Bring on the Banter

Useless Information
The West Wing

“Josh, make sure you tell Toby before you go and brief CJ.”

“Yes, Sir. Thankyou, Mr President.” I say as I stand about to leave the room.

“Josh, don’t leave just yet. You still have some time before your next meeting, why don’t you stay and chat with Leo and I for a few minutes.”

Stay and chat? That can’t be good. What have I done now?

I send a questioning look Leo’s way and he just shrugs at me.

Wow, maybe this is just a chat. I’m chatting with the President. Hmm.

“So, how are you Josh?” The President asks me. “Not working that assistant of yours too hard I hope. Donna’s a sweet girl.”

“The girl is a miracle. It’s a wonder she’s stayed with him this long, the hours he makes her work.” Leo interjects “Even Margaret doesn’t work as hard as Donna has too.”

“What?!” I don’t work Donna too much!

“I don’t make Donna work that much!” I protest weakly “Anyway, even if I do, she more than gets back at me with the useless information she spouts off at me each day. Honestly Sir, she’s worse than you!”

Oh shit. I can’t believe that I just said that to the President of the United States.

I glance at him quickly trying to gage his reaction. Leo is grinning widely, waiting to discover what my punishment will be. For the man I look to as a father figure, he’s really not very nice.

‘Don’t worry Josh. I’m not going to do anything to you,” The President tells me grinning “although I think that you should be more careful in the future about what you say to the man who has the secret service at his beck and call.’

‘Yes, Mr President.’

Woah. That was a close one. I can’t believe that he let me get out of it so easily!

“But you have given me an idea…”

What?! I thought that I was free? No punishment. Isn’t that what he said? He can’t take it back now!!

“Now what was it you were saying about Donna?” The President continues ignoring my protests, “That she is an intelligent young woman with a thirst for knowledge and that you are lucky to have her in your life. That’s about right isn’t it Josh?”

“Yes, Sir” I mumble. Great. What’s he going to do? Make me give Donna the week off because I make her work too much? I can’t cope without her for a week! The office would fall apart!!

“You know… I think that it would amusing if Donna and I had a little game.” The President muses.

A little game? What the-?


Wow. The President’s shout is so much worse than mine; I have no idea why Donna complains as much as she does.


Wow. This is slightly overwhelming. Okay, incredibly overwhelming.

I have no idea what went on with Josh and the President the other day, but he came back from his meeting to tell me that the President wanted to have a trivia contest with me. Me! Donnatella Moss from Wisconsin!

And so here I am. Standing in the oval office, silently freaking out.

The room looks completely different. There are flashing lights everywhere and actual buzzers as if we were on a real game show! The President “accidentally” told a few reporters what he was planning and soon all the major game shows were sending their equipment with the hopes that the President would use it. They’ve even let a few reporters into the room.

Somehow this has escalated into a full scale event and I’m caught in the middle. And it is ALL Joshua Lyman’s fault. I’m going to kill him. I will wring his scrawny little neck…

Unfortunately for me, Josh has realised the injuries that I am planning on giving him, so he has been carefully avoiding me all day and even now if standing across the room, as far away from me as possible.

Oh G-d. It looks like they’ve finally finished setting everything up. Damn. I can’t play a trivia competition against the President. He’s one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met. I think that I’m going to throw up!


This whole thing is completely insane, but it’s the President’s idea and you can’t really say no to the President of the United States.

So hear I am about to explain the rules to the President and Donna, who are standing in front of their buzzers. The room does look quite spectacular, although I’m not really sure that the oval office was the best place for this…

Okay, onto the rules.

“Hello, I’m your host today Charlie Young. Now, I’m going to explain the rules of the game, so that there is absolutely no confusion.” I announce to the room, looking around to make sure that everyone is listening. Donna looks a bit green, but I continue on as I notice Josh approach her with a glass of water.

“I will say a word, for example ‘whale’. If you know any trivia relating to whales you hit your buzzer. The contestant whose buzzer lights up first will then share their answer with the group.”

