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West Wing Wiki

PRESIDENT'S TEAM SCRAMBLES AND CASUALTIES MOUNT AFTER ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN TWO-HOUR SEASON PREMIERE OF EMMY-WINNING DRAMA -- In the two-hour season premiere of the record Emmy Award-winning drama, all the President's (Martin Sheen) men and women scramble in the chaotic wake of an assassination attempt that leaves some victims fighting for their lives. Meanwhile, as a manhunt continues, the wounded drift in and out of surgery recalling how Bartlet's team came together during the dark months of his long-shot primary campaign. Elsewhere, the press department is hounded by the media for details of the shooting while a military crisis looms in Iraq.


In the opening episode of Season 2, the Senior Staff deals with the fallout of the assassination attempt on the President. The Presidential limousine is rushing back to the White House as the President is arguing with Ron Butterfield about the condition of Zoey. The President becomes increasingly agitated and Butterfield realizes that President is bleeding. Butterfield screams, "GW! BLUE! BLUE!" The Presidential limo suddenly makes a screaming hard U-turn.

Back at the scene, C.J. is being treated by paramedics and Sam comes over to check on her. Sam tells her what he knows. Toby is looking for Josh and asks Charlie if he has seen him. Toby spies Josh and goes over to him and finds him holding his hands which are covered in blood on a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Toby screams for help, his cries alerting Sam and C.J.

As Josh passes out, Toby catches him.

The scene shifts to a quiet emergency room. The head nurse hears a phone ringing, and when she picks up the regular phone, she realizes it's the red phone. She wants to know if it's a drill - in response to Butterfield yelling - "we're coming in!" After he assures her it's not, she pages the entire emergency room with a single code phrase: "Trauma one: BLUE!" The Secret Service comes into the emergency room and begins to prep the room for the arrival of the President. Vice President John Hoynes is hosting a women's basketball team, when the Secret Service comes in, literally picks him up and ushers him out of the room. Abbey Bartlet is seen hurrying to her limousine as she receives updates on the conditions of the President and Zoey. The President is wheeled in to the ER and the examination by the doctors begins. He says to wait as long as possible to give him any anesthesia and that he needs to talk to Leo McGarry before anything else happens.

Back at the White House, the networks begin to report on the situation. Margaret and Mrs. Landingham look up to watch the TV. When Margaret looks over at Mrs. Landingham, she has rushed out of the room. In the ER, Zoey arrives and talks to her father. Leo comes into the room and the President and Leo talk and the President gives Leo some direction and reminds him about the anesthesia - to which he responds, "I will talk to Abbey." Abbey arrives at the hospital and gets an update from the doctors. She goes to see the anesthesiologist and tells him about the President's multiple sclerosis.

Leo talks with Gina Toscano about what happened. As the two of them talk, an ambulance arrives, bringing Josh into the ER. Josh is mumbling about not being in this meeting - that he has to get to New Hampshire. A flashback shows Josh in a meeting with then-Senator John Hoynes, where he served as Chief of Staff to the Senator. The Senator and Josh leave the office, where Hoynes and Josh talk about the campaign they are going to run, when he runs for the presidency. Josh goes back to the office and finds former Labor Secretary Leo McGarry. He invites Josh to go for a walk with him and Leo asks him to come to New Hampshire to hear Jed Bartlet speak on Thursday night. Josh tries to tell Leo that he really can't do that, but Leo wont take no for an answer. As Josh walks back to the office he gets on the phone to make train reservations.

As the flashback continues - Sam is shown at his law office in a meeting about oil tankers. Josh comes to visit and asks Sam to come work with him on Hoynes' campaign. Sam wants to know if Hoynes is the real thing. Josh doesn't know but that's why he is going to New Hampshire: to see if Bartlet is the real thing. Josh asks Sam if it turns out that Bartlet is the real deal, should he tell him - to which Sam replies, you won't have to.

At the hospital, the Administrator comes to update Abbey on the President and Josh. The President is going to be fine, but it will be much more touch and go with Josh. The First Lady goes in to let everyone know the news about Josh and the President. Back at the White House, Leo goes into the Situation Room to hear about activities around the world and at home that have arisen or been noticed as a result of the shootings. The Vice President comes into the room and the National Security Advisor tells the assembled group that there is movement in Iraq. The room looks to Hoynes for leadership, but he is out of his depth. He defers to Leo. Leo urges caution and gets the Vice President to agree. He asks the Secretary of State what is the best way to get a message to Iraq - the reply being through the King of Jordan. When asked what Leo wants the message to say, Leo responds: "Don't mess with us tonight."

