Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That’s my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.
—  Sam Seaborn, The West Wing

This episode of The West Wing first aired November 24th, 1999. Rob Lowe’s character Sam Seaborn is arguing against the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee who has a shaky position on the right to privacy– specifically, the guy doesn’t think it’s constitutionally guaranteed. 

Yes, everyone loves talking about how this show has anticipated many of the political moments of the early aughts. That said–even if this quote only serves as a reminder that the debates du jour are not something we’re just alighting upon now, that seems like reason enough to revisit it. 


This guy’s walkin’ down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole; can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. “Hey, Joe, it’s me. Can ya help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are ya stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.

-The West Wing, 1999 - 2006