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Posted on Saturday 30 June 2012 at 6:19 pm

West Wing Fic: The Amendment Game


Tags:
Title: The Amendment Game
Rating: All Audiences
Setting: Sometime around about seasons 2 and 3. After Rosslyn and while Sam and Ainsley both work at the White House are really the only requirements.
Characters: Most of the main cast from that era: CJ, Josh, Sam, Toby, Ainsley, Donna, Charlie are featured with brief appearances from Ed, Larry, the president, and a couple of secret service agents.
Format: Script (~6,000 words)
Summary: The West Wing staff are locked in the Roosevelt Room during a crash and come up with a game to occupy their time. As Josh says, "We're going to cut the amendments from the constitution. You want in?"
Disclaimer: I own none of this. Aaron Sorkin, Warner Brothers, and other assorted entities own everything. They also make all the money. I am just having fun and in no way seek financial profit from their property.
Note: I am a total politics and American history geek. That is the only explanation I can offer for this fic, which is half just me indulging my geekiness and half me playing with the West Wing characters, trying to get their attitudes and voices. I'm really not sure if this will appeal to anyone other than me, but I had a blast writing it!


The Amendment Game


INT. ROOSEVELT ROOM – NIGHT
JOSH LYMAN, SAM SEABORN, and AINSLEY HAYES sit on one side of the large conference table. TOBY ZIEGLER, ED, and LARRY sit on the other side. Papers, pens, highlighters, and dry erase markers are strewn somewhat haphazardly around the table and a dry erase board stands to one side with half erased writing on it, illegible words and various numbers, some scratched through, some circled, and some both. AINSLEY has her head on the table. ED is leaning back in his chair and looks half asleep.

JOSH: That's it. I think we've got this as good as it's going to get.

ED and LARRY: Finally.

TOBY: I said that an hour ago. Did we leave then? No. You insisted you could find the extra 20 million dollars. How much did you find?
(pause)
Anyone?
(pause)
That's right. Nothing. Josh found nothing.

JOSH: That's not true. I did find it. You just told me I couldn't have it.

TOBY: Stealing money from the computers program to give to the early reading program doesn't count as finding it.

JOSH: Where else do we find money except stealing it from another program? Was I actually supposed to find 20 million dollars? Did someone drop it on the floor under the table? I still think the money would be better in the reading program. What good are computers if the kids can't read what's on the screen?

TOBY: Computers cost more than books!

SAM: Hey! We're all tired. We've been at this bill for 6 hours straight. Why don't we call it a night and go home?

JOSH and TOBY glare at each other across the table, but both remain silent.

AINSLEY: Actually, I'm hungry. Anyone want to order Chinese?

ED: Not me. I'm going home to get some sleep.

LARRY: Count me out, too. I've got an early meeting on the Hill.

ED and LARRY gather some of the papers on the table and leave. While they do this, the others continue talking.

SAM: I could go for some Chinese.

TOBY: There's nothing to eat if I go home.

JOSH: Yeah. Sure. Let me check with Donna. She'll probably want some.

JOSH starts to leave, but pauses in the doorway. Through the glass door we see CJ walking down the hall.

JOSH (to CJ): We're done for now and ordering Chinese. You want some?

CJ: Chinese sounds good. Anything sounds better than the leftovers in my fridge, but kung pao chicken sounds really good.

Josh leaves and CJ enters the room. She walks around to TOBY's side of the table and sits.

CJ: So where do we stand?

SAM: Josh and Toby disagree on 20 million dollars.

CJ: We are supposed to convince the majority of Democrats and at least some Republicans in Congress to vote on this and we can't even get the White House senior staff to agree?

AINSLEY: I don't think you'll have a problem getting the Republicans you need. Most will hate it on principle. Education is a state issue. But the leadership isn't going to demand a party line vote on this and there are enough who will find things to sell to their constituents. If you can get the Democrats in line, you can get this through.

TOBY: That's a depressing thought. We can pass a bill, but only if we can get our own house in order.

JOSH reenters with DONNA. JOSH returns to his seat. DONNA looks around the room, immediately grabs a phone, and starts placing the order for Chinese delivery. She continues in the background as a SECRET SERVICE AGENT opens the door on the far side of the room and waves CHARLIE into the room.

AGENT: I'm going to have to ask you to enter the room and ask you and everyone else to remain here. We are crashed.

CJ, SAM, JOSH, TOBY, and AINSLEY generally groan and complain "Not again. / This is getting ridiculous. / etc."

CHARLIE: I need to get to the President.

AGENT (placing a hand in CHARLIE'S chest): I can't let you do that, sir.

