West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fifth Season Episodes * #503 "Jefferson Lives"
Jefferson Lives
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Bartlet --
NBC Warner Bros. Photo

Teleplay: Carol Flint, Story: Carol Flint & Debora Cahn, Director: Alex Graves
Takes Place:
Broadcast: October 8, 2003
Query: What happened to the rest of May and all of June?
Query: Why is the Bartlet Administration talking about THREATCON 5 when no such thing has ever existed?

It is the Fourth of July and the President and his staff have decided on a Vice President and everyone thinks this will be an easy confirmation --- until they later run into the new Speaker of the House. Meanwhile there are other things happening, including a group of new Americans who weren't going to be able to take their citizenship oaths today because the VFW hall they were to use had a bomb scare. Leo adds a detail for Bartlet,
"Most of this group being sworn in are from Arab countries."
"We're talking folks who have been interviewed and background checked by two agencies, taking classes to learn our language, passed exams on our history and government, been fingerprinted twice.... Let's find them an auditorium where they can safely take their oath."

The Speaker of the House counters the President's choice for VP with a list of his own. The people on it are people clearly incapable of heading the ticket in the next Presidential election. The majority leader of the Senate begins to think there are advantages to the Speaker's list. The senior staff argue the merits of fighting the good fight and getting someone easily confirmed to calm the public --- a partisan fight with a long drawn out confirmation process might not be good for the country right now. However, most of the names on the Speaker's list are quite impossible and the Republicans mean for it to be like that.
"Who is Robert Russell?" Will asks.
"He's the Congressman from Western Colorado, and I don't mean the state, I mean the mining company," Josh tells him.
"Bob Russell is not presidential," Toby says.
C.J. finally gets an idea of who he is, "...Is he Bingo Bob?"

Everyone is expressing concern for Zoey and the First Family. Debbie runs into Abbey very briefly and blurts out,
"I can't tell you how hard I prayed for you."
"I appreciate that."
After a pause, Debbie tells her, "Well, you shouldn't. I'm not very religious. So there's the risk that my praying could be taken as insincere or even an affront, which if it's a vengeful God could have made matters worse."
"Well, it didn't. So maybe there's a clue."

The day continues and Zoey's moods change throughout. Sometimes she seems fine like when she mentions, "Jefferson Lives" and ends up explaining to Will,
"My dad loves Fourth of July stuff. Like Jefferson and Adams dying on the same day."
Charlie adds, "Adams thought Jefferson had survived him and 'Jefferson Lives' were his last words."
"It appeals to Dad. You know hope and irony."

Abbey is barely talking to her husband. She thinks that what happened to Zoey was Bartlet's fault. That Zoey was put at risk because of the assassination Bartlet ordered. Abbey moves a meeting on Zoey's security to avoid having Leo there and then tells him why,
"I moved the meeting up because I didn't want you here."
"In the meeting?"
"In the residence."
"Yeah. I've been trying to --- I thought you'd need some space."
"She's safe. She's going to stay safe."
"We all want what's best for Zoe---"
"You laid us open. You laid me and my daughters wide open. And God knows what else there is---"
"There is nothing else."
"I swear to God, Leo, don't --- 72 hours --- her bruises aren't even--- Did you see her face? For God's sake, don't ask me to trust you."
"I'm not."
"And don't think you took the bullet. I blame Jed. He did this."

Charlie is worried about Zoey. He tries to talk to the President about it. Bartlet counters saying Zoey was "fearless" with the press during the photo op.
"Yes, she does that.... She knows you like to see her strong. She thinks what happened was her fault...."
"Her mother wants to take her back to New Hampshire for awhile. What do you think?"
"I think her mom is right."

Josh is feeling like a failure due to the fact that he can't get Bartlet's choice for Vice President easily confirmed. His frustration is becoming overwhelming And there are indications that he may be looking for some comfort from Amy.

Bartlet has agreed to meet with each of the people on the Speaker's list for Vice President. Some of the meetings are excruciating for him. One of the last ones is with Bob Russell who shows up in cowboy boots. "Bingo Bob" tells him,
"I get along with people. They like me in the House because I don't ruffle feathers and they like me back home because I honestly enjoy a good rubber chicken...."
"Are you a horseman Bob? I'm looking at your boots."
"Oh, I love to ride.... No, I wear these boots, um, Oh, I could give you some crap about remembering my roots, but I wear these because I've got flat feet and they don't hurt my arches...." When the President ends the meeting, Bob says one last thing. "Let me go on the record. If you were to offer the job, I would be honored.... But I would need a couple of things.... I wasn't close enough to say for sure about your relationship with John Hoynes, but as your Vice President, I would want more access.... Direct access. A weekly lunch or drinks. Especially since we don't know each other.... I'm sure that my name came up because some see me as the bland candidate. Nobody's nightmare. The triumph of mediocrity. If I were to take the job, I'd mean to confound those expectations, and I'd want you to know that."

After a frustrating day, Bartlet tells Leo.
"Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven years ago a bunch of guys got together on the fourth of July and decided --- because they didn't have any cherry bombs --- they would declare some self-evident truths."
"Fed up with democracy, are we?"
"...the country needs a President who's doing their work. Since they put their trust in a guy whose mortality is showing, they deserve a chain of command that irrefutable.... Ben Franklin thought the only hope for democracy was if people respected each other enough to compromise."

The only place Leo could find on the Fourth of July to hold the oath taking of the mostly Arab group of new citizens was in the White House and Leo takes Bartlet there for a fitting end to this particular holiday.

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode (as well as more information),
let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.

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