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West Wing Wiki

CRISES ABOUND AS PRESIDENT TAKES A TUMBLE; OSCAR NOMINEE STOCKARD CHANNING GUEST-STARS -- The White House staff is in full crisis mode when President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) is found unconscious as he prepares for the State of the Union speech while the India-Pakistan border skirmish flares again when a fearful Pakistan gives its field commanders control of its nuclear arsenal. While the President's condition is officially blamed on the flu, the First Lady (Oscar nominee and guest star Stockard Channing) knows better, and Toby (Richard Schiff) is too busy to notice as he polishes his boss' upcoming address. Equally distracting is the inevitable disclosure of Leo's (John Spencer) former substance-abuse problem by political rivals, as well as the reappearance of the amusing Lord Marbury (guest star Roger Rees) -- a besotted ladies' man who doubles as a key adviser on the India-Pakistan conflict. Despite the crises, C.J. (Allison Janney) and Mallory (guest star Allison Smith) express their romantic feelings about two very different men.


The President is rehearsing his State of the Union in front of the Senior Staff. It is also evident the President is battling a cold or is in the beginning stages of the flu. When Leo declares it time for a break, C.J. asks the President how he is feeling. He responds that "I'm taking some pills . . . my wife gives me some pills and I take them with water." C.J. tries to press him, but he defers. He finally accedes to C.J.'s wishes and says he will take the pills. The Senior Staff is discussing the fact they have not yet been invited to give the State of the Union, yet, when they hear a crash from the Oval Office. They rush in and find the President unconscious on the floor.

After the opening sequence, Rear Admiral Hackett, the President's physician, declares that he thinks the President has the flu and wants him to go to bed and rest. But he is called to the Situation Room as Indian and Pakistani forces are manoeuvring along the ceasefire line.

Mandy tells C.J. that the story about Leo is going to break in the morning and that it is already on the Internet. Leo and Margaret are in Leo's office and he asks her to find out about getting an invitation and he also tells her to "tell Josh to pick a guy." Margaret questions what that means, but Leo assures her that he will know what it means. C.J. comes in to talk to Leo and tells him the story is going to break and that she wants to work with him and that he should make a preemptive move and talk to the press in the morning.

In the residence, the President's physician is looking after the President when Abby arrives. She is in full "doctor mode" and once Charlie and Admiral Hackett leave the room, she asks him, "was it like the time in Nantucket?" alluding to some illness, which will not become evident until later.

Donna and C.J. are walking through the West Wing and Donna asks about "picking the guy." Josh explains the requirement of selecting someone from the line of succession to be absent from the State of the Union address in the event of a catastrophic attack on the Capitol. Josh has selected Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey.

Josh, C.J., and Sam are with Leo in his office going over his statement and possible questions he might face from the press. Sam wants to show Leo the draft of the letter of support he wrote for the President, to which Leo strenuously objects to. "If I go down, I go down. I'm not taking anyone else with me."

Back in the residence, the President wants to go to the office, but when he tries to get up, he falls back on to the bed. Down in the Press Room, Leo faces the press and delivers his statement and takes questions. Sam and Josh talk about how they feel that Leo did well. Josh tells Sam the statement he wrote for the President was great and a shame that no one would read it. Sam tells Josh the President is reading it right now. Leo gets a visit from Mallory, who tells him that she wanted to be there for him but the statement from the President is great. Leo storms out to confront Josh and Sam, "this is not what I wanted."

Toby is meeting with various members of Congress who have some issues with the State of the Union address. The group that he meets with during the episode is concerned with National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding. In the middle of the meeting, Toby has a revelation and gets up and ends the meeting. He later goes to see the President (taking along Josh) and declares that we should amend the speech to work on achieving the things they want to accomplish.

Abby comes to see Leo and the two of them discuss the possibility of postponing the State of the Union address. The two go back and forth until Abby admits to Leo that the President has Multiple Sclerosis. Leo comes to see the President and asks him why he didn't tell him. The President apologizes to Leo and they move on, when Charlie announces that Lord John Marbury has arrived.