CHARLIE: But I was just going to get some apples and peanut butter for him. I have to get back.

AGENT: Sir. I have to insist you remain in the room.
(listens to ear piece)
I've been instructed to inform you the President is in no immediate danger. He is ordering you to stay here.

CHARLIE: Fine.

AGENT steps outside, pulling the door closed and standing guard beside it. CHARLIE flops down in a chair next to CJ and sits quietly, eyes on the AGENT out the door across the room. DONNA hangs up the phone and sits next to JOSH.

DONNA: Food's on its way. Hopefully the crash will be lifted by the time it gets here.

SAM: What shall we do while we wait?

TOBY: We could keep looking for Josh's 20 million dollars.

JOSH: I found my 20 million. You need to give it up.

AINSLEY: Please! I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I've been listening to this exact argument for over an hour. Can we please not continue it right now?

TOBY and JOSH murmur their assent. Everyone sits in silence for a moment.

SAM: Anyone want to play a game?

CJ: What kind of game?

SAM: I hadn't thought that far. Charades?
(beat)
Pictionary?
(beat)
I guess that's a no.

DONNA: When I was in high school, we'd always play clear the building.

JOSH: Please tell me your idea of fun doesn't involve picking up trash or something.

DONNA: No, Josh. Clear the building. Not clean the building. You take turns with everyone picking a room they'd get rid of. When we played in school, it always started easy with people tossing out the principal's office and the faculty lounge. Then it got tougher and by the end we were making choices like a favorite teacher's classroom or the storage room in the auditorium.

CJ: The auditorium storage room?

DONNA (embarrassed): It was the most secluded spot in school and the door was never locked so if you and your boyfriend had an off period together...

TOBY: Donna, I am asking nicely. Which as you know is something I rarely do. Please stop there.

JOSH: No, no. I think I want to hear more of this story.

TOBY: Exactly.

JOSH: What's that supposed to mean?

SAM (louder than necessary): We would play with the White House?

DONNA: Yeah. That was what I was thinking.

JOSH: Doesn't sound like much fun to me.

DONNA: The fun is in the tough choices and how people justify them. Like if it came down to it, CJ, would you get rid of the Briefing Room or the Oval Office?

CJ: The Briefing Room. No question. I can brief on the sidewalk if I have to, but the Oval is the Oval.

JOSH: Now there's no point in playing.

AINSLEY: Well, I think it sounds like fun.

JOSH: But now we know how it will end.

DONNA: Not necessarily. That was just an example. Maybe it will come down to you having to pick between the Oval and the Mess.

JOSH: Ha ha. Wouldn't that be more Ainsley's problem?

AINSLEY: You can take the Mess as long as I get the pleasure of getting rid of my office. Excuse me, the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue.

JOSH: I still think it sounds lame.

DONNA (annoyed): Do you have a better idea?

JOSH: (beat)
I do, because I am a genius. We get rid of the constitutional amendments.

CJ: So Donna's game just with more politics added?

JOSH: Yeah. That's what makes mine a good idea.

DONNA glares at JOSH who smiles and winks at her. Her glare softens.

SAM: Sounds good. Charlie, you in?

CHARLIE (looks from door for first time): What?

JOSH: We're going to cut the amendments from the constitution. You want in?

CHARLIE: Why?

TOBY: Apparently because, despite being the people paid to run this country's government, we have nothing more important with which we can occupy our time.

CJ: Not while we're trapped in here, we don't. We might as well amuse ourselves and try to enjoy each other's company.

TOBY: That usually works better when we have alcohol.

CJ: So it does. But we don't and we are stuck here, so we might as well play this game. Charlie?

CHARLIE: Yeah. Sure. I'm in.

DONNA: Who's going to start?

AINSLEY: If it's anyone other than me, I know what right y'all will cut first. Every liberal wants to see the second amendment gone.

SAM: I don't know that it would be my first pick, but do you really think every three-year-old needs an Uzi?

AINSLEY: Of course not. But that isn't what the second amendment is about. It's about people having a right to go hunting and to protect their families. There is no reason to take that away.

CHARLIE: That's easy for you to say. You weren't shot at. You didn't have metal detectors at your high school.

AINSLEY: And we have laws against those kinds of things. Punish the criminals, but don't punish everyone else.

CJ: Stop! We are not arguing this administration's gun control policy. We are merely playing a game. Now, is someone starting this thing by striking the second amendment or not?

SAM: I think we should leave it up to Josh.

Everyone looks at JOSH. He is quiet and doesn't meet anyone's eyes.

TOBY: Sam has a point. It is your game.

