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Bartlet clears his schedule to attend the funeral of a former President, whose conservative views often clashed with his own, while he monitors a potential firestorm in Saudi Arabia as freedom protesters threaten civil war and surround a workers' compound that includes dozens of Americans. Elsewhere, Josh mediates a post-Civil War fracas involving a representative from North Carolina who demands that her Connecticut counterpart return her state's copy of the Bill of Rights -- stolen long ago by a Union soldier -- and C.J. is flustered after meeting a Pentagon scientist whose security innovations could threaten privacy. En route to the funeral, Bartlet shares sobering thoughts with two other men who appreciate the weight of the Oval Office -- former Presidents D. Wire Newman and Glen Allen Walken.


Opening - Monday 6:00pm[]

The President is getting ready to leave for Ford's Theatre when former President Lassiter calls for President Bartlet.  Leo calls for the President to tell him that something is happening in Saudi Arabia.  General Alexander briefs the President. Lastly, we see an individual leave a letter addressed to President Bartlet in a desk drawer.

Act I - Monday 6:45pm[]

In the Situation Room, the President gets a briefing on Saudi Arabia.  C.J. is briefing the press and, afterwards, gets a question about mind control activities.  The Senior Staff is getting ready to join the President on the trip to Ford's and preparing for the President's Lincoln trivia.  As they walk out the door - Secret Service ushers them back in, saying "the President's dead."  Former President Owen Lassiter has died in California. 

Tuesday 10:00am[]

Senior Staff meet in Leo's office to talk about the funeral and Toby is aghast that he is going to have to write a eulogy for President Bartlet to read.  Josh and Angela are going to stay behind to mediate an issue between North Carolina and Connecticut over a stolen copy of the Bill of Rights.  C.J. tells Leo that she got a question about the government conducting mind-control research. 

Leo and the President meet with a Saudi Arabian representative over unrest taking place in that country.

Act II - Thursday 8:00am[]

On the tarmac at Andrews, Toby calls Josh on the phone to complain about all of Lassiter's former aides who are present and on the way to the funeral.  At the White House, Josh is dealing with his own issues over the stolen copy of the Bill of Rights, taken by a Connecticut soldier in the Civil War.  Things don't go well when the NC representative learns that Josh is from Connecticut.  C.J. arrives in her office to find a man from DARPA in her office to talk about the inquiries she has been getting (and making) over the mind-control experiments.

On Air Force One - President Bartlet and former President Newman are talking about the situation in Saudi Arabia.  Toby offers some commentary of his own - then Leo calls with an update - protestors have surrounded an American oil facility. 

In the Situation Room - Leo is getting more news on the protests in Saudi Arabia, and relaying it to the President on Air Force One - protestors have surrounded an American refinery and it appears that several of the leaders may be members of the Saudi Royal family.  The President orders forces mobilized to protect the American citizens at the oil refinery.

Elsewhere on the plane, Toby is getting an update from Donna about the schedule for the funeral, as Air Force One descends to pick up former President Walken.

Act III (Scene I) - Thursday 12:45pm[]

Josh and Angela are talking about the Bill of Rights issue.  In her office, C.J. is getting more information from Dr. Milkman from DARPA.

On Air Force One - the arrival of Walken leads to the three Presidents discussing Saudi Arabia.  Toby comes to see President Bartlet to tell him he is having trouble with the eulogy. The President talks with Toby about President Lassiter and how the former President used to call Bartlet.  Leo calls with another update from Saudi Arabia. The President tells Leo to get word to the Crown Prince that they need to get a handle on this - or he will.

Act III (Scene II) - 3 Hours Later[]

At the Lassiter Library, Donna calls Toby to see how things are going.  Leo calls for the President again.  President Newman comes to see President Bartlet and Newman tells Bartlet that President Lassiter called him when the news broke about President Bartlet's MS. 

Act IV[]

Bartlet finds Walken smoking and the two of them talk about President Lassiter. 

At the White House - the negotiations over the stolen Bill of Rights are continuing.  C.J. goes to see Josh to talk about that and the mind-control story.  Leo is in his office getting an update over Saudi Arabia when Mallory comes to see him.  She tells him that her mother (and his ex-wife) is getting remarried.

At the Lassiter Library - the funeral is progressing.  Afterwards, President Bartlet meets with President Lassiter's widow.  She gives him a letter that President Lassiter wrote for Bartlet just before his death (the one that is seen at the beginning). 

Leo contacts the President to tell him that shots have been fired in Riyadh.  While there are casualties, the protests are breaking up.  Upon returning to Washington, the President takes President Lassiter's advice and goes to the Lincoln Memorial "to listen."

Trivia / Goofs[]

  • This is one of the few episodes of the series that does not feature a "Previously on The West Wing" montage before the teaser.
  • This is John Goodman's only credited appearance in the series. He does not appear again - although Walken is mentioned frequently in the race for the Republican nomination, ultimately won by Arnold Vinick.
  • Former Acting President Walken is treated as a former President in this episode. In real life, there have been two Acting Presidents of the United States under the 25th Amendment: George H. W. Bush, who was Acting President for a few hours when President Ronald Reagan underwent surgery for colon cancer, and who would later become a "regular" President of the United States; and Dick Cheney, who was Acting President for a few hours twice, each time because President George W. Bush underwent a colonoscopy. Unlike Walken on the show, Cheney is not usually seen or treated as a former President. However, Walken was Acting President in the middle of an urgent crisis, for a few days rather than a few hours, and made some major decisions during that time.
  • Josh Malina does not appear in this episode.
  • President D. Wire Newman is comparable to President Jimmy Carter and President Owen Lassiter is comparable to President Ronald Reagan. Like Reagan defeating incumbent President Carter, Lassiter defeated incumbent President Newman for re-election.
  • Josh mentions that Lassiter's Presidential Library has a "fake oval." The Reagan Presidential Library has a full-size replica of the oval office.
  • When the plane is landing to pick up former Acting-President Glenn Walken, Toby is singing "Suicide is Painless", the theme song to the original MASH movie before it was a TV show. Alan Alda, who would later play Republican Presidential nominee Arnold Vinick, starred as Hawkeye Pierce in the MASH TV show.
  • The line referenced by President Bartlet that caused laughter at the Ford's Theatre when Lincoln was shot was: “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap!”
  • Josh tells the lawyers from North Carolina and Connecticut that he attended Yale Law School with Akhil Amar. Akhil Reed Amar is a real person, a legal scholar who attended Yale Law School from 1980 to 1984.


Prince Bitar: Mr. President, when these schoolboys protest, when they truly wish to denounce us, you know what they say? [pause] They call us Americans.
President Newman: You start saddling up camels in every country in the Middle East, then you better be prepared to spend the next 50 years sifting through sand, because this isn't a quick run on the beach, Jed. [pause] This is the new world order.
Toby Ziegler: I've been walking up and down these aisles looking at these old men, these great and terrible old men, and thinking: prosperous, free and democratic Saudi Arabia --- something to wish for. But the men on this plane spent the better part of the late 20th century trying to play God in other countries. And the regimes they apointed are the ones that haunt us today. Yeah, I'm not making much progress with the eulogy.
The Words of Owen Lassiter:  We owe it to ourselves to stand in this dirt as survivors and witnesses. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for the absolute knowledge or power or right. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people. (This passage is a quotation from Jacob Bronowski's documentary series "The Ascent of Man", Episode 11. The first sentence has been slightly reworded.)



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]



"The West Wing" The Stormy Present (2004)