Sex, Lies and Politics
Air date: March 1, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Hagerty

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Ally and Renee are walking to work together. Ally says that she actually feels okay about life with Billy, "I mean, without him," she corrects herself. Ally imagines a woman walking past her and calling her a liar. After that, a man walks by and tells her she is 'trash.' She even thinks that people standing on the corner waiting for a bus are pointing at her. Renee assures her that they aren't. Ally begins to think that maybe she is just imagining it all when she sees the Pope walk by her saying 'male donna' (Italian for 'bad woman'). Renee tells Ally that it's okay to have a little shame but that it's time for her to get over it. A dog comes up behind Ally, who is now standing still as she and Renee talk, and pees on her foot. "Did a dog just piddle on my foot?" Ally asks. "I'm afraid that's real," Renee says.

Everyone gathers for the morning meeting in the conference room. We learn that Cage's case, which was to go to trial that day, will be settled out-of-court instead. Ally tries to pay attention but all she hears is the tell-tale heart, beating in her head. She looks up, only to see Georgia's head beating along with the tell-tale heart. Ally jumps up and announces she is leaving to work on a case. "I'm beginning to think she's a little more weird than the strange little man," Ling says. Elaine comes in to tell John that the attorney is there for his settlement conference. John stands up and smiles at Ling (his 'smile therapy' smile) as he leaves the room.

In his office, Cage learns from the other attorney, Mr. Benson, that they have decided not to settle. The senator (the defendant) had a change of heart and the deal is off.

Elaine tells Ally that Greg is on the phone and wonders if they are keeping him on hold. Ally says to tell him that she will call him back. "In this lifetime?" Elaine asks. Billy grabs Ally and pulls her into her office. He says they need to talk. "Please don't grab my elbow like it's something that belongs to you," Ally says. She goes on to say that they only thing they need to talk about is whether to tell Georgia. "Tell her what?" Billy asks. "Her head is about to explode and the pope is stalking me!" Ally exclaims. John knocks on the door to tell both of them that they are needed in the conference room immediately.

Cage tells everyone he believes that the other side never intended to settle – that they only made him believe that so he wouldn't be ready for trial. "Can't you get one of those continue doohickey things?" Richard asks. "The judge marked the case 'no more continue doohickeys'," Cage says. Ally still can't focus. All she sees and hears is Georgia's head beating to the tell-tale heart. "Georgia, could you please turn your head down!" she exclaims. When everyone stares at her, she realizes what she has said and attempts to apologize in the words of Nelle, Richard and John. "Nothing…Kidding….Bygones….Pokee….(more stuttering here)….poop," she says. Cage assigns duties to everyone to help him prepare for trial. However, he is still going to attempt to get a continuance and he is taking Richard with him.

Unfortunately, the judge won't budge, even when Cage tells him that the other side deliberately misled him. The judge tells him that he is either ready for trial, or the senator wins. Cage reluctantly says he is ready for trial. The judge wants to impanel the jury now and begin the trial after lunch. The attorney for the senator wants to have the jury sequestered. Cage opposes that request because he says juries tend to punish the ones bringing the suit when they're sequestered. The judge, however, agrees with Mr. Benson. Richard interjects, "If you don't let these people watch the news, they'll only know what they hear in here. What chance does the truth have then?"

Richard's statement obviously didn't sway the judge and as soon as they arrive back at the office, John tells Richard he is off the case. John goes to Ling and tells her he needs her to second-chair on this case. Ling says she's not a litigator. "For this case you are," Cage says. "I knew this would happen if I took a job here," Ling says. "You'd all make me work!"

Ally is informed by Elaine that Greg is in her office. She goes in and he is obviously upset and tells her he doesn't like playing games. He wants to know what's going on and he wants the truth. She tells him that for a couple of days, there was somebody else. "Somebody I even kissed," she says. "It was a mistake and it's over, but for two days, there was somebody else." Greg gets up and tries to leave. Ally wants to talk about all this but he wants to talk about it later. As he bolts out the door he runs smack into Billy.