JOSH: Actually, it was Donna's game.
(beat)

CJ: Well?

JOSH: Yeah, sure. Whatever.
(beat)

DONNA: It seems to me that it makes sense to get rid of the eighteenth amendment. No one wants to bring back Prohibition and it was overruled by the twenty-first anyway. Tossing it out wouldn't change anything, right?

TOBY: The twenty-first should go next. If you remove the eighteenth, there's no need to keep the amendment that nullified it.

CHARLIE: I see how this works. You talk me into playing this game, then you take all the easy ones.

CJ: I know another easy one. The eleventh. Who cares about it? Who even knows what it does anyway?

AINSLEY: It establishes state sovereignty! It's really important.

SAM: Yeah. It's the reason citizens can't sue state governments except in special circumstances.

CJ: So only government lawyers know what it means or care. It's gone.

SAM: You can't! It would make more sense to get rid of the tenth with its vague guarantee of powers to the states than the eleventh with its specificity!

CJ and AINSLEY start to speak simultaneously.

CJ: OK. That goes, too.

AINSLEY: No! That's one of the few things protecting states' rights! It's the entire basis of our federal system.

SAM: I didn't say I wanted to get rid of the tenth amendment. I merely said that it would make more sense to get rid of the tenth than the eleventh. I don't want to get rid of either of them.

CJ: Too late, Spanky. I got rid of the eleventh and you cut the tenth.

SAM: But...

JOSH: My game so my rules. And I say the rule is once you've said it, you're stuck with it. Sam used his turn on the tenth.

DONNA: You admitted it was my game. Shouldn't I get to make the rules?

JOSH: No. And I'll tell you why. First, I'm your boss so what I say goes.

DONNA opens her mouth to interrupt but JOSH continues.

JOSH: Second, CJ agrees with me so the rule stands.

AINSLEY: Fine. If Sam's getting rid of the tenth, then I'm getting rid of the seventeenth amendment. I like direct election of senators, but if the tenth and eleventh are gone, we need to give something to the states. If they get to pick the senators again, at least they'll have someone in Washington watching out for them.

SAM: But I agree with you! I don't want to get rid of the tenth or the eleventh amendments. I'm sure I never said I actually wanted to get rid of the tenth amendment!

JOSH, TOBY, and CJ all yell at Sam with variations on "Get over it! / Move on! / Tough! / etc."

CHARLIE: If you guys are going to keep yelling at each other, I'm going to check on this crash.

CHARLIE goes to the door and opens it to speak to the AGENT. We stay focused on the others.

SAM: I just want my protest noted.

TOBY: Fine. It's noted. Now can we move on?

CJ: What's the matter, Toby? Having fun and can't wait to see what happens next?

TOBY: No, but if I'm to be forced to endure this, I'd rather get it over with as quickly as possible. Whose turn is it?

CHARLIE finishes speaking to the AGENT at the door and returns to his as DONNA speaks.

DONNA: I think Charlie is the only one left.

CHARLIE: Oh. My turn? I don't know. How about the third? No putting troops in private homes might have been a good thing to spell out in the 1700s, but does anyone really think the military would do that today when they've got so many bases?

TOBY: That's impeccable logic. The government doesn't do something it is forbidden to do, so let's just assume it won't do it if we don't forbid it. Brilliant.

AINSLEY: I think Charlie's right. The military doesn't want to put soldiers in private homes and would only do it in an emergency. For something to happen requiring quartering troops in homes, we'd almost certainly be at war and the amendment as is provides an exemption for times of war anyway. Getting rid of it now won't really change anything.

TOBY: I just hope when the boys in camouflage are on your doorstep I'm there to say "I told you so."

CJ: I'm sure you will find a way to say it.

JOSH: Does that mean it's finally my turn?

General nods of assent.

JOSH: OK. I'm going to use Charlie's logic and say the twelfth. We needed it at the time to separate out voting for the president and vice president, but the party structures are strong enough now we can handle it.

SAM: How do we avoid an Electoral College tie between the nominees for president and vice president?

JOSH: The party leadership can appoint an elector each time to throw a vote away from the vice presidential candidate. It wouldn't be that difficult.

SAM: But that didn't work before and there was the Jefferson and Burr tie.

JOSH: That was before there were real parties. If someone can find a way to screw it up, it will certainly be the Democrats, but I think even we've got enough discipline to hold it together for something like this.

TOBY: That's the stupidest thing I've heard since Charlie's argument for putting soldiers in my house. Is nothing sacred with you people?

JOSH: In case you missed it, the whole point of this game is we have to cut something! Governing is about priorities. Governing is about choosing. Haven't I heard that before?

