MARLEE MATLIN, STOCKARD CHANNING AND TED MCGINLEY GUEST-STAR AS PRESIDENT MAKES STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH -- There's electricity in the air as the President (Martin Sheen) addresses the Congress for his third State of the Union address -- which was intricately composed by Toby (Richard Schiff) -- and while Josh (Bradley Whitford) anxiously tracks public response via a phone poll, a crisis looms when five American drug agents are taken hostage by Colombian rebels. As Josh spearheads the sampling efforts, he crosses paths with sassy pollster Joey Lucas (Oscar-winning guest star Marlee Matlin) and they renew their sexual chemistry. Elsewhere, Bartlet earns Abbey's (guest star Stockard Channing) ire when his speech omits mention of her passionate issues, including violence against women, while an important cable TV political show host (guest star Ted McGinley, "Married...with Children") sets up in the White House for a live post-speech analysis.
The West Wing, 8:54pm
The White House Staff is making some last minute changes to the State of the Union address. Sam is on the phone with individuals to address a specific legislative point in the speech. Toby is making last minute changes to the language after receiving some requests from Congressional leaders. The President and staff get into the motorcade to head to the Hill to deliver the address.
National Strategies Group - 8:57pm
Josh is in charge of the focus group / polling of the State of the Union and is anxious - Donna tries to keep him calm.
Press Briefing Room - 8:59pm
C.J. comes into the Press Room to announce there will be a change to the speech and the President will announce a Blue Ribbon Commission in the speech. C.J. also reminds the Press Corps that Capital Beat will be broadcasting live from the West Wing after the speech.
The Capitol - 9:00pm
Toby and Sam are still polishing as the President enters the hallway just outside the House of Representatives. They give the President the speech and the President walks to the door of the House chamber, says a silent prayer and then asks the Usher to announce him.
As the President concludes his address, Josh and Donna are ready to start the polling on the speech, but Joey Lucas is not yet there and Josh is unsure about how to begin. Joey arrives and tells the callers to begin.
Back in the West Wing, Capital Beat begins its live broadcast. First up are C.J. and Congressman Henry Shallick (R-MS). At the break, Sam comes to get C.J. to tell him that Jack Sloan, a police officer that was invited to the speech, has an official reprimand in his personnel jacket. C.J. asks Sam to find the officer so she can talk to him.
Charlie meets Mrs. Landingham in the office and she asks Charlie to talk to the First Lady about an outstanding check that Mrs. Bartlet wrote, which the President discovered while balancing his checkbook. Charlie has to go and talk to the First Lady about it.
In the residence, Abby is watching a clip from the speech, rewinding it and playing it over several times. She is visibly upset. Charlie comes to talk to Abby about the check and she snaps at Charlie, who then leaves and Abby goes back to watching the videotape.
Downstairs in the West Wing, Sam and Leo talk about the speech and the police officer. Leo stresses to Sam the police officer must not be anywhere near the President. Margaret then interrupts and tells Leo he is needed in the Situation Room. Five Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents have been captured in Colombia. Leo asks to see representatives from State, Justice, and the Pentagon ("and it needs to happen softly"). Margaret is tasked with quietly getting the individuals Leo wanted to come to the Situation Room, by telling them the code phrase "Leo would like you to come and see an old friend of his." Leo is getting updated information on the captured agents and plans for their rescue.
Back at the National Strategies Group, Joey tells Donna the polling is going well. Josh comes to tell Donna and Joey about the police officer. Donna pokes Josh, telling him that he should ask Joey out.
Capital Beat continues, with Ainsley Hayes and a staffmember from the ACLU commenting on Bartlet's passage in the speech about school uniforms. Sam overhears Ainsley on the show and comes to get her. In the few moments before the break, Ainsley points out that she has never even met the President. Ainsley is afraid to meet the President.
Abby is giving some remarks in the reception about the speech, putting on a good face over her anger. Leo talks with Abby and tells her that if she wants to be pissed at someone, it's not the President. Abby tells Leo that she knows full well who to be pissed at. As Toby comes into the room, she grabs him and tells him she wants to see him in his office in half an hour.
Donna continues to pester Josh about asking Joey out. Joey comes in and she and Josh go back and forth about when the numbers will be available. After Joey promises the results in five minutes, the power goes out.
Back in the West Wing, Toby is sparring with Congressman Shallick on Capital Beat. When the show goes to break, Toby gets up to go to meet with Abby. She is upset about the language as it left her with the impression that the President was running for a second term, when (as will become evident later) she and the President had a deal for only one term.
C.J. meets with Officer Sloan. He tells her the story about what happened 17 years ago. C.J. has to ask the officer to not speak with anyone in the reception.
Josh is increasingly edgy over the power outage. Donna calls Sam and Josh talks to Sam about the power outage and the numbers. Sam hangs up as the President returns from the Capitol. Sam mentions to the President that if he had an opportunity to meet Ainsley, he would be grateful.
Leo meets with the President, who is concerned about the policeman story - but Leo tells him that's not what's going to knock them off the story. Bartlet enters the Oval Office and is greeted by advisors ready to brief him on the Colombian problem.
Bartlet is receiving the briefing about the drug agents captured in Colombia. Leo is convinced the CRF is going to kill the agents - but Mickey Troop wants to continue negotiations. The President also receives a briefing on the military option to rescue the agents.
Back at the National Strategies Group, Josh is still unglued about the power outage, when Sam calls and tells Josh he needs to come back to the White House. Sam goes down to Ainsley's office, where she is dancing in a robe (because she sat in paint). The President appears to welcome Ainsley, who is mortified at meeting the President in a bathrobe.
Upstairs, C.J. is back on Capital Beat and at the break, Mark Gottfried tells C.J. that he knows about the police officer. She asks Gottfried to hold off for twenty minutes before doing anything. In the White House kitchen - Bartlet finds his wife and the two of them have an argument about the speech and what she believes was his intention to run for a second term despite their having a deal.
- Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
- Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
- John Spencer as Leo McGarry
- Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
- and Martin Sheen as President Bartlet
Special Guest Stars
- ❝Mr. Finney, would you tell the Speaker I'd like to see him please?❞
- —President Bartlet
- Mickey Troop, who advises the President on the Colombia crisis, is the Secretary of State.
- The theme that plays during the opening of the live Capitol Beat segment from The White House is also the old theme for the British ITN nightly news show.
- In his impatient ire over the numbers, Josh calls Joey, 'Tonto'.
- Normally the President of the United States is ushered into the House chamber by a group of Congressmen and Senators. In the show - Bartlet arrives at the door of the House chamber unescorted except for Presidential staff.
- The title implies that this is President Bartlet's third State of the Union. State of the Unions are given every year except the first year in office. So while this might be the third year in office, this would have been the second State of the Union.