Volume 1, Issue 1
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SEASON 1
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Human Error

   
The Sterling Review - Human Error
By Johnny Betts

Email Johnny with all your feedback (johnny_betts@hotmail.com)

Episode: Human Error
Rating: 7.3
Share: 13.0
Timeslot Ranking: 2nd
Overall Ranking: 45th

Sterling finished in second place, just behind "The Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular." But the ratings rose significantly. In fact, Sterling scored its highest ratings since the pilot episode. What does this all mean? Who knows. The ratings are fluctuating more than a family member's hearing when he's been asked to move some furniture.

Before we get to the review I'd like to offer the strongest proof yet that Josh is reading the reviews. A kind-hearted reader (thanks Sameena) scanned in a Sterling article from her local newspaper, and I want you to check out the following segment from it:

Brolin hopes the show will expose more of the man's personal side.

"Heroics are great, but I think it's monotonous," he said. "After a while I don't think you can sustain just heroics. I think the greatest part about watching something like Superman is that there's kryptonite. I want to find out what his [Sterling's] kryptonite is."


Weeeeeell, one day I'm comparing Sterling to Superman and talking about what Sterling's kryptonite is, and the next thing you know Josh is making similar comments in a newspaper article. "Oh Johnny, you're dreaming! It's just a coincidence! We need more proof!" Well, I expect some readers to be skeptical, so I shall continue to watch for hidden messages to me in Josh's various interviews. Like my friend Rhi said, he's probably sending encoded messages to me like the police did to the snipers. It's his way of letting me know he's reading. He also went on to mention in the article how he doesn't "want too many violins." Yep, that's an obvious reference to the many times I've made fun of the sappy background music. I'll continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Oh, and Aimee (who lives in California) has informed me that it's "highly plausible" that Bill is only paying $987/month for a beachfront house. She says rent in Santa Monica is really good if you are able to get in cheap. So there you go. I'm man enough to admit when there's a SLIGHT chance that I'm less than 100% right.

Let's delve into the review, shall we?

It's late at night. Bill's alone in his office. He hears a noise. He goes to check it out. Romantic silence fills the halls. It's Martina the cleaning lady. Bill notices her leaning over to put something in the trashcan. He's mesmerized; he can't seem to take his eyes off her. It turned out to be a night of passion they would both soon regret, but neither would ever forget.

Oh wait, that last sentence is a little inaccurate. Actually, Martina was crying because her mother is dying, and she's all the way in Guatemala. Big deal. Sterling has to stay late at the office to DO HIS TAXES! Count your blessings, honey. Amazingly, Bill is able to unselfishly take his mind off his taxes for a moment and act like he feels sorry for Martina. Martina asks Bill to affirm that she should go see her mother. He says of course she should. The only problem is she won't be able to come back. Bill hugs her. Hmmm, maybe it really WAS a night of passion they'd soon regret but never forget! Let's hope not.

OPENING CREDITS! Amy C. has suggested changing the theme song to a rendition of the old Schoolhouse Rock song, "I'm Just a Bill." Here are her suggested lyrics:

I'm just a Bill (Sterling Jr.)
I'm only a Bill (Sterling Jr.)
And I'm sitting up on Capitol Hill (possibly Burbank)

What do y'all think? Apologies to Schoolhouse Rock. Personally, I'd like to see Gwen Stefani do a theme song called "I'm Just a Bill" to the music of her No Doubt song, "Just a Girl." Anything to see me some Gwen Stefani!

Jackie and Bill are having another one of their usual chinwags. You've seen it before, Bill says he's gonna do something; Jackie says it's not a good idea, but Bill does it anyway. There are at least three per episode. Wow, this time they're actually just talking. Jackie asks if Martina's an illegal alien. Nope. She's in the process of getting a green card. She put in an application 3 years ago, but so far she hasn't gotten it. Jackie claims it usually only takes a year to get a green card, so it sounds like INS is acting as efficiently as all other bureaucracies out there. Big surprise.

Bill's upset because Martina has done everything right (except slip a couple of Andrew Jacksons to the INS commissioner). He thinks there has to be something they can do. Jackie hopes he didn't promise her anything, but you know how ol' Bill is; he told Martina they'd help her. Bill apparently was never taught about not counting chickens before they're hatched. Ah, the curse of being a governor's son. Somebody needs to tell the guy that there's not ALWAYS an easy solution to every problem.

Jackie honestly doesn't think there's anything they can do. But do you think Bill's gonna just say, "Well, all right, never mind then"? Not likely. Bill says Martina's plane leaves at 5:00, so they've gotta try to figure something out by then. Of course, Jackie must reluctantly try to help him out. You think she keeps a Sam's Club-size bottle of Advil on her desk?

