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West Wing Wiki

BARTLET CONSIDERS POSSIBLE IRAN-U.S. BREAKTHROUGH -- The President (Martin Sheen) ponders the immense political ramifications of honoring a secret request from the hardline Iranian Ayatollah to allow his son to be flown to the United States for life-saving surgery.



The President arrives in the Oval Office with Leo, preparing for a press conference.  C.J. is asking him what he intends to discuss at the conference.  Toby arrives with some more talking points for him to cover and Leo reminds the President to take it easy in the press conference.  Leo leaves for a meeting with the Swiss Ambassador in his office, not knowing why he wants to see him. He learns the Swiss have received a message from the Iranians that the Ayatollah's son has a congenital heart condition. They want permission to send the boy to the United States for surgery.  Leo says he will ask the President.

Act I[]

Josh arrives in his office and Donna gives him messages.  He has a call to return to the AP, the Minority Leader wants to see Josh about prescription drugs, and the wife of the Ambassador to Vietnam wants to talk to Josh.  Toby arrives and talks about some of these issues as well.  Josh tells Donna to tell the Minority Leader's office that he is coming up to see him.  Toby goes to meet with Karen Kroft, who was defeated in her congressional election - to tell her they are hoping to appoint her as the next head of the National Park Service.

C.J. is walking toward the Press Room to begin her briefing. Toby comes out to tell her that Karen Kroft has agreed to the Parks job.  C.J. tells Toby that Andy is going to be sued for election fraud; Toby knows this, and knows that she wants to be sued.  C.J. enters the press room and one of the first questions is about Sam and his campaign.

In California - Sam and Will come out of a government building to face reporters.  Will tells the reporters about the individuals who will be running Sam's campaign. Sam pulls Will aside to tell him that he wants Will to run the campaign, but Will doesn't want to.

In the Oval Office, the President is signing letters at Charlie's request.  Leo arrives and the two head for the Situation Room to be briefed on the situation with the Ayatollah's son. Bartlet gives the green light to bring the boy to the US, although there is some concern about leaks and the repercussions from the Iranians and the US right wing.

Act II[]

Josh is waiting for Senator Tripplehorn, who arrives and walks with Josh.  The Senator is angry that precinct captains in Iowa and New Hampshire are already being locked up by Vice President Hoynes, even though the election has just concluded.  Tripplehorn was hoping to run for President as well - but can't get past Hoynes.

Leo is walking back to his office with Margaret who is letting him know what's on his schedule.  In his office, Toby is waiting, who tells Leo that Josh is talking with Tripplehorn and that he has offered Karen Kroft the Parks job.  Leo tells Toby that she can't have the job because it has now become a Senate-confirmed position and she won't have the votes to confirm.  Toby heads back to his office and asks Ginger to find him another job that Karen Kroft can get that doesn't require confirmation.

C.J. arrives in the Oval Office to tell the President that the press has the story of the Ayatollah's son coming to the United States and that the Ayatollah has released a statement denouncing the trip.  The press thinks the US was hiding Leo's meeting with the Swiss.  Leo arrives and C.J. leaves.  Leo and the President talk about what to do - Leo tells the President to send a message through the Swiss to the Iranians that they need to back down on missile testing or the President will turn the plane around.  The President doesn't want to do that - but Leo tells him the threat may be enough.

Josh returns to the West Wing and he tells Donna that Tripplehorn thinks that Josh is secretly working for Hoynes.  Donna tells him about the situation with the wife of the Ambassador to Vietnam - evidently there was a problem on a recent codel to Southeast Asia.  Josh tells Donna to fix it and goes to see Toby, telling him about his conversation with Tripplehorn.  The two talk about Hoynes and while they agree that he is obviously the favorite for the nomination, he needs to stop working so hard at it right now.

Act III[]

Toby comes to see Leo. He cannot find an alternate job for Karen Kroft. Toby wants to nominate her and put up with the fight that will come.  Leo says they can't do it. He then goes into the Oval Office for an update on the Ayatollah's son.  There is a new problem - they can't find a doctor.  There are only three qualified doctors who can do it. Two are unavailable and the third is an Iranian who fled the country and is refusing to do the operation on the rational grounds that some of his family members were murdered by the regime and others are still living in Iran and would be targeted if the operation fails.  Bartlet tells Charlie to find the First Lady so he can talk to her about this.  The President comes to see the First Lady and explains the situation. She tells him that ethically, the doctor can't refuse to do the operation.