TOBY: Couldn't you find anything better to cut?

JOSH: I suppose you've got a better idea?

TOBY: Of course I do. But it isn't my turn!

JOSH: Whose turn is it?

CJ: We should probably keep track.

JOSH grabs a dry erase marker from the table and holds it out to DONNA.

DONNA: What? Why me?

JOSH: We covered this already. I'm the boss. You're the assistant. It's my game, so assist me.

DONNA: Now playing Vanna White is in my job description?

JOSH: Sure. Why not?

DONNA takes the marker and moves to the board. She uncaps the pen but just before she should start writing she turns back to JOSH.

DONNA: You're really going to have to buy me a new dress. I don't have anything appropriate for TV.

JOSH: It's not sweeps week, Vanna. You're fine. Now get to writing.

DONNA turns back to the board but hesitates.
(beat)

SAM: It was Josh, you, Toby, CJ, me, Ainsley, Charlie.

Everyone stares at SAM.

SAM: What?
(beat)

Conversation resumes while DONNA, in the background, writes the names in order on one side of the board and continues writing numbers 1 through 27 in the middle of the board, slashing out 2, 3, 10, 12, 17, 18, and 21.

CHARLIE: You're kind of freaky, man.

SAM: That was the order.

CHARLIE: OK. But did you see anyone else remembering it like that?

SAM: No?

CHARLIE: See? Freaky.

DONNA: I'm missing one.

Everyone looks at the board.

CJ: You missed eleven. I knew no one would notice it was gone.

DONNA exes out 11. For the remainder of the scene, whenever an amendment is cut, DONNA marks out the number on the board to keep track.

AINSLEY: I don't see how Donna forgetting to mark it out justifies removing one of the most important amendments in the constitution.

CJ: You honestly think it is one of the most important?

AINSLEY: Well... It's certainly too important to have been the fourth one removed.

CJ: Apparently not.

TOBY: Can we get back to it being Donna's turn?

DONNA: Uh... I'm really not sure what to do. Definitely not the first. Not four, five, or six. Or seven. Or eight. Maybe nine? Is nine a good one to cut?

SAM: No! You can't get rid of the ninth. That's unenumerated rights.

DONNA: So?

SAM: So!? So that's the one that says "You, as a citizen of the United States of America, have rights. Even if a right isn't listed specifically anywhere else in the Constitution, you still have it because the rights of the people don't have to be spelled out!" It's where things like the right to privacy are found. Well, there and the fourth amendment. And the fourteenth, of course. But the ninth is the most important.

TOBY: The ninth amendment has been all but ignored by the courts.

SAM: But it shouldn't be. It's a profound statement of an idea, of what we believe in as a nation, of the rights of the people over the government, of...

TOBY: It's vague. I thought you were against vague tonight.

SAM: It's not vague. It's profound. And as we start taking away other parts of the Bill of Rights, this one becomes even more important. It can fill in for anything else taken away and the courts will have to take it seriously if it's the only one left.

AINSLEY: You take away the profound statement of the rights of the states and then defend the same for the people?

SAM: Well, yes. The people are more important than the states. And I still say I never actually removed the tenth amendment.

CJ: We are not having that argument again!

JOSH: Donna, would you please hurry up and pick something and shut them up?

DONNA: I'm thinking.
(beat)
OK. I'm going to go with Sam on the ninth and not cut it for now. Obviously I'm not getting rid of thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen. Or sixteen. Definitely not nineteen. I like my right to vote way too much. Uh... I don't remember what the twentieth amendment says.

JOSH: We're going to have to work on your knowledge of the Constitution.

DONNA: Some of us have better things to do than memorize every word of every amendment.

JOSH: I'm sure the American people would love to know that the people working in the White House have no idea what the Constitution says.

DONNA: I know most of it. I'm just forgetting this one right now.

JOSH: Just that one? So you know all the...

TOBY (interrupting): It moved up the beginning of congressional sessions and the date of presidential inaugurations from March to January to shorten Lame Duck terms.

JOSH: I was going to tell her that.

TOBY: Before the end of our second term?

DONNA: That could be good, but it doesn't stack up against things like freedom of speech.

TOBY: Lame Duck sessions are ineffectual. Nothing is accomplished as everyone has to wait for the new people to be sworn in. Lengthening them again is a terrible idea.

SAM: I don't know about that. Maybe the people voted out would have the courage to make the tough decisions, take up the tough issues and make unpopular votes, because they won't have to worry about selling it to the voters for reelection if they're already out of office.

TOBY: Once again you're arguing based on absolutely no evidence to support you and in the face of a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Are you going to join us in the real world or keep living in your fantasy land?