Jackie asks Peon to handle the immigration case. He whines to Jackie about how he's never handled an immigration case before. CRYBABY! Oh, he claims he's not whining about it; he's just giving her the 4-1-1. He is curious as to why they want to help Martina though. Good question. I mean, why in the world would the Senator want to help a fellow human being???? I'm with Peon, WHAT'S GOTTEN INTO BILL??? This whole "helping out your fellow man" thing has got to stop!

Jackie says it's because Sterling promised the woman some help. Peon has a funny line when he asks if Bill just walks through the halls handing out cards. Hahaha, yep, that and giving sight to the blind and the gift of walking to the lame. He pulled a real shocker when he walked on the hotel swimming pool water.

Jackie gives Peon all the relevant info on the woman, but Peon tries to remain realistic. Not unlike John Travolta's movie career, she most likely won't be coming back.

Bill discusses the minimum wage. Uh-oh, discussing the minimum wage is always a sign that a politician is trying to score some political points. Bill talks about trying to support a family on minimum wage and says there's no proof that raising the minimum wage actually increases unemployment. Actually, there ARE studies that offer some proof to support that position. I'm just saying. Bill says "we" can afford to give the working poor a raise. I would ask Bill exactly whom "we" refers to, and by how much does he want to raise it? Is the government going to pay the raise? Nope. Some people may be able to afford the wage increase, but are we so arrogant as to say that every small business out there can afford the wage increase? It all depends on how much the increase is. Come on Bill, give us some numbers! You've apparently got plenty swimming around in your head!

Jackie and Bill talk about how there is no time agreement on the minimum wage increase. The rule at work here is that if you have an unlimited amount of time to do something then you'll never do it. But if you have to get something done by 3:00 then it's most likely going to be done somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00. Amen. I was always the king of procrastination, BUT I also worked best under pressure. That explains why I don't always reel off a new review every week. If Larry O'Donnell were to contact me and say, "Hey Johnny, I'll give you $10,000 per review if you can complete each one within a week," then you better believe I'd make sure I finished a review per week. Or, if one of you fine readers is super wealthy and would like to make a time agreement with me then I'll be VERY flexible. Actually, I'd settle for an autographed 8X10. Josh wouldn't even have to autograph it. I'd be pretty happy if Peon forged his signature.

Bill asks Peon for some news. Peon says they're getting a lot of angry calls and emails against the minimum wage. It'll bankrupt small business, put people out of work, etc. Always good to see them showing the concerns of both sides. But Bill wants to know what's going on with the INS situation. Peon says they haven't found Martina's file yet, but they'll call back when they do. This was only half an hour ago, but Bill tells Peon to call them back. Man, Bill, you might want to avoid getting on their nerves too much! If I worked in the INS and got a call every 30 minutes from somebody like Peon then I'd be strongly tempted to "accidentally" drop a certain green card application in the shredder.

Carrot Top Tommy asks Jackie if Bill's done with his taxes yet. Nope, the slacker's not even close to being done. Tommy really wants Bill to give his first Senate speech TODAY! It's just a tradition that senators don't debate until they've given their first speech, but Tommy thinks it's a tradition Bill should try to keep since he's broken so many others. Especially bad was when Bill broke the time-honored tradition of "rookie senators should not pants the majority leader." Bill's face was all sorts of Carrot Top-red after that incident.

Jackie asks Tommy how long the speech is. 13 1/2 minutes. Jackie sort of sarcastically asks if Tommy timed it. Hey, why did you ask him how long it was if you didn't want an answer??? Tommy explains that he's written a few speeches in his time. A Ledge Director writes speeches? He bets Jackie $5 that he can at least get Bill to look at the speech. Is gambling not illegal in the Senate offices? Uh-oh, I bet The Maj leader overheard this bet! It's a future plot line - the Dems try to inflict further damage on Sterling by implicating his staff in a huge office gambling controversy!

There's Bill doing his taxes. He complains that he paid more in Social Security taxes than in income taxes. Tommy brings up the topic of the speech, and Bill finally agrees to do it. He just needs to finish a worksheet first. Looks like Jackie owes Tommy $5. I wonder if he'll report it on his taxes next year? Hmmm, maybe that's the potential plot line! The series just HAS to be renewed so we can see how it all plays out. This is just too juicy to not have a resolution.

Peon's on the phone. He asks the unseen entity if there are any exceptions such as for family emergencies. Uh-oh. This isn't looking good for Martina. It isn't looking good for my stomach either because I fear a really sappy, violin-laced scene coming up.

