Bartlet is forced to consider putting US troops on the ground to keep peace in Central Asia. Meanwhile, after the near disaster at the San Andreo nuclear plant, the polls come back with surprising results for the candidates-Santos is tied with Vinick. Donna tells Josh, and he is so excited that he impulsively kisses her. They deliberately kiss immediately after this. The entire group gathers in one room to celebrate.
Vinick's campaign reads the polls too with a very different reaction. Bartlet, CJ, Kate, and a couple others in the Oval Office mention the polls then move on to the crisis in Kazakhstan.
Santos team quickly strategize as they leave the hotel through the kitchen. They decide California is first. Vinick campaign boards the campaign plane, strategizing the entire time.
The Situation Room. They talk about putting boots on the ground in Kazakhstan: numbers, sites, who, etc. Bartlet asks what kind of coats they will wear as US hasn't fought in winter in decades. They were caught unaware and said they'd get back to Bartlet. 150,000 and there for years.
CJ tells Josh that Bartlet wants to see both candidates in the Oval Office. Josh balks until CJ tells him that Vinick will be there. Josh, Donna and Bram celebrate that Vinick has a cold while Bruno hates that Vinick is ill.
Donna meets Will at the White House. Will will talk to Donna and Vinick's press secretary about Kazakhstan.
RNC chair and Jane Braun meet with Vinick's senior staff. The campaign is told to run a 'safe, sober' campaign that takes aim at the base and talks about values, marriage, etc. and show open resistance to it. Sheila and Bruno say it's to replace Bruno.
The candidates and their senior staff are escorted to separate rooms. Debby takes Leo to the Oval Office, Vinick, Sheila, see Leo then ask why the Democratic VP candidate is going into the Oval Office. Santos and his staff strategize while they wait. In the Oval Office Bartlet and Leo talk about Kazakhstan: no-fly zone, rapid deployment, five year commitment, rationale behind it, some risks, more. Santos and Vinick plus their staff enter the Oval Office for the Kazakhstan briefing. Bartlet says one of them will inherit the Oval Office; they deserve to know what they'll get into. Santos and Vinick meet with Bartlet privately; they ask their questions and state their concerns. The candidates ask about an exit strategy. Bartlet has none and suggest they start thinking of one.
Vinick and Sheila talk about the RNC chair and Jane. Sheila says they want her fired. Jane is the GOP darling who can help immensely. Sheila says she'll quit.
Body and Soul sung by Billie Holiday plays in the background. Ronna, Bram, Donna, Josh and Edie celebrate at nearby club. Donna leaves with Josh looking longingly at her as she leaves. CJ, Kate, Bartlet in the situation room.
- Alan Alda as Senator Arnold Vinick
- Kristin Chenoweth as Annabeth Schott
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
- Mary McCormack as Kate Harper
- Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
- John Spencer as Leo McGarry
- Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
- with Jimmy Smits as Matthew Santos
- and Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet
Special Guest Stars
- Ron Silver as Bruno Gianelli
- Patricia Richardson as Sheila Brooks
- and Lily Tomlin as Deborah Fiderer
- Brett Cullen as Ray Sullivan
- Stephen Root as Bob Mayer
- Ron Canada as Ted Barrow
- Steve Ryan as Miles Hutchinson
- Dean Norris as Steve Hodder
- Matthew Del Negro as Bram Howard
- Karis Campbell as Ronna Beckman
- Diana-Maria Riva as Edie Ortega
- Ramón De Ocampo as Otto
- J. Patrick McCormack as General Jimmy Wendall
- Melinda McGraw as Jane Braun
This episode features the final performance of John Spencer.
At just before 20 minutes, when Josh Lyman is asking who he's talking to, you can see him holding the phone to his ear backwards with the screen facing outwards.
When Annabeth proposes the slogan "Santos: Right All Along" she incorrectly pronounces the Congressman's name "Sah-ntos". This is despite the fact that she very deliberately corrected Leo McGarry when he made the exact same mistake in the episode "The Ticket".
CJ Cregg: Is something weird happening?
Will Bailey: No.
CJ Cregg: I feel like I'm the heroine in the movie who doesn't know there's a guy behind the refrigerator with an axe.
Kate Harper: Maybe it's the weather. People feel that way when it's- damp.