Josh is getting ready for his meeting with Hoynes.  Hoynes talks amiably with Josh, before Josh gets into it and tells the Vice President that he needs to back off with the precinct captains. They need to be able to govern before the Vice President starts running for the top spot. Hoynes responds in turn by snarling that he has an obligation to himself, and Josh's flippant demeanor turns to disquiet when the VP makes it clear that no one would ever believe Josh or anyone else in the White House cares what happens to him. The VP also tells Josh he would be "great in Leo's job", and Josh takes the cue to leave. Before he goes, though, the VP gets in a final blow: he points out that he was not traveling where Josh said he was and didn't have communications access where he actually went. Josh's face registers that something is wrong and he leaves.

Act IV[]

The Iranian doctor has been summoned to the White House and is awaiting the President, who arrives and brings the doctor into the Oval Office.  Doctor Mohebi tries to tell the President about his reservations and his concerns for his family that remain in Iran, especially should anything go wrong with the operation. The President tells him he will do everything he can to protect him and his family, but he is going to have to operate on the boy.

Josh comes to see Leo and tells him about his meeting with Hoynes - something didn't add up. They conclude that it couldn't have been Hoynes who called the precinct captains, leading them to realize it could have only been one person... Leo tells Josh he will take care of it.

Toby meets with Karen Kroft to tell her about what has happened and that she can't have the Parks job.  She is disappointed but understands the politics of the decision. She does not regret the actions she took which lead to her losing re-election.

Sam returns to the White House and goes to see the President.  The President tells Sam that he needs to campaign on his own and to "run away" from the President if necessary. More than that, he says Sam should run towards himself and his own ideas. Leo arrives and asks the President how many precinct captains the President locked up for Hoynes.  The President tries to wriggle out of it - but Leo knows. The President asks if he will have to call them all back. Leo tells the President they will take care of it; also, that the Ayatollah's son has just been wheeled into surgery.


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

Lily Tomlin as Deborah Fiderer
Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
and Tim Matheson as John Hoynes

Guest Starring

Geoff Pierson as Wendell Tripplehorn
Lucinda Jenney as Karen Kroft
Danica McKellar as Elsie Snuffin
Renée Estevez as Nancy
Bernard White as Dr. Ehsan Mohebi
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
Wolf Muser as Ambassador Von Rutte
Paul Vincent O'Connor as Laney
Faran Tahir as Manny


Jennifer Parsons as Aide
Joel Anderson as Aide
Dennis Neal as Springer
Emiko Parise as Aide
Leigh Curran as NASA Aide
Michael Raysses as Reporter Ted Willard
Kim Webster as Ginger
Devika Parikh as Bonnie
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
Anita Dashiell as Reporter Joe


President Bartlet – Well, the votes have been counted and the people have spoken and it's clear that their will is for me to be able to do and have anything I want... Well, the President of Turkmenistan just extended the date of adolescence to 25. So, things like that
Leo McGarry – I think he also renamed the month of January after himself
President Bartlet – That's just greedy. Real power is knowing when to leave a little something on the table
Leo McGarry: I'll talk to him.
Swiss Ambassador: The president?
(on TV) President Bartlet: Don't get me wrong, Mark, I think January's a good month.
Leo McGarry: President, generalissimo, whatever he comes back as.

Leo McGarry: Please don't forget all politics are local.
President Bartlet: Ah, bite me.
Leo McGarry: He's got to say something...
President Bartlet: Please.
Leo McGarry: He's got to say something to his hard-liners.
President Bartlet: He didn't want to try, "My son is dying and these guys maybe can fix him? And maybe if our citizens didn't spend quite so much energy denouncing the infidels, they'd have time to build a damn medical school!"
Josh – You've got a Constitutional obligation, that comes first
Hoynes – Last time I checked, my Constitutional obligation was to have a pulse
President Bartlet: It's okay to run away from me when you need to.
Sam Seaborn: I would never, Mr. President. I simply would never do that. That's not how I'm getting votes.
President Bartlet: I appreciate that but that's not what I'm talking about. You disagreed with me on Medicare. I remember the meeting right here. Then you wrote a five-page memo. Run towards yourself. I'm wrong about that. Walk. You're not going to be used to your surroundings.
Sam Seaborn: Yes, sir.
President Bartlet: You lose, you lose, but if you waste this, I'll kill you. I'll just kill you, Sam.
Sam Seaborn: Yes, sir.


  • For the scene when Josh goes to Capitol Hill to visit the Minority Leader (Senator Tripplehorn), the filming location is actually Los Angeles City Hall.


  • Josh calls Donna "Lulu", a reference to the singer/actress who performed in To Sir, With Love.


  • In the situation room, when Bartlet is told that he needs to decide by 11:45, he remarks that that is 11 minutes from now. But less than a minute later, we see the clocks on the wall saying it's 39:29 past the hour.
  • It is stated that heart and lungs are en route from the Middle East to Europe to the United States, but the life of a heart outside the body is only 3-4 hours.
  • Leo corrects the President for saying K2 was in Pakistan; but he is correct - it is on the China-Pakistan border.

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