ASSASSINATION GLOOM LOOMS AS WHITE HOUSE CAMPAIGNS DURING UPCOMING CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS -- As one of the President's (Martin Sheen) staff recovers from bullet wounds, the rest of the team pushes on to the "mid-term" congressional elections in November -- but as C.J. (Allison Janney) deflects press requests on how the assassination attempt has affected the mood in the White House, she knows that nearly everyone bears psychological scars in its aftermath. In particular, Charlie (Dulé Hill) is affected when he learns more about the shooting and reacts coldly both to Bartlet (Sheen) and Zoey (guest star Elizabeth Moss). For his part, Toby (Richard Schiff) surveys the President's newfound popularity in the polls and proposes that the administration pursue a course that would turn up the heat on extremist groups while Sam (Rob Lowe) convinces a friend (guest star Jamie Denton) to run for Congress after the death of a current congressman. Elsewhere, Bartlet is obsessed with an obscure school board election in New Hampshire for purely personal reasons.
August 14th - 12 Weeks before Election Day
The President comes to the meeting of the Senior Staff, where they are going over the new poll numbers, which have jumped to an 81% approval rating after the attempted assassination. As a result, they have a good chance at picking up a number of seats in the upcoming midterm elections.
As the meeting breaks up, President Bartlet wants to have some polling on Elliot Roush, who he ran against in his first House campaign. Roush is running for a school board seat in New Hampshire and the President wants to see numbers - to which Leo tells him to leave it alone.
Sam then meets with Tom Jordan, an old friend from Law School, who is now a prosecutor. Sam tells him that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) asked him to - as they want him to run for Congress. Sam tells Tom that he will have the full weight of the White House behind him.
Toby and C.J. argue after the Senior Staff meeting over Toby's desire to go after the hate groups like the one that was responsible for the shooting.
September 5th - 9 weeks before Election Day
Toby figures out a way to go after extremist organizations and tries to sell it to Sam. Toby then goes to Donna to try and get her to allow him to go see Josh in person. She won't let him. He wants to go to the President and get him to back the plan.
Zoey comes to see her father and stops in to see Leo. As they walk up to the residence to see the President, Zoey asks Leo about Charlie, but Leo cuts her off, as it is a question he would rather not address.
In the residence, the President is on the phone, making campaign calls (he refuses to do them from the West Wing). He is also complaining to C.J. that Elliot Roush is polling at 46% (he admits to C.J. that he had to have "our guys" do the poll - because they don't conduct polls on school board races). C.J. tells the President that he might be obsessed with this race. Leo arrives with Zoey and Leo asks how the calls are going and quickly leaves with C.J. because of the President's mood over Roush.
Zoey also asks her father about Charlie as Leo and C.J. leave. C.J. talks to Leo about requests for follow-up interviews over the shootings, but before she can press Leo further, she gets a page.
Toby is still pressing his case with Sam and refuses to back down. C.J. arrives and tells Sam that Tom Jordan has a problem with his jury selections - that he favors white juries for his black defendants. She tells Sam to get into it to see if his candidacy can be saved.
October 20th - 3 weeks before Election Day
Charlie and the President are wrapping up in the Oval Office and Charlie snaps at President Bartlet over his going to the residence to make campaign calls. Charlie and the President part and Charlie encounters Jeffrey Macintosh in the Roosevelt Room. Jeffrey is the son of Andrew Macintosh, the IT person, who has been fixing Mrs. Landingham's computer.
Sam comes to Leo's office, where Josh is on the phone as well, and Leo and Josh tell Sam about Tom Jordan's belonging to a fraternity that had no black members. This, along with the jury selection, has led Leo to make the decision to cut him off - he will get no support from the White House. Sam is angry and storms out of the office.
C.J. comes to see Toby looking for an advance copy of the President's remarks to Asia-Pacific. C.J. tells Toby that he needs to calm down about the hate groups, when Charlie arrives in the doorway and tells C.J. the President is waiting for her in the residence. President Bartlet wants to know why there has been no coverage of the Roush story. C.J. has to talk him off the ledge (again) that the President cannot get involved in a local school board race and that if Elliot Roush wins, sometimes that happens in a democracy.
November 7th - Election Day
Sarah and Tom Jordan come to see Sam over the White House cutting off support. Tom is going to lose his race 56-42. Sarah is very angry and promises that, "anytime we have the opportunity to screw you - count on being screwed."