Billy comes into Ally's office and asks her what happened. "Take a guess," Ally says. Billy asks what Ally told Greg. "That we kissed and clutched and then I couldn't remember if we made love or not on account of your microscopic penis," Ally says. Billy tells her that he has been meeting with a counselor and he doesn't think Billy should tell Georgia about what happened. Ally reminds him that Tracy said the same thing, but Ally wonders why not telling Georgia feels so wrong. Billy leaves, but Ally isn't alone. She is haunted again by the tell-tale heart. She decides to face it head-on and tells it "you are not going to guilt me. I'll just dance to the beat." She begins moving her hips along to the beat. The heartbeat and Ally both stop when she sees that Nelle has been watching her from the doorway.

Later, Ally is on the phone trying to get someone who worked on the senator's campaign to talk to her. The person hangs up on her. "You big dick," Ally says as she hangs up. Georgia has come in and laughs at this. She tells Ally that she is working on anybody who worked for the senator and was fired. Ally starts hearing the heart again and she gets up and walks out of the office. On her way to the unisex, she thinks everyone is smiling at her and telling her 'hi.'

The trial begins with Cage questioning his client, Shirley Peterson. She says that she worked at the bookstore in question for seven years. Business had been very good and sales were growing. Ling stands up and objects. She says she's bored and as an officer of the court she feels she has a duty to be open. She thinks the witness is tedious and she is concerned for the jury's attention span. The judge thanks her for livening things up. Cage asks Shirley what happened to change all that. She says that last September, the defendant, while running for state senator, accused her store of selling pornography. They were soon picketed and they started losing their book signings. Now, they are going out of business. Ling stands up and interrupts. "For all that, you blame him? I'm sorry, your honor, I was assigned to this. I'm learning about it as we go along – it seems ridiculous. As an officer of the court…." Mr. Benson asks what is going on. The judge asks Ling to sit. She does. Cage returns to questioning the witness. "Well, she asked the question," he says, "and all because of him?" Shirley says the senator's campaign centered on family values. She believes he singled-out her store because it is on Beacon Hill, just blocks from the Capitol.

Ling and Cage leave the courtroom and enter the elevator. Once the doors close, Ling asks, "Is that what you wanted?" "Exactly," answers Cage. "Same thing on her cross?" asks Ling. Cage says, "With a small adjustment."

Ally and Greg are in a restaurant talking. She says that as much guilt as she feels, what happened was something she had to go through. "I don't care what stage you and I are at or what or where you think we're at," Greg says, "but we were past the stage of you kissing someone else, and if you don't feel the need to apologize to me, then we can be done right now." Ally apologizes. "I understand you might be emotionally neurotic," Greg says, "I might even tolerate it – but do me a favor: don't celebrate it."

Renee and Ally are sitting on a bench in the courthouse. Renee asks if that is where she and Greg left things. She says yes, and that they will take a day and go from there. Renee asks Ally how she feels. Ally looks up and sees Mike McCurry (former Clinton spokesperson) talking to reporters. He is saying, "Obviously, she feels remorse. She's embarrassed. But she didn't lie to Georgia, she just didn't volunteer information." Ally asks Renee to go to church with her that night. Ally wants to sit in a big room of forgiveness where everyone is saying "Amen." Renee can't believe that Ally is feeling all this over a kiss. Ally says she's over the kiss, but the lie – the lie lives every time she sees Georgia.

Mr. Benson is now questioning Shirley. He asks her whether her bookstore sold books with nudity in them or ones that described sex acts. She says they had books with photographs by Herb Ritts and books written by John Irving. She says people should be allowed to make up their own minds about whether those books have any redeeming social value. He asks whether the senator is one of those people who are entitled to their own opinion. She reminds him that there is a difference between having an opinion and buying thirty-second spots labeling her a pornographer. She says he did this so that he could raise money from right-wing constituents. Ling objects. She says that every politician lies to get money but before she can finish, Cage pulls her back down to her seat. The judge tells Ling that the court "is going to take the unusual step of ordering you to support your clients position." Ling says that the truth is on everybody's side and that her client will ultimately see that. "You can't go around suing elected officials every time they do something disgusting," Ling says, "they'd never have the time to do their jobs." Mr. Benson says that CD's with lyrics about violence can be found in Shirley's store, and she admits they can, but she says they are also found in Blockbuster and Tower records and every other record store across the nation. She asks the senator if he gets the fact that he put her out of business.

