The West Wing

Season 3 Episode 11

100,000 Airplanes

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jan 16, 2002 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
382 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

On State of the Union night, Sam is being trailed by a magazine reporter to whom he was once engaged; the President' Congressional censure weighs heavily on staffers' minds as they debate whether to include an anti-cancer initiative in the President's address; Josh can't get Amy Gardner to talk to him.moreless

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  • A white piece of paper.

    Seeing Toby, Sam, and CJ's initial reaction to the censure was disheartening. I can imagine it's not an easy thing to move past and I was glad that Josh was able to at least get them back to work.

    Josh: "'How does he deliver the State of the Union in two weeks?' He's the President of the United States, when he walks into the House chamber they're all going to stand up. Anyone here not believe this president can take it from there? He's still got my lunch money."

    That was an excellent scene all around, with Josh seeing the three of them huddled together from outside the room and knowing he's going to need to give them a shot in the arm.

    The plot about Bartlet wanting to announce that they would cure cancer was great. I loved the way Bartlet was just looking absolutely miserable during dinner and then you can almost see his ears prick up at the mention of them being able to cure cancer in ten years. I thought it was a good choice to have Sam be the only one to agree with Bartlet, because(for the reasons I mentioned in the last review) Sam is how I picture a younger Bartlet would be. A thought that was reaffirmed by Sam's words in the scene where Bartlet is asking the staff why he shouldn't include it in the State of the Union.

    Sam: "I think you should. I think ambition is good, I think overreaching is good, I think giving people a vision of government that's more than social security checks and debt reduction is good. I think government should be optimistic."

    The way he speaks sometimes really reminds me of Bartlet. Sam's scenes with his ex-fiance, Lisa(Traylor Howard) were also entertaining, especially their final scene together where Sam reads her the section that didn't make it to the State of the Union. I thought she was pretty convincing as a former love interest for Sam. Though my favorite scenes with Sam(besides the ones with Bartlet) were the ones flashing back to him and Toby working on the SotU. I don't know why but I really enjoy watching the writing process, some of my favorite scenes from S60 were watching Matt "eating it," as he put it. Toby walking into Sam's office while wadding up a piece of paper was perfect in that sense.

    Toby: "I'm outta pie."

    Sam: "We'll get some more."

    I went into this episode telling myself, "You're gonna try to like Amy." Well I'm still not quite there yet.

    Not quite on the same level as the season 2 State of the Union episode, but still an incredible episode.moreless
  • Catching the dreams

    This was episode I love.. First we have had two State of Union episodes before but none like this and it was amazing - they did not concentrate so much what to say but how it was written and more deep into Sam and we have some char development too and it was just enjoyable. It was great to have Joey Lukas once again as she is very colorful char.

    But writing the speech and showing the process and morning that cure the cancer was left out and on the final minute we will hear what Sam has written on that and it is so beautiful. And catching the dream was not only on the cure but somehow Sam's personal feelings as Lisa was around.. and their all dreams to manage to go for re-election...moreless
  • I love the episodes that sort of focus on one character, but then keep everyone else in check too... And I love Sam and I love State of the Union episodes, so this one is good all around. "They're out of pie."moreless

    *The thing with Sam and his ex-fiancee was so cool. I love how they never tell you these things till like halfway in the episode. It really gives you a look into the characters past, because believe it or not, they were not always Bartlet's senior staff... Lisa Sherborne-Seaborn... gets me everytime.

    *The curing cancer thing was clever, and at the same time really deep... To some casual viewers they would find it just hysterical ("The President thinks he can cure cancer.") But to others it goes a lot deeper, and I like that. *Josh is really sweet, but so horrible with women... but he is so funny and right, you know. Amy's cool though, I loved how she wouldn't let him talk to her. *Toby's pie thing gets me everytime... I don't know why, I just love it, I find it hysterical, and everytime I can't think or speak right I blame it on the fact that we never have pie... *The ending is great, I love the president draping his arms around sam and Toby, everyone cheering. And then the last scene with Sam deleting his speech... Wow. *Oh yes, and Joey Lucas, I adore Joey!!! She's so great. State of the Union episode are always different. They're done differently, shows different parts of it, and they're always wonderful...moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Traylor Howard

Traylor Howard

Lisa Sherborne

Guest Star

Howard S. Miller

Howard S. Miller

Oncologist #2

Guest Star

Nicholas Hormann

Nicholas Hormann


Guest Star

Mary-Louise Parker

Mary-Louise Parker

Amy Gardner

Recurring Role

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin

Joey Lucas

Recurring Role

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien

Kenny Thurman

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (20)

    • Sam: I think you should. I think ambition is good, I think overreaching is good, I think giving people a vision of government that's more than social security checks and debt reduction is good. I think government should be optimistic.

    • Josh: "How does he deliver the State of the Union in two weeks?" He's the President of the United States, when he walks into the House chamber they're all going to stand up. Anyone here not believe this president can take it from there? He's still got my lunch money.

