe. We're numero one.

Andy: Top dog, Dick.

V-POTUS: Exactly. Now both of you get out. I want to have a word with George.

[Exit all but POTUS and V-POTUS, who, now unobserved in the Oval Office, reaches up to his neck as though to relieve an itch and, in one swift motion, peels back the skin from his face, which, in fact, turns out to be a mask à la Mission Impossible. The camera lights on V-POTUS's face, and reveals the visage of...RICHARD M. NIXON]

V-POTUS: I'm back, baby! Now we'll see who gets kicked around! [Laughs maniacally]

[V-POTUS picks up a red telephone receiver from POTUS's desk]

V-POTUS: Get me the Pentagon...

[POTUS, still slumped behind his desk, gurgles softly as we FADE OUT]

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