PRESIDENT CONTENDS WITH LOST MARS SPACECRAFT AND OTHER STICKY ISSUES -- President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) prepares to address thousands of elementary students nationwide as a NASA space probe descends on Mars, but a host of thorny problems suddenly land on his doorstep, including a fire in a Russian nuclear missile silo and a last-minute loss of communication with the Mars spacecraft. In addition: the Icelandic ambassador is peeved at the President for missing their meeting; Josh (Bradley Whitford) is still smarting after being delegated the responsibility of choosing the subject of the next official stamp; a reluctant C.J. (Allison Janney) is forced to attend a concert where she will encounter some angry applicants whom she rejected as her new press deputy; and an embarrassed Sam (Rob Lowe) is confronted by former date-mate Mallory (guest star Allison Smith) at the concert.
The President and C.J. are walking to a rehearsal for an online classroom the President is to host on Galileo V, a spaceship that is to land on Mars. C.J. gives him the rundown and urges him to not answer the questions himself, but instead to pass them off to the space experts that will be on the panel with him. He practices with some of the questions, offering the answers anyway, to C.J.'s exasperation. Sam belittles the NASA writers who wrote the introduction for the President and wants to re-write it - but the NASA writers would prefer the President make any changes. When the President attempts to read it, he immediately stops and asks Sam to take a whack at it. The President is also on C.J. for not saying "Galileo V" right - when Sam extemporaneously delivers remarks for the President - the President tells C.J., "he said it right."
Toby and Josh are in the mess and Toby notes there is a report in the news about green beans. Leo arrives to tell the two of them about the "Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee," who want to have a postage stamp created for Marcus Aquino, a Puerto Rican resident commissioner who advocated statehood. Toby desperately wants no part of it and manages to get it given to Josh, who had been poking fun at the process. Toby goes to see C.J. about the green beans story and is afraid it is going to be a "thing."
Charlie walks the President into the Oval Office discussing his schedule for the day. The President is very excited to have the evening off to be able to read about Mars and Galileo - but Mrs. Landingham and Charlie tell the President that he has to go to the Kennedy Center for a concert by the Reykjavik Symphony. Leo tells him that because he canceled on the Icelandic ambassador the day before, he needs to go and meet with him because Iceland is considering ending its moratorium on whaling.
The President gets a security briefing about an explosion in Russia, which was announced as a fire at an oil refinery - however there is no oil refinery at the location - but there is a nuclear missile silo. The security team is directed to put together a briefing in 30 minutes.
Donna and Josh are working on the stamp issue - and Josh continues to show a remarkable lack of interest. C.J. comes to see Toby (after 2 hours and 20 minutes - when Toby had told her to come see him in 3 hours) about the green bean story. She now realizes that it is a problem and she will handle it.
Leo stops C.J. to tell her the President wants her and Sam to go to the Kennedy Center that evening to discuss a broader theme for the Galileo V Classroom the next day. She doesn't want to go as there will be a number of State Department employees there, several of which she rejected when she hired a new deputy. When she tells Sam, he is at first excited, until he hears that Mallory is going to be there.
The security briefing confirms that the explosion did indeed take place in a missile silo. The President tells Leo to get the Russian Ambassador and bring her to the White House. As the briefing winds up, the President gets a note telling him the signal from Galileo V has been lost.
Josh and Donna continue their discussions about the stamp. Donna is pushing hard to get Aquino on the stamp but Josh is countering with the party line of the U.S. government about Puerto Rico. Toby comes to see Josh and they discuss the problem with Galileo V. C.J. and Sam walk out to go to the Kennedy Center despite both of their reluctance in going.
In Leo's office, Margaret is keeping a close eye on the Russian Ambassador. When Leo arrives, the Ambassador, Nadia, makes pleasantries with Leo, which he cuts her off by telling her they know about the fire in the missile silo. She tries to stonewall and Leo tells her that the U.S. is a position to help with these situations.
In the limo on the way to the Kennedy Center, Charlie and the President are discussing the upcoming program - which the President is chagrined to learn will feature "modern classical music." C.J. and the President discuss what the broader them could be, while Sam is inside trying to avoid Mallory, who promptly finds him and they get into it - as he did not call her after the picture came out of him and Laurie. Sam gets a message and goes to see the President to tell him the explosion took place while liquid hydrogen was being drained from the missile.