CJ: Would you two shut up and let Donna make her decision.
(beat)

DONNA: Uh... How about the twenty-second?

SAM: Hey, what happened to the rule about once you say an amendment you're stuck with it?

DONNA: I never said anything. I've asked what other people think.

SAM: I never said I wanted to get rid of the tenth amendment.

CJ: Sam, if you don't stop arguing about this, I'm going to throw you out into the hall and let you explain to the Secret Service why they can't toss you back in here.

SAM: I'm not arguing that I should get to do my turn over; I'm arguing that Donna should have to stick with twenty.

TOBY: She said nine first.

DONNA: I haven't said anything. I've asked questions.

SAM: I never said ten.

CJ: Sam...

SAM: I'm not arguing for ten. I'm using the situation to make a different point.

JOSH: You made a statement about ten. You didn't ask a question.

SAM: You agree with Donna on that distinction?

CHARLIE: Of course he does.

SAM: Fine. But my statement was clearly not one of intent.

JOSH: Next time, make it a question.

DONNA: Like this: how about twenty-two?

JOSH: Do you know what it says?

DONNA: Yes. It limits the president to two terms.

JOSH: Or ten...

DONNA (interrupting): Or a maximum of ten years if a vice president assumes the presidency in the middle of a term. Yes, I know what the twenty-second amendment says. I'm thinking about cutting it because it seems to me we can just let the voters decide if they want a president for more than two terms and I'm asking if anyone has a good reason not to cut it.
(beat)

CHARLIE: No one is going to argue?
(beat)

DONNA: Okay. Then twenty-two it is and it's Toby's turn.

CHARLIE: Finally.

TOBY: Seven.
(beat)

JOSH: That's it? Just a number with no explanation and no discussion?

TOBY: I didn't realize that was a requirement.

JOSH: It's part of the fun!

TOBY: Fine. I'm ok with judges deciding civil suits. At the very least we need something higher than $20 as the minimum at which jury trials become required. If we ever get our dinner and we all get sick, should we really empanel a jury over some bad spring rolls?

AINSLEY: Did you have to mention the spring rolls? I'm hungry.

CHARLIE: They're not letting us out so you're just going to have to deal with it.

AINSLEY: I was dealing with it just fine until Toby had to go and mention food. Let's keep playing. That should keep my mind off it.

CJ: Good. It's my turn. I'm striking the twenty-sixth. Eighteen year olds are too young to vote. If the government thinks you're too immature to handle beer, you're too immature to be deciding the future of your nation.

CHARLIE, SAM, and JOSH simultaneously: But what about...

They trail off and look at each other. Sam and Josh both wave at Charlie, indicating for him to continue.

CHARLIE: But what about the draft? We men are old enough to kill and be killed for the country but not to vote for the people sending us off to war?

CJ: Do we have a draft right now?

CHARLIE: No. But the Constitution isn't about right now, it's eternal, and the twenty-sixth amendment was added because of Vietnam when we did have a draft.

CJ: I know that, Chazz. We'll raise the draft age, too. Everything can be at age twenty-one!

CHARLIE: OK. As long as it's fair.

JOSH: Well that's one problem solved but you all seem to have forgotten that the kids vote overwhelmingly Democratic. When we can get them to show up, anyway.

AINSLEY: That's just proof CJ is right.

JOSH: Hey!

CJ: How they vote isn't proof of anything. The low voter turnout is proof they can wait an extra three years.

JOSH: It's a dumb idea. We need to get them interested in government, not shut them out for longer. We can't raise the voting age. We're not cutting the twenty-sixth.

CJ: It doesn't matter what you think! It isn't your turn!

JOSH: But...

DONNA: Sam's turn.

JOSH: BUT...

DONNA: Sam's turn!

SAM: Twenty.

TOBY: Sam!

SAM: Toby!

TOBY: We discussed this.

SAM: Yes, we did. And I'm saying to cut twenty.

TOBY: Of all the... Forget it.

AINSLEY: So we're back to me.
(beat)
Twenty-seven.

JOSH: You're for congressional pay raises? You want to increase taxes to give more money to Washington insiders?

AINSLEY: Really, Josh. When have you ever heard me complain about Washington insiders?

JOSH: Uh... Never?

AINSLEY: Exactly.

SAM: You still haven't justified the tax hike you'd need for a pay raise.

AINSLEY: I'm not saying raise taxes. First, doubling the salary of every congressman wouldn't make even the tiniest ripple in the total budget. The money could easily be found by cutting just one of the many unnecessary programs run by this government. Second, I'm not giving congressmen raises. Cutting the twenty-seventh would just give congress the right to raise its own pay without waiting for another election for it to take effect. If Donna can trust the voters enough to get rid of term limits, I'm willing to trust that they won't elect bad congressmen who'll give themselves unnecessary and extravagant raises.

