The West Wing

Season 6 Episode 20

In God We Trust

0
Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Mar 23, 2005 on NBC
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
96 votes
3

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Senator Vinick, now the Republican Presidential nominee, receives advice from former Bartlet political consultant Bruno Gianelli on how to win all 50 states in the general election, and more specifically in the near term how to present his religious views to the public and pick a running mate. Meanwhile, Bartlet wrestles with getting a minimum wage hike passed by attaching it to a bill necessary to raise the debt ceiling, and with how to unify his party in the face of a three-way race for the Democratic nomination.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The West Wing in Frank Capra World.

    9.0
    It was very weird to watch this episode again in April 2008. In the world of West Wing the republicans had already chosen their candidate for the presidential race, the democrats were left with two candidates who could not get enough delegates before the convention to clinch the nomination. An eerie prediction of the situation in real life, three years after the episode first aired.



    Besides its quality as a predictor of the future, the episode gave us an insight into the mind of the writers and producers of what is essential a "liberal" show. The republican candidate came straight from Frank Capra Land, the plucky individual who stood up against the general trends in his own party, nearly becoming a democrat in some of his views. Vinick was the producers' idea of a republican they could vote for. More wishful thinking that realism, but it left you feeling good at the end. Seeing Alda and Sheen act together was an added bonus.moreless
  • Fine episode shows the real life issue of politics and religion that candidates today debate over.

    8.6
    This is a very compelling episode mostly featuring Alda as Senator Vinick who hasn't been going to church much and his campaign believes that religion equals more votes. We find out more personal information about Vinick as he and Bartlet have a nice discussion over ice-cream. It is a big issue in the United States today. Whether a president goes to church or not is something the american people care about. Alda is an incredible actor because you really believe that he doesnt go to church for a reason. This is a show about the characters and this episode turns Senator Arnold Vinick into a predominate character on this show.moreless
  • God, Ice Cream, Abortion, and Baseball- All in a Day's Work

    7.0
    In "In God We Trust", the West Wing creators really up the "we don't know who the next president could be" factor, and I am nonplussed. I like Alan Alda. I like Arnie Vinick. But I do NOT want either of them to win in November. I do think the show has made an extraordinarily smart move in giving us both sides of the story for this election. When Bartlet was running for reelection, there was some suspense created, but everyone knew he had to win or the show would not go on. And the show must go on. But now, we really don't know who the next president will be because it could very well be either one. Both candidates (I'm talking about Santos and Vinick, I think we can assume it will be those two) are played by established actors, staffed by established actors, fully developed characters, extremely likable in their own ways, and seem fully capable running the show (pun intended) next year. Since the producers have left it up in the air, we as fans have to really worry which will be better for our fictional country. The people are divided by who they support, confused viewers try to send checks to "Matt Santos for President", and general chaos ensues. It's like the real thing.



    This episode, strange though it may seem for featuring a guest star as the focus of the show's entire attention, really was successful at pounding home the idea that Vinick is a winner. He can win in November. He's got California in the bag, he deals with the press handily and can manage sticky issues, he's moderate enough to attract Democrats, and he has charisma coming out his ears. Even way back before the primaries, Leo said that if Vinick is the Republican nominee, there's no Democrat that can beat him. How does this happen? This happens in politics, where a party simply can't come up with a good candidate, but I don't understand. There are a whole lot of Democrats in the world. There has to be one, just one that has presidential winning potential. I guess finding a combination of experience, broad appeal, good political instincts, and presidential aspiration is more difficult to find than one may think. I just cannot handle the idea that he will win and bring with him an administration full of unfamiliar characters. If you are going to do that, you might as well just start a whole other show. Speaking of unfamiliar characters, I am very unimpressed with Sheila. I had high hopes for the beloved Jill of Home Improvement fame, but in this role Patricia Richardson has failed to create an intriguing character. Despite the interesting addition to family and children into the life of a political staffer (besides Toby and Jed, this isn't something we West Wing viewers are accustomed to seeing) I did not get any sense of personality from Sheila. Her daughter was cute, but slightly clichéd (I know, I know, she's a kid and she's in one scene. But look at Cody Zucker, our child lobbyist. That was an interesting child character. It can be done.) and I didn't get the endearing vibe that I felt like I should have. Although, I must say that I am glad to see a woman managing a campaign.



    So, Bruno's back. I don't know how you all feel about the character, I was never a huge fan myself, but I think we should all be yelling "Traitor!" It's good to see an old character back on the scene, and even though I don't like Bruno, political consultants seem that they are supposed to be unlikable yet smart. And that's what he is. In fact, he's so smart that maybe he should be helping HIS OWN PARTY! I guess he wants to unite the country, and Santos proved long ago that he is the liberal of the liberals. Even so, if I was a Democrat, I would be pissed. I am surprised Josh didn't catch wind of Bruno's treason and go speak his mind to Benedict Arnold. Since even the Democrats are jumping ship to the Vinick camp, it seems as though Santos/Russell has an even more difficult task ahead in the general election. I have what may be a solution to their problems. Josh/Will needs to find a spoiler and convince them to run. Santos, at least, will attract the hard-core Democrats and radical liberals, but there aren't too, too many of those. Much less than there are moderate independents, conservative Democrats, centrists, and liberal Republicans who would love to see a bipartisan hero like Vinick be the next President. This leaves out only the staunch conservative Republicans, who may not be Vinick supporters but would vote for him as the lesser of the two evils. If you take away those votes from Vinick with an ultra-conservative independent, the Democrats just might have a chance in hell of beating Arnie. If you are now worried that I have spent way too much time analyzing this as though it were real, well, so am I. But I still think it's a good idea.



