Saturday, December 10, 2005

Chapter and Verse

Back before "The West Wing" jumped the shark, and while Aaron Sorkin wrote every word the cast uttered, it was, without question, the best written and acted show on television, maybe ever. Even now I don't miss it, and sometimes it recaptures some of the umph of it's early days. But mostly, I watch it now in appreciation for how great it was then.

I was remembering this episode about Pres. Bartlet's encounter with a right wing radio host, who attended a White House function. Given the ferment of our time, it seemed something worth remembering. Because if we're going to go the route of chapter and verse to prove our points, let the following serve a cautionary note.

Thank God for Google where the dialogue was found.

Let the following simmer in the consciousness of your thoughts. Maybe in moments like these, the arts will reveal the greater truths we have too hard a time talking about.

From the episode - "Midterms"

Setting - at a White House reception for media folks, the President comes in with the event already in progress. As the President enters, all stand, per protocol, except for Dr. Jenna Jacobs, a radio talk-show host, who has used the airwaves to condemn the President and his social policies.

President Josiah Bartlet: You're Dr. Jenna Jacobs, right?

Jenna Jacobs: Yes, sir.

Bartlet: ...Forgive me, Dr. Jacobs. Are you an M.D.?

Jacobs: A Ph.D.

Bartlet: A Ph.D.

Jacobs: Yes, sir.

Bartlet: Psychology?

Jacobs: No, sir.

Bartlet: Theology?

Jacobs: No.

Bartlet: Social work?

Jacobs: I have a Ph.D. in English literature.

Bartlet: I'm asking because on your show, people call in for advice and you go by the name Dr. Jacobs on your show, and I didn't know if maybe your listeners were confused by that and assumed you had advanced training in psychology, theology or health care.

Jacobs: I don't believe they are confused, no, sir.

Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.

Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President, the Bible does.

Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus.

Jacobs: 18:22.

Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here.

I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police?

Here's one that's really important because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football?
Can Notre Dame?
Can West Point?

Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side-by-side?

Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

Think about those questions, would you?

One last thing, while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.

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