C.J. is talking with several of the radio broadcasters and extricates herself from a conversation that she doesn't want to be a part of anymore.
Toby comes to see the President (who is drinking an egg cream) and requests some time off. The President says OK - "15 minutes." Toby makes his case to the President about prosecuting hate groups. The President shows Toby satellite pictures of the headquarters of West Virginia White Pride and tells him that every day he threatens to have the headquarters taken, but that everyday it gets a little better.
Toby asks the President how it's going with his "school board guy." The President replies that he is going to win. Toby asks how the President beat him and the President has been trying to remember how he did - but can't remember. Sam brings the President some remarks and he looks them over as they walk over to the reception.
C.J. gets the signal from the Secret Service and introduces the President. He comes in and begins his remark - and is immediately distracted by the presence of Dr. Jenna Jacobs, who is seated, while everyone else is standing. He finally gets into a debate with her over her credentials and the advice she offers on her show. Once she is appropriately chided (and she stands up) - he remarks to Toby, "That's how I beat him."
Charlie has another encounter with the Macintoshes. Charlie and Andrew talk about Charlie, and Andrew tells Charlie that his father used to say, "if they're shooting at you - you know you're doing something right." Charlie goes to see Zoey and the two of them make up.
Leo comes looking for the President as he has heard about the President's performance at the talk radio reception.
The episode concludes outside Josh's apartment, where the Senior Staff talks about the election results. The House results lead to the House majorities staying exactly the same. They all realize they live in a pretty good country, saying, "God Bless America."
- 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
- Toby Ziegler: Why does it feel like this? . . . I've seen shootings before.
- President Josiah Bartlet: This wasn't a shooting, Toby, it was a lynching. They tried to lynch Charlie right in front of our eyes. Can you believe it?
- President Josiah Bartlet: Forgive me, Dr. Jacobs, are you an M.D.?
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: A Ph.D.
- President Josiah Bartlet: A Ph.D.
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: Yes, sir.
- President Josiah Bartlet: In Psychology?
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: No, sir.
- President Josiah Bartlet: Theology?
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: No?
- President Josiah Bartlet: Social Work?
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: I have a Ph.D. in English Literature.
- President Josiah Bartlet: I'm asking because, on your show, people call in for advice, and you go by the name, Dr. Jacobs, on your show. I didn't know if maybe your listeners were confused by that and assumed you had advanced training in psychology, theology, or healthcare.
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: I don't believe they are confused, no, sir.
- President Josiah Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: I don't call homosexuality an abomination, Mr. President, the bible does.
- President Josiah Bartlet: Yes it does, Leviticus
- Dr. Jenna Jacobs: 18:22
- President Josiah Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7 . . . While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it OK to call the police. Here's one that's really important, because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes us unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, Jon, for planting crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?
- President Josiah Bartlet: Think about those questions, would you? One last thing, while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tightass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits. [Bartlet stares at Jacobs, until she finally rises to her feet]
- President Josiah Bartlet: Toby?
- Toby Ziegler: Yes, Mr. President?
- President Josiah Bartlet: That's how I beat him.
- Sam and his colleagues seem to care more about what will happen to Tom Jordan and how it looks than the fact that Jordan utilised the systemic racism of the U.S. to create a "tough on crime" reputation for his career.
- Politics spent $400 million on the midterm campaigns that could've been spent on literally anything else.
- President Bartlet criticizes a religious fundamentalist radio talk show host named Jenna Jacobs' with his detailed knowledge of scripture. The segment was adopted from a famous internet chain letter allegedly sent to Dr. Laura Schlessinger, on whom the Jacobs character was based, and several of Bartlet's questions are identical to the questions posed in the letter.
- At the dinner party CJ mentions shock jock Howard Stern. Allison Janney played DeeDee, Howard Stern's former boss at WWDC, in the movie "Private Parts".
- As President Bartlet rebukes Jenna Jacobs for sitting while the president stands, a woman in the background can be seen sitting at a table.
- This episode clearly dates the events of the previous episodes as having taken place the previous week in August 2000. But in "17 People" Toby says these events happened in May.
- Sam reveals that Tom Jordan went to Oberlin. That college does not have Greek life, so Jordan could not have possibly belonged to an all-white fraternity.
- "The West Wing" The Midterms (2000) — Quotes and trivia copied from IMDb
- 19 Times Life and The West Wing Imitated Each Other (July 2014)
- Letter to Dr. Laura (March 2004)