West Wing Wiki
West Wing Wiki

THANKSGIVING SEES BARTLET BASTING BUTTERBALL AND NATIVE AMERICANS CAMPED IN WHITE HOUSE -- While President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) frets about where to spend Thanksgiving -- and how to best cook a gourmet turkey -- C.J. (Allison Janney) powwows with two Native Americans (guest stars Gary Farmer, "The Score," and Georgina Lightning) who are camped in the lobby and promise to cause a media dustup if they can't meet with a bigwig about receiving better public health projects on their reservation. Elsewhere, Josh (Bradley Whitford) pulls some political levers as he tries to gain the extradition of a teenaged boy who murdered his teacher and fled to Italy; Toby (Richard Schiff) informs Bartlet of an inexpensive way to improve his polling numbers; and Sam (Rob Lowe) questions a new poverty income index that could spell trouble for the President by classifying millions more people as poor virtually overnight.



The President is talking with C.J. about where he's going to spend Thanksgiving.  He doesn't want to go to Camp David, but that's where his family will be.  C.J. is exhausted because the President has been lecturing on Thanksgiving and the way he cooks his turkey.

She finally leaves the Oval Office and finds Josh waiting for her to tell her there are two Indians in the Lobby who had a meeting with another staff member but are now refusing to leave the lobby until they meet with someone.  She goes to speak with them and she now has to deal with them - they are refusing to leave until they get satisfaction.

Act I[]

Leo finds Josh to tell him about a Georgia boy who shot his teacher the previous week and was then spirited out of the country by his parents.  Interpol has arrested the boy in Rome, Italy - but refuses to extradite him to a country that has the death penalty.  Leo tells Josh to talk to some people and work it out.

Sam is pacing outside of Toby's office and comes in to tell him that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is putting out new poverty figures - a bad news, good news situation - the income level at which one is considered poor is being raised, which will result in officially more poor people but also allow more people to receive benefits.  Toby tells Sam to look into it.

C.J. is still talking with the Indians in the lobby, who are telling her about the various treaties the US has violated concerning Native Americans.  C.J. tells them there is really nothing she is going to be able to do for them - but she will continue to talk with them and try and find an agreement they are satisfied with.

Donna and Josh are talking about his Thanksgiving plans, which now involve his flying to Florida to spend the holiday with his mother.  He asks Donna to get someone at State on the phone for him to talk about the Georgia boy.  Sam comes to see Josh and they talk about the boy as well.  Sam came to talk to Josh about the new poverty model. Toby comes to see the President about a new initiative to provide cell phones to neighborhood watch groups and what Toby is hearing about the new poverty model.

Act II[]

The President is in Leo's office "talking turkey."  Charlie brings a poll for the President to look at and Charlie tells the President about the Butterball Hotline.  The President wants the number.  The President then looks at the poll and realizing it's not the one he wanted but contains information that makes him angry - he asks for Bruno to be found and brought to the White House.

Sam meets with Bernice Collette on the new poverty model.  He wants to know how the current model was devised and she impresses upon him the new model needs to be adopted.

Josh meets with Russ Angler from State - and Russ tells Josh that Italy will not extradite the boy if there is a chance he would be put to death.  Josh continues to work the problem.  C.J. continues her conversations with the Native Americans, in the lobby. 

Act III[]

Josh goes to see the Italian Consul-General to talk about the situation with the boy.  The Italian government is not going to send the boy back if there is the possibility he will face the death penalty.

C.J. is working with Carol to try and find someone to talk with the Native Americans - but as it is the day before Thanksgiving - everyone has left.  She decides to go and see Leo.  She impresses upon him they have to do something.  She wants Leo to meet with them - he refuses to take a meeting with someone who stages a sit-in in the lobby.

Toby and Sam are talking about the new poverty model and then Sam goes back to talk to Bernice about holding off until they look at it further.

Bruno comes to the Oval Office where the President lays into him about the poll in which questions were asked where the President should spend Thanksgiving.  The President tells Bruno that his family is off limits - but Bruno insists that he has to be given more flexibility to do his job.  The President is resigned to it and then Charlie brings him the number for the Butterball Hotline - which gives Bruno some additional cause for concern.

Toby comes to the Oval Office and the President talks to Toby about the poll.  While talking the Butterball Hotline operator comes on the line and the President asks his questions about cooking turkey.  After finishing the call, which the President completely enjoyed - he goes off to the residence to confront Abbey about the poll and where they should spend Thanksgiving.

Act IV[]

Josh comes to talk with Leo about the situation in Georgia - Leo impresses upon him that he doesn't want the President to have to take a call from the Pope - and tells Josh to start working it from the US side.  He tells Josh to go see the DeKalb County DA who ran and lost a congressional race and would probably like to run again.  Josh plans to meet him in the Atlanta airport as he is traveling to Florida, anyway.  Josh "runs into" Mark Farragut, the DeKalb County DA at the Atlanta airport.  Josh tells him that if he agrees to not seek the death penalty - he will get the support of the White House and access to money to run again for Congress, and win.

Toby and Sam have another conversation about the poverty model.  Sam has been won over by Bernice Collette.  They decide they will talk to Bruno about it.  Sam runs into Bruno on the way out of the White House and they talk about the new poverty model.  Bruno tells Toby that he will be able to sell it.