“Our panel of judges,” I motion towards CJ, Toby and Sam who are seated at the side of the room, looking extremely disgruntled at having to participate at all. “will then decide whether your answer is acceptable. If they all agree then the contest will receive a point.”

“Now before we begin round one, I will give you an example of correct and incorrect answers. If the key word was ‘whale’, an acceptable answer would be for example, the type of whale which appeared in ‘Finding Nemo’ or the water temperature a certain species of whale can live in.”

Josh continues for me. “An incorrect response would be telling us that the director of ‘Finding Nemo’ was born blind.”

A buzz’s echoes around the room loudly.

“Yes, Mr President” I ask, refraining from rolling my eyes.

“Actually Charlie the Director of Finding Nemo, Andrew Stanton, was not born blind.” The President informs me and then turns to smirk at Donna.

Oh joy. This is going to be a blast.


Donna has her hand raised politely. I resist the urge to laugh, in fear that she will castrate me like she threatened me earlier.

“Yes Donnatella?”

A glare.

Great, my assistant hates me and wants to perform actions of bodily harm on me. This isn’t even my fault!! It’s the President’s, not that I can say that out loud. As much as I feel sorry for Donna, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes right now.

With a huge sigh, she finally asks me her question.

“How will you know that the trivia we give is correct?”

Good question. They could be making it all up. Hey, I’ve never thought about that before. All these years, perhaps Donna has been giving me false trivia! I know that I complain about it all the time, but I actually pass this trivia onto people. I use it against other politicians sometimes! Is she telling me….?

I look at her and find her smirking at me. Okay, I’m pretty sure that she just said that to scare me, but from now on I’m double checking everything she tells me.

Fortunately Charlie has an answer for her.

“We have a scribe in the room.” he begins. We do??

“The information you give us will be given to volunteers who will check up on your facts.”

Okay, this is getting a little out of hand. Okay, this is INSANE!

This isn’t really a game show. It’s just the President wanting to show off!

Oh well. I’m not going to speak up. I don’t want to get sucked into this little game.


Okay, I’m feeling slightly faint now. Josh brought me some water, which calmed my stomach a little bit. It would have been mortifying to throw up in the Oval Office.

Okay. Must concentrate. The game is about to begin.

“Card.” Charlie says.

Ummm, what? Oh, damn. I hit my buzzer. Yes, fine. Really slow reaction.

The President obviously beat me. What’s he saying?

“In every deck of cards,” The President is informing us “the King of Hearts is sticking his sword through his head. That’s why he is often called the Suicide King.”

What? That’s not trivia! That’s common knowledge! He can’t get a point for that.

I watch as CJ, Toby and Sam all nod. Okay, fine. So the score is 1 – 0.

It doesn’t matter that my so called “friends” have betrayed me for the President of the United States. I’ll show them all. I’m going to win this game, not I’m going to do it using REAL trivia. I’m pulling out the big guns. But I won’t be too hard on him. After all his IS the President.

As soon as Charlie says “Band-Aid” I hit my buzzer as hard as possible.

What? President Bartlet beat me again? But I’m sure that I was faster that time.

Damn. I had a good one for that too.

And this continues on for the next four turns.

What is happening? I’m sure that I beat the President at least two of those times. I know some good answers, but I’m positive that I’m hitting my buzzer faster than he is.


Something fishy is going on.

The President has just won the first six questions of the game.

At first it was understandable. Donna had gone white with terror and didn’t seem to understand that the game has started.

But by question three, she had a determined look in her eye. And I am positive that she hit the buzzer faster than the President on at least two occasions.

Wait a minute…

He wouldn’t dare…

“I’m sorry,” I announce to the room “can we stop the proceedings for a minute?” Everyone looks puzzled, but I don’t care. I’m the host, they go by MY rules.

“Both contestants please step away from your buzzers.”

The President and Donna both take a step back. Donna looks confused, but the President, I’m positive that I saw a flash of guilt cross over his face.

“Josh?” I ask “Would you please go and press each of the buzzers in turn?”

