WILL BI-PARTISAN POLITICAL BREAKFAST LEAD TO BREAKING BREAD -- OR BREAKING HEADS? -- As a bi-partisan friendship breakfast with members of Congress nears, President Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) staff vigorously debates the merits of including a patient's bill of rights and minimum wage increase among the incendiary topics while C.J. (Allison Janney) jousts with the new chief of staff of the House Majority leader (guest star Felicity Huffman) over the press conference's agenda and location. Elsewhere: Leo (John Spencer) asks Josh (Bradley Whitford) to apologize for him to a powerful news columnist after he unintentionally insults her; Sam (Rob Lowe) lobbies C.J. to move the media briefing room away from the White House to free-up much-needed space; and Sam and Josh start a cozy fire in the Mural Room -- unaware that the chimney flue has been welded shut for more than 100 years.
Josh and Sam are attempting to start a fire in the Mural Room, while Donna cautions them about starting a fire at that hour. Josh tells Donna to go and talk to C.J. [who is working on the seating chart for the Leadership Breakfast] to tell her that Congressman Jancowicz has to be seated near the center of the room so he can hear. Sam and Josh get the fire started, but smoke fills up the room. Sam sees a plaque, which informs them the fireplace flue has been welded shut for over 100 years. Charlie arrives and tells them the Secret Service is going to make him wake up the President, which he does after the smoke alarms go off.
In the Roosevelt Room, C.J. is directing the placing of name cards for the breakfast. She calls it done, when Donna comes in with Josh's request for Congressman Jancowicz. Toby comes in to see how it is going and immediately realizes there's a problem. C.J. takes a minute and realizes that she forgot to place the President at the table.
Leo and Toby are discussing the rules / guidelines over what can and cannot be discussed at the Leadership Breakfast. Sam adds his two cents on the discussions, as does Josh. The Senior Staff comes into the Oval Office to meet with the President, who wants to know who is responsible for making him stand out on the Truman Balcony in his underwear. Toby keeps pushing Leo and the President on the rules / guidelines for the breakfast. Bartlet is distracted by the fact that Vermont Maple Syrup will be served instead of New Hampshire Maple Syrup. The President tells Toby and the others - it's a breakfast, we pose for pictures and have a post-game meeting afterwards, just do it.
Leo calls Josh into his office and asks him how he is doing. He tells Josh he is going to ask him once a day for a while. He then asks Josh to go to dinner at Ben and Sally's so he can apologize to Karen Cahill (likely modeled after Maureen Dowd), who writes a column for the New York Times. Leo made a crack about her shoes and needs Josh to smooth it over with her. Josh asks if he can get Sam to do it, to which Leo agrees.
C.J. and Carol are in a meeting with Ann Stark, who is the Chief of Staff to the Majority Leader and other Congressional Aides about how the Leadership Breakfast press briefings will go. There is considerable back and forth and it is clear that Ann Stark is a force to be reckoned with. Ann wants the Majority Leader to give his briefing from the Capitol Steps but C.J. objects. Toby enters and asks to speak with Ann Stark. He makes a meeting with her for breakfast the following day. He goes to see Leo to tell him that he is meeting with Ann Stark and Leo cautions him strongly to be careful.
Donna comes to Sam and tells him that he is going to have dinner with Karen Cahill - Sam is alarmed because he doesn't do well with Karen.
Toby is having breakfast with Ann Stark and she brings him a present - New Hampshire Maple Syrup. He keeps at her to try and get some substantive issues on the table for discussion - she stonewalls. Toby and Ann continue their discussions and Toby makes a threat about the minimum wage. Ann agrees to all a discussion about the Patient's Bill of Rights in exchange for allowing the Press Conference for the Majority Leader to take place on the Hill.
C.J. and Sam have a discussion about Sam's proposal to move the press to the OEOB. C.J. tells him to don't even mention it again because it sends the wrong message to the country and would alienate the press. He tries a different tack with Josh and asks for a question to be added to the monthly poll about moving the press corps out of the West Wing.