Donna arrives at the hospital and is told that Josh has been shot. She didn't know and is visibly upset at the news. The hospital administrator urges everyone to go and take care of the many other things they need to do. The Senior Staff begin to disperse. C.J. deals with an unruly press corps and fields a question from Danny about the 25th Amendment, which she deflects. She is also asked why they did not use a canopy to cover presidential entrances and exits for safety purposes. C.J. responds that the Secret Service does not comment on presidential protection. Danny follows her out of the briefing and presses her on presidential succession, wanting to know who's in charge. In a meeting, the National Security Advisor, Toby, C.J., and Leo all discuss the issue, and it is clear that the President should have signed a letter handing power to the Vice President before he went under anaesthesia—but no such letter was drafted. C.J. also tells Toby about the protection question, which Toby says he will take care of.

Returning to the flashback, a downcast Toby is seen in a bar, drinking in the middle of the day. He is talking to a woman about Bartlet running for president. Toby tells the woman that he is a pretty good political operative despite having won no races for his candidates. Toby tells the woman that he is drinking so much because he is about to get fired. That night, Governor Bartlet is speaking to an assembled group at the American Legion Hall. Toby is in the back of the room speaking with political operative Cal Mathis. Cal asks Toby about what Bartlet will say about the Dairy Farmers Compact. Toby says he told Bartlet to tell the truth. Mathis is obviously displeased. Sure enough, Bartlet gets the question: an aggrieved dairy farmer says that he has suffered financially because of Bartlet's vote on the Compact, and he asks Bartlet to justify himself. Bartlet responds bluntly: yes indeed, he voted to hose the dairy farmers. He then gives a stirring speech about childhood poverty in America, and explains that he voted against the Compact because it would have raised the price of milk. Josh looks up from the back of the room, impressed by the brutally honest answer that Bartlet has just given.

At a meeting following the event, Bartlet is clearly annoyed with the advisors when they tell him that he should stop using John Hoynes' name, instead referring to him as "my opponent." Bartlet thinks this is ridiculous and leaves the meeting. Cal Mathis speaks to Leo about Toby and the answer the Governor gave during the event. Mathis believes it was a disaster. Toby braces to be fired—but Leo decides to keep Toby, and he fires Mathis and the others on the spot. When they leave, Leo looks at a stunned Toby and says, "Don't screw up."

Outside, Leo talks with Bartlet. Bartlet is angry with Leo for firing everybody but Toby. Bartlet complains that Toby was the only one he didn't know. Bartlet wants to know why Leo is doing this, hitching his wagon to Bartlet. Leo says, "They say a good man can't get elected President. I don't believe that."

At the hospital, President Bartlet wants to see Josh in his room after surgery. News reports play in the background dealing the fallout from the shooting. As the first part of the two-part episode concludes, Bartlet is standing at the window to Josh's room and says to Leo, "Look what happened."


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

Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
Timothy Busfield as Danny Concannon
Tim Matheson as John Hoynes

Guest Starring

Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Bartlet
Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield
Jorja Fox as Gina Toscano
Anna Deavere Smith as Nancy McNally
Kathryn Joosten as Dolores Landingham
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
Daniel von Bargen as General Jack Shannon
Michael Bryan French as Hospital Administrator Lewis
Pamela Gordon as Tracy
Andy Umberger as Cal Mathis
Jim Ortlieb as Dr. Benjamin Keller
Peter White as Jack Gage
Ernie Lively as Mr. Loch
Jody Wood as Mr. Cameron
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Kim Webster as Ginger
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
Mindy Seeger as Chris
Randolph Brooks as Arthur Leeds
Ivan Allen as Roger Salier
Willie Gault as Agent Michael Madsen
Elijah Marhar as Agent Dixon
Dafidd McCracken as Agent #1
Juan A. Riojas as Agent #2
Bradley James as Agent Donnie
Al Twanmo as Agent Tommy Cho
Derek Coleman as Agent #4
Ming Lo as Dr. Lee
Rhonda Stubbins White as Dr. Whitaker
Sean Moran as Dr. Holbrook
Carol Kiernan as Doctor
Dan Gunther as Doctor #1
Maria McCann as Nurse
Trisha Simmons as Nurse Debbie
Ted Garcia as TV Reporter
David Ursin as Bartender
Matt Gotleib as Military Aide
Thomas Spencer as Jeff
Gary Cervantes as Bobby
Andy Milder as Senator's Aide Mark
Robyn Pedretti as Senator's Aide Candy
Victor McCay as Henry
Kat Sawyer-Young as Sam's Secretary
V. Kim Blish as Volleyball Player
Scott Parrott as Paramedic #1
Sunita Koshy as Paramedic #2
Shawn Woodyard as Paramedic #3
Chad Knight as Paramedic #4
Tanya Linnette Smith as Paramedic #5
Kivi Rogers as Paramedic #6
Garrison Hershberger as Jerry
Peter Birkenhead as Steven
Jane Lynch as Lucy
Jerry Sroka as Kyle
Jenny Buchanan as Questioner #1
Harris Laskawy as Questioner #2