Billy is in the unisex looking in the mirror when Richard comes in and asks him if he and Ally are having sex. Billy exclaims, "What?" "She's feeling guilty about something, you're walking around closing doors, put two and two together, sixty-nine," Richard says. Billy just leaves. Elaine comes in. "Anything?" she asks. Richard says no. "I hear Georgia thinks he's doing something with Nelle," Elaine says. Richard doesn't believe it. "She's a tramp," Elaine says, "Remember, it takes one to know one." "The only thing we know for sure about Nelle is when you talk about her, she's behind you," Richard says. Elaine turns to see Nelle standing behind her. "I meant tramp in a good way," Elaine says. "Yes, thank you," Nelle says.

Cage says that he has found out from the bailiff that the jurors are watching "The Music Man" that evening. He thinks it is a perfect choice.

Ally and Renee go to the same church where Richard's uncle was eulogized, and where Lisa Knowles (Jennifer Holliday) sings. The minister (yep, the one who dated Lisa Knowles) is about to give his sermon when he asks the parishioners to give him one of the Ten Commandments to discuss. Someone yells out "Thou shalt not covet!" The minister starts talking about how the Lord thought that if it was a sin to even think it, maybe man will resist the temptation to do it, because the sixth commandment ('Thou shalt not commit adultery') is the worst. Ally jumps up and says "That is not the worst! 'Thou shalt not kill.' That's got to be worse than coveting somebody else's husband. Give me a break." The congregation is very quiet and everyone is watching Ally. She finally sits down and the minister asks the choir to sing. Lisa Knowles and the rest of the choir sing a song about cheating that Ally thinks is directed right at her. As always at this church, the congregation gets up and dances around in the church.

The next day, Ally goes back to see the minister. He assures her that this sermon wasn't about her. He also tells her that she didn't commit adultery. "But Jesus did say that any married man who so much as looks at another woman with lust – he's committed adultery in his heart," Ally says. The minister tells her that Jesus was maybe a little off the mark there. "Jesus was off the mark?" Ally asks. "Under that theory, every heterosexual man would be an adulterer," he says. "It's the deed, Ally, not the thought." He goes on to say that telling Georgia is selfish, and it would serve no purpose other than to ease Ally's guilt. He says that if Billy wants to tell her, that's his business. The minister tells Ally to go on with her life. She says the problem is Georgia is a friend. He says she should relax because if Georgia were really her friend, Ally wouldn't have kissed her husband.

The senator is on the stand attempting to explain why he targeted that specific bookstore during his campaign. He talks for a few minutes and is interrupted by Cage setting off a blowtorch. He apologizes to the judge. "I was adjusting my blowtorch," he says. "There must be gas in the room." The judge makes the bailiff take the blowtorch away.

Ally is listening to a Dr. Ruth Westheimer radio show, and she's also on the phone. We soon figure out that she is actually on hold to talk to Dr. Ruth. She says her name is Jody and that she's from Cambridge. With a broad New York accent, she asks Dr. Ruth if she had kissed her friend's husband, should she tell her friend. Dr. Ruth tells her she should tell her friend that she is no friend at all. Ally hangs up and Dr. Ruth tells the listening audience that she was a "rude little thing." Ally gets up and opens her door, only to find Billy on the other side. He comes in and tells her that he has talked to three marriage counselors and all of them tell him that if it's past tense, he shouldn't tell. Ally says that they have been running around looking for someone else to do it. "Maybe we're looking for Georgia to do it," she says, "and that's not fair." He says it's hard for him to think of dishonesty as the best policy. Ally reminds him that the kiss was dishonest, and that they weren't thinking of Georgia then so they shouldn't think of her now.