Tommy and Bill are seen walking down the hall, as they often are. Apparently Bill's speech is pretty boring. I guess Bill was hoping to deliver something equivalent to the Declaration of Independence, but Tommy says it's supposed to be boring. A senator's first speech shouldn't attract attention.

Bill asks why there are mentions of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. Tommy explains that that's to remind everybody that some of the nation's best senators weren't elected. Wait a minute! Bill and I both thought Tommy said no one would be listening to the speech?? BUSTED! Well, actually, it's probably true that no one's gonna be listening. Is there anybody reading this review who has EVER listened to ANY senator's first speech? Anybody? Hello? Speak up if you're out there!

Senator Big Show As they head to the elevator, Tommy tells Bill that he can change some stuff if he wants, but he should stay away from the issues of the day. He doesn't want to come under fire so soon. Bill reminds Tommy that he was a prosecutor; he can handle it. The difference is that on the Senate floor Bill will be facing 99 opponents instead of 1. Bill's response? "Bring 'em on." I think the Senate needs to start scheduling some huge battle royals to settle some of their disputes. Just set up a wrestling ring and then have a new senator come down to the ring every minute or so. Last man standing gets to set a time agreement on a vote.

As the elevator door closes, Peon uses a thread from his shirt to stop the door. Oh, whoops, that was actually Peon's arm that stopped the door. He tells Bill that he has an answer to the green card question. If she leaves the country then she can't get back in. Tommy doesn't know of any exceptions. Bill asks what he's supposed to tell Martina, and Peon bluntly says, "Not to go." And really, there's not much else he could say.

Martina meets with Bill, and look, she's brought her 8-year-old son Richard with her. Why was it necessary to bring her son? It's a little thing called "pulling at the heart strings." They have a Providence demographic they've gotta keep a grip on! Let's see if I can stay awake during this entire scene. I'll be happy if I just keep from throwing up.

Bill says he's sorry, but the situation is more complicated than he thought. The rules are strictly followed. The scene goes downhill from here. Martina starts talking about how Richard was born in the U.S. He's close to his grandmother, and all he wants to do is say goodbye. Believe me, I know the feeling. I want to say goodbye also ... TO THIS SCENE!

At this point I'm thinking, "Oh, the kid's a U.S. citizen, just send HIM to say goodbye and all will be well!" I honestly thought Bill was going to suggest this, but nope, for some reason the idea wasn't even kicked around. They didn't even chew it over for a little bit. It wasn't tossed around. They neglected to bandy it about. Instead, Martina starts going on and on about how Richard makes all A's, he loves apple pie and baseball, he pledges allegiance to the flag, he LOVED The Young Riders, and get this, HE'S GONNA BE IN THE SCHOOL PLAY! Holy cow, somebody get this kid a medal! Can we go ahead and set up a college trust fund for him? Why, you ask? BECAUSE HE'S GONNA BE IN THE SCHOOL PLAY! Bill acts like he cares by faking out an unenthusiastic, "Wow." He should've done an impersonation of Bill Lumbergh (the boss in "Office Space") and said, "That's greeeat."

Martina says it's an honor to work in the U.S. Senate, but Bill advises her not to go. She explains that all she wants to do is visit her mother for one day, give her a kiss, and come back. Bill says nope, the rules are strict. So Martina decides to try to capture the hearts of all the 40+ year old women watching this episode by saying how when she told Richard that his grandmother was dying he didn't cry. No, this brave young soul merely went and packed the suitcase that his grandmother gave him and said this was the day to go visit his grandmother. I'm surprised she didn't throw in something about, "the suitcase that his grandmother made for him out of leather from the cattle that she raised specifically so she could make the suitcase."

Oh no. For some reason Bill looks like he's about to cry. I sure hope he was just making a face. Maybe a little Taco Bill was repeating on him. I surely hope we're not supposed to believe he was actually fighting back tears. This story just wasn't touching. I'm a kind-hearted soul, but this little anecdote about Richard was a little too much. Admit it, at the end of this scene y'all were all hoping she wouldn't make it back to the U.S. Come on, ADMIT IT!

Bill tells Martina that she shouldn't risk everything she's worked hard for, but she's determined to go. If she makes it back in, then she'll be at work the next day. As Martina leaves, Bill asks Jackie to get her flight number, and he says they'll keep working for her and wishes her good luck.

This was definitely the "Capture the Providence Crowd Tear-Jerker Scene" of the episode.

