Toby wants to use a bipartisan breakfast to discuss real issues instead of making it a staged event; Sam floats the idea of moving the press room across the street; Leo wants Josh to apologize to a columnist on his behalf; Leo and Toby realize they need to start thinking about reelection.
Sam meticulously prepares a speech for the President to give to the environmental lobby, but Toby wants to sneak in some criticism of their failure to condemn environmental terrorism. Leo tries to convince the President to support his pet project - a missile defense shield - despite its continued failure to produce results, and the fact that it likely contravenes an anti-ballistic missile treaty. Several countries including Great Britain have sent new ambassadors to Washington to be recognized by the White House. C.J. travels to New York on a delicate mission to ask ...
While a live TV show is broadcast from the West Wing following the State of the Union, the staff must covertly deal with a hostage situation in Colombia. CJ learns that a special guest at the state of the union has a black mark on his record that could taint the administration. Ainsley Hayes is afraid to meet the President in person.
The surgeon general makes some controversial comments about marijuana, leading to an attack by family values groups and an unsolicited comment by Bartlet's middle daughter, Ellie, to Danny Concannon that her father wouldn't fire the s.g. The president summons Ellie from med school in Baltimore to the W.H., and we learn that she, unlike her parents and sisters, is shy and reticent, and has always felt like the family outcast in Jed's eyes. Elsewhere, Sam gives a visiting movie producer a verbal lynching for publicly calling the president a coward after Charlie turns ...
On this year's "Big Block of Cheese Day", a college friend of Donna's asks Sam to help her get her late grandfather, accused of being a Communist spy inside the U.S. government, a presidential pardon; dealing with the recent revelation that his father had been having an affair for the past 27 years, Sam faces off with an F.B.I. agent, and later with Nancy McNally, over the pardon. Elsewhere, a group of cartographers completely re-educates C.J. on her perception of the globe, and one-time protester Toby, with the help of a straight-talking female security guard, speaks...
Josh finalizes a six billion-dollar health care that has strong support from both parties in both houses and appears to be a slam dunk for passage, but 78-year-old Senator Howard Stackhouse pulls a last-minute surprise: he wants money added for autism research or he'll filibuster. Thinking it's just a bluff, Josh blows off the senator, who then filibusters for more than eight hours while the w.w. staff waits desperately to begin their weekend, with the episode unfolding as staffers write e-mails to family members describing the evening's action. Elsewhere, Sam tries ...
Following the Vice-President's remarks to him, Toby realizes the truth behind the President's illness: multiple sclerosis. Toby, Leo, and Bartlet discuss the possible political implications of this if it goes public including possible jail time for the 17 people who now know about the illness. Meanwhile Sam, Josh, Donna and the rest of the staff, unaware of the illness, struggle with a speech the President is to give at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
President Bartlett talks to the White House Counsel about the concealment of his MS. An enraged Toby has CJ grill the West Wing staff to find a leaker. Josh and Donna spar over a financial bailout of Mexico.
With hypothetical polling numbers showing them its political suicide, staffers prepare to announce the President's condition. As they do, a military crisis flares up in Haiti and Josh faces off against two senators who are against the Government's tobacco-industry suit. But as bad as the day seems to be going, a tragedy will come from a car wreck at 18th and Potomac that will effect everything.
As the Haitian army continues their seizure of the American embassy there, Bartlet and the staff prepare for the announcement that Bartlet has M.S. and the President must decide whether or he will seek re-election. As the funeral for Mrs. Landingham takes place and the announcement draws nearer, Bartlet thinks back to his past in search of the answer to the question everyone is asking: Will he seek re-election?
The West Wing goes under lock down as a suspected terrorist is found to be working at the White House. Stuck with a group of high school students who were visiting the White House, the staffers, President Bartlet, and the First Lady all debate the issues regarding terrorism. Meanwhile, Leo sits in on the questioning of the terrorist suspect and learns a lesson about our perceptions of terrorists.
The staff is hunkered down in the Bartlets' hometown of Manchester, N.H., where they work with political consultants Bruno, Doug and Connie on the president's official announcement that he'll be seeking a second term; meanwhile, they all lament various W.H. events of the previous four weeks, including a huge strategic mistake by Josh, a pivotal FDA announcement scheduled for the same day as the president's speech, an ongoing battle between then president and first lady, and a major press room gaffe by C.J.
With the staff all bickering with one another in Manchester, especially adversarial speech writers Toby and Doug, who angrily disagree about whether Bartlet should make a public apology for lying about his MS, and with the president sniping at everyone, the second-term announcement speech is locked. Abby ultimately forgives the president for deciding to run again without discussing it with her, and he ultimately apologizes to the staff in private for keeping his condition from them, which they expect will soon lead to a whole slew of grand jury subpoenas.
Special prosecutor Clem Rollins announces the grand jury subpoenas in the case of president's failure to disclose his MS to the public, and the list includes pretty much every West Wing staffer and Bartlet family member; Sam and Connie meet with an important Latino activist from Calif. who is considering supporting a primary challenger to Bartlet; C.J. convinces everyone that the special prosecutor is too reasonable, and that the W.H. needs a "better enemy" in the investigation, prompting the staff to provoke a Congressional inquiry.
While the w.h. is hosting a gala dinner for Nobel Prize winners, Leo and the president learn of a suicide bomb in an Israeli cafe that took the lives of two American students in Tel Aviv for a soccer match, and the staff attempts to manage the president's first veto, of a House bill eliminating the estate tax, and the threat of an override the same night. Sam and Toby first try to sway a contentious Dem. From Tennessee who wants a whole list of farming and ranching concessions in exchange for his vote and three proxies; after a pep talk from Leo, they devise a ...
After a fatal shooting in Texas, the president asks Hoynes to go down there and speak out for gun control, in spite of his history opposing it. Donna makes a gaffe in front of the Congressional committee. Leo argues with an old friend about the creation of an international war crimes tribunal.
When the military loses contact with a submarine in hostile waters, the President must choose between risking the lives of the crew and provoking North Korea. CJ relishes the Majority Leader's flubbing of an interview. Babbish informs Abby that she is the weak link in the President's legal defense.
On the day before Thanksgiving, CJ has to deal with two Stockbridge-Munsee Indians who won't leave the lobby until they get an answer on an application their tribe submitted 15 years ago. Josh tries to arrange the extradition of an underage boy whose parents sent him to Italy after he killed his teacher. The President learns why Abby wants to have Thanksgiving at Camp David this year, and places an anonymous call to the Butterball Hotline.
CJ cannot control her outrage when the US agrees to an arms sale to Qumar, a country that brutally abuses women. Josh meets with Amy Gardner, a leading women's group lobbyist. The content of a Smithsonian exhibit draws protest from a veteran's group. Leo and the President discuss options when the possibility of a Mad Cow infection strikes the US beef industry.
In an episode dotted with flashbacks, Leo and his attorney Jordon Kendall (Joanna Gleason) face a Congressional inquiry into whether the president lied to the American people regarding his MS, but this particular day of hearings concerns itself more with Abby and her secretly medicating Jed, and later with Leo's having fallen off the wagon during the campaign (a politically motivated Republican rep on the committee witnessed Leo drunk in his room three days before the nomination); we see the meeting in which Leo talked N.H. Governor Bartlet into running for president,...