C.J. is in her office trying to come up with a plan.  Carol comes to tell her that security is getting nervous and are preparing to remove them from the lobby.  She finally comes out to talk with them one last time - telling them she is going to call the National Park Service to have them removed - or they can come back to her office and make an appointment for Monday morning and the White House will pay their expenses.  They agree to go back to her office.

The President talks with the First Lady about Thanksgiving.


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

Ron Silver as Bruno Gianelli

Recurring cast

Renée Estevez as Nancy
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper

Guest Starring

Gary Farmer as Jack Lone Feather
Georgina Lightning as Maggie Morningstar-Charles
Armando Pucci as Alberto Fedrigotti
Jenny Gago as Bernice Collette
Shashawnee Hall as Russell Angler
Dave Hager as Mark Faragut


Kim Webster as Ginger
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell
Patrick O'Connell as Bartender


Ana Gasteyer as Butterball Hotline Employee​​​​​​[1]


C.J. Cregg: When I came in here, back in the late 50s, there was a purpose to it, but then one thing led to another and I blacked out. I mean, I can hang in there with the best of them, Sir, but somewhere in the discussion of anise and coriander and the other 15 spices you like to use to baste a turkey, I simply lost consciousness.
President Josiah Bartlet: You know that line you're not supposed to cross with the President?
C.J. Cregg: I'm coming up on it?
President Josiah Bartlet: No, no. Look behind you.

Indians on the day before Thanksgiving. Wow, ironic
Josh – His parents, who were in custody, Fed-ex'd him to Rome, which is in Italy
Sam – Are you kidding me?
Josh – No, it's really in Italy
President Bartlet – [On neighborhood watch cell phone funding] It's too small. I could fund this out of my pocket
Toby – It's $10 million
President Bartlet – Leo could fund this out of his pocket

Alberto Fedrigotti: Joshua you're in a restaurant...
Josh Lyman: Alberto.
Fedrigotti: ...and there is a little girl who's really misbehaving. She's runs around, she's throwing food. Her father decides to punish her right there by cracking a wine bottle over her head, throwing her to the ground, and kicking her repeatedly. You sit at the next table. What do you do?
Josh: The kid wasn't throwing food.
Fedrigotto: Is there a crime that girl could commit that would justify what that father did?
Josh: See, it's problematic when other people make my argument for me.

[President cooking Thanksgiving dinner]
Presdient Bartlet (Joe Bethersonton):  Stuffing should be cooked inside the turkey, am I correct?
Operator: It can also be baked in a casserole dish
Presdient Bartlet (Joe Bethersonton):  Well, then we'd have to call it something else, wouldn't we?
Operator:  I suppose.
Presdient Bartlet (Joe Bethersonton):  If I cook it inside the turkey, is there a chance I could kill my guests? I'm not saying that's necessarily a deal breaker.

Josh: Why is the White House so concerned about this?
Leo:  Because I don't want this President to get a call from the Bishop of Rome
Josh:  Why do we care about the Bishop of Rome?
Leo:  Because that's not the only name he goes by.
Josh:  What's another name?
Leo:  Your holiness?
Josh:  The Bishop of Rome is the Pope?
C.J. – How do you keep fighting the smaller injustices, when they're all from the mother of injustices?
Maggie Morningstar-Charles – What's the alternative?


  • The "L" in DeKalb County, Georgia, is silent, so the name of the county is pronounced "dee-KAB" and not "dee-KALB."
  • Georgia's 4th District, at the time the episode was written, was heavily Democratic and majority-minority.
  • The name Alberto Fedrigotti was previously used in the Season 1 episode "How are Things in Glocca Morra?" of showrunner Aaron Sorkin's series Sports Night. That Fedrigotti was a fictional low-ranked tennis player in an improbably long-lasting match with then-real-life top-ranked pro Pete Sampras.[2]
  • During the president's call to the Butterball hotline, it is mentioned that the zip code for Fargo, North Dakota is 50504. This is incorrect. The 14 zip codes for Fargo, North Dakota are... 58102, 58103, 58104, 58105, 58106, 58107, 58108, 58109, 58121, 58122, 58123, 58124, 58125, 58126.
  • Mollie Orshansky is characterised as a Polish immigrant who based her poverty model on life in 'communist Poland'. In fact she was an American economist born in New York in 1915.[3]
  • President Bartlet calls the Butterball Hotline, identifying himself as Joe Bethersonton of Fargo, North Dakota, residing on 11454 Pruder Street (not to be confused with Pruder Way or Pruder lane,) zipcode 50504, apartment 23-R.
  • The remark Bruno makes about white salmon ("guaranteed to not turn pink") is a reference to an urban legend about attempting to sell something unmarketable.[4]
  • An uncredited Ana Gasteyer, during her time as an SNL cast member, provides the voice of the Butterball Hotline operator. This credit was entirely unknown to the public and even members of the cast until Gasteyer tweeted about it in 2019 and casting director Tony Sepulveda confirmed it, noting voiceovers were usually not credited at the time the episode aired.[1]


The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

Notes and references[]

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