    • Toby: I'm just, you know... I'm just the guy who does the thing.
      Josh: What?
      Toby: We've run out of pie.

    • Josh: (on his cell phone) Yeah?
      Toby: You got to come back.
      Josh: Why?
      Toby: The President thinks he can cure cancer.

    • C.J.:It's our biggest press hit of the year, our biggest pre-convention campaign exposure. I don't know how you make a formal report to Congress when Congress just called you a liar.
      Josh: I say we strap a polygraph onto the TelePrompTer.

    • Leo: He's about to be censured, and then he's gonna deliver the State of the Union, and then he's gonna run for re-election. My guess is that there are some things on his mind.

    • C. J.: Should we postpone the State of the Union? What are the rules on that?
      Toby: He's required to give Congress information on the state of the union. If he buys Congress a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, he's fulfilled his constitutional...

    • Sam: Ed, Larry, this is Lisa Sherborne from Vanity Fair.
      Lisa: Uh, which one's Ed, which one's Larry?
      Sam, Ed and Larry: (simultaneously) Doesn't matter.

    • Josh: I'm seeing Amy again tonight.
      Donna: Second date?
      Josh: First date, really. Last night was more of a ... you know ...
      Donna: Scheme.
      Josh: Yeah.
      Donna: Good, 'cause the second date's usually where the wheels come off the wagon for you.

    • Amy: I have wit. I have charm. I have brains. I have legs that go all the way down to the floor, my friend.

    • Donna: (to Josh, who has just gotten the cold shoulder from Joey Lucas) So many women, so little charm.

    • Bartlet: I just had dinner with some of Abby's friends. They're all oncologists. I think in the State of the Union I can announce that I'm directing our researchers to have a cure for cancer in ten years. Call everyone in. (leaves the room)
      Toby: (to Sam) This is about the censure.

    • Joey Lucas: The federal government shouldn't be directing scientific research.
      Sam: Why?
      Joey: Because you stink at it. If it was up to the NIH to cure polio through a centrally-directed program, instead of an independent investigator-driven discovery, you'd have the best iron lung in the world, but not a polio vaccine.
      Sam: When did you get an M.D.?
      Joey: I was just quoting Samuel Broder.
      Sam: Who's he?
      Joey: The former director of the National Cancer Institute.

    • Sam: (reading an excerpt rejected from the State of the Union speech) "Over the past half-century, we've split the atom, we've spliced the gene, and we've roamed Tranquility Base. We've reached for the stars, and never have we been closer to having them in our grasp. New science, new technology is making the difference between life and death, and so we need a national commitment equal to this unparalleled moment of possibility. And so I announce to you tonight that I will bring the full resources of the federal government and the full reach of my office to this fundamental goal: We will cure cancer by the end of this decade."

    • Sam (to C.J.): Hey, I'm just, you know. Anyway, congratulations. And if you're serious about that thing with Carol, I can just sit in the corner and not even say...
      C.J. (laughing): Get out!

    • C.J. (to Sam): Hey, is the reason you guys didn't get married is 'cause her name would be Lisa Sherborne Seaborn?

    • Donna: I'm trying to figure out if you have to pay for the plane ticket to Phoenix.
      Josh: It was official travel.
      Donna: Yeah, well, that doesn't really seem to make a difference...
      Josh: What does the rule say?
      Donna (reading from a huge book): An employee may not use contract airline/rail passenger service provided under the contract with the General Services Administration. See part 301-15 subpart B of this chapter.
      Josh: What's the problem?
      Donna: Well, let's set aside that there's no subpart B. The rest of it uses a sentence structure with which I'm not familiar

    • C.J.: Sam, Sam, sunshine man. Get on the couch, I'm gonna do you right now.
      Sam: Okay.
      C.J.: Sorry, I was still talking to Carol.

    • Donna: How many words in the Gettysburg address?
      Toby: 266.
      Donna: And the Ten Commandments?
      Donna: So you really wouldn't think you'd need 6000 to discover how a plane ticket gets reimbursed.
      Toby: No.
      Donna: No

    • Sam: We almost cured cancer.
      Lisa: Really?
      Sam: This close.
      Lisa: What happened?
      Sam: Just one of those things.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Music: Josh tries to sing a few lines from "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!.

    • Awards and Nominations:
      This episode was an 2002 Emmy Award Nominee for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Series (Janet Ashikaga, A.C.E.).


    • Sam: The dials go from zero to 100. They dial up if they like what he's saying. They dial down if they don't. All the numbers lead to a central computer.
      Lisa: Like the Nielsens.

      The Nielsens are the numbers used to judge how well a television program has done. It uses "families" to judge an audience and estimates the numbers for broadcast and cable networks and television stations. It is similar in the way the President's State of the Union is judged as both use numbers gathered by viewers, that can make or break a show or in this case a Presidential approval rating.