Marbury, the President, and Leo discuss the India-Pakistan situation and Marbury suggests that the United States use a carrot and stick approach. Give India something they want and the situation should work itself out.

After Mallory kisses Sam passionately, C.J. decides to do the same with Danny.

In the closing scene, the President meets with Roger Tribbey and they go over what to do. Tribbey gives Bartlet a gift of the United States Constitution translated into Latin.


Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
Moira Kelly as Mandy Hampton
Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
John Spencer as Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
and Martin Sheen as President Bartlet

Special Guest Stars

Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
John Amos as Admiral Percy Fitzwallace
with Roger Rees as Lord John Marbury

Recurring cast

Allison Smith as Mallory O'Brien
Timothy Busfield as Danny Concannon
Janel Moloney as Donna Moss

Guest Starring

Harry Groener as Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey
Madison Mason as Admiral Hackett
David Spielberg as Congressman
Austin Tichenor as Raymond Burns


Kathryn Joosten as Dolores Landingham
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Devika Parikh as Bonnie
Ivan Allen as Roger Salier
Ronne Troup as Pratt
Ralph Meyering Jr. as Tom
Marvin Krueger as Harrison
Christopher Kriesa as Mitch Jensen
Roger Ontiveros as Officer #3


President Josiah Bartlet: We meant "stronger" here, right?
Sam Seaborn: What does it say?
President Josiah Bartlet: I'm proud to report our country is stranger than it was a year ago?
Sam Seaborn: That's a typo.
President Josiah Bartlet: Could go either way.

President Josiah Bartlet: My particular course of M.S. is called relapsing-remitting. Which means I should experience total recovery after attacks. Abbey gives me injections of something called Betaseron and that reduces the frequency. Fever and stress tend to be two things that'll induce an attack.
Leo McGarry: Well, you're President of the United States, you're delivering a State of the Union address tomorrow night, India and Pakistan are pointing nuclear weapons at each other, and you have a 102° fever. So, I guess we're out of the woods.
President Josiah Bartlet: 101.9.
Leo McGarry: Jed! Of all the things you could have kept from me.
President Josiah Bartlet: You haven't called me Jed since I was elected.

President Josiah Bartlet: You know, I was watching a television program with a sort of roving moderator who spoke to a seated panel of young women who are having problems with their boyfriends. Apparently because the boyfriends had all slept with their girlfriends' mothers. Then they brought the boyfriends out and they all fought right there on television. Toby tell me, these people don't vote, do they?
Toby Ziegler, White House Communications Director: I want to change the sentiment.
We’re running away from ourselves. And I know we can score points that way. I was the principle architect of that campaign strategy, right along with you, Josh.
But we’re here now. Tomorrow night we do an immense thing. We have to say what we feel. That government, no matter what its failures in the past, then in times to come, for that matter, government can be a place where people come together. Where no one is left behind. No one gets left behind.
An instrument of good. I have no trouble understanding why the line tested well, Josh. But I don’t think that means we should say it. I think that means we should change it. 

President Josiah Bartlet: Oh, Roger, If anything happens, you know what to do, right?
Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey: I honestly hadn't thought about it, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: First thing always is national security. Get your commanders together. Appoint Joint Chiefs, appoint a chairman. Take us to DEFCON 4. Have the governors send emergency delegates to Washington. The assistant Attorney General is going to be the Acting A.G. [...] You got a best friend?
Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Is he smarter than you?
Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: Would you trust him with your life?
Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey: Yes, sir.
President Josiah Bartlet: That's your chief of staff.


  • The soap opera that Bartlet watches while laid up in bed with the flu is NBC's "Passions" (1999).[1]
  • Secretary of Agriculture Roger Tribbey appears again in the Season four finale episode Twenty-Five, when the Cabinet is deciding whether or not President Bartlet should be removed from office following Zoey Bartlet's kidnapping.
  • This is the first mention of President Bartlet having MS.
  • Donna Moss's comment of somebody blowing up the capital building would be the premise for the television show Designated Survivor.