Cage is questioning Senator Watkins. He says he was told that the jurors say "The Music Man" last night and he asks him if he has ever seen it. The senator says he saw both the play and the movie. Cage asks him if he remembers the song "Ya Got Trouble." He asks the jurors how many of them loved that song. Several raise their hands. Cage says that Professor Harold Hill needed a rallying cry, something to scare the parents, so he could be a moral savior, and he chose the pool table. Cage starts to sing to the jury. "Well, you've got trouble my friends, right here, I say trouble, right here in River City. Well, sure I'm a billiard player, certainly mighty proud to say it, always mighty proud to say it." Cage turns to the senator. "This bookstore was your pool table, wasn't it, Senator," he says, "your opportunity to convince the folks in River City they had BIG trouble." The senator insists the bookstore was trouble. "Oh yes, pushing stuff like Balzac," Cage says. He says they didn't sell X-rated books like the stores in the red-light district and he asks the senator why he didn't go after them. He says that he went after them all but Cage calls him on it. Cage reminds him that Shirley Peterson's store was the only one mentioned by name in his television spots. "This store was your pool table," Cage says again. "It was my bane and the community's," the senator says. "Well, thank God we had Senator Watkins to run the moral rescue," says Cage. He again turns to the jury and sings. "Now friends, let me tell you what I mean. You got one, two, three, four, five, six pockets in the table." He says it's just like the song. To the senator, he says, "You got the people all upset over that bookstore, didn't you?" He asks the senator if the bookstore was bad for the children. "No question," he answers. Cage says, "Just like the song." He sings again. "Libertine men and scarlet women in ragtime. Shameless music, it'll grab your son, your daughter with the arms of a jungle animal instinct. Mass-teria." The judge has already tried to get Cage to stop several times. Nonetheless, he continues. "Friends, the idle brain is the devil's playground. Say it." The jury sings, "Oh, we got trouble." Cage: "Right here in River City." Jurors: "Right here in River City." Cage: "With a capital 'T' that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool'." Jurors: "That stands for 'pool'." The judge finally gets him to stop. "That will be quite enough," the judge says. "They know the song, your honor," says Cage, "and we all know the dance, don't we, senator?"

Ling and Cage arrive back at the office. She asks him if this is how he tries all his cases and he says it is how he's trying this one. They go separate directions. Nelle asks Ling how the trial is going. "He cross-examined to 'The Music Man'." Ling says. "I like it. He's fun."

Billy comes to Georgia's office and asks if she is free for lunch. She says yes and motions for him to grab her coat. He turns to the coat rack, then turns back to her and starts talking. "I kissed Ally," he says. She stops what she was doing. "What did you just say?" she asks. "The therapists told me not to tell you because no good could come of it so I did not tell you. I've been not telling you for three days. I wake up in the morning and not tell you, I not tell you noon and night, I've not told you a thousand times and every time I see you I have to not tell you again and again and again and I can't do it anymore. If I have to not tell you one more time I will die. I was lonely. You seemed so far away lately. And when I saw Ally with Greg I suddenly convinced myself that I was in love with her again. I kissed her and I've been seeing shrinks ever since who told me what I already knew that I was out of mind because I love you and I need to tell you that, too." Georgia says, "You kissed Ally?" Just then, Ally comes in to tell them something. She stops talking when she sees by the looks on their faces that Georgia knows.

Ally follows Billy into the unisex and straight into a stall. She wants to know how he could just tell Georgia like that. He explains that she is his wife. Ally realizes that she is in the stall with Billy and he probably wants to use the bathroom, so she turns and comes out of the stall, only to find Georgia standing there. Georgia can see both of them standing in the stall together. "Can't imagine how that must have looked," Ally says, then leaves. Georgia tells Billy she thinks they should split for a while. He says he doesn't want that. She says she does.

The judge tells Cage to begin his closing and Ling stands up and says that he is making her do it. "I think the idea of suing a politician for his opinions is stupid," she begins. "I was mortified to be put on this case. I mean, of course he should trumpet what he thinks, how else would we know where he stands? But then, as I listened, I realized this man wasn't voicing his politics, he was exploiting an easy mark. He took the address on Beacon Hill and dressed this bookshop up as something he knew it wasn't and then launched a battle cry. And that isn't right. Oh, we know politicians do it all the time – find something the public is worried about and then tap into it. But that's not an excuse to defame somebody. That doesn't justify putting an innocent person out of business. This store doesn't even have an adult-book section. He was citing Chaucer and John Irving as some of the examples of prurient material. He destroyed her, and he's not even sorry. They worked hard to build this store. He called it a smut shop, forced it to close down, and he's not even sorry. Her life's work. Gone. There's a very old expression in China," she says. She begins speaking in Chinese, but we are treated to subtitles of what she is really saying. "It doesn't matter what I say here, because none of you speak Chinese. But you can see from my sad face…I'm sympathetic. You hear from my tone it's appropriate to feel sorry for me. As I drop to a faint whisper…you'll feel sadness yourself. I'm going to finish now, pretend to cry." She walks to her chair and sits.

Mr. Benson stands to give his closing. He says that Cage used his '76 Trombones' tactic in an effort to distract them from the fact that they were suing a senator for having the gall to speak what he thinks. "Oh, we really do have trouble," the attorney says.