There's a minimum wage discussion on the Senate floor. Bill shakes Major Dad's hand who assures Bill that they'll try to hurry up so he can get to his speech. The Maj leader wants to raise the minimum wage by a dollar. He starts talking about how "the rich prosper while the poor suffer." Then he starts doing a jig and shouting, "Ra-ra-ra-ra-raise da wage!" while doing that whole "raise the roof" motion with his hands. Really, is that professional?

Tommy tells Bill that Senator Preston is gonna want the floor, and sometimes he can ramble for hours. He would've made a good college professor then. This could delay Bill's speech.

Major Dad starts to talk about how sometimes a raise in minimum wage is good and the right thing to do, but anything greater than 25 cents is a blow to the economy. Bill remembers that he hasn't broken a Senate tradition today, so he jumps up and asks Major Dad if he'll yield. Major Dad says he'll yield so that Bill can give his first speech, but it'll be after he's done. Bill clarifies that he wants Major Dad to yield so that he can ask a question. Major Dad mentions the tradition of giving your first speech before debating, but Bill says he finds the debate more interesting than his speech. Major Dad agrees to yield.

Basically, Bill asks Major Dad and the Maj Leader how much of an increase in the minimum wage they'll settle for. Bill ignores Major Dad's explanation that it's more complicated than that and says the Maj Leader knows he won't get $1 and Major Dad knows he won't get 25 cents, so how much will they settle for? Major Dad throws a little technical jargon at us and requests an absence of quorum and he and the Maj leader leave. Tommy looks like this is giving him a headache. Looks like he needs to borrow some Advil from Jackie's supply.

Senator Preston (I assume) starts talking about Cato the Roman soldier, but thankfully the camera focuses in on Tommy and Bill. Tommy comments on how Bill just couldn't keep his mouth shut. Bill says they're going to get somewhere in the middle anyway, so he figured he might as well help them move along faster. Tommy says that's not the way this works. They WANT to haggle in private and carry on their little act. At this point Senator Preston must've started talking about the Carthaginians because Tommy told Bill they might as well go home. I guess that means Bill will go back to his office and sleep on his couch while his HUD home is magically being refurbished.

Tommy's gonna keep an eye on the Senate floor and he'll let Bill know when he can give his speech. Bill just wants to get his 1099 done first. He realizes Tommy wants him to do the speech today; he just needs a few hours to himself to get the taxes done. Bill asks Peon whom he talked to at the INS. Whoa! Peon says, "Stephanie Mankowski." You think this is a coincidence? Come on! Stephanie? As in "Stephanie Betts"? Yeah, that's what I thought. Thanks for the shout out!

Well, what do we have here? Jackie and Bill walkin' and chinwaggin'. Is it one of those conversations where Bill says he's gonna do something; Jackie says it's not a good idea, but Bill does it anyway? Let's see, here's how it breaks down:

Bill's on his way to Stephanie's office, but Jackie doesn't think this is a good idea. She feels he needs to talk to the commissioner and not a mid-level bureaucrat. He's ignoring the chain of command and it's just inappropriate! When has that stopped Bill before? Bill ignores her and says he'll be back in an hour.

Yep, just as I thought.

Bill heads over to the enforcement division of the INS but is stopped by a guard asking if he has an appointment. Nope, but he flashes his spiffy new business card and pretty much says, "Appointment THIS!" The guard lets him through. It would've been even cooler if he'd reverted back to his Wild Bill Hickok days. He could've put on a gun belt and then slowly moved his suit jacket, revealing a couple of ivory-handled Colts. Then he could've nodded at his Colts and said, "This here's the only appointment-maker I need."

Bill asks some guy where Stephanie's office is, and the guy gives the most ridiculous directions I've ever heard in my life. Go down the hall, go past the coffee machine, go past the cubicles, don't turn right, don't turn left, and it's the first door. What in the world? THE OFFICE WAS STRAIGHT AHEAD!!!!! Why not say, "Just walk straight ahead. It's the first door you come to." ?????????????? Don't turn right? Don't turn left? Are the writers telling us that the INS is SO INEFFICIENT that their workers even give inefficient directions?!?!?! If so, then that's ingenious! And it's a small point that I'm sure most people didn't notice. Not to fear, that's why Johnny's here.

I wonder how dude gives directions on how to pour coffee? "Pick up the coffee pot. Don't pour it on the ground; don't pour it on the counter. Pour it in the cup." Dude needs to be punked out.