TOBY: Once again, we return to arguing in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Are you all sharing some illicit substances of which I'm unaware?

AISNLEY: I just don't think this is something that really needs to be in the Constitution. It took two hundred and some odd...

JOSH and SAM: Two hundred and three.

AINSLEY: Thank you. Two hundred and three years from passage by congress to ratification. Clearly this wasn't a priority for people.

TOBY: But...

CJ: Toby! You and Josh need to stop fighting with everyone over their choices.

JOSH: Hey! What did I do?

DONNA: You argued with CJ over voting rights for minors.

JOSH: Eighteen-year-olds aren't minors and Sam and Charlie argued with her over that, too.

CHARLIE: I hate to admit it, but he has a point. We did.

CJ: Yeah, but Josh kept arguing after we'd settled the draft.

CHARLIE: Sorry, man. Now she's got a point.

JOSH: Fine. She's got a point. But Toby had been arguing with everyone. I didn't argue with Ainsley. I didn't argue with Sam and his speech about Lame Duck sessions even though I think Toby's right and it's a dumb idea.

SAM: Hey!

JOSH: Sorry. I didn't argue with you over the ninth either.

SAM: Those were both just because you were too busy fighting with Donna.

JOSH: I wasn't fighting with Donna. I just didn't think Toby needed the help.

SAM: So you admit you disagree with me on the ninth, too?

JOSH: Mostly. But the point is that I didn't argue with you.

DONNA: So you want bonus points for managing to keep your mouth shut and only argue every third round?

SAM: We get points in this game?

DONNA: No.

JOSH: I don't want any points. I just want it clear that only Toby argued with Sam and Ainsley and I think I deserve an apology for being unjustly maligned.

CJ: Maligned?

JOSH: Yes. Maligned.

TOBY: So being associated with me maligns your character?

JOSH: Well... Only when I'm not guilty and you are. You argued with Sam and Ainsley.

TOBY: And I am beginning to regret that. Fine. Josh and I will no longer argue with anyone's choices if we can move on and get this stupid game over with.

JOSH: Hey...

CJ: Fantastic.

AINSLEY: I'm really OK fighting my own battles if they want to argue with me.

CJ: No. They've agreed and it will be much better this way.

JOSH: But I never agreed to anything!

DONNA: Too bad. The agreement was offered on your behalf and has been accepted.

JOSH: That's not fair.

DONNA: Tough. It's Charlie's turn.

JOSH: But....

CJ: But nothing. Charlie. Go.

CHARLIE: I guess I'll cut the twenty-fifth. Setting out the order of presidential succession sounds like a good idea, but I'd rather ax it than anything else that's left. What are the odds of it actually being a problem, anyway?

TOBY: But...

JOSH: Toby! You dragged me into your stupid deal so you'd damn well better stick to it. My turn.
(beat)
Wow. There's not much left worth cutting. I'm definitely not getting rid of the first. Four through six are nice.

TOBY: Hurry up! You yelled at Donna for doing that last time!

JOSH: Yeah, but there were more left when she was doing it. OK. Thirteen.

EVERYONE ELSE: WHAT!?

CHARLIE: You want to bring back slavery!?

JOSH: NO! No, no, no. Hear me out. The thirteenth is covered by the fourteenth.

CHARLIE: There's nothing else you'd rather cut before bringing back slavery?

JOSH: I'd rather cut everything before bringing back slavery. But that's not the issue. Even if you take away the thirteenth amendment, you can't bring back slavery because the fourteenth guarantees life, liberty, and property to all people.

CHARLIE: To all citizens.

JOSH: Nope. Citizens get privileges and immunities under the law, but life, liberty, and property are for all people. Plus, the fifteenth grants voting rights and people with the vote aren't going to allow themselves to be enslaved.

CHARLIE: And you're sure about that? You're sure a minority can't be outvoted by a majority or that the fourteenth's guarantee of liberty is enough to prevent slavery?

JOSH: Pretty sure.

CHARLIE: Pretty sure!? Pretty sure, he says. If it comes down to it and you're wrong, I'm coming after you man.

JOSH: Ah-kay.
(beat)

SAM: Just to check, everyone does remember this is a game, right? I mean, we are just bored and playing around, not setting actual policy for the nation, right?
(beat)
That's what I thought. Whose turn?

DONNA: Mine. Uh... How about eight? Bans on cruel and unusual punishments and excessive bails and fines seem too vague to be meaningfully enforced.

