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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.

Vice President Russell is the first to give his speech at the Iowa Corn Growers' Expo. Matthew Santos and Arnold Vinick follow and the differences in these candidates become very clear. Josh struggles to understand how he can possibly guide Santos in this race.


Opening - Cedar Rapids, Iowa[]

Wednesday - 12:55am[]

Donna arrives at a hotel after a long day of working on the Russell campaign.  She checks in at the desk and goes to find Will, who is in the hotel restaurant with other campaign staff.  She reports on her trip to South Carolina on a fundraising trip.  The meeting breaks up and Will tells everyone the staff meeting will be at 6:30am.

Donna gets on the elevator to go to her room.  Josh rushes in and joins her on the elevator.  They have an awkward moment on the elevator and then Donna helps Josh get into his room, which is across the hall from hers.

Act I - Wednesday 5:46am[]

Donna receives her 5:45am wake up call and she starts her morning routine in her hotel room, while watching the news on TV.  The lead story is about a woman in Turkey who may be executed.

We then see the Russell campaign staff hard at work in a large function room, planning out the day's events, including a planned speech by the Vice President, in which he will "take the pledge" to support ethanol.  Will gives everyone their marching orders and they head out.  Donna is going to meet with some of the "fringe" candidates who will be included in the upcoming debate.  On the Russell Campaign Bus Will and the Vice President are talking campaign issues.  After a pancake breakfast, Will and the VP are back on the bus talking about the ethanol speech the VP will give that evening.  The VP doesn't necessarily support ethanol, but will do so in Iowa.

Jefferson Cattle Barn - Council Bluffs, Iowa[]

Will and the Vice President walk into the hall where the VP will give his speech and "take the ethanol pledge."   Donna is back from visiting with the fringe candidates and tells Will they can't allow them to be on the stage with the VP, because they're too crazy.

Act II - Wednesday 5:46am[]

Josh is awoken in his hotel room by a wake-up call, and he also begins his morning routine, though it is not as organized as Donna's was.  In an adjoining room much smaller than Russell's, the campaign staff is briefing Congressman Santos on the day's events.  Helen Santos is there and she makes her feelings known to Josh and the others about ethanol and other issues from the campaign.

On the campaign bus, (a converted motor-home), Josh and Santos talk about ethanol.  The Congressman is considering not taking the pledge but Josh impresses upon him that he has to.  They arrive at the Hamburg Inn in Iowa City where the coffee beans for the other candidates far outpace the Santos jar.  Josh realizes the Congressman is not talking about ethanol to the diners:  instead he is talking about immigration.  Leaving the diner, Josh and Santos continue to argue about ethanol and immigration issues.  The staff gets on the plane, (piloted by Santos, to Josh's surprise), and they fly to Council Bluffs, where Santos will address the Corn Growers' Expo after Russell.

Jefferson Cattle Barn - Council Bluffs, Iowa[]

Santos tells Josh that he's not going to take the pledge.  Josh begs him to do it, or else he will have no chance.  Santos goes up on stage, pauses for a moment and then comes out in support of ethanol.

Act III - Wednesday 5:46am[]

Senator Vinick gets his wake-up call and then we see his campaign staff in action.  When the discussion turns to ethanol, it gets quiet in the room - Vinick has always been an outspoken opponent of ethanol. As the campaign staff heads to their first event, Bob, Sheila, and the Senator linger to discuss their upticking poll numbers, and their need for an infusion of $10 million to make themselves a serious challenger, but Vinick doesn't want to talk about it. In the car, Vinick tells them that he doesn't believe they should have even committed resources to Iowa, and his opposition to farm subsidies.  For every argument they offer the Senator, he has a counter argument.  He wants to stand by his position against ethanol. Sheila and Bob stand firm that he will have to take the pro-ethanol pledge, in Iowa.

Jefferson Cattle Barn - Council Bluffs, Iowa[]

Sheila continues to harangue the Senator about ethanol on their way into the hall.  She believes that she has convinced him to take the pledge.  The Senator takes the stage, with his pro-ethanol speech on the prompter. In the moment, however, Vinick decides to stick to his principles, and tells the voters that he won't just tell them what they want to hear, and that ethanol subsidies may have been good for some of them, but mostly it benefits huge agricultural conglomerates.