Donna asks Sam how it went the night before with Karen Cahill. Sam relates a story that he was discussing with Karen and realizes he may have said Kyrgyzstan instead of Kazakhstan - now he is concerned he may have looked stupid.
The President is preparing to meet with a new ambassador and Charlie shows him some remarks that Sam wrote for the breakfast the next day. The President tells Charlie that it is bad luck to toast with water - so to be sure there is something other than water at the breakfast.
Sam shows up in the bullpen and tells Donna that he is sure that he said the wrong "-stan." Sam asks Donna to talk to Karen Cahill that evening.
Toby comes to see C.J. and tell her that he has conceded the press conference to Ann Stark, allowing it to take place on Capitol Hill. C.J. tells Toby that it is a bad idea and that she won't do it - she is going to send a deputy instead.
The next morning, C.J. is outside her office when she meets Steve, who asks her if the administration is contemplating moving the press out of the West Wing. She denies it, but he presses and tells her that another reporter got a call and was asked the question as part of the poll that Josh and Sam altered.
C.J. watches on TV as the press conference begins and Congressman Randall Thomas (R-MI) introduces the others at the podium and also notes the Majority Leader "has a sore throat . . . and has gone back to his office." C.J. notes to Carol that Ann Stark has pulled the Majority Leader off the table and is immediately concerned that something is up. In her office, Ann is also watching the press conference and waits for the Congressman to call on the reporter, Simon, which he finally does. Simon's question is about the minimum wage and uses Toby's threat to Ann, stating that the White House would add the minimum wage to "everything that moves." In his office, Toby immediately realizes he has gotten played. Congressman Henry Shallick (R-MO) takes to podium to call out the Senior White House Aide [Toby] for such a partisan quote. Toby calls C.J. and they decide to pull the deputy off the table from the press conference and she will brief reporters from the White House.
Leo greets the Senior Staff in his office and wants to know what happened. Toby admits to giving the quote and that he may have misread his relationship with Ann Stark. C.J. says she has to brief in ten minutes and Leo wants them to figure it out and let him know what they are going to do to fix this.
The Senior Staff leave Leo's office and brainstorm in the hallway how C.J. can best spin the story. They decide to turn it around and move the story away from Toby and put the light on the Majority Leader and question why he wasn't at the podium himself.
Josh and Sam are talking when Donna arrives with an envelope for Josh. Sam asks how it went the night before with Karen and she tells him that it went well - then Josh returns with Donna's underwear that fell out onto the floor the night before - Karen Cahill sent them to Josh in the envelope.
C.J. walks by and asks Sam and Josh to follow her. She lays into them about the question of moving the press. She is going to make Sam fix it by talking to the press. Ann Stark is watching the news in her office, which is discussing the response from C.J. in her briefing, when Toby comes to see her. The two of them discuss the day's events. Toby realizes that the Majority Leader is likely running for President.
In the Oval Office, the President is also watching the news coverage of the day's events, when Charlie asks him to do a favor for Donna. Donna wants the President to call Karen Cahill to tell her there was no ulterior meaning to Donna's underwear slipping out of her pant leg the night before. He, not surprisingly, declines. Leo comes in to talk to the President and then Charlie enters to tell the President that Toby would like to speak to him. The President shakes his head at Leo and leaves the Oval Office. Toby sees the President leave and goes into the Oval Office to have a conversation with Leo. He tells Leo of the conversation he had with Ann Stark and the two men decide then and there to make sure that President Bartlet runs for a second term.
- 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 Star
- Guest Star Corbin Bernsen would go on to be a cast member of the series Psych, which also stars Dulé Hill.
- This was the last episode to air during the Clinton administration.
- The fireplace whose flue had purportedly been welded shut for 100 years was ablaze with a roaring fire several times in Season One.
- The fireplace, while located in the Mural Room of the West Wing, was purported to be a favorite of President Andrew Johnson. However, the West Wing had not yet been constructed at the time of Andrew Johnson's presidency.