Synopsis of Celestial Navigation

Written by Kerry

Josh is attending the Marjorie Dupont lecture series where he is the guest speaker. He receives a call from Sam that Judge Roberto Mendoza (Edward James Olmos), the President's nominee for the US Supreme Court, has been arrested for drunk driving in the small town of Wesley, Connecticut. Leo dispatches Tobey and Sam to Connecticut to get Mendoza out of jail.

Meanwhile, Josh commences his address to the audience about how the schedule of an ordinary day at the White House can usually be thrown out by 9:30am. He demonstrates his point by using as an example a recent day which started out trumpeting the President's vision for education reform and ended up as the news cycle that wouldn't end.

Josh's flashbacks to those events are interspersed with scenes in the present of Tobey and Sam driving around Connecticut trying to find the town of Wesley. Josh is interrupted in his address on his cell phone by calls from them. The day Josh refers to is one which was supposed to have focused on the President's announcement that he had signed a bill which would put an extra $700 million into the education system for new teachers. Instead, the day starts to get out of hand when the Cabinet Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Deborah O'Leary (CC Pounder) infers that a Republican congressman, who has long been baiting her, is a racist.

With no press secretary in the room at the President's press conference to announce the new education spending, no-one ends it in time before President Bartlett answers a question by stating that he believed it would be appropriate for O'Leary to apologize. Leo calls O'Leary into his office and convinces her to apologize to the Congressman. Which should have been the end of the matter.

It isn't, however, when Judge Mendoza, in another in a long line of inappropriate comments, tells The Chicago Tribune that he disagrees with the President's handling of the issue. This is much to Tobey's chagrin, as he is responsible for Mendoza and his confirmation to the US Supreme Court.

CJ is unable to fulfill her 2:00pm press briefing due to a dental emergency and Josh jumps in to take her place. Josh ends up creating a public relations frenzy, when he goads and is goaded in return, by the White House press corps. He ends up, among other goofs, saying that the President has a (non-existent) "secret plan to fight inflation".

The next day, Charlie has the dubious task of getting President Bartlett, who has only had three hours sleep, out of bed and ready for a 7:00 a.m. meeting with his senior staff. At the meeting, the President is informed of Josh's press briefing debacle and Mendoza's comments. He is informed that Mendoza is on his way, but won't be in Washington for another couple of days because he is driving down from Nova Scotia with his family and doing some antiquing in Connecticut along the way.

In the present time, Tobey and Sam have found Wesley and Judge Mendoza. Sam informs the police that Mendoza could not have been drinking, because he suffers from a form of hepatitis and the amount of alcohol needed to register in a breathlyser test would have killed him. Mendoza is initially reluctant to leave with Tobey, because he was humiliated in front of his wife and young son. He says he wishes to avail himself of the criminal justice system for which he has worked all his life. Tobey convinces him that nothing can be better unless Mendoza is a Supreme Court Justice.

Tobey extracts an apology and an escort for Mendoza from the bemused police sgt who arrested him. Towards the end of his address, Josh receives his final call to confirm that the Mendoza problem is over. He tells the audience there were parts of the story he could not tell them and suggests that they invite him back after Mendoza's confirmation. The episode also provides insight into Sam's "freakish" interest in North American highway infrastructure.

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