BEHIND MANY CLOSED DOORS AT FIRST LADY'S LIVELY BIRTHDAY PARTY -- Many issues are in play during a White House party to celebrate the argumentative First Lady's (Stockard Channing) birthday as she contemplates the likely loss of her medical license the next day while the President (Martin Sheen) is visited by proper British Ambassador Marbury (guest star Roger Rees) who argues against Bartlet's meeting with a murderous Irish terrorist. In other rooms, Sam (Rob Lowe) meets with a Senator (guest star Robin Thomas) who is blocking funding a controversial superconductor that would cost billions; Donna (Janel Moloney) discovers that she's really Canadian -- and techically not an American; Abbey, C.J. (Allison Janney) and several of the women mischievously steal away in a closet to drink, dish and diss.
The President and the First Lady are getting ready for Abbey's birthday celebration. Jed is making jokes at Abbey's expense about what is going to happen to Abbey's medical license.
The President and First Lady are heading to the party - Abbey comments that she hopes it will be low-key. The President mentions that he wishes she had said something earlier. The doors open and "Ruffles and Flourishes" begin and everyone is standing there waiting for the First Lady to enter.
Lord John Marbury comes to greet the President and First Lady. He admonishes the President - telling him that Brendan McGann (the head of Sinn Féin, a political party in Ireland and the UK with historic ties to the Irish Republican Army) cannot be allowed to visit the White House.
Leo tells C.J. to confirm a story he's hearing about that Robert Nolan, one of the Board members who will decide the First Lady's fate, is planning to recuse himself from the decision (Nolan is a longtime friend of the Bartlets). C.J. mentions to Leo that he needs to talk to Abbey about the announcment that is coming the next day.
Sam comes to see Leo, who asks Sam why Dalton Millgate is coming to see Sam. Sam had Dr. Millgate as a professor in college and he wants to put him in a room with Senator Enlow about a supercollider project that Millgate is working on. Sam goes out to meet Dr. Millgate, he brings Dr. Millgate back to his office.
Josh comes to find Donna to ask her why she is not yet at the party. She tells him the Secret Service has investigated and banned her from the party while they look into it. Leo arrives at the party and tells the President that he needs to talk to Abbey about tomorrow.
At the party - Josh and Amy are discussing the hiring of staffers for the campaign. Amy remarks that not enough women are being hired. Marbury finds Leo to harass him about Brendan McGann - Leo pawns Marbury off on Toby. Sam finds Senator Enlow and they have a conversation about the superconducting supercollider, which has been held up in committee. Sam realizes the Senator is the one who put the hold on the funding. He plans, at that moment, to fight for the project and take down Enlow in the process.
Josh comes to find Donna to explain to her what he has learned. It appears there may be a question about her citizenship. Leo and the First Lady go into his office to discuss what they will do tomorrow. She doesn't want to have to deal with it tonight.
Charlie and the President are walking outside the White House - the President is working on his toast for Abbey. C.J. arrives to tell the President that Dr. Nolan is planning to recuse himself - the President is upset but is not surprised given their long history. He tells C.J. to let Abbey know. Leo then arrives and they talk about what will happen with Abbey and the Brendan McGann question.
The First Lady grabs Josh and gives him a list of names, all women, that she would like him to consider for the campaign. He is immediately aware that Amy is behind this. C.J. comes up to the First Lady and tells her about Dr. Nolan. She is floored but manages to hold it together - she tells C.J. they are going to get drunk. Josh confronts Amy with the list given to him by the First Lady. The First Lady and C.J. then appear and take Amy with them to get drunk.
Sam returns to his office and Dr. Millgate - Sam needs him to get him up to speed on the project so he can go after the Senator. Sam and Dr. Millgate continue to talk about motivations - Dr. Millgate reveals to Sam that he has non-Hodgkins lymphoma and he is trying to secure the funding before his illness kills him.
In a bar, Toby and Marbury are discussing Brendan McGann. C.J., Amy, and the First Lady get started on drinking in the residence. Donna arrives and she joins the drinking.
The ladies are on to their second bottle of wine and they are enjoying themselves. C.J. and Amy press the First Lady on what the big deal is if she were to lose her license. Abbey tries to impress upon them how important it is. Donna, fortified with wine, makes a comment about Abbey giving the President injections, which is not received well by the First Lady. They decide to go back to the party.
Charlie and the President are outside still working on his toast. Toby and Marbury are continuing to talk about McGann and the Irish, in general. Although Marbury is conveying to Toby the objections of the British Government about Brendan McGann - that he should not be allowed to the White House - Marbury himself believes the administration must talk to McGann.
Sam and Dr. Millgate are sitting in Sam's office when Senator Enlow arrives - Sam sent him a note at the party. Sam threatens the Senator to hold up all projects for Enlow's state of Illinois. Enlow tells Sam to back off and leaves - Millgate pleads with Sam - Sam calls the Senator back to his office and makes his case - the Senator agrees to withdraw his hold.
Back at the party, Josh comes to Amy to tell her the list is fine and that he forgives her. He then turns to Donna and tells her that she only needs to fill out some paperwork and she will be an American again. The First Lady has planned something special for Donna which now appears to be moot - the band breaks into the Canadian National Anthem. The President arrives, wondering what has happened while he was gone.
The President and the First Lady share a private moment - he tells her that he called Dr. Nolan to ask him to reconsider - but the First Lady tells him that she will voluntarily give up her license for as long as they are in the White House. He tells her that he is going to go up and give a toast - but that he loves her very much.
- 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 Stars
- Sam Seaborn: Okay. I said I'd do this, but it's likely he's gonna say this is an unaffordable luxury.
- Millgate: We're losing the race for discovery, Sam. For discovery. Tonight, it's just me and you.
- Sam Seaborn: That doesn't really sound like enough.
- Millgate: No.
- ❝Oh, Mrs. Bartlet, for crying out loud, you were also a doctor when your husband said, "Give me the drugs, and don't tell anybody," and you said, "Okay."❞
- Senator Enlow: If only we could only say what benefit this thing has, but no one's been able to do that.
- Dr. Millgate: That's because great achievement has no road map. The X-ray's pretty good. So is penicillin. Neither were discovered with a practical objective in mind. I mean, when the electron was discovered in 1897, it was useless. And now, we have an entire world run by electronics. Haydn and Mozart never studied the classics. They couldn't. They invented them.
- Sam Seaborn: Discovery.
- Dr. Millgate: What?
- Sam Seaborn: That's the thing that you were... Discovery is what. That's what this is used for. It's for discovery.
- In the West Wing universe, the 1998 Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland still happened with, presumably, President Owen Lassiter as a major player in its drafting rather than Bill Clinton.
- Bartlet mentions that the dessert is "kumquat Napoleons." This is actually a real dish - Napoleon is another name for mille-feuille, a kind of French pastry that can incorporate various fruits.
- Lord Marbury is said to be "England's" Ambassador to the United States, England is a country within the United Kingdom so Marbury would be the United Kingdom's Ambassador.
- Lord Marbury claims to be a whisky connoisseur and asks for a "Lagavulin" whisky. He descibes it as being from Islay - which is correct but he pronounces it "izz-lay" when the correct pronounciation is "eye-la"; something a connoisseur would know, even an English one talking about a Scottish drink.
- In the opening segment, the President compliments the First Lady on her earrings and shoes. In The American President, also by Aaron Sorkin - President Shepherd is reminded by his daughter to be sure to compliment Sydney on her shoes.
- During their conversation, Jed asks Abbey what organ makes hydrochloric acid. She says the pancreas, but it is the stomach that makes hydrochloric acid via the parietal cells.