West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fourth Season Episodes * #405 "Debate Camp"
Janel Maloney as assistant Donna Moss
NBC Photo: Michael O'Neill
Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: William Sind & Michael Oates Palmer, Director: Paris Barclay
Takes Place: Mid-October and, in flashbacks, the days surrounding the transition to the Bartlet Administration (mid-January, almost four years earlier)
Broadcast: October 16, 2002
Query: What song were Sam and company singing around the "camp fire" at dinner?
Query: What did the map show about how the electoral math worked out for the upcoming Presidential election?

Preparing Bartlet for the upcoming Presidential debate, everyone seems to have different opinions on how he should answer certain questions. Then Sam (who is playing Governor Ritchie) comes up with a great answer to one question --- as he mimics Bartlet's mannerisms. The President does not seem to be amused:
"I agreed to be locked up with you people for 48 hours. How much time do I have left?"
"Forty-seven hours, 41 minutes," Leo answers.

Bartlet gets reprieved from the preparation to take a conference call with his National Security advisors. The subject is a Qumari ship loaded with weapons headed toward Lebanon/Israel in response to Israeli strikes against terrorist training bases on Qumari soil.
"Well we've got ourselves a Marx Brothers movie," Bartlet tells his advisors ". . . .Fitz, how you doing?"
"Fine. Thank you, Sir. How about you?"
"Well, we've made camp in North Carolina for Prep. So, I've been thinking a lot about killing myself. . . ." Then Bartlet suggests that they think of something they can give to Qumar to lessen tensions.
"That's what we should do. . . ?" Leo says with a tone of deep sarcasm.
"Leo," Bartlet starts and is overridden as Leo continues.
"We should think of something we can give them?"
"Honey," Bartlet says to his Chief of Staff, "if we're going to have this fight, can we not do it in front of the Joint Chiefs? It just scares the hell out of them."

During their "Debate Camp", Sam thinks he notices a change in the relationship between Toby and his ex-wife, a member of Congress who has come to help with the prep. Toby, surprises Sam and Josh by just saying "Yes" when Sam asks him if he's trying to get back together with her. So, Josh thinks Toby might say more,
"Okay, fill us in on everything you've got so far between the two of you."
"Yeah, like that's going to happen right now." Toby changes the subject but we are soon shown in flashbacks how the Zieglers had tried fertility treatments right when the Bartlet Administration was taking over the White House. Back to the present, Charlie approaches Toby.
"Josh and Sam talked to me. I'm on board."
"With what?"
"Team Toby."
"See, I lent voice to thought and that was my mistake. . . . I get it."
"Do you? Because this is about love."
"I think you have a different motivation."
"Sure, but also as much love really as I think either of us would be comfortable with."
"Well let me start here. Have you asked her?"
"And she said no?"
"This is excruciating." Toby walks off. But he finally admits to his co-workers, that the story is a little more complicated than his "yes" answers have revealed.

Leo argues for doing something about Qumar. Fitz says that both he and Nancy agree. Backed into a corner, the President says to stop the Qumari boat that is filled with weapons.

Flashbacks show things weren't good during their first few days in office. Sam had been arguing against the Bartlet Administration's first nominee for Attorney General. Josh had thought it would be fine.
"Well, you were right and I was wrong," Josh says.
"More often than not, it's going to be the other way around, so. . . ."

Remembering past mistakes, like his first nominee for Attorney General, Bartlet asks Sam,
". . . if I'm making mistakes there, how do I know I'm not doing it when it comes to matters like death and destruction?"
"Well, probably you don't 'cause there's no manual. Sir, we expect the President to face the world in his own way for his own time. Also luckily for all of us, you have better advisors in that area than you in domestic and political policy."

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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