PRESIDENT FACES RADIOACTIVE CRISIS AND MULLS NEED TO KEEP VEEP ON TICKET; TIM MATHESON GUEST-STARS -- The President's staff reacts to the crash of a heavy rig bearing uranium fuel rods in a remote Idaho tunnel that could pose an environmental -- or terrorist -- crisis, while in another room, electoral strategy is stealthily mapped out that could include jettisoning Vice President Hoynes (guest star Tim Matheson) from the next ticket. Meanwhile, the unwitting Veep ponders how to keep a favorite bill intact that would provide Internet access for the poor; earlier, Hoynes finds himself in the same meeting with Leo for Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition: Charlie (Dule Hill) regrets getting advice from a meddling Bartlet (Martin Sheen) for filing his tax forms online; Donna's (Janel Moloney) request to Josh (Bradley Whitford) for a presidential proclamation honoring the retirement of her favorite teacher might prove more difficult than first imagined.
Leo is attending the Vice President's AA meeting, comprised of several high profile politicians. One of the attendees is concerned about Leo's continued presence at the meetings. A discussion ensues, but the Vice President shuts it down with the pronouncement that it's his meeting, Leo stays.
Act I - Thursday 10:30pm
Sam finds Josh, who asks Sam to go and meet with the Vice President about a piece of legislation the Vice President is particularly attached to. Sam agrees to go, though he thinks it should be Josh or Leo. Josh tells him that it needs to be Sam. Josh asks Donna for some materials - in exchange she wants him to get a presidential proclamation for her high school teacher, who is retiring.
Sam comes to Toby's office to report on some new education figures that are being released. Sam thinks the Education Secretary should make a statement. Toby asks Ginger about the cabinet calendar for the next day and hears something about the HUD Secretary and he tells Ginger to page the HUD Secretary and have him in his office right away.
In the Oval Office outer office - the President is helping Charlie file his taxes. They discuss what Charlie is going to do with his anticipated tax return - but it turns out that Charlie owes money. C.J. arrives to tell the President that a truck carrying depleted uranium fuel rods has crashed in a tunnel in Idaho. The President gets on the phone with the Secretary of Energy.
C.J. leaves for a meeting with other senior staff in the Roosevelt Room, she tells them about the truck crash. Toby inquires as to why the President wanted to talk to the National Security Team - C.J. points out the crash involved another heavy truck in a remote tunnel in Idaho. Josh wants to postpone his meeting but the others push back - Josh announces that he has been meeting with Bruno and Doug and they have come to the conclusion there is no electoral math strategy that doesn't say it is worth exploring replacing the Vice President on the ticket.
The meeting continues and Toby realizes the discussion that Josh had with Bruno and Doug has progressed a lot further. Bruno has a new candidate in mind to replace Hoynes - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Percy Fitzwallace.
Leo goes into the Oval Office to talk to the President about the truck crash. The President asks about the meeting taking place in the Roosevelt Room - Leo tells him not to worry about it. Donna continues to plead her case for "Molly Morello Day" and a proclamation from the President. Sam meets with the Vice President over the bill on Internet Education. Hoynes tells Sam they need to save this bill.
In the Roosevelt Room, the assembled group talk about Fitzwallace and what he would bring to the ticket. Both Toby and C.J. caution that if Hoynes were to be dumped from the ticket - he could very well challenge as an independent, which could cost Bartlet the election.
Leo and Charlie are talking about his tax return. Leo points out that he got tripped up by the bill that was passed the previous year, offering a rebate to Americans. The rebate amount is to be repaid with your next tax return. Charlie maintains that's not a rebate - it's an advance.
The President calls Leo into the Oval Office to discuss the truck crash and fire in Idaho. Leo stops into the meeting in the Roosevelt Room where Josh off-handedly comments that Leo should be the running mate. There is a brief discussion about Leo's alcoholism - to which Leo counters with the question that no one thinks there hasn't already been an alcoholic Vice President [which there currently is].
Sam continues to meet with the Vice President - he doesn't want to give in on the Internet Education Act - but Sam tells him they will allow the bill to go forward - if the Vice President takes his name off of it. The Vice President is disappointed because he has been such a strong supporter of Internet Education - but agrees to take his name off.
Toby comes out to the Communications Bullpen and asks Ginger where Secretary Fisher (the HUD Secretary) is. Ginger tells Toby that his scheduler called back - the Secretary can't come until tomorrow. Toby tells Ginger to page the Secretary again and tell him they are planning to move his "announcement" to the White House.
Donna has more information on how she can get a proclamation for her retiring school teacher. Josh continues to humor her. Sam arrives back from his meeting with the Vice President, he tells Josh the VP has agreed to take his name off. Josh tells Sam about the meeting (in the Roosevelt Room) that he is about to walk into. Sam wants to know if he was sent to see the VP to keep him out of the meeting - and he tells Josh that the VP readily agreed to take his name off the bill.
The Vice President arrives to see Leo. Leo tells Hoynes that he needs to tell the President that he is an alcoholic. Hoynes is stunned to realize the President doesn't already know - he thought that Leo would have told him. The two men go into to see the President.
