Homer the Smithers is the seventeenth episode of Season 7.
Smithers takes a much needed vacation and, to insure his position at the nuclear plant, he hires Homer as his temporary replacement for Mr. Burns. Homer teaches Burns self-reliance.
The episode starts off at the employee appreciation night that Mr. Burns is hosting at a drag racing track. When it is over Burns complains to Smithers that his foam novelty finger is too big. Smithers then leaves Burns alone in his limo. A drunken Lenny approaches the limo window and frightens Burns. Smithers returns with a smaller novelty foam finger and drives Lenny off. Smithers, however, feels guilty for failing to defend Burns sooner, and decries himself as a failure while beating himself up over it both figuratively and literally via his repeatedly smashing his head against the wheel while driving him home (also somehow managing to call Burns via the phone line on the limo when he proceeded to move the glass up).
The next morning, Smithers brings him breakfast and a laminated newspaper, although after Mr. Burns was unable to do the Junior Jumble due to the lamination, Smithers tries to drown himself via the water cooler before Mr. Burns saved him by draining the water. Burns feels Smithers is working too hard and tells him to take a vacation. He agrees, but needs to find a replacement. He looks for the most pathetic worker to replace him, settling on Homer. He works as hard as he can, only to be ridiculed by Burns. Homer gets so mad at him, he punches him in the face, leaving Burns cowering in fear. In order to be safe and keep Homer away from him, Burns starts doing his own work, and he comes to enjoy it. When Smithers comes back, Burns fires him because he can do everything himself. Smithers and Homer try to get his job back, but it doesn't work. After their plan (having Mr. Burns's mother call her son to irritate him) failed (largely due to Homer's stupidity, such as disconnecting the phone before she could get a chance to call Burns, resulting in Homer calling Burns' office and faking being his mother, only for him to get her voice wrong and also say remarks Burns' mother would never say to him [specifically, referring to "her" son as "Mr. Burns"], resulting in both of them getting caught by Burns) Homer and Smithers get in a fight, including Smithers bashing Homer on the head over with a telephone receiver to "demonstrate [to Homer] how to use a phone." During their brawl, they accidentally knock Burns out the window. Having to go through physical therapy after being released from the hospital, Burns becomes once again dependent on Smithers for all his needs. Smithers repays Homer for getting him his job back by sending him a basket full of fruit.