There are 14 people in the world who know this, including Vice President, the Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. You are going to be the 15th. 7 years ago, my husband was diagnosed with a relapsing remitting course of MS. When all this is over, tell the press, don't tell the press - it's entirely up to you
Because that's what sons do for old friends of their fathers
—Leo McGarry
Josh Lyman: If I see the real thing in Nashua, should I tell you about it?
Sam Seaborn: You won't have to.
Josh Lyman: Why?
Sam Seaborn: You've got a pretty bad poker face.

Leo McGarry: Because I'm tired of it: year after year after year after year having to choose between the lesser of who cares. Of trying to get myself excited about a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. Of setting the bar so low, I can hardly bear to look at it. They say a good man can't get elected President. I don't believe that. Do you?
Jed Bartlet: And you think I'm that man?
Leo: Yes!
Bartlet: Doesn't it matter that I'm not as sure?
Leo McGarry: Nah. "Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you." Put another way: Fake it 'til you make it![1]


  • When the vice-president and Leo discuss the assassination attempt, Nancy McNally mentions the whereabouts of various cell leaders, "including Bin Laden", is unknown. This is the only time that he is mentioned directly in the show. Of course the later September 11th 2001 attacks did not happen in the West Wing world, with the fictional Bahji network instead dominating terror plot lines in seasons 3-5, but Al-Qaeda itself is mentioned occasionally in seasons 6-7 and in the 1999 episode A Proportional Response, Bartlet mentions "Nairobi" as a past attack on Americans that he felt wasn't met with an adequate response, likely referring to the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings carried out by Al Qaeda.
  • In the context of a Presidential assassination attempt, there would appear to be a 'JFK-esque' element to the title, given the 'Lone Gunman' debates surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • Bartlet's assassination attempt is almost identical to that of President Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt. Both Presidents are shot when leaving an event where they made a speech, both are waving at supporters, both are pushed into the car when they're shot, both don't realize they've been shot until they're in the car and the Secret Service Agents notices blood coming out of their mouths, and both make jokes to family, friends, and doctors to lighten up their critical situation, and both survive their attempts. Also a member of their personal staff is also shot with life threatening wounds.


  • Sam Seaborn works at Gage Whitney Pace law firm in the flashbacks. Rob Lowe's character in the "The Lyon's Den" also worked at the Gage Whitney Pace law firm
  • The law firm set where Sam Seaborn works is the John Wells Production building
  • The hospital set seen in this episode and part 2 are the same sets used in "ER"
  • In the DVD commentary it is mentioned that when shooting the scene in which Donna learns about Josh's serious injury, Richard Schiff, instead of using the line in the script, told her that "Brad Whitford died", prompting her absolutely devastated expression in the scene.


  • When the Secret Service busts in on the VP receiving the USC volleyball jersey, the press flashes reveal the blue backdrop only a couple feet beyond the patio doors.
  • In a flashback to the office of then–Texas Senator John Hoynes, the Tennessee flag is on display (this may have been an homage to Al Gore).
  • Josh uses a Verizon payphone in New York City during a flashback set in 1997, before Verizon existed. At the time of the flashback, the payphone would either have had the insignia of Verizon's direct predecessor, Bell Atlantic, or assuming a delay in updating the signage, NYNEX (Bell Atlantic merged with NYNEX in 1997).[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 "The West Wing" In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part 1 (2000)— Quotes and trivia copied from IMDb

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