Act IV - Wednesday 10:25pm[]

In the hotel, Ned and Josh are watching coverage of Vinick not supporting ethanol. Helen Santos comes over and asks Josh why they are in Iowa and not focusing on California and Texas, where they could be more successful.  Josh explains to her how it will work once Hoynes catches Russell and that Santos is to be the "not-Hoynes."

Josh comes over to the table where Ronna and Santos are talking.  They are talking about the next day's schedule when Senator Vinick arrives with Sheila and Bob.  Vinick and Santos sit and talk about campaign issues.  They have a very congenial conversation.  Josh comes to sit with Sheila and Bob, wondering what the two are talking about.

Meanwhile, Will Bailey distractedly selects an ice cream bar from a vending machine. Looking up from his reading, he stares at the label of his ice cream sandwich, and the agricultural conglomerate's brand name emblazoned on it: "Nestlé".

Will and Donna get on the elevator to go back to their rooms.  Santos returns to his room and sits down next to Helen, who is already asleep.  Josh walks down the hall to his room, sees Donna briefly, thinks about knocking on her door, but instead enters his room.


Vice President Bob Russell: Thanks for that welcome.  Now, I'm not saying this just because I'm in Iowa.  I say this everywhere I go.  We need more ethanol production.
Ronna: Back here for prep on the Brown and Black Debate.
Matt Santos: All of you are gonna prep me for a debate on race?
Josh Lyman: Yeah, we should at least go over the opposing arguments.  See if we can get after Hoynes on some of the issues.
Matt Santos: I grew up in Houston, Josh.  I lived the opposing arguments.
Josh Lyman: You walk out there on that stage, and you come out against ethanol, you are dead meat.  Bambi'd have a better shot getting elected President of the NRA than you will have of getting a single vote in this Caucus.
Helen Santos: Let him say what he wants to say, Josh.  He's right.
Josh Lyman: No, he's not.
Matt Santos: Look, you want me to support something I know to be lousy policy and a colossal waste of taxpayers' money to round up a couple of votes for a Caucus I can't possibly win.
Josh Lyman: I want you to support a policy that helps a lot of people, so that a year from now when you are sworn in as President, you can make the changes we both know need to be made.
Bob: Will you at least look at the ethanol report?
Senator Vinick: It's a classic study of a stupid policy rammed down our throats by special interests.  Makes about as much sense as building patio furniture out of corn . . . But sure, I'll take a look.
Senator Vinick: As many of you are aware, in the past, I haven't been a big supporter of ethanol subsidies . . . I know what you want to hear.  Telling people what they want to hear is the easiest thing you can do in politics.  But that's not why I'm here; that's not why I'm running for president.  Now, I know that the ethanol subsidies have been good for some of you.  But mostly, it's a windfall for huge conglomerates.  I'm embarrassed by it, and I think you should be, too.

Trivia / Goofs[]

  • This is the first episode that Alan Alda is listed in the title credits.
  • In this episode we learn the names of a number of the other candidates running for both parties nominations.  From the Democratic Party, Clarkson and Atkins.  For the Republicans, Former Speaker of the House and Acting President Glen Allen Walken, Allard, Gibson, and Johnson.
  • Turkey no longer has the death penalty (abolished 2004, re-introduction proposed 2016).
  • The Hamburg Inn in Iowa City is a real place, which holds "coffee bean caucuses" every four years.
  • Despite the time of the year, green leaves are on the trees at the diner.
  • John Hoynes does not appear in the episode so we don't know if he takes the pledge, but from Season 1 we know that he did not do so when he ran against then Governor Bartlet and has long opposed ethanol tax credits in the senate



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]


  • Ivan Allen as Roger Salier
  • Kim Fifield as Betty
  • Aaron Ashmore as Trevor
  • Brent Schraff as Kid in the Back
  • Andrew Caple-Shaw as Sean
  • Scott Wickware as Edgars
  • Joe Howard as Connors
  • John Bayliss as Johnson
  • Doug Sinclair as Farmer
  • Danny Hart as Banker


"The West Wing" King Corn (2005)