  • Leo McGarry refers to the G-7, but between 1997 and 2014 (with this episode airing in 2000) the group was called the G-8 as the Russian federation was a member.
  • At the end of the episode, Bartlet gives some advice to Tribbey as to what to do if there was an attack and he were to ascend to President including taking us to DEFCON 4. DEFCON 4 is the second lowest state of readiness, he probably meant DEFCON 2 (the 9/11 attacks resulted in DEFCON 3 and the Cuban Missile Crisis was DEFCON 2).
  • Bartlet also promises Tribbey "next year, it'll be the surgeon general" who's selected as the designated survivor. In reality, the surgeon general is not in the presidential line of succession. Only the vice president, the speaker of the house, the president of the senate, attorney general, and cabinet secretaries are.[2]


Notes and references[]

I PilotPost Hoc, Ergo Propter HocA Proportional ResponseFive Votes Down
The Crackpots and These WomenMr. Willis of OhioThe State DinnerEnemiesThe Short List
In Excelsis DeoLord John MarburyHe Shall, from Time to Time...Take Out the Trash Day
Take This Sabbath DayCelestial Navigation20 Hours in L.A.The White House Pro-Am
Six Meetings Before LunchLet Bartlet Be BartletMandatory Minimums
Lies, Damn Lies and StatisticsWhat Kind of Day Has It Been?
II In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part I)In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part II)The Midterms
In This White HouseAnd It's Surely to Their CreditThe Lame Duck CongressThe Portland Trip
ShibbolethGalileoNoëlThe Leadership BreakfastThe Drop-In
Bartlet's Third State of the UnionThe War at HomeEllie
Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to JailThe Stackhouse Filibuster
17 PeopleBad Moon RisingThe Fall's Gonna Kill You18th and PotomacTwo Cathedrals
III Manchester (Part I)Manchester (Part II)Ways and MeansOn the Day BeforeWar CrimesGone QuietThe Indians in the LobbyThe Women of QumarBartlet for AmericaH.Con - 172100,000 AirplanesThe Two BartletsNight FiveHartsfield's LandingDead Irish Writers
The U.S. Poet LaureateStirredEnemies Foreign and DomesticThe Black Vera Wang
We Killed YamamotoPosse Comitatus
IV 20 Hours in America (Part I)20 Hours in America (Part II)College KidsThe Red Mass
Debate CampGame OnElection NightProcess StoriesSwiss DiplomacyArctic Radar
Holy NightGuns Not ButterThe Long GoodbyeInauguration (Part I)
Inauguration: Over There (Part II)The California 47thRed Haven's on FirePrivateers
Angel MaintenanceEvidence of Things Not SeenLife On MarsCommencementTwenty-Five
V 7A WF 83429The Dogs of WarJefferson LivesHanA Constituency of OneDisaster ReliefSeparation of PowersShutdownAbu el BanatThe Stormy PresentThe Benign PrerogativeSlow News DayThe Warfare of Genghis KhanAn KheFull DisclosureEppur Si Muove
The SupremesAccessTalking PointsNo ExitGazaMemorial Day
VI NSF ThurmontThe Birnam WoodThird-Day StoryLiftoffThe Hubbert PeakThe Dover TestA Change Is Gonna ComeIn The RoomImpact WinterFaith Based Initiative
Opposition Research365 DaysKing CornThe Wake Up CallFreedoniaDrought ConditionsA Good DayLa PalabraNinety Miles AwayIn God We TrustThings Fall Apart2162 Votes
VII The TicketThe Mommy ProblemMessage of the WeekMr. FrostHere Today
The Al Smith DinnerThe DebateUndecidedsThe WeddingRunning Mates
Internal DisplacementDuck and CoverThe ColdTwo Weeks OutWelcome to Wherever You Are
Election Day (Part I)Election Day (Part II)RequiemTransitionThe Last Hurrah
Institutional MemoryTomorrow