STORM CLOUDS GATHER OVER WHITE HOUSE IN PART I OF TWO-PART SEASON PREMIERE -- In the season premiere, flashbacks reveal how the President (Martin Sheen) will officially announce his plans to run for re-election, which sends his staff into disarray as they work on the speech. But two problems dog them when Sam (Rob Lowe) realizes that Bartlet never apologized for not disclosing his multiple sclerosis while C.J. (Allison Janney) makes a crucial gaffe during a press conference. Meanwhile, the President must decide if he should greenlight a military rescue of the besieged U.S. embassy in Haiti and chief counsel Babish (guest star Oliver Platt, "Bulworth") informs Charlie (Dule Hill) to hire his own expensive lawyer before a special prosecutor begins looking into Bartlet's possible concealment of his illness.
The episode opens where the Season 2 season finale ended, with C.J. conducting the press conference to announce President Bartlet's MS - the President comes into the room and when asked if he plans to run for reelection - he says that he is.
Four Weeks Later - Andrews Air Force Base
C.J. and other staff are preparing to get on Air Force One. The President gets out of his limo and is greeted by Bruno Gianelli, who has been hired for the reelection bid. C.J. is informed by another staff that the FDA is preparing to announce that RU-486 is going to be made more widely available on the same day the President is planning to formally announce his reelection. She talks with Josh who will look into it further. Doug (one of Bruno's people) asks C.J. what Toby's problem with him is. She blows him off. The Press peppers C.J. with questions about the speech - which C.J. says is done - as Sam comes out of a room throws papers in the air and says they're starting over!
After the Press Conference - Bartlet returns to the residence, where Abby is waiting for him. She is angry that he has agreed to run for reelection, despite their having a deal to serve only one term. She tells him there are ways around it - but he tells her that he is running. They try to have a conversation about it - but the President has to go down and get briefed on the Haitian crisis.
Back in the West Wing - Josh arrives back from the Press Conference, yells for Donna - they need to make calls about the stunning announcement. Toby and Sam also return and they set the wheels in motion to revise remarks that were planned to be issued in light of the President not running again.
Sam. Toby, and Josh come to the Oval Office, where they find the President. He looks up and asks them what they think the news is going to lead with tomorrow? Leo comes for the President to bring him to the Situation Room. Nancy McNally and others brief the President on the plan to evacuate the Americans and Dessalin from Haiti. As the President stands to leave the room, Nancy leads the others in a round of applause for the President on his decision to run again.
Forwarding to four weeks later, back aboard Air Force One - Bruno comes to see Leo about the speech. Bruno feels the speech must contain an apology. Josh comes to see C.J. about the FDA announcement, which he has confirmed will take place on Monday.
Back in the West Wing after the press conference, Senior Staff are meeting in the Mess (mess hall) about what to do next. They all agree that another poll is needed - Joey arrives and makes all the same points. Josh tells Joey to go put the new poll in the field.
In Manchester - Josh and Donna are talking about the FDA's announcement over RU-486. Doug and Toby are talking in a bar about the speech. Doug is adamant the President needs to apologize - but Toby says it's not going to happen in this speech.
Back in the West Wing after the press conference, Toby comes to see Leo to tell him they are putting a new poll out. Margaret tells Leo they are ready for him in the Situation Room. Leo comes to observe the conducting of Operation Swift Fury. As the helicopter completes its evacuation of the Americans, it begins to take fire from Haitian rebels. A second helicopter neutralizes the rebels and the helicopters return to a nearby aircraft carrier.
C.J. is briefing the press on Operation Swift Fury - and the questions get more and more pointed about the MS. In the bullpen, Josh is watching when Joey (and Kenny) comes by. Josh asks Joey her opinion on the press release about the tobacco lawsuit - Josh wants to leak it - Joey says that would be stupid to do so. Four weeks later, in Manchester - C.J. and Toby have a conversation about "what she is planning to do."
The morning after the Haitian evacuation - the President gets a briefing on what to do next. The President directs the staff to get a message to Bazon (the Haitian rebel leader) that the US plans to restore Dessalin to power. Both Josh and Toby caution the President about the appearance that invading Haiti was to deflect from the MS announcement.
Oliver Babish comes to see Charlie to advise him that he should get a lawyer. Charlie maintains that he doesn't need one. Babish tells him that Charlie will be asked to recount every conversation he had with the President, every observation, his interactions with the President, with Zoey. Charlie asks how much a lawyer would cost - Babish tells him in the neighborhood of $100,000.
In Manchester, Bruno's people and the Senior Staff are winding up after a long evening. Bruno's people are concerned with the drafts of the speech they have been reading. Leo comes to tell them all to go to bed - they'll deal with it tomorrow. Josh tells Leo about the RU-486 announcement and that they should consider postponing the speech.
Joey has early numbers on the new poll. The numbers are not good except that 41% of the electorate would vote for the President, 37% would not, and 22% don't know. Joey points out that at this point in the calendar - an incumbent should have at least 40% of the voters in favor of him.
Josh and Sam have a conversation about the apology. Josh asks Sam about the press release that Josh wants to leak. C.J. is holding another briefing, when she stumbles - making a comment that the President "is relieved to be thinking about something that matters" (sending troops into Haiti). Toby (who is watching from the back) and Sam wait outside the press room when C.J. comes out. She tells them not to say anything to her, she curses and storms off. Leo and Josh meet up with Toby and Sam to come up with a response about C.J.'s gaffe.
Finally, in Manchester, Leo comes to see the President to suggest to him they postpone. The President tells him they aren't postponing - despite the announcement, despite the chance that subpoenas will be handed down, despite C.J.'s gaffe, despite anything - the President is running for reelection and he's gonna win.
- Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
- Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
- 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
- President Bartlet: Yes, Sandy?
- Sandy (reporter): Mr. President, can you tell us right now if you'll be seeking a second term?
- President Bartlet: I'm sorry Sandy, there was a little bit of noise there, could you repeat the question?
- Sandy: Yes sir, can you tell us right now if you'll be seeking a second term?
- [Bartlet puts his hands in his pockets, looks away, and smiles]
- President Bartlet: Yeah. And I'm gonna win.
- ❝Abbey – You missed it. It was incredible. It's all over the news. This crazy man got up in front of millions of people and totally screwed his wife
- Bartlet – That's funny, because that's sort of what I did❞
- In the scene where the Senior Staff is discussing the need for a new poll, which Joey comes in and repeats what they all have already decided - Toby makes a "Dupont Circle" comment, a Sorkin "signature" location for his Washington-based movies and television.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not an "independent agency," as is stated by CJ at the beginning of the episode. Rather, it is a an executive agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, itself a cabinet-level agency. Josh clarifies this in Part II of the episode.
- ? | ?
- doug tries to talk to toby at the bar
- rock the boat | HUES CORPORATION
- c.j. and sam work and talk at the bar
- instead | ABANDON JALOPY
- toby tries to talk to c.j. while they play pool at the bar
- evolution revolution love | TRICKY
- charlie demolishes toby at pool
- ? | ?
- group at the table at the bar