Bill meets with Stephanie. She seems to be nervous. I guess she's pretty excited about meeting the guy who played Wild Bill Hickok. She suggests that they talk to the commissioner, but Bill refuses. He doesn't want to go too far up the ladder. Then he proceeds to lay down the Martina sob story. Stephanie once again suggests they talk to the commissioner, but Bill just mentions the missing green card application. I'm surprised he didn't say, "Commissioner schmissioner." Stephanie says they've got a backlog of 5 million applications. They take each application seriously, but they're only human.

Bill understands that. Sometimes there's ... DUHN DUHN DUHN ... HUMAN ERROR! He just wishes a little human error would happen again. Stephanie really isn't following what he's saying, so Bill tries to play the sympathy card and explains how Martina's mother is dying. She and her son just want to hold her hand and say their goodbyes. It's just one day. Bill doesn't think it's fair that she be punished for just one day. He then makes the suggestion that they meet Martina and her son at the airport and escort them through immigration.

Stephanie says she can't do that, but Bill continues to try to strong-arm her and says sure she can. She must know some agents. True, but she's never asked them to violate federal regulations. Bill claims he's not asking her to do that; he's just asking them to make a "human error." Good job Bill, way to try to strong-arm this woman into RISKING EVERYTHING!!!!

Stephanie says she understands Bill is new, and she likes him, so if he leaves right now she'll forget they had this conversation. Bill continues to explain that when he was a DA sometimes they'd look the other way for first time offenders. They'd try to be fair and give people a break. Um, first time offenders of WHAT?!?! "I know this is your first murder, so we'll try and be fair and let it slide this time." I sure hope he's talking about a 12-year-old kid stealing a piece of bubble gum because I don't know how fair it is to look the other way and let criminals off the hook! Sheesh.

Bill's sure Stephanie wants to be the same way and help a sista out. Nope, she says she can't help. Bill then refers to how the immigrants don't make it up the elevators; they don't make it high enough to talk to somebody like Stephanie. So I guess he's saying it's easier to refuse to break the law when you don't put a face on the immigrant. He tells Stephanie that she doesn't want to get too good at this job, thanks her for her time, tells her that he'll be in touch with "my friends, the Gambino family," winks, slaps her on the backside, and leaves.

Hey Bill, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!?! I felt sorry for the woman. Come on, you couldn't expect her to do something like that! Bill just opened himself up to a whole bunch of potential trouble. Can you imagine the negative press that could be generated from this? My technical consultant, Amy C, expounds on the potential trouble Bill has opened himself to:

"She's a rear echelon pencil pusher and he's asking her to break the law (for which he could be disbarred) and risk her job. He could also be charged with conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruction of justice (for which he could be disbarred). Did he even take criminal law? Bad show, Bill, all around. I am very distraught. His halo is tarnished. It's Bizzaro Sterling."

Jackie walks into Bill's office as he's brushing his teeth. Check this out: he goes over and spits out his toothpaste, BUT HE DOESN'T RINSE HIS MOUTH!!!!! Is there anybody out there who doesn't rinse his/her mouth after brushing his/her teeth? They need to pay attention to small details like this because Johnny "Eagle Eyes" Betts will call them on it! Come on writers, people rinse after brushing! Let's not slip up again, all right? Thanks. What's next, Bill stepping out of the shower with shampoo suds all in his hair??

Bill stayed up until 3:00 AM working on his taxes, but the only thing on his mind at the moment is Martina. Nasty. They DID have a night they both regret but can't forget! WHY BILL?!?! WHY?!?!?!

Bill mentions the possibility of meeting Martina at the airport, but Jackie asks exactly what he'd try. It'd only make things worse. Bill then starts to talk about the time Teaspoon, Cody, Buck, and Ike saved him from being hanged at the last second. Then he said, "We need to do something like that." Jackie asks him what in the world he's talking about and he says, "Oh, sorry, different show."

Jackie decides to leave him alone to do his taxes. She accuses him of having an obsessive compulsive disorder, but Bill says that since he's on the committee that writes tax laws he feels he has an obligation to know how everything complies with the laws that "he" has written. Jackie correctly points out that HE hasn't written any tax laws. Oooooooh, FACE! Bill claims it's the principle of the thing. He's always done his taxes. BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE HIM OBESSIVE COMPULSIVE! I do my taxes, and I'm not obsessive compulsive either. Way to stereotype, Jackie. Jackie humors him and leaves.

I have to agree with my good friend and faithful reader Amy, if Bill has always done his taxes then shouldn't he have a better filing system than a shoebox? Not that I'm one to talk. But he should get one of those little things that looks like a coupon divider. They cost about $2 at Wal-Mart, and it would allow him to neatly organize his receipts, etc. by month. I used to do that, but it got old pretty quickly.