SAM: Good argument.

TOBY: Now he likes specificity again. Twenty-four. With everything else we've already cut, people being disfranchised through poll taxes is the least of our worries.

CHARLIE: That's encouraging.

TOBY: What else do you want me to cut?

CHARLIE: Nothing. Cut whatever you want to.

CJ: Uh... I hate to admit it, but I don't remember the twenty-third.

JOSH: You can join Donna for remedial constitution classes. We'll meet next time we have a somewhat free Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

CJ: Funny. Just tell me what the stupid amendment says.

JOSH: I think Charlie should have that honor.

CHARLIE: It gives DC a vote in the electoral college, which is the only say we have in the national government.

CJ: Oh. Sorry, but I think that's going to have to be my pick.

CHARLIE: That's ok. Maybe if even that token is taken away, people will be willing to fight for real representation.

SAM: My turn. I think I'm going to have to start chipping away at the rights of the criminally accused. I think I like search and seizure and right to a jury more than the right to non self-incrimination so I'll cut the fifth. Besides, whatever I take from there, the ninth will cover it.

TOBY: (inarticulate groan)

SAM: Ainsley?

AINSLEY: Sixteen.

JOSH, SAM, TOBY, and CJ: But...

AINSLEY: No arguing!

CJ: That was only Josh and Toby.

JOSH: I never agreed to it anyway.

AISNLEY: You would be wasting your time to argue with me. I'm cutting the sixteenth amendment. You'll just have to find some other way than an income tax to pay for all your programs. It's Charlie's turn.

CHARLIE: I'm not sure how you're going to pay for the military, but I won't argue with you. I'm going to trust Sam on the ninth and cut the fourth.

JOSH: That's brave. You're willing to give up warrants?

CHARLIE: I just don't know what else to cut. You're up next. Tell me what I should have cut instead?

JOSH: I see your point. I'm not touching nineteen. I'm not that stupid.

CJ: Just close to it.

JOSH: Hey!

CJ: You left yourself wide open for that one.

JOSH: Whatever. Charlie, you've got a point. I guess I'll go with the trend and cut six to make it a clean sweep of the trial rights. No one likes jury duty anyway.

DONNA: I was going to go with that one.

JOSH: Tough.

DONNA: I can't cut anything else. I can't get rid of the first. Or the nineteenth. Or fourteen and fifteen. I'm going to have to go with nine. I'm sorry Sam, but there's nothing else left.

SAM: It's OK. I'm not sure what I'd cut at this point either.

DONNA: Well, Toby gets the next pick.

TOBY: Nineteen.

CJ: You jackass! How could you?

TOBY: I don't have to explain my choices. I just have to make a choice.

CJ: And your choice is take the right to vote from half the population!? Fine. Then I'm cutting the first!

TOBY: There are more rights in that amendment than in any other single one. You're willing to give up all of that, including the freedom of speech and of the press?

CJ: Why not? It'd make my job easier and let me tell you to shut up!

TOBY: You do that enough already.

There is a knock at the door and they all look as it opens. The AGENT who has been guarding their door has been joined by AGENT 2, who has two large paper bags.

AGENT: The crash has been lifted. You are all free to go. And your food has arrived.

AINSLEY: Finally!

AINSLEY hurries to take the food from AGENT 2.

AINSLEY: It's cold.

AGENT: It arrived some time ago but was held at the gate until after the crash.

CHARLIE: Wait. Didn't you get word the crash was lifted over your ear piece? How is the food already here from the gate?

The two AGENTs look at each other sheepishly and AINSLEY dumps out napkins, chop sticks, containers of food, etc. and everyone else starts to eat.

AGENT 2: We deemed it best for his safety to rush your food over here and to not send him in without it.

JOSH (waving chopsticks at the AGENTs): I knew I liked you guys.

CHARLIE: You should have told me immediately! I have to check on the president!

PRESIDENT (from hallway): I'm here.

The AGENTs step aside and the PRESIDENT enters the room. Everyone rises. CHARLIE hurries to the PRESIDENT's side.

CHARLIE: Are you alright, sir?

PRESIDENT: (to everyone else) Please, sit.
(to Charlie) I'm fine, Charlie. What have you all been doing this whole time?

CHARLIE: Uh... well, sir, technically we were getting rid of amendments to the constitution.

PRESIDENT: Is this what the government pays you to do?
(examines Donna's board)
It looks like you've done a thorough job.

JOSH: It was just a game, sir.

PRESIDENT: I would hope so, Josh. Is there anything left?

JOSH: Donna?