He looks at me strangely but complies nonetheless.

He hits the Presidents buzzer. It once again echoes around the room and his lights flash wildly. Josh then moves onto Donna’s buzzer. He hits it once.


He presses it again.


I think that we have discovered our problem.

“Sir?” I ask my boss, hoping that he doesn’t fire me, after I turn him in.

“Yes?” The President’s trying to look innocent, eyes wide. He really looks as guilty as they come. The only two people I know who can pull off the innocence thing are Zoey and Donna. If it had been her, she may have gotten away with it. Although, I’m sure the President would have voiced his opinion’s at not winning points. Unlike Donna, who just seemed confused that her buzzer wasn’t flashing first.

Donna gasps.

Yes, she’s no longer confused. She knows exactly what the President has done.

Donna is looking at the President in horror, a look of betrayal on her face. “Mr President!”

That time, it was definitely an expression of guilt. He actually looks slightly sheepish.

“Josh?” I ask again “Would you please plug Donna’s buzzer in properly.”

I sigh.

“We’re going to have to start again.”


I can’t believe that the President would go to such lengths to ensure that he would beat Donna! And she looked so betrayed. At least I was able to make sure that her buzzer is properly plugged in this time.

Wait, she’s speaking. What’s she saying?

“Charlie, don’t worry.” Donna was saying “we can continue playing. I can still win without cheating” She looked pointedly at the President. “And to think, I had been going to go easy on you!”

That’s my girl.

Okay, so she seems to have recovered nicely. She’s joking around a bit. I think that the President is also glad that she’s okay. He looked extremely upset when he realised that he had been the one to put that look of betrayal on my Donnatella’s face.

The President scoffs at her.

“Yeah? You do your best Donnatella.”

If we weren’t standing in the Oval Office I would laugh. It’s almost like a showdown.

“You bet your sorry ass I’m going to beat you!” Donna throws back at him.

Oh shit.

What did she just say??! Oh no, she looks terrified I think she’s going to cry, she’s already started babbling.

“Oh, Mr President I’m so sorry!!”

Donna’s making a run for the door. Fortunately I’m close by so I move quickly to block her exit. Unfortunately for both of us, Donna is not looking where she’s going and she almost knocks us both off our feet.

Now she looks mad at me, although tears are running down her face. It’s easy to see how mortified she is at what she said to the President.

Now she’s hissing at me to let her go. But the President motions for me to bring her over to him.

I wipe the tears from her face and putting my arm around her, before walking her over to where the President is standing in the middle of the room.

“Mr President, I’m so sorry.” She tells him again. “I’ll go clean out my desk at once.”

I look at her in shock. But the President ignores her words and begins speaking to her.

“Hmmm, I think that I now understand what Abby alluding to now. Does this by any chance have anything to do with confusing Jed and Mr President?”

I’m confused but I see a smile appear on Donna’s face.

“I must say Donnatella. I find it a refreshing change of pace. Nobody ever simply sees me as ‘Jed’ anymore. Even Leo.” He grins at her. “So what do you say. We call it even, for both of our earlier actions? And you come back in here so that I may, what was it? ‘Beat your sorry ass’?”

Okay. I just snickered and received a death stare from both Donna and the President. But really, what do they expect. The President just said ‘ass’.


So, the President cheated, I told him that I would “beat his sorry ass”. Yes, it was mortifying. But fortunately we were able to move past that.

It’s all much better now, especially as I really am beating him now that my buzzer has been fixed. Although I must say, out scores are relatively close.

But, YES! Score again for Donna!!

Josh is jumping around like crazy cheering for me. I think he’s feeling bad about getting me into this whole mess. I think that he may have also forgotten that we are in the Oval Office. President Bartlet’s Oval Office.

Well the President has certainly realised and it looks as though he is about to remind Josh.

“Joshua? I think that perhaps you have become a bit confused about who you are supporting with all the jumping around your doing.”

“No, Mr President.” Josh says, “If I have to listen to her spout inane trivia everyday, there had better be some use for it. And I consider beating the President of the United States is a pretty good reason.”