Bill's at a tax simplification meeting. During the meeting he asks some old woman senator about the 1040 form. He's been working on it for 10-12 hours, and he's only halfway done. I thought he could perform differential equations (good memories, huh, Rhi?) in his head? Why can't he just do his taxes in his head and be done with it? The senator woman says the average work time on the 1040 form is about 27 hours. Bill's not doing too badly then! The old woman senator tells Bill that most people hire a tax preparer. Yeah? WELL BILL ISN'T MOST PEOPLE YOU OLD BAT! Bill says the reason tax preparers are hired is because doing taxes is so complicated. His 1040 has 144 pages of instructions and 19 worksheets.

Old Battie says they don't write tax laws; they merely interpret them. When Bill asks if he's the only senator doing his own taxes, everybody laughs as if they're reading one of my reviews. "You mean nobody laughed?" SHUT UP! Anyway, I guess the laughter can be interpreted as "yes Bill, you're the only goof here doing your own taxes you square-jawed senator you." Bill asks Old Battie if she thinks the tax code would get a lot simpler if all the senators had to do their own taxes. Old Battie pleads the fifth. Hmmm, that's weird because my technical consultant (or as I like to call her - the tech con) Amy C says Old Battie can't plead the fifth in this instance:

"No lady, you can't plead the 5th. That only applies in the criminal context or in a civil litigation where you are a party and your testimony might result in future criminal charges."

Amy - 1
Old Battie - 0

Bill approaches Major Dad. Seems Major Dad didn't appreciate Bill interrupting him the other day. Surprisingly, Bill says, "Look, this ain't Simon and Simon, chico. This is MY show and I'll interrupt whomever I please. You got that, Mr. Burke?" Whoa, Bill, calm down. Bill then asks why they don't just make a deal on minimum wage. Major Dad can move up, the Maj leader can move down, and boom, it's as done as Corey Feldman's career.

Speaking of Corey Feldman, I just have to share this. Josh did an interview with Jane magazine in 1997. The interviewer asked him, "So, um your first film was Goonies. Did you keep in touch with Corey Feldman?" Josh responded with, "No, I have no idea where he is or what hes doing." I'm sure many of you might not find the humor in that, but for some reason, I find that answer hilarious.

Major Dad explains that the Dem's don't want to make a deal; they just want to be able to blame the Reps for a deal not being made. That's why they're asking for $1 - an amount over twice the amount of what the highest minimum wage increase has ever been. Not even all the Dems will go for that.

Bill wonders if the Dems don't really want to raise the minimum wage. Major Dad explains that they don't want to raise it right now. They want it to be an issue they can hammer the Reps with during the election. Senator Bowles is offering an amendment that would call for tax breaks for small businesses. According to Major Dad, anyone can amend anything with anything. If you squint your eyes and look really hard you can see a light bulb pop up above Bill's head.

Major Dad says he tried to talk Bowles out of offering the amendment because the Dems will just accuse the Reps of trying to get tax cuts for the rich while saying they (the Dems) are fighting for the working man. What about the working woman?!?!?! Who is fighting for her???? Johnny Betts, that's who. "Oh, how's that Johnny?" Um, I just am. Please just get back to the review.

Despite Major Dad's protests, Bowles is determined to offer his amendment. Bill thanks Major Dad for his time and goes and tells Tommy to write him an amendment. Hey Bill, you might want to tell him what it's for!

Uh-oh, Commissioner Jarvis from Immigration is here to see Bill, and he isn't happy. I've seen this guy before. Lawrence Pressman. Hmmm ... ohhhhh, he was on Doogie Howser! OK, I feel better now. Jarvis and Bill proceed to have an argument regarding Bill's attempts to strong-arm Stephanie. "Strong-arm" is the word of the review by the way. I'm sure you noticed. Learn it and use it often.

Bill complains that "it's a crazy rule," so Jarvis asks if Bill thinks only certain tax rules should apply to him also. He says they can't write new rules for every situation. It'd only make things even MORE inefficient. He makes a good point. That doesn't mean they shouldn't try to make things more efficient though.

Jarvis isn't too pleased that Sterling tried to induce a federal official into committing a crime. He sees it as an abuse of power. Sterling says it's not a crime, but Jarvis would like to see him try to explain that to the FBI. When Bill starts to say that he's trying to do his job, Jarvis interrupts and tells him that it's not his job to bully INS workers into ignoring the law to do what Bill Sterling wants. Oooooooooooh. Jarvis ends with this ominous warning, "And you're gonna find that out, Senator." Man, Bill just got the smack laid down on his backside.