    My favorite part of this episode had to be the ice cream scene between Bartlet and Vinick. After making a deal, they let down their guards and commiserated like old pals. They discuss the church issue with both empathy and a degree of tension. (Bartlet: "Are you accusing me of politicizing religion?") And as if Vinick was not likable enough, he has to go on and voice my exact religious concerns (i.e. The Bible makes little to no sense.). If Arnold Vinick could just stop being so damned appealing, I may get more sleep at night. I liked their discussion on the role of church in the state and Bartlet's take that the public chooses how they judge their candidates. Also priceless, Vinick: "You think people need to know if I go to church?" Bartlet: "I don't need to know, but then I'm not gonna vote for you anyway." Something I found strange, though, was Bartlet's willingness to "let it slip that he doesn't think a candidate's religious is important." Why is everyone jumping on the Vinick bandwagon? Why would Jed Bartlet want to help Arnold Vinick's political chances? I can tell that Jed admires the guy, but want him to win, I don't think so. Strange…



    There were some other goings-on in this episode, mainly the debt ceiling versus a minimum wage amendment those Dems are trying to attach to it. This is what Jed and Vinick were meeting to discuss in the first place. I think its odd that in an administration that recently touted the importance of a balanced budget, no one seems to care about moving up the debt ceiling. Why even have a debt ceiling if you are just going to keep raising it whenever you want? Eight TRILLION dollars, people! That ain't no pocket change. I would really appreciate it if our government were a little more fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. Again, I know that this government I see on TV has no actual effect on my bank account, but I like to think of this government as the government we wish we had. So raise the bar, West Wing.



    OTHER THOUGHTS:

    - Word count on main characters who appear on screen but hardly speak: Josh-0, Donna-0, Helen Santos-0, Matt Santos-4 (‘It's an honor, sir."), Annabeth- I count 4 ("Trillion?" and "That'll be all")

    - Jimmy Smits is a terrific actor. As he sat in the Oval you could see the awe of his proximity to the Presidency, his admiration for Jed Bartlet, and his discomfort and dislike of Russell. And with only 4 words of dialogue.

    - Will someone please tell me what Leo's job is???



    Written: 4/3/2005moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

Matthew Santos (Episodes 114-)

Paul Webster

Paul Webster

Pundit

Guest Star

Don S. Davis

Don S. Davis

Reverend Don Butler

Guest Star

Deven Streeton

Deven Streeton

Tina

Guest Star

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth

Annabeth Schott

Recurring Role

Gary Cole

Gary Cole

Bob Russell

Recurring Role

Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson

Sheila Brooks

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Stephen Root and Gary Cole have previously worked together on the movie Office Space.

    • While riding in his limousine with his campaign manager, Senator Vinick tells her that the answer to her son's question about the area of a parallelogram is "Length times width...it's the same as a rectangle." But the correct formula for finding the area of a parallelogram is base times height. Length and width are poorly defined properties when the corners are not right angles.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Vinick: I don't see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there, if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won't all lie to you but a lot of them will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So, every day until the end of this campaign, I'll answer any question anyone has on government, But if you have a question on religion, please go to church.

    • Bartlet: The only thing you can pray for in this job is the strength to get through the day. You can try coffee if you want, but prayer works better for me.

    • Bartlet: It's not up to us to decide what the voters get to use in evaluating us.
      Vinick: A little odd coming from someone who wasn't completely open about his health.
      Bartlet: That was a big mistake.
      Vinick: Was it? What did we know about Lincoln's health when he was running: nothing. Washington? Jefferson? What about FDR's health? And when he died in office, did people say, "Gee, why didn't he tell us he was sick?" No. Did they say, "I wish I didn't vote for him"? No.

    • Vinick: You think a voter really needs to know if I go to church?
      Bartlet: I don't need to know, but then I'm not going to vote for you anyway.

    • Vinick: Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?
      Bartlet: It's hanging in there, but I'm afraid the constitution doesn't say anything about the separation of church and politics.

    • Bartlet: We need to remind people we still know a little something about running the country.
      Toby: Maybe a little less about running a party.

    • Annabeth: It doesn't matter who wins. No one's going to have enough delegates for the nomination. Come on. Wake up and smell the chaos.

    • Vinick (on pro baseball): The team should pay their own way. These guys can pay 80 million dollars for a shortstop but they can't pay for their own stadiums? Come on.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Mary McCormack and Stockard Channing do not appear in this episode. Bradley Whitford is seen briefly but has no lines. Alan Alda is credited as part of the main cast, appearing in the opening montage.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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