DONNA: We're down to the last two, Mr. President: the fourteenth and the fifteenth. It's Sam's turn.

SAM: I can't decide, sir. Why don't you pick?

PRESIDENT: Neither.

JOSH: But that's cheating!
(beat)
Sir.

PRESIDENT: CJ, how would it look if the press found out I was debating what amendments to remove from the Constitution? Especially if it were to come out that I removed either the fourteenth, granting all citizens equal protection under the law regardless of race, or the fifteenth, granting all citizens equal voting rights regardless of race?

CJ: It wouldn't look well, sir.

JOSH: But it's just a game, sir.

PRESIDENT: So you said. And since it is just a game, and since this is the White House, and since I am the President, don't you think I'm entitled to make up my own rules?

JOSH: Uh... yes, sir?

PRESIDENT: Good. Then we are going to leave the Constitution intact and I am going to the Residence for the night. I suggest you all go home.

AINSLEY: But...

PRESIDENT: You may eat your dinner first, Ms. Hayes.

AINSLEY: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT: Then everyone, go home and get some sleep.

EVERYONE: Yes, sir.

Comments:

Rachael
bratty_jedi at 10:56 am on 01 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
harmony_lover
harmony_lover at 10:50 pm on 02 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
This is amazing and delightful. It's funny, the voices are spot on, the arguments are actually rather insightful - it's a mind fest for us nerds. How I miss this show. Thank you. :)

Edited at 2012-07-02 10:51 pm (UTC)
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 10:48 pm on 03 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much! Glad you liked it.
M. R. Fadlan
mrfadlan at 7:17 am on 04 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
This is the first time I've read WW fanfic....impressive. Most impressive.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 8:23 pm on 23 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I feel honored that it was your first West Wing fic!
(Anonymous) at 9:22 pm on 13 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
wow this was terrific! Toby's general snarkiness, Josh's need to Lord things over Donna, Sam's freakish ability to remember things and then be totally squiffed when people remark on it....not to mention the teaching-nerdiness of it... gotta think this scene actually happened! Nicely done!
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 8:26 pm on 23 July 2012 (UTC) (Link)
LOL. Great to hear that everyone was in character and worked for you! Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed it. It's fantastic to know my geekiness is enjoyed by others.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 1:13 am on 12 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Hi! You left this review on this fic months ago but I must have missed the notification email and just spotted the comment. Sorry! Thanks for reading and commenting and I'm glad you liked it and thought I got the characterizations right.
impulsereader
impulsereader at 10:38 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
This story is so spot on that it made me fire up the pilot on Netflix. :-) Good work.

I liked Ainsley and wished that she had stuck around longer. I also really hated that Sam left and I didn't understand Last Season Sam's character at all. I do love the show for the most part, though.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 1:12 am on 12 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Glad you liked it.

I love Ainsley. I was discussing her with a friend once and we came to the conclusion that she hits every tick box on a fanfic Mary Sue checklist (spunky, beautiful new character who should be an enemy [Republican!] but manages to win the respect of all the original main characters due only to her intelligence and dedication to duty, who has some kind of love interest plot going with a main, whose only flaw is an oh-so-cute tendency to speak in convoluted sentences when flustered, etc.), but you still like her.
lost_spook
lost_spook at 7:01 am on 14 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Here from the rec of het_reccers - this was huge fun (and surely must have happened with this lot)! :-)
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 12:06 pm on 14 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked it :) It really worked in my head for them to do something like this and I'm happy it sounds realistic to you, too.
belantana
belantana at 6:03 am on 15 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Here on a rec from lost_spook, and this is excellent. I learned a lot about US politics too, which was unexpected!
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 12:20 am on 23 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I learned a lot about US politics too, which was unexpected!

LOL. Thanks :). I am more than a bit of a politics and history junkie and loved stringing all this together. Glad you like it.
Michelle
michelsita at 1:44 am on 17 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Love it!

It was like watching an episode!

Ainsley is such a wonderful republican, we should have keep her.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 12:19 am on 23 June 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it. I agree that Ainsley is bunches of fun and should stick around. :)
this_other_life
this_other_life at 8:12 pm on 13 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Found this fic by following a Google search for info on a replacement for Radio Downloader. A riveting read; everybody was beautifully in character and the debate was very cleverly handled.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 10:53 am on 15 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I honestly didn't think anybody but me would get a huge kick out of this fic so I'm very glad you thought the debating was done well.

Also, I hope the get_iplayer on which I've settled or something else helps you out with the Radio Downloader situation. Once BBC introduces Radio DRM sometime next year, things will change again, but I'm hoping get_iplayer will keep working until then.


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