Hickok wouldn't have taken that crap! He would've slowly moved his jacket away from his Colt and given Jarvis a cold stare. It would've been go time, and in a couple of seconds Jarvis would've been eating Senate carpet.

As we return from commercial break we see Jackie asking Bill if he apologized to Jarvis. Oh man, come on Bill, this is perfect! Say it! You can say it! You know what I'm talking about!

Bill: Apologize? Not exactly.

Man. What a wasted opportunity! Here's yet another example of where Josh should've pulled a page out of his portrayal of Wild Bill Hickok and said, "Sorry. But apologizin's something I only do on Sunday. Today's Tuesday." Would that not have ruled?!?! All you Young Riders fans know what I'm talking about it. Give it up one time for Hickok!

There's fear that Jarvis will go to the ethics committee. Bill doesn't understand. Senators pressure bureaucrats every day, so how is this any different? Bill, Bill, Bill. I think Jackie makes a good point when she says you tried to influence somebody to ignore a law. Bill says it's not a law; it's a guideline. What's that even mean? If it's not a law then why would there be a problem letting Martina back in? That sounds fishy to me.

Jackie tries to mention how security measures are tighter since 9/11, but Bill just says they need to focus on terrorists, not hard-working immigrants. What if Martina's a terrorist? That would've been a nice twist. How well does Bill know Martina? He didn't know she had a son, so he certainly wouldn't know if she was part of an elaborate janitorial terrorist group. Maybe she was going to Guatemala to get a bomb and they were going to hide it in her son's suitcase. You've gotta explore all possibilities.

Bill says everybody is just hiding behind regulation and not using any common sense. Tommy stops all this talk by saying that Jarvis isn't gonna go to the ethics committee. In fact, he won't be going anywhere. It's obvious that he wants something. Bill's vote on the appropriations committee perhaps? An autographed 8X10? Maybe he just wants to meet Diane Lane. They don't really know. So Tommy suggests to Bill that he go apologize to Jarvis and ask how this can be worked out. Don't agree to whatever Jarvis wants, just bring it back and they'll decide if it's something Bill can do and live with. Bill agrees. Then he asks Tommy about the amendment. That takes us to...

...Senator Bowles talking about his amendment. Bill makes a comment on how the guy can really talk. Tommy tells Bill to offer a "2nd degree" amendment when Bowles sits down. Bill says it's more like "if" Bowles sits down. A 2nd degree amendment has to be voted on first, and no one's gonna want to vote on Sterling's amendment first. That's nice and all, but Bill's real focus is on why he has to call the presiding officer "Mr. President" since he really isn't the president of the Senate. He gives Jackie and Tommy a hard time about it and gets them flustered (or as one uneducated Memphis Tiger fan once said when calling into a radio post-game show - flusterated). Once Jackie pulls out a bottle of Jack Daniels and starts downing Advil, Bill decides to laugh it off and stop pestering them. It's a funny moment. You probably laughed or smiled while you watched it. Or maybe you didn't. Whatever. I don't care. Do what you want. I ain't stopping you.

Bill finally gets to offer his amendment, and oh what an amendment it is. His amendment would require senators to do their own tax returns. Hahaha, this causes Bowles to storm off. Looked like Holly Bledsoe the time I told her that her mascara was running. Strangely enough, she wasn't wearing any mascara that day. Whoops. Jackie and Tommy laugh. So does Johnny.

A few seconds later Major Dad and the Maj leader come in and request an absence of quorum. The Maj leader wants the Senate to recess until 9:00 AM. Bill objects, but Major Dad says they need to work something out. The Maj leader meanly tells Bill to come to his office NOW. It worked! Deal time! Hahaha, Amy C mentioned to me how Major Dad and the Maj leader are like the two old guys from the Muppet Show who do nothing but heckle. Hahaha, it's true! I'll never look at them the same way again. And if you're honest, neither will you.

Major Dad says they need to clear up all this mess. Bill wonders what he's talking about. There are only two amendments being offered, but Bill could think of some more if given more time. Hahaha. It seems Bowles has agreed to drop his amendment if Bill will drop his. The Maj leader claims they want to have a clean vote on the minimum wage without a bunch of amendments cluttering up things. That's what Bill wants too, so when's the vote?

