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West Wing Wednesday: Top 5 constitutional zingers

National Constitution Center

Let’s walk and talk, shall we?

See, it’s about The West Wing. Ever since Netflix and Amazon began instant-streaming the show a few months ago, the political-drama series has reinvigorated its original fans of the early 2000s—and quickly found a new wave of loyal devotees.

And why not? The West Wing offers soaring idealism, sharp-witted banter, swelling theme music, charismatic characters, and an unfailingly inspiring commander in chief. (Proof: Last year, Constitution Daily readers voted Jed Bartlet the best fictional president of all time.)

But the show also offers a look at the Constitution in action. So for all you West Wing-ers, old and new, join Constitution Daily for West Wing Wednesday. We’ll be looking at the top constitutional lessons, mistakes, and moments from the show.

Today’s topic: constitutional zingers.

1. Article I, Section 2 of what?

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discouraging

TOBY: Cathy, I need a copy of Article I, Section 2.

CATHY: Article I, Section 2 of what?

TOBY: The Constitution.

CATHY: Is that something I’m supposed to have at my desk?

TOBY: Does anybody have a copy of the Constitution? [No one responds.] This is discouraging.

CATHY: Bonnie, would you get Toby a copy of the Constitution?

BONNIE: Is it still in print?

TOBY: Oh for crying out loud! Try Amazon.com. If they don’t have it then just bust into the glass display case at the National Archives!

(“Mr. Willis of Ohio,” Episode 6, Season 1)

2. The men’s room

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HOYNES: You want me to consider it a directive from this office?

LEO: Yes.

HOYNES: Well, let me consult Article II of the Constitution, ’cause I’m not a hundred percent sure where this office gets the authority to direct me to the men’s room!

(“Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc,” Episode 2, Season 1)

3. Maharajas

LEO: Lord Marbury, under our Constitution, our President is not empowered to create maharajas.

(“He Shall, From Time to Time,” Episode 12, Season 1)

4. Blame the Constitution

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bartlet and leo

BARTLET: Are you being brusque with me?

LEO: It’s 3 o’clock in the morning.

BARTLET: I’m just saying you can’t blame me. It’s what you get from having an even number of senators.

LEO: Yeah, you should blame the constitution.

BARTLET: That’s what I usually do.

LEO: Yep.

(“20 Hours in L.A.,” Episode 16, Season 1)

5. A pulse

JOSH: You’ve got a Constitutional obligation, that comes first.

HOYNES: Last time I checked, my Constitutional obligation was to have a pulse.

(“Swiss Diplomacy,” Episode 9, Season 4)

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