West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Third Season Episodes* #309 (53) "Bartlet for America"
Leo John Spencer as Chief of Staff Leo McGarry
NBC Photo: David Rose
Written by: Aaron Sorkin, Directed by: Thomas Schlamme
Takes Place: December 23rd with flashbacks to the "Bartlet for America" campaign
Broadcast: December 12, 2001
Query: So how could this be 2001 with a full House Committee Meeting on a Sunday (December 23rd)?
Query: Why did Leo tell Karen Larson in #13 'I haven't had a drink or a pill in six and a half years'?
Query: How long have Leo and Bartlet known each other?

Leo has been summoned before the House Reform and Oversight Committee. The room is packed with the Press and the meeting is being televised. Leo is about to take his seat when the President calls and tells him:
"Listen, I don't care that much about your ass but if you need to perjure yourself to protect me you're going to damn well do it."
"Sir, this isn't a secure phone call. So I'd like to say to the 17 global intelligence networks listening just then, that he was kidding."

Then he's asked when he first mentioned to Bartlet that he should run for President. Leo just dropped in on the then Governor in New Hampshire; didn't call ahead. When those making a presentation on New Hampshire tourism finally leave, Bartlet calls out to his secretary:
"Mrs. Landingham!" And when she comes into the room, he says, "Speaking of crusty New England relics."
"Governor, does it frustrate you to constantly aim for humor and yet miss so dramatically?"

While Leo is on the Hill, the President is trying to deal with several torchings of Black churches in Tennessee and threats of new ones. He is worried that something will happen when the churches are full of people over Christmas. He's about to overrule the Governor of Tennessee and face the backlash that that will cause when the FBI liaison tells Josh that they have found the people behind the burnings. A 17 year old high school drop-out was pulled over for driving with a failed brake light but he sped off:
"He thought he was being pulled over for planning to make a molotov cocktail."
"Why?" Josh asks.
"'Cause he was planning to make a molotov cocktail."
"Did he name friends?"
"He was a tough nut to crack. It took almost 20 minutes. . . ."
"There's no amount of money, man-power or knowledge that can equal the person you're looking for being stupid," the FBI liaison later says.

Josh has been trying to save Leo from the questions bound to be asked by a Congressman on the committee. Although Leo doesn't want to expose himself to the world for a relapse he had that this particular Congressman knows about, early in the episode he asks Josh not to bother trying to stop it. Josh explains why he will do what he can by referring to a story Leo once told him by saying: "A man fell in a hole. . ." But Josh fails. As the Congressman starts asking his surprise question Leo's lawyer asks for a break. She takes Leo aside and demands to know what is going on. Now Leo has to tell this lawyer --- who he likes and has been trying to ask out --- about a relapse that until now was known only to Josh, the President and this Congressman. And then he will have to tell the world. She doesn't quite see the whole problem. He explains:
"I went to rehab, my friends embraced me when I got out. You relapse it's not like that. 'Get away from me.' That's what it's like."

Turns out Leo doesn't have to tell the world of his relapse. Donna's sometime boyfriend Cliff talks the chairman of the committee into recessing until after the holidays.

All in all it was an emotionally draining day for Leo and by the end of it something unexpected has him fighting back tears.

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.

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