Let the hem-hawin' begin. The Maj leader says they'll come to a time agreement soon, but that doesn't sit well with Bill because that's what they've been doing for the past three weeks. So Bill's got a plan. He's gonna go talk about his amendment until about 11:00 PM, and then he'll finish his taxes, and then the next day he'll talk some more about senators doing their own tax returns. Maybe he'll talk to some TV talk shows; they'll surely love the idea. I bet he'd go on The View and make all the women swoon. He'd try to talk about his amendment, but they'd just start asking about his dad, some wainch mother-in-law, or who he's dating. Poor Bill.

Before Bill can leave, Major Dad asks what they need to do to end all this. If they can reach a time agreement now and decide how much the minimum wage increase will be, then they won't hear another word from Bill about senators doing their own tax returns ... at least not until next year.

Sterling meets with Commissioner Jarvis and asks him what he wants. He's gotta have his eye on something higher up the ladder, right? When Bill makes the point that it only takes one vote to hold up a nomination, Jarvis wonders if Bill's threatening him. No, Bill just wants to resolve this situation.

That was a perfect opportunity to say something cool like, "Oh you'll know when I'm threatening you." Bill wants Jarvis to remember why he came into government in the first place. Surely he wanted to help people, and hey, all Bill wants to do is help out ol' Martina.

Bill goes on and on about how her son's a great citizen, and Martina WILL make a great one. Her plane arrives at 9:08 PM tomorrow and he wants Jarvis to see that they return. The other choice is that they can go at it hammer and tong. What about tooth and nail?!?!?! What about tit for tat??? Bill threatens to study every single expense made in Jarvis' department. He'll look at the hotels, rental cars, dinners, who ate, what they ate, who's buying the Mrs. some lingerie, who's frequenting houses of ill repute, etc. Or they can put this behind them, Jarvis can accept Bill's apology, and they can help out Martina. Bill didn't have anything to discuss, so Jarvis shoos him away.

Major Dad and the Maj leader hold a press conference. Seems that they've come to a compromise. They have a clean bill that advocates a 40-cent increase in the minimum wage, and they believe it'll pass unanimously. They then go on and on about how much they appreciate each other. Man, are they gonna kiss? I sure hope not! Am I the only one who thought it was inappropriate when the Maj leader said, "40 cent! 40 cent! Word to my peeps on the extra cizzoin in your pizzocket! Holla if you hear me!" ??? Seriously, it just came out of left field.

Poor Bill, he just helped get an $800/year increase and he gets no credit. He doesn't seem upset though, he just wants to get back to finishing his taxes. Tommy and Jackie leave. Just once I'd like to see Bill start overturning a few desks out of anger for not getting proper credit.

Bill looks up from his desk. Uh-oh, he's not gonna go meet Martina at the airport is he? A lone security guard roams the hall. Jackie's alone in her office. The night light shines seductively on her face. She slowly gets up and gracefully walks to Bill's office. It would soon turn out to be a night of passion both would soon regret but neither would ever... ah, forget it. Bills done with his taxes! It's 11:30, and Martina's shift started at 11:00, so if she made it back then she should already be at work. Ah well, life goes on. You take the mountains with the valleys, Bill. Cheer up, Bucko, at least you didn't bend your fingernail backwards like I did a couple of weeks ago!

Jackie offers to mail Bill's tax return for him, but he wants to do it himself. She thinks that's being a little obsessive, but he insists that it's all about the principle. Jackie has to do some work, so she heads to her office and Bill heads to the elevator. He hears a noise and stops the door before it closes. Uh-oh. Do I hear sappy music being cued? Please no! What does Bill see? Maybe it's just a security guard. Yeah, I'm sure that's it. NOOOOOOOOOO! It's Martina walking down the hall. She opens a door and a BRIGHT line shines in her face. She smiles. What was up with the light? Was that the light of a thousand angels shining upon her face or something? Maybe there was a car in the room that had its brights on. Bill looks down and smiles. The end.

I'm not a big fan of the fairy tale ending of this episode. What really annoys me is Martina totally dissin' Bill. He put forth an inane amount of effort to help this woman, she's allowed back in the country, and then she doesn't have the courtesy to go to his office and thank him? WAINCH! You'd think the first thing she'd do would be to go to Bill's office and say, "Look senator, I made it back! Thanks for all your help. Now my son can be in the school play and eat hot dogs and apple pie again!" Plus, I was hoping in the future we'd see Bill trip Commissioner Jarvis in the hall or something, but now he's gotta be nice. Ah well.

Up next is "Nothing Personal." It's a tale of lies, betrayal, and looking out only for yourself. In other words, it's about politics.

And in the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, "He who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors."

I'm Johnny Betts, this is just my opinion, you could be wrong.
Copyright 2002 Madlib Productions, All Rights Reserved

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March 6, 2003
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