ED BEGLEY, JR., MARLEE MATLIN, STOCKARD CHANNING, TED McGINLEY GUEST-STAR; BARTLET ORDERS DARING RAID TO RESCUE U.S. DRUG AGENTS IN COLOMBIA -- After his State of the Union speech, Bartlet (Martin Sheen) boldly greenlights a daring military mission to rescue five federal drug agents taken hostage by Colombian terrorist commandos -- until complications arise -- while Toby (Richard Schiff) is confronted by an angry, liberal Senator (guest star Ed Begley, Jr., "St. Elsewhere") who threatens to launch a third-party run for President. Elsewhere, a frustrated Josh (Bradley Whitford) tries to conduct a poll to sample reaction to the speech which he hopes will provide support for a new gun protection law but he wonders why his assistant Donna (Janel Moloney) keeps urging him to ask out an attractive pollster (guest star Marlee Matlin). In addition, C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to convince the host (guest star Ted McGinley, "Married...with Children") of a TV political program to include a controversial policeman (guest star Richard Riehle) as a guest who was the President's invitee at his speech while Abbey (Stockard Channing) is livid with Bartlet for what he said and didn't say in his speech.
Opening - Tuesday Night
The President is outside the Oval Office having a cigarette when Leo comes to find him - it's time to launch the military rescue. Despite Mickey Troop's urgings to wait for more negotiation, Bartlet gives the order for the rescue mission.
Act I - Wednesday Morning
C.J. meets with Officer Sloan again and asks him to go on TV (with Mark Gottfried on Capital Beat). Sloan reluctantly agrees. Sam comes to see Toby and tells him that Senator Gillette wants a meeting with Toby. Sam urges Toby to take the meeting with the Senator in the morning. Toby questions C.J. about Officer Sloan, and Toby does not think it's a good idea for Sloan to go on Capital Beat.
Back at the polling, Josh is hoping against hope the power comes back on - but Joey decides to cancel for the evening.
Leo comes to find the President outside again, playing chess. Bartlet tells Leo that Abbey is mad at him about the speech. Leo lets the President know the Special Forces are on the ground and are waiting for nightfall to launch the rescue.
Charlie and Mrs. Landingham discuss the outstanding check that Abbey wrote to the woman she read about. Sam and Josh go to have a breakfast meeting with the President about the Colombian hostage crisis. Bartlet explains to Josh and Sam that he wants the two of them to work on a plan that will deal with the drug problem. Ainsley comes to see Sam and asks him to schedule another meeting with the President in the hope that she will be better prepared.
Toby meets with Senator Gillette, who makes it clear to Toby that unless they listen to him, he may consider an independent candidacy to the President from the left.
Back at the White House, Mrs. Bartlet is packing for a trip when the President comes to see her so they can continue their conversation from the previous evening. They start to argue but Abbey maintains that he needs to remained focused on Colombia and they will talk another time.
Act III - Wednesday Evening
Josh is on hold waiting for word on when the power will be back on so they can complete the polling on the State of the Union. He questions Donna as to why she keeps trying to fix him up with Joey.
Ainsley arrives for her meeting with the President and is not looking forward to it. Sam brings her to Leo's office and the next meeting with the President goes marginally better. Leo takes a call and the President and Leo go into the Oval Office for an update on the rescue mission.
The intelligence they were receiving was incorrect and when the Delta forces arrived, the hostages weren't there and one of the Blackhawk helicopters was shot down. Bartlet initially thinks there is now a second rescue mission to be undertaken, but he is informed that all of the men on the downed copter are dead. Bartlet demands the President of Colombia on the phone with a translator in the room to try and jumpstart the negotiations. The President steps outside and vents at Leo on the bad intelligence that just got nine men killed.
In the ensuing phone conversation between the two Presidents, the Colombian President intimates that he would be willing to release a drug kingpin in exchange for the American hostages, if President Bartlet asked him to.
The President meets with the Senior Staff to discuss the proposal from the Colombian President. Bartlet does not want to see the kingpin released and demands that military options be drawn up to rescue the Americans. In the Situation Room, Bartlet asks what it would take to rescue the hostages, who have been moved 60 miles into the jungle. He then asks what it would take to wipe out the CRF - and is advised that it would require a 10:1 ratio of US troops to Colombian rebels to ensure the kind of victory Americans have come to expect and that they would likely lose half the troops.
Bartlet comes to see Abbey to continue their conversation. He tells her that he didn't make the decision to run again. He wouldn't have done that without talking to her. She wants to know why the entire White House is in reelection mode when they had a deal. She reminds him that he has MS and that every day his brain is dying a little bit. She tells him about what might happen to him if the MS progresses.
Josh is going over the numbers that Joey brought him and he is concerned that the numbers about guns mean one thing while Joey says they mean another. She also mentions that Donna likes Josh and it's beginning to show so she needs to cover it up by trying to get him to go out with Joey.
Leo and the President meet in the Oval Office to discuss the hostage crisis. Leo tells the President how he fought in a jungle war and he doesn't want to be involved in another one. Leo tells the President that the kingpin can be released without any culpability on the President's part. The President tells Leo to make it happen and that he wants to go to Dover tonight to meet the caskets of the dead soldiers from the Blackhawk crash.
C.J. briefs the press on the events of the last 24 hours as the scene shifts to Dover, where the President solemnly meets the caskets as they are unloaded.
- 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 Stars
- The quote that President Bartlet gave at the beginning of the episode "You don't live longer, it only seems longer", comes from a quote by Clement Freud:
- "If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don't actually live longer; it just seems longer."
- At the end of act I, as the president plays chess outside, he makes 2 consecutive moves with the black. This appears just before he tells Leo that Abbey is mad at him.
- Gottfried omits Ainsley Hayes from his list of people he thanks for appearing on the live State of the Union aftershow broadcast seen in the previous episode, despite her appearing on at least two segments.