The HUD Secretary arrives and Ginger puts him in Toby's office - she goes to get him out of the meeting in the Roosevelt Room. Toby meets with Secretary Fisher and asks him when he was planning to announce his candidacy for Governor of New Jersey. The Secretary tries to defend himself - but Toby cuts him off and tells him the next time he tries to make an announcement that is not cleared by Communications - they will announce he is moving back to New Jersey. And the loans the Secretary was going to announce - will be announced from the White House podium by C.J.
The President and Charlie are still talking about his tax return. Charlie begrudginly writes a check for payment. The President is very impressed by Charlie's charitable giving and tells him that he has given him the new DVD player that he wanted. The Vice President and Leo arrive to talk with the President and the three men go into the Oval Office. The Vice President tells the President that he is a recovering alcoholic - that he hasn't had a drink since he was 22. The President is surprised by the announcement but accepts it. He asks Leo what the meeting across the hall is all about - Leo tells the President not to worry about it - but the Vice President interjects that he knows it is a meeting about replacing him on the ticket.
The President tells Hoynes they are not seriously considering replacing him on the ticket and that despite what he might think, the President always liked him more than he thought. He writes a note on a piece of paper and tells the Vice President he's staying on the ticket because of the four words he just wrote down, which he passes to the Vice President, who then hands it to Leo. The four words? "Because I Could Die."
The President calls to Charlie to move on - Donna arrives in the Oval Office and the President tells her about a memo that he received from Josh about Molly Morello and while he believes she deserves a proclamation, he can't give her one. He then presses the speaker on his phone and asks who is on the line. It's Mrs. Morello and she and Donna talk for a moment and then Mrs. Morello and the President have a conversation.
In Leo's office the Senior Staff meet with the Vice President, who has just told them the same thing he just told the President. Leo tells the group the discussions about replacing Hoynes are done - the President has made his choice (with the four word answer).
- 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
- President Bartlet: I love doing this.
- Charlie: Really?
- President Bartlet: Yeah.
- Charlie: Filing tax returns?
- President Bartlet: Yeah.
- Charlie: Okay.
- President Bartlet: What?
- Charlie: I was just thinking about the plurality of Americans who made the decision to pull a lever that had your name next to it.
- President Bartlet: Suckers.
- Josh: What about Leo?
- Leo: What'd I do?
- Josh: As running mate. Bartlet-McGarry.
- Leo: Done.
- Josh: It's not absurd you know.
- Leo: Yes, it is.
- Josh: It's not totally absurd.
- Leo: Yes, it is.
- Toby: He wants your parking space.
- Josh: I really do.
- C.J.: It's not totally absurd.
- Leo: You have a good parking space.
- C.J.: You know, if it weren't for the drinking and the Valium ... And yet Grant...
- Toby: That's right.
- C.J.: And yet Grant. They went to Lincoln. They said, "Grant's a drunk". He said, "Send all my generals a case of whatever he's drinking".
- Larry: I see a 30 second spot.
- Leo: You guys don't think an alcoholic can be Vice-President? You really think the 20th Century didn't see an alcoholic in the West Wing? I'll be around.
- Sam: Is this ser... I mean, are you talking about names?
- Josh: Fitzwallace, Leo, and Ulysses S. Grant.
- Sam: Not for nothing but before we go in there, I want to be clear. I didn't have to convince him, or even suggest it. Right off the bat, he said "Let's take my name off of it".
- Mrs. Morello: Are--Are you sure everything's all right?
- President Bartlet: [whispering] Tell her where you are.
- Donna Moss: Mrs. Morello, I'm in the Oval Office with the President of the United States and it's because of you. [silence] Mrs. Morello?
- Mrs. Morello: What a thing to say. Well, we're all very proud of you, Donna.
- ❝C.J. – You haven't had a drink since you were 22? Ulysses S. Grant would've slapped your face
- Hoynes – He did once❞
- Throughout the episode, Sam talks about hockey - Rob Lowe plays hockey.
- When Leo arrives at the meeting in the Roosevelt Room - Josh makes an off-hand comment about Leo being the President's running mate - something he would finally get to do with Matt Santos.
- Vice President Hoynes says he stopped drinking when he was 22, "I had a few experiences in college. I liked beer, a lot" : Tim Matheson (Vice President Hoynes) played Eric "Otter" Stratton in Animal House.
- Co-Writer Eli Attie named Donna's teacher after his real-life Social Studies teacher at Hunter College High School, Mrs. Morello.
- Josh refers to "Health, Education, and Welfare," a cabinet agency that ceased to exist in 1979. The agency formed two separate agencies, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. Same goof happens later in season 5 when Bartlet asks for Cabinet support for his invocation of the 25th Amendment. He calls the roll of Cabinet Secretaries for their assent and refers to the joint agency and "Health and Education."
- Bartlet in a phone conversation with Mrs Morello ask her if she required her students to read Beowulf in Middle English or if she used a translation. Beowulf was written in Old English.
Notes and references
- "The West Wing" Stirred (2002) — Trivia copied from IMDb