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Sex, Lies and Politics is the 16th episode of Season Two of Ally McBeal.


Cage and Ling represent a bookstore owner who was driven out of business by a politician who claimed that the store sold pornography. Ally and Billy deal with the aftermath of their kiss.


As Ally and Renee walk down a Boston street, Ally imagines that passersby are making remarks about what happened with Billy. Renee suggests she seek psychiatric counseling, but Ally counters that Tracy makes her feel guilty for experiencing guilt.

Inside the conference room, Fish reviews the status of various cases. Cage tells the others that Senator Harold Watkins has agreed to settle his case for a payment of $500,000, evidently because he wishes to avoid publicity (Watkins had libeled bookstore owner Shirley Patterson by claiming that her store sold pornographic material). As the conversation continues, Ally hears the beating of a "tell tale heart," which grows louder and louder. She looks at Georgia, whose head beats like a human heart.

When Cage meets with Senator Watkins’ high-powered attorney, Peter Benson, it becomes clear that the $500,000 settlement offer was a trick. Benson announces that the case will go to trial. Cage quickly assembles the other attorneys. As the judge in the case ordered no further continuances, the trial will begin that day. Cage, who is completely unprepared for trial, instructs the others to interview people who worked on the senator’s television ads, hoping they might possess information that would bolster their case. In court, Benson successfully argues for a sequestered jury. Cage is displeased with Fish’s performance. He appoints (the inexperienced) Ling as second chair.

Ally tells Greg that for two days, she experienced feelings for someone else—someone she kissed. Greg walks away. Billy catches enough of the conversation to ask Ally what was said. It turns out that both Ally and Billy were advised by their counselors not to tell Georgia about what transpired. But they both wonder why it feels so wrong. Ally again hears the heartbeat, but this time, she dances to the rhythm.

In court, Cage’s client, Shirley Peterson, takes the witness stand. She describes how her bookstore business did well financially until Senator Watkins took to the airwaves and accused her store of selling pornographic material. Ling interrupts her testimony, describing Peterson as "tedious." Cage looks stunned. But afterward, in the elevator, Cage tells Ling she performed exactly as he had instructed.

Ally apologizes to Greg for kissing another man. Later, she convinces Renee to accompany her to church so she can be with others in a house of forgiveness.

During cross-examination, Peterson states that she sold books written by John Irving and Balzac, and rap CDs featuring profane lyrics. She insists that just about every record store in the county carries similar music.

In church, Minister Mark Neuman asks someone in his congregation to shout out one of the Ten Commandments. An elderly woman mentions "thou shalt not covet." Ally is incredulous. As the service continues, Neuman states that "thou shalt not commit adultery" is the worst of the commandments. Ally rises to her feet and insists that "thou shalt not kill" must certainly top the list. The church grows silent, all eyes upon her. Ally sits back down. Moments later, Lisa Knowles and the choir break into song. Ally is convinced they are singing about her. Later, Neuman tells Ally that his sermon was not about her. He points out that she did not commit adultery. He also believes that Georgia is not really her friend, for if she was, Ally would never have kissed her husband. Later, using a pseudonym, Ally phones a radio talk show for advice. Dr. Ruth concurs with Neuman’s opinion.

In court, Cage announces that he was told that the jurors watched The Music Man during their sequestration. Accompanied by a violinist, cello player and bass player, Cage lapses into verse. He makes an analogy between Professor Harold Hill and the pool table and Senator Watkins and the bookstore.

Billy approaches Georgia and suddenly blurts out that he kissed Ally. Ally interrupts their conversation and, upon seeing their faces, realizes what happened. Later, Georgia tells Billy they should separate for a while.

Ling presents the final argument in the bookstore case. She tells the jury that, at first, she felt the case was unworthy, labeling the idea of suing a politician for his opinions as "stupid." But as the case proceeded, she came to realize that Watkins exploited the bookstore because of its proximity to the State Capitol. She tells the jury it was wrong for the senator to drive Peterson out of business. The jury agrees. They award Peterson over a million dollars in damages.

Ally approaches Georgia in her office. She tells her she has always loved Billy and always will. But when she discovered that Billy met Georgia while he was going out with her, it made her question the notion of love. She now believes that when she kissed Billy, it was because she wanted to prove that his love for her was still there. For if it was still there, then it must have existed to begin with. She concludes that although she and Billy love one another, they were never meant to be together. Now, Ally can only hope to repair the damage between herself and Georgia. Georgia asks her to leave.


Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal
Courtney Thorne-Smith as Georgia Thomas
Greg Germann as Richard Fish
Lisa Nicole Carson as Renée Raddick
Jane Krakowski as Elaine Vassal
Portia de Rossi as Nelle Porter
Lucy Liu as Ling Woo
with Peter MacNicol as John Cage
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Recurring cast

Jesse L. Martin as Dr. Greg Butters

Guest starring

Zach Grenier as Attorney Benson
Peter White as Senator Harold Watkins
Linda Gehringer as Shirley Peterson
Albert Hall as Judge Seymore Walsh
Harrison Page as Reverend Mark Newman
Jennifer Holliday as Lisa Knowles