I’m not sure whether I want to hug him or kill him.

“Perhaps knowing that you have been invited, and when I say invited, what I really mean is ordered to attend talks with me everyday on topics of my choice, you will change your mind about you who support.”

“Sir, either way you’re going to force me to attend lectures against my will.”

“Well, I do approve of loyalty” The President tells him, “although once again, maybe you have forgotten who I am…”

“No, Sir. I’m just hoping that if Donna wins, that maybe she’ll see it as a good reason to bring me a cup of coffee.”

I knew that he had an ulterior motive. Smug, egotistic bastard.

It serves him right that everybody in the room is now laughing at him.

“What? It’s possible!” he protests

Charlie seems anxious to continue the game.

“Are we ready to continue? Well that brings us up to our next word. Coffee.”

YES!! This is so my question!!

I consider saying the amount of times I’ve ever brought Josh coffee, but instead choose to go with…

“A Saudi Arabian woman can get a divorce if her husband doesn’t give her coffee.”

I send Josh a victorious smirk.


Finally we’re up to the final round. This will be the real test.

“We are now ready to progress to the final round. The scores are currently tied with each contestant on 35 points.

The rules are slightly different this time. Instead of giving us trivia, you will be answering questions. Is everyone ready?” I asked

At their nods, I began.

“How many rivets are there holding the Eiffel tower together?”

The President’s buzzer lights up first.



I slowly make my way through the questions, with both Donna and the President answering an equal amount of questions, from the number of quarter-pounders which can be made from one cow to what was printed on the book held by the Statue of Liberty (July IV, MDCCLXXVI).

Nancy and Margaret did a great job getting the questions together.

I think that this is going to be a very close game.


I can’t believe how well Donna’s going!

She’s brilliant. I mean, I know that she’s always going on about the oddest of things but the questions she knows the answers to…. It’s insane.

I mean, what normal person could tell you that one cow makes 400 quarter pounders?

The scores are tied. I’m getting a bit nervous now, so I can’t imagine how Donna must be feeling.

It’s the tiebreaker question.

I look at the contestants; Donna’s biting her lip and is staring at Charlie not blinking. The President is trying to remain confident but I can tell he’s a bit nervous.

Here it comes, the last question.

“What is the art of stamp collecting?”

YES!!! What are the chances? It’s Donna’s question! Of all the things… I could just kiss Charlie!

But… What?! What the hell?

She didn’t…

The President…

Oh my God.


I know, I know.

I just hope that I wasn’t too obvious.

I mean of all the possible questions in the world that I could have received I had to get one about stamp collecting. Josh saw right through me.

Fortunately I was able to silence him with a glare. After all, he owes him. He was the one that got me into this mess.

I couldn’t beat the President. It would have looked terrible for him. And he knew the answer. Even if I had tried to hit the buzzer faster, he still may have won.

It doesn’t matter anyway. The President won. He won’t lose anyone’s respect.

I think that he too realizes what I did, because he gives me a knowing smile before shaking my hand.


Donna let the President win. I can’t believe it.

All this fuss and the whole thing was rigged anyhow.

Actually the President didn’t seem to know that Donna was going to let him win. I swear I saw a tear in his eye when he realised what she had done.

Even after all this time, he is still surprised by our loyalty to him.

But now it’s time for his revenge.

The President after insisting on giving a “Winner’s speech”, he just loves to be in the lime light, took over as host.

It seems this was his plan all along.

He now has the senior staff all lined up behind buzzers. I’m glad that we were sent extras.

It’s amusing seeing the terror evident on their faces.

“So let’s see how well you’ve been listening…” the President says grinning at his staff. “So tell me, how many rivets…”

The End.

In honour of:

National Trivia Day – January 4

Trivia day is an opportunity for everyone to share those many little trinkets of knowledge. It doesn't matter how big or how trivial. Dazzle your friends and family with generous portions of trivia!

Back to more "days"

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Unless otherwise stated none of these characters belong to me. All creative rights to the characters belong to their original creator(s).