West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Sixth Season Episodes * #601 "NSF Thurmont"
Jed & Leo
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet, John Spencer as Leo McGarry
NBC Photo
Written by: John Wells, Directed by: Alex Graves
Broadcast: October 20, 2004
Query: Where does the title come from?
According to the ever reliable West Wing Episode Guide., Naval Support Facility Thurmont is also known as Camp David

Starts with Admiral Fitzwallace's funeral and almost all Presidential advisors, widows of dead Congressmen, etc. are demanding that Bartlet take military action to avenge the killing of two Congressmen and Fitzwallace. But the President doesn't like the "collateral damage" or the fact that his military advisors can't really justify their targets.
"I'm not bombing half the Middle East because it's going to make us all feel better."
Leo is one of those insisting, "Sir, you can't delay any longer."

Plus, the leader of the Palestinians, Chairman Farad, has agreed to come to a meeting to which he wasn't invited and the Israelis won't meet with him. So, an agreement with the Palestinians does not seem to be an option. And the Press is hammering C.J. about what is keeping Bartlet from acting:
"Gallup is saying that 82 percent support immediate military action in response to Gaza."
"The President doesn't make security decisions based on opinion polls," she responds.

Then there is Congress. The Speaker descends on the White House bringing what seems like half of Congress with him. They demand immediate military actions. And the Speaker insists that the President retract all invitations to any sort of peace conference.
"I'm trying to find a way to make peace," Bartlet tells the members of Congress. "And when I do, you can go on TV and explain why you're against it."

Meanwhile, Donna is going back into surgery. She asks to see Josh before they put her under. He tries to tell her that it is no big deal, but she writes a note admitting that she is "scared" and her fingers reach for his as they put her under the anesthetic.

Back at the White House, Leo tries to explain to Kate Harper --- who as the representative of the Office of the National Security Advisor, has been the one voice on the side of restraint and towards a peace conference --- the voice that Bartlet has sided with over the last couple of days,
"He doesn't like chaos. We bomb some apartment building in Gaza or a camp in Syria there'll be consequences. And we can't tell him what they're going to be. Will we get drawn into a war in the Middle East? Will suicide bombers be climbing onto buses in Passaic, New Jersey instead on Tel Aviv and Haifa? ...The President is looking for answers and we don't have them."

Leo sees what is happening but his inclination is towards action. The President, though wants options and demands that his advisors give him new ideas. Only Kate Harper comes up with any way to get the Israelis and the Palestinians in the same room together. And only C.J. thinks there is any chance this idea has even a slim chance to succeed. None of them think there is much chance of it working but Bartlet wants to try. After the others leave, Leo continues to try to persuade Bartlet into military action.
Jed Bartlet
Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet
NBC Photo
"Mr. President, please, Congress, the Joint Chiefs, the American public, Your Own Staff, EVERYONE disagrees with your assessment of this situation." Towards the end of this Leo is almost shouting at the President.
"Killing Palestinians isn't going to make us feel safer. They'll kill more of us, then we'll have to kill more of them. It's Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun."
"We can't allow terrorists to murder our citizens---"
"Why would they do it? Why would Palestinians murder American government officials they never have before? They're deliberately provoking us, Leo. They know we have to retaliate. They've studied us. They want us to overreact.
"This isn't overreating. It's the appropriate, balanced---"
"Tell me how this ends, Leo." Now the President is also shouting. "You want me to start something that will have serious repercussions on American foreign policy for decades, but you don't know how it ends."
"We don't always KNOW how it ends." Leo shouts right back. Then there is silence for a bit. And then in the most forceful manner, Leo demands, "The Lincoln will be in position in a few hours and then you are going to have to give the go-ahead for the bombings."
"Or what?"

Back at the hospital in Germany, Josh and "Donna's photojournalist" wait to hear how the surgery turns out.
"So you fly half way around the world at a moment's notice to rush to a woman's bedside when the White House is facing off a Biblical apocalypse."
"We work together."
"Past dalliance gone bad," the Irish photojournalist speculates. "Or tragically unconsummated love, kept at arm's length by puritanical American work place ethics?"
Shortly thereafter the two men finally get word that the surgery didn't go well and that Donna may have suffered brain damage.

Congress passes a resolution. When it is shown to Bartlet and Leo, Bartlet says,
"They want peace but I have to blow something up first?"
"I think they are willing to haggle on the peace part," Leo responds dryly.
"That usually work in the past?" Bartlet asks rhetorically.
Later the President tells Leo not to join in a conference with the Israelis. "You don't believe in this, Leo, and they're not going to want to do it. I can't have them picking up any signals from you that we disagree." And later when Bartlet and the gang head for Camp David, Leo is again left behind, but Bartlet does agree to one of the demands Leo has been making.

And back at the hospital Donna finally wakes,
"Josh? ...You're still here."
"Yeah. I'm still here."

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let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.

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