- 〉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〈
- —Leo to Jordon
DESPITE CHRISTMAS SEASON, PRESIDENTIAL INVESTIGATION GRINDS ON AS BARTLET RECALLS FATEFUL DECISION -- While the White House is festooned with Christmas finery, Leo (John Spencer) fears the worst when he testifies in the Congressional investigation into the President's (Martin Sheen) possible lack of public disclosure about his illness while flashbacks reveal the background leading to Bartlet's decision as governor to not come forward with the damaging information. In addition, the President personally investigates a series of church firebombings in the South after a two-year probe proves fruitless and threatens using troops to protect parishioners the next day on Christmas Eve.
Leo speaks with Special Agent Mike Casper, FBI liaison: Seven Black churches in five Tennessee counties have received threats. Josh promises to be there for Leo, because Leo has promised to be there for Josh. Leo arrives for his testimony in front of the Congressional committee investigating the president's MS situtation. President Bartlet calls to encourage Leo and comments that Leo and his lawyer Jordan Kendall together are like a 50s screwball comedy. As Leo stands to swear himself in, he leans over to Jordan to tell her, "Ain't nothing but a family thing."
Congressman Joseph Bruno welcomes Leo to the hearings. He explains how the proceedings will go and introduces Republican Majority Counsel Cliff Calley, who begins questioning Leo. As Leo answers Cliff's questions, Leo flashes back to the day Leo convinced then-governor Bartlet to run for president. Mrs. Landingham comes in to tell Bartlet that Leo is here and would like to see him. Leo presents Bartlet with a napkin on which he has written "Bartlet for America."
Back in the hearing room, Leo is asked if he would have advised Bartlet to run for president if Leo had known about the MS. Leo stalls by chatting with his lawyer about lunch plans, but still does not answer the question.
At the White House, Josh takes Mike Casper in to see the President, who is talking with The Governor of Tennessee and advisors about possibly sending troops in to protect the Black churches. After the meeting breaks up, the President asks Josh what he is planning to do about getting Congressman Gibson out of the room when it is his turn to question Leo. Josh tells the President that they should not have this conversation.
Congressman Dearborn compares Abbey to Edith Galt Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, who ran the country for months after her husband's stroke. This line of questioning leads to another flashback for Leo, to the campaign operating out of a storefront in Manchester, where Sam, C.J., and Toby are deciding strategy. They decide to have Bartlett take a physical and release the findings. Jed and Abbey talk about it and she tells him that since he is in remission his MS will not show up on the physical. Bartlet expresses concern over whether not revealing his MS is lying to anyone.
At the White House, present day - Josh and Sam discuss how to get Gibson out of the hearing. In the hearing, Leo is asked whether the Democratic leadership should have known about the MS and whether they might have instead chosen Hoynes as the presidential nominee instead of him becoming the second on the ticket. Congressman Erickson implies that MS is a fatal disease, and Leo objects on behalf of all parents who have children with MS. This sends Leo into another flashback to the night Hoynes is asked to become the vice presidential nominee. After getting consensus from the staff, Bartlet asks John Hoynes to join the ticket and then tells Hoynes he has MS.
Back to the present: Donna tells Josh he is wanted in the mural room. Mike Casper tells Josh that a teenager with a failed brake light fled a traffic stop and was found to be preparing a Molotov cocktail. The FBI is declaring it a credible threat for conspiracy and the Governor of Tennessee is able to protect his constituency. Josh has to tell the President that he has been unable to get Gibson out of the room.
The Chair recognizes Congressman Gibson, who begins to question Leo. Gibson asks Leo in how many instances the President has been incapacitated. Leo confirms two instances: one while in the office and one during the campaign - which surprises both his lawyer and the committee members. Jordan Kendall asks for a recess to ask Leo about this. Bruno and Calley ask Congressman Gibson to explain himself. Seeing the break, Josh calls Leo to tell him that it's not going to happen (getting Gibson out of the room)
Jordan presses Leo about what happened - what does Gibson have? Leo tells the story (in flashback). It was the final debate - the race was too close to call, Leo was nervous - and he was meeting with potential donors to the campaign in his hotel room. The group begin to drink and Leo has a drink, although he is an alcoholic - and he gets drunk. Leo continues to tell the story to Jordan, and he reveals that Gibson was one of the people in the room.