Cage stands. He tells the jury that if they feel the senator really believed their client's bookstore was a 'House of Pornography,' then they should find for him. "Politics is an ugly game. You do what you have to do to survive," Cage says. "And he survived, didn't he? She didn't."

Georgia is sitting in her office. There is a knock on the door. It's Ally and she comes in. She tells Georgia that what happened was indefensible, but she wants to try and give Georgia an explanation. Georgia tells her she doesn't want one, but Ally gives it to her anyway. "I love your husband," Ally says. "I always have." She says that she got over him, but when she found out that he met Georgia while he was still with her, it left her feeling as though the love she had she never had after all. That made her start to question love. Ally tells her that Billy said the worst thing to her that anybody ever has. She says he accused her of being terminally unhappy. Ally says she thought a lot about how he could say that to her, then she realized that he knew. That ultimately, she would never be happy with him. She says Billy has known for a long time that they weren't meant to be. Ally tells Georgia that she is saying all this because she wants to repair "you and me." She says she considers Georgia a friend. "I know how that must sound right now, it doesn't even ring well in my ears," Ally says. Georgia asks Ally to leave now. Ally says she just has one more thing. "I am deeply, deeply sorry."

The jury is back on Cage's case. As they sit and wait for the judge to look over the verdict, Ling gets inpatient. "Hurry up!" she says. "If it pleases the court," she adds. The jury finds in favor of the plaintiff and orders the senator to pay $1.2 million. Ling jumps up yelling, "I did it! I did it!" She walks away saying that she is ready for her questions. Cage turns to Mr. Benson. "It's not my nature to engage in post-commentary," he says, "but since you're well traveled in legal circles, I'd appreciate you telling all your friends exactly what happened in here, you sneaky, arrogant, bad-faith bastard."

Later, the attorneys are gathered in one of the offices watching Ling on television being interviewed by reporters. "There's no substitute in life for respect and kindness," she tells them "and this big dope that he was exempt because he rounded up enough idiots to vote for him." The group toasts Ling and Cage. "I told you I'd win," Ling says. "Didn't I tell you?" Nelle says, "Yes, you did, Ling."

It's late, and Ally is in her office. Billy comes in and thanks her for talking to Georgia. She asks him if he has talked to Georgia. He says he tried, but now he doesn't know where she is. "When she said she wanted to split," says Ally, "what went through your head?" Billy says his life sort of flashed. "Make sure you tell her that," Ally says.

Billy starts walking home and finds Georgia alone in a restaurant, drinking a martini. He goes in and walks up next to her. She looks up and sees him, then turns away as if to let him know she doesn't want to see him. He covers her hand with his own.

Meanwhile, Ally has stopped to play Three-Card Monte on her way home. She wins a few, then starts to lose. Luckily, Renee finds Ally there and pulls her away before she loses any more. They laugh and walk home together.


My favorite part of this episode was seeing Ling in court. Her closing was classic! I loved when she launched into Chinese, even though I was a little concerned that maybe one juror would actually understand what she was saying. Good thing no one did!

The woman who played Shirley Peterson also played Attorney General Janet Reno last season. And, for fans of "Picket Fences," she played the woman who was found in the dishwasher in the pilot.

When Cage started singing to the jury, I thought I would fall over laughing, especially when they started singing along with him.

I can't believe the Senator's lawyer actually thought he would win. Even without Cage's crazy antics, I felt like this case was a no-brainer. I couldn't see anyone taking the politician's side on this one.

I wonder if Greg will be back or if he and Ally will actually leave things this way?

Billy really is a selfish little wimp, isn't he? First, he kisses Ally because he thinks he loves her because he saw her kissing Greg. Then, he has therapists telling him NOT to tell Georgia, but because it is killing him not to, he does anyway. Don't get me wrong, I think Georgia should have been told, but not like this and NOT at the office. Billy was only thinking of himself.

Favorite lines:

Billy: "What did you tell him?"
Ally: "That we kissed and clutched and then I couldn't remember if we made love or not on account of your microscopic penis."

Favorite line/scene combination:

Elaine to Richard, about Nelle: "She's a tramp. Remember, it takes one to know one."
Richard: "The only thing we know for sure about Nelle is when you talk about her, she's behind you."
Camera moves to show Nelle standing behind Elaine.

Copyright © 1999 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.