Teleplay: Aaron Sorkin, Story: Julia Dahl & Laura Glasser, Directed by: John Hutman
Martin Sheen as
President Josiah Bartlet, Stockard Channing as First Lady Abigail Bartlet
NBC Photo: James Sorensen
- Takes Place:
- Broadcast: November 14, 2001
- Query: Is there a Seawolf class submarine named the Portland? And is there a USS Portland?
- Query: What exactly is the Order of Presidential Succession (which Bartlet sends Charlie out for a copy of) and how does it apply to the Bartlet Administration?
- Query: Exactly what do the rules on Express Advocacy actually say?
- Although both Leo and Nancy think the sub has just "gone quiet", Leo has to tell the President that the USS Portland, a Seawolf class submarine, hasn't checked in:
- "This is one of those things we've talked about that sounds worse than it is because of your inexperience with the military."
- Dr. Bartlet, meanwhile, is meeting with the White House counsel who tells her that the witness list on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee includes former patients of hers who have sued for malpractice:
- "From this witness list, it becomes clear to me what the President's biggest liability is going to be."
". . .They don't have a criminal case against the President, do they?"
"But they can develop one against me. And in going after me they can taint the President. . . . Distract him from governing. Distract the public's attention from the campaign."
"Is there a deal to be made?" Abbey asks in an effort to save her husband, his administration, and his campaign for reelection, even though she doesn't want him to run. However, Oliver Babish goes against his interest as White House Chief Counsel to advise against this.
". . . Truth isn't a luxury. You're going to go in there and you're going to swear an oath. You're going to get asked questions, and you're going to tell the truth. It's the way you stand up and say, Stop."
- In a conference room in another part of the West Wing, Bruno is trying to get Sam and Toby to agree to use soft money to counteract some leaflets from the opposition that label the President as "Super Liberal". Sam doesn't want to "get around the law", and Bruno doesn't want to lose the election by running under different rules than the opposition uses, and he finally blows up at their reluctance to run in the same election as the other guys:
- "We all need some therapy because somebody came along and said liberal means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense. And we're going to tax you back to the stone age because people shouldn't have to work if they don't want to. And instead of saying 'Well, excuse me, you right-wing reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun Leave it to Beaver trip back to the '50s'. We cowered in the corner and say, 'Please don't hurt me'. . . . Let's have two parties. . . ."
- While all this is going on, the Senate Majority Leader who looks like he will be the Republican nominee in the upcoming Presidential election, had been asked why he wanted to be President and his answer didn't make much sense. Suddenly, the staffers realize that they haven't put together a good answer. Josh brings that up to the President who, in the midst of a crisis, claims privately that he doesn't want the job. Later after all the turmoil has died down, C.J. asks him if he has an answer. He says:
- "It's not an easy question. . . . I've been thinking about it for the last couple of hours. I almost had it."
For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode (as well as more information),
let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
Background from Bravo: What you need to know from past episodes.