At the debate site, the other staff are working with the President on debate prep, when Bartlet has an attack. Josh calls Leo in his room to tell him that Bartlet has collapsed and he needs to get down there right away. Gibson comes back to the room, sees the mess of liquor bottles that Leo has been into, and Leo tells him that he needs to get to the debate site - the Governor has collapsed. Leo tells Jordan the only people who know what happened that evening are Josh and the President.
Jordan and Leo prepare to go back into the hearing - Jordan tells Leo not to worry - she'll look after him. In a room off the hearing, Cliff Calley confronts Congressman Gibson and tells him not to pursue this line of questioning at Leo.
The hearing reconvenes and Congressman Bruno recognizes Congressman Gibson to allow him to resume his questioning. Just as Gibson is about to ask his questions again, Bruno cuts him off and declares the committee in recess until after the holidays.
Leo returns to the White House and finds the President waiting for him in Leo's office. The President gives Leo the napkin that Leo gave him when he got Bartlet to run for President. He tells Leo that what he did today was very nice. The President leaves the office and Leo breaks down.
- Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
- Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
- 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 Star
- Joanna Gleason as Jordon Kendall
- Mark Feuerstein as Cliff Calley
- Clark Gregg as Special Agent Casper
- James Handy as Joseph Bruno
- Steven Gilborn as Rep. Paul Dearborn
- Doug Ballard as Governor Edward Pratt
- Todd Waring as Rep. Rathburn
- Mark Hutter as Rep. Erickson
- Kathryn Joosten as Dolores Landingham
- Ashley L. Clark as Alan
- Carlos Jacott as Allen
- Randy Thompson as CEO
- Dennis Haskins as CEO
- Ellis E. Williams as Reverend Algiss Skyler
- David St. James as Rep. Darren Gibson R-MI
- Greta Sesheta as Congresswoman
- Joe O'Connor as Rep. Calhoun
- Judy Kain as Event Planner
- Thomas Carrington as Congressional Staffer
- 〉Guys, the things we do to women. My wife's a world-class scientist〈
- —President Bartlet
- 〉[on President Bartlet] A podium is a holy place for him... He makes it his own, like it's an extension of his body... He sees it as a genuine opportunity to change minds, also as his best way of contributing to the team. He likes teams. I love him so much〈
- Leo McGarry: I'm an alcoholic, I don't have one drink . . . I don't understand people who have only one drink . . . I don't understand people who leave a half a glass of wine on the table . . . I don't understand people who say they've had enough . . . "
- Leo McGarry: I don't get drunk in front of people. I get drunk alone.
- Cliff Calley: That's where you're going with this? Just to embarrass the guy? Leo McGarry's sobriety isn't the subject of these hearings. These hearings are to investigate if any rules, ethical or otherwise were broken by Jed Bartlet while he was running for president.
- Congressman Gibson: That's nice, but I live in the actual world where the object of these hearings is to win.
- Cliff Calley: No, it's not.
- Congressman Gibson: It's the object of the majority.
- Cliff Calley: While I'm Majority Counsel, it's not. This is Bush League. This is why good people hate us, right here. This thing. This isn't what these hearings are about. He cannot have properly been prepared by counsel for these questions, nor should he ever have to answer them publicly. And if you proceed with this line of questioning, I will resign this committee, and wait in the tall grass for you, Congressman - because you are killing the party.
- Congressman Gibson: [turning to Congressman Bruno] Who the hell is this?
- Cliff Calley: [to Congressman Bruno] You don't have to make up your mind right now, Mr. Chairman - declare a recess until after the holidays, buy yourself two weeks.
- Congressman Gibson: And give him two weeks to circle the wagons? How do you think the Speaker's going to feel about this - to say nothing of the RNC?
- Congressman Bruno: I need a minute.
- 〉[to Leo] That was awfully nice of you〈
- —President Bartlet
- Josh makes a callback to the previous seasons Christmas episode. "Cause a guy's walking down the street and he falls into a hole, see?" referring to Leo calling a therapist for Josh after he was shot.
- When Josh asks Sam to look for someone to get Gibson out Leo McGarry's hearing, Sam flips through the pages of his contact-book and three of the pages have identical scribblings.
- Throughout Leo's testimony when he pauses to speak to his lawyer, Jordon Kendall, he covers his mike while she leaves hers uncovered. The entire chamber would have heard her side of their conversations.