West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fourth Season Episodes * #406 "Game On"
President Bartlet - Martin Sheen
James Brolin as Governor Ritchie, Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet
NBC Photo: Marcia Reed
Writers: Aaron Sorkin & Paul Redford, Director: Alex Graves
Takes Place: End of October - Presidential Election Year
Broadcast: October 30, 2002
Query: What was the song playing in the bar at the end of the episode?

The President and his staff continue to prepare for the debate in San Diego the next evening, but they take a few minutes out to play a practical joke on Toby.

Sam then flies to California's 47th Congressional District in Orange County where the Democrat who was running has died. Trouble is that the campaign staff doesn't seem to be giving up.
"You can't keep campaigning without a candidate," Sam tells campaign manager, Will Bailey.
"It's a campaign of ideas."
"The candidate died."
"But not the ideas. The metaphor alone knocks me down."
"The campaign's become an embarrassment to us. It's a national joke. . . . I'm here for the President."
"I admire the President, Sam. I really do."
"I don't work for him."

Sam then follows Will to his press conference. Will continues to campaign for his dead candidate and against the current Republican Congressman, Chuck Webb. One of the reporters covering the story, is from the San Jose Mercury.
"Mr. Bailey, we're all sitting here pretending this is a regular press conference and you're very engaging up there, but your candidate died, so why isn't this all a little preposterous?"
"Chuck Webb is a seven-term Congressman who, as chairman of not one but two Commerce subcommittees, has taken money from companies he regulates. He's on the board of the NRA and once challenged another Congressman to a fist fight on the floor, over an amendment to make stalkers submit to background checks before buying AR-15s, AK-57s, Street Sweepers, Mac-10s, Mac-11s. He's joined protests designed to frighten pregnant women."
"What's your point?"
"There are worse things in the world than no longer being alive."

As the President and his staff fly to San Diego for the debate, Charlie obsesses because the President's lucky tie was ruined by a cleaning solvent, and C.J. tries to butter up Albie Duncan, a Republican from the State Department who they are hoping will help spin defense subjects that come up in the debate. She tries to talk him into sticking with simple answers to subjects like China and human rights violations there.
". . . it's not simple. It's incredibly complicated," Duncan tells C.J.. ". . . I've been at the State Department for 30 years and there is no right answer to these questions and diplomacy needs all the words it can get its hands on. . . . Free trade's essential for human rights. The end of that sentence is 'we hope 'cause nothing else has worked."

Leo doesn't get to go to the debate as he and Jordan Kendall are dealing with the Qumari problem. Talking to the Qumari ambassador to the UN, Leo isn't his usual cool, detached, rational self and Jordan takes him out in the hall to try and calm him down but Leo isn't buying it.
"Ben Yosef gave me the medal of David, and ten hours later he was dead! I can't pretend Qumar's our quirky little ally whose culture it's important to be tolerant of!"
Jordan didn't get through to Leo for long. Shortly after they go back into their meeting, Leo tells the ambassador, "You are going to cease and desist any disinformation campaign that links the death of Shareef to Israel. And sometime next year, the Sultan is going to propose a Middle East peace plan --- the Qumar plan --- and win the Nobel Peace Prize." Leo gets up and walks out.
"He's a little hot under the collar, is he not?" the ambassador says to Jordan.
"Excuse me," she says following Leo. "I have a meeting of godless infidels next door."

And the debate goes on. Ritchie gives a great, simple "ten word answer", but the President isn't buying.
"Every once in a while, every once in a while, there's a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts. Other than that, there aren't very many un-nuanced moments in leading a country that's way too big for ten words. I'm the President of the United States, not the President of the people who agree with me."

This sends C.J. off to unleash Duncan on the press and allow him to express all the complexity that he wanted to discuss.

Sam finds himself drawn back to the campaign being run for the dead candidate. Will has told him that Mrs. Wilde is looking for a Democrat to agree to run in the special election if they win. As Sam leaves, in a moment of idealistic weakness --- assuming that there is no way they would win --- he tells Will,
"Listen, if you can't find a Democrat, tell Mrs. Wilde --- tell Kay that I'll do it. . . . This is for election night, if you win. If I read about it before then, I'm gonna deny it and we're through."

In addition, having learned that Will ghosted an extraordinary speech that everyone has been talking about for the last day or so, and that one of the people on the campaign wrote the jokes for that speech, Sam decides that if he can't talk them out of continuing this campaign, he will publically praise the speech even if he can't publically name the people responsible for it.

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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