A seemingly benign press leak begins a day and night long journey that ends with the discovery of a scandal that affects the uppermost levels of the administration, though what the staff doesn't yet know is that this is merely the match that lights the fuse and that things are about to get considerably worse.
Opening - Tuesday 5:58am
A cab pulls up under the portico of the White House. A young, female staffer gets out and is greeted by Charlie. The two walk through the halls of the West Wing, passing C.J., Josh, and Toby. They arrive at the Oval Office and President Bartlet calls the young lady in, despite telling her that [the letter she's holding] it needs to go to the Secretary of State. Bartlet takes the letter, opens it, and reads it. It is a letter of resignation from Vice President Hoynes.
Act I - 24 Hours Earlier / Morning Press Gaggle 6:00am
C.J. is conducting her morning press gaggle. C.J. takes a few questions and then calls Katie back, who comes with the Science Editor, Ralph Gish, from her newspaper. They go into C.J.'s office to talk, when Gish mentions something about the Vice President. Gish asks C.J. if the White House is concealing a report about possible life on Mars. The Vice President heads a NASA Commission that deals with this and a source told them the Vice President told the source about the report. C.J. decides to pawn the pair off on Joe Quincy, who is starting his first day in the White House Counsel's office.
Down in the "Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue" Joe is settling into his office. An intern from the Counsel's office arrives to help "break him in." C.J. arrives shortly thereafter and tells Joe that she has someone for him to talk to. As they walk upstairs, C.J. finally lays it out for him about the NASA report and asks him to find out if anyone broke the law.
Act II - 11:00am
In Toby's Office, he and Will are watching a tape of a commercial aimed at Soccer Moms and placing blame on the President on fuel standards and smaller cars. Will tells Toby they need to run a counter ad and Toby tells Will to go work on one.
Donna is in Josh's office and is distracted by a bird pecking at the window in Josh's office. Josh comes in and Donna tells him that he needs to go see Leo - a call came in to the Press Office asking if the Justice Department called off an investigation of a company - Josh says it's nothing but he will follow up. Joe Quincy arrives to ask Josh if he can go straight to Leo or if he wants him to run things by Josh first. When Josh hears what Joe is looking into, coupled with the call to the Press Office - they decide they need to go see Leo together.
They get to Leo's office and Joe explains what he is looking into. Josh tells Leo about the DOJ settlement. Leo tells them to fix this. Joe realizes the Vice President was aware of both the NASA report and the DOJ settlement. He realizes he may be on to something much larger.
Act III - 2:00pm
Will is working with the speechwriting staff on a counter ad. In Toby's Office, Charlie is eating lunch with Toby when Joe Quincy comes by. In the course of the conversation, Joe realizes that Helen Baldwin, a Washington socialite has negotiated a book deal. Another piece of the puzzle that Joe is working on, clicks into place.
Donna and C.J. are in C.J.'s office talking about press leaks. Joe Quincy arrives to talk to C.J. - he tells her that he believes he has figured it out. They place a call to Stu Winkle, the new gossip columnist at the Washington Post - who Joe believes is the person who was talked to by the source at the center of the NASA report and the DOJ settlement.
When they get him on the phone, he acknowledges that he had talked to someone about the report and the settlement. As Winkle rambles on - Joe shows C.J. Winkle's column about the Helen Baldwin book deal, followed by Quincy's notes regarding the two issues, and then the White House Phone logs showing multiple calls from the Vice President to Helen Baldwin.
Act IV - 7:45pm
The Vice President is in his office meeting with his staff. An aide opens the door and nods to the Vice President. Hoynes ends the meeting, but asks his staff to wait. Toby, Josh, C.J., and Joe Quincy come into the office. Josh, very bluntly, asks Hoynes if he has been having an affair with Helen Baldwin. Hoynes tells them that he has been - and wonders what he should do next. Quincy suggests that he needs to talk to his family.
Will is still working with the Laurens on the counter ad and not making much progress. Toby arrives to get Will - Toby needs to tell him about what's happened.
On the portico, the President and Leo are sitting when the Vice President walks up. The three talk about what has happened - and whether they can get through this. Hoynes announces that he is planning on resigning. Both Leo and the President try to talk him out of it - but Hoynes has made up his mind.
Tuesday - 6:00am
From other angles - we see Clair Huddle, the Vice President's intern arriving at the White House with the Vice President's resignation letter. She is brought to the Oval Office to deliver the letter. The President takes the letter to Leo, telling him, "Yeah, we're going to need a new Vice President."
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
- 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
- Kiersten Warren as Blair Spoonhour
- Claire Coffee as Cassie Tatum
- NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
- John Apicella as Ralph Gish
- Andy Umberger as Stevie
- Lara Phillips as Lauren Romano
- Kimberlee Peterson as Lauren Shelby
- Catherine Kwong as Lauren Chin
- Mandy Freund as Claire Huddle
- Andy Milder as Aide #1
- Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
- Kris Murphy as Katie Witt
- Mindy Seeger as Chris
- Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
- Jeff Mooring as Phil
- Sam Pancake as Stu Winkle (uncredited)
- C.J. Cregg: I'm the press secretary, Boo-boo. I don't have that kind of time.
- Charlie Young: Are you eating a salad?
- Toby Ziegler: Yeah.
- Charlie Young: Why?
- Toby Ziegler: 'Cause I am.
- Charlie Young: I don't think I've ever seen you eat a salad. What kind of salad is it?
- Toby Ziegler: I don't know.
- Charlie Young: Just mixed greens?
- Toby Ziegler: I don't know what kind of salad it is, I'm eating a salad, okay? I'm doing it, do I have to know the names? There's no difference between them, it's a bowl of weeds!
- Toby Ziegler: Some of them have cheese, this isn't the kind with cheese, does that answer your question? Man, how many years have you been: "Toby, you eat like a teenager, Toby, that's red meat, that's your second cigar!" And here I am, eating a salad, which by the way you could smother up this with barbecue sauce, and it would still taste like the ground, and I'm getting heckle from the gallery...who wanted to come in here eating his roast beef sandwich with ketchup on a Kaiser roll, and watch the damn tennis on my TV!!
- Toby Ziegler: That's all I'm saying!
- Charlie Young: Man, you're really doing all you can to marry that woman!
- President Bartlet: Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Vice President, if my multiple sclerosis was a bummer for your sex life. How the hell did you do this to us?! You can't resign, John. It's a terrible signal to send.
- 〉You're a giant, John. You're a US Senator, the Vice President of the United States and presumptive nominee of your party, You cannot be taken down by this cheap person〈