LOS ANGELES In Wednesday's powerful season finale of "The West Wing," beleaguered President Josiah Bartlet lashed out at God in two languages.
First in English and then Latin, Bartlet lamented life's cruel twists, including the death of his longtime secretary in a drunken-driving accident, and reproached God.
The monologue took place in the National Cathedral, just after Dolores Landingham's funeral and before the president appeared on TV to admit he has hidden a disease, multiple sclerosis, from the public.
His nerves raw and his faith tested he has been shown as a devout Catholic in the NBC drama Bartlet sat impassively through the funeral service, then asked for time alone.
The president, played by Martin Sheen, then proceeded to fill the vast cathedral with his anger.
"She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What? That's supposed to be funny?" Bartlet asked, then added bitterly: "Have I displeased you, you feckless thug?"
He wasn't through. The next 20 seconds of his tirade were delivered in Latin, once the traditional language of the Catholic Church. His anger was clear, even if only Latin scholars could parse the specifics.
Here's the translation included with "The West Wing" shooting script:
"Am I really to believe that these are the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God?" Bartlet exclaims. "To h--- with your punishments. I was your servant here on Earth. And I spread your word and I did your work. To h--- with your punishments. To h---with you."
The scene ended with Bartlet, in a gesture of contempt, crushing a cigarette butt on the cathedral floor.
"You get Hoynes," he tells God, apparently signaling his decision not to seek re-election and to clear the way for Vice President John Hoynes (Tim Matheson) to head the Democratic ticket.
But the rest of the episode left doubt about Bartlet's intentions. There was a wrenching scene in which he imagines Landingham had reappeared, scolding him for self-pity.
"There are people way worse off than you," she said. "If you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if you don't run because you think it's gonna be too hard or you think you're gonna lose well, Jed, I don't even want to know you."
Questioned at a news conference about his plans, the president adopts a look of resolve but doesn't respond before the hour ends another TV cliffhanger for viewers to ponder this summer.