West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fifth Season Episodes * #508 "Shutdown"
President Bartlet
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet
--- NBC Warner Bros. Photo

Written by: Mark Goffman,  Directed by: Christopher Misiano
Takes Place: November (before Thanksgiving)
Broadcast: November 19, 2003
Query: What actually happens when the government shuts down?

The government has been shut down. But even though the Speaker changed the deal at the last minute, he has a plan to get the American public to blame Bartlet for the shutdown. Meanwhile, Donna, Carol, Margaret, Charlie and all but the senior staff are sent home --- although Donna and Josh decide she can do some research while she's away.
"Start a tally of programs effected by the shutdown."

Leo and Angela still think they can have an agreement quickly. Josh thinks the President is serious and plans to "stay in" for the full hand on this. The President has left the West Wing and Leo is trying to organize the staff. Josh tells him,
"We have to call Haffley out for what he is really doing. It's a coup. He's trying to defund every Bartlet initiative that we've passed in the last two years."
[The newly cowardly and ineffectual --- editor's insert] Leo ignores Josh's verbal advice and the President actions. When C.J. asks for help, he tells her, "Don't go out there again until morning."
"Okay, but the enemy's advancing and you had better give me more than a squirt gun before the sun comes up."
Angela asks Leo to talk the President down so he goes to tell the President, "Angela feels they'll close at two percent."
"I took his Vice President. I dropped my stimulus package, my college tuition tax credit. And now we're haggling not over the budget but how much to cut over last year ---"
"It's a bad deal. A bad week. A bad year. But our approval's in the 30s and we're out of allies on the Hill.... It's not always enough to be right, sir."
Later C.J, asks Leo, "So what's the plan?"
"Plan? Who said we had a plan?" Then he tells the President, "Sir, you're putting all our chips down on a single hand we can't win."

Donna discovers that Social Security (an entitlement that shouldn't be affected by the shutdown) is going to have problems because,
"We sent home the people... who run the machines that cut the checks."
"The checks won't go out."
"Not unless we get the GAO to issue a ruling to bring those guys back in." Later Donna is acknowledged for having saved Social Security!

The President is holding firm so Leo calls the estranged First Lady who comes back to talk to him. Josh suggests,
"Let's go up to the Hill and see 'em.... The country's waiting for someone to step up. It should be us."
Against Leo and Toby's advice, the President says to Josh, "Let's go."

But the Republicans aren't prepared for this bold a move and they make a bad strategic error.

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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