C.J. gets a call from Toby and she goes outside to talk to him. As she walks out, Charlie stops her to tell her that he was the White House source and that he was the one that told a reporter the President doesn't like green beans. Toby tells C.J. about the status of Galileo V and she wants to stay on the phone to avoid talking to Tad Whitney, who C.J. had passed over for a job. During their exchange, Tad tells her that he hoped it wasn't because they stopped seeing one another (because it wasn't because she isn't good in bed - C.J. loudly asserts that she is very good in bed).
Sam is on the phone with Josh when Mallory appears again and the two of them again get into it. Sam talks about Galileo V and the reason they did it, is because it's what's next. Mallory tells him not to worry about their fight for tonight. Sam gives C.J. some notes for her briefing about both Galileo and the missile silo.
Donna and Josh are still going round and round about the stamp and Donna keeps thinking she has a good reason to put Aquino on the stamp, but Josh shoots her down each time. The phone rings and Josh leaves the office because the President has returned.
In Leo's office, Nadia and Leo are still talking, as she makes demands about the conditions that would have to be in place before they would let the U.S. in to help. The President comes into the office and dresses Nadia down, telling her that the Russians will allow inspectors in and that's the end of it.
Back in the Oval Office, the Senior Staff talk to the President about Galileo V, the green beans, and the stamp. C.J. takes on the rest of the Senior Staff and says the President doesn't like green beans and they should ride it out and that it should be okay. She also thinks (which Josh agrees with) they should put Aquino on the stamp. C.J. and the President step out onto the terrace and she tells the President that he should do the classroom either way. After her discourse and she begins to walk away, the President tells her, "C.J., you said it right that time."
- 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
- Mallory: I spoke to my Dad, I'm sorry about Galileo
- Sam: We've got a lot of tests, they're still trying.
- Mallory: How much money is it going to cost trying?
- Sam: Don't start with me
- Mallory: I'm asking as a taxpayer. It cost 165 million to lose the thing, how much more money is it going to cost to make sure you never find it again?
- Sam: I don't know Mallory, but we certainly won't divert any municipal tax dollars which are always better spent on new hockey arenas.
- Mallory: No it's better spent feeding, housing, educating people.
- Sam: There's a lot of hungry people in the world, Mal, and none of them are hungry because we went to the moon. None of them are colder and certainly none of them are dumber because we went to the moon.
- Mallory: And we went to the moon. Do we really have to go to Mars?
- Sam: Yes!
- Mallory: Why?
- Sam: Because it's next. Because we came out of the cave and we looked over the hill and we saw fire and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the West and we took to the sky. The history of man is a timeline of exploration and this is what's next.
- Mallory: I know
- Sam: People like you, who say - what?
- Mallory: I said, I know. We're supposed to be explorers.
- Sam: Then what the hell ?
- Mallory: I just like hearing you talk about it. You get all puffed up.
- Sam: You're a pain in the ass.
- Rob Lowe plays hockey and also starred in the film "Youngblood" about a young hockey player. His argument with Mallory shows Sam Seaborn's attitude about the game and that he clearly enjoys it.
- In the Situation Room, a photo of former President Bill Clinton can be seen on the wall. This is interesting because there is no indication that Clinton was ever President in the West Wing Universe, and many consider the Bartlet Administration to be a revisionist telling of Clinton's.
- Leo tells the President the name of the Icelandic Ambassador is "Vigdis Olafsdottir" and tells the President that "He" (Iceland's ambassador) is very excited about meeting the President. However, Icelandic Surnames are generally Patronymic, or Matronymic in some cases, and the surname "Olafsdottir" literally means "Olaf's Daughter". Vigdis is also a woman's name.
- Leo describes the power plant as being located in "Oblast region". "Oblast" is a Russian word meaning province or region.
- And while trying to show Sam as a consummate writer, rewriting the words of the NASA communications guy, there is, somewhat ironically, a grammatical error with "You, me, and ...." as the subject of the sentence, when it should be "You, I, and...."
- One of the security team is named Jack Reese, a character name that will be revived in the person of Christian Slater later in the series.