"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Josh
President Bartlet hardly seems to care about the important issues he is confronting through a day that consists of Mrs. Landingham's funeral in the morning and telling the American public about his MS that evening. Word of his condition has already leaked (both intentionally and unintentionally), so there is no backing out. Even in the situation room when they discuss the surrounded embassy in Haiti, he focuses on the memories of when he first met Mrs. Landingham, who worked for his father, who was the headmaster of the prep school he attended. After the service in the Cathedral, the President even has a conversation with God who, he imagines, must be punishing him for his sins. He decides not to run for a second term, telling the Almighty, "You get Hoynes."
As the hour of the press conference approaches, the staff anxiously awaits the President's decision regarding a second term. Leo (John Spencer) arranges for a job offer to come Toby's way. Meanwhile, an out of season tropical storm bears down on Washington, DC.
The President tells the staff he will not seek a second term. They prepare for the media frenzy that is about to descend on them all. While searching his conscience, Bartlet imagines one last conversation with Mrs. Landingham, during which she gives him advice.
Bartlet goes to the press conference in the middle of the storm. As the staff watches, the President is asked if he will run again. Leo tells Toby, "Watch this" as the President sticks his hands in his pockets turns his head and smiles.
Two members of Congress are in Leo's office, upset at only just finding out about the President's illness. They want to know if the President is planning to run for reelection.
Toby is frantically preparing for the interview with the President and the First Lady with Sam - "the show must go on." Ginger tells Toby that Leo's office put an appointment back on Toby's schedule for the afternoon. C.J. tells Carol to go get three reporters and bring them to her office to start leaking the MS story. Josh brings C.J. a draft press release about the tobacco suit that while strongly worded and well-written, C.J. tells him that it has be shelved for a while in the light of the MS story and the situation in Haiti. Sam is holding a meeting with party strategists about what would happen if Bartlet chooses not to run.
Leo and the President are in the Situation Room with staff discussing Haiti. The President is not focused on the briefing and, in flashback, he recalls the first time he met Mrs. Landingham, who was hired to be his father's secretary at the boarding school where Jed attended. Back in the Situation Room - the President decides to send Fitzwallace to Haiti to try and negotiate a resolution.
The President walks back to the Oval Office with Charlie and they talk about an early-season tropical storm that has formed and is moving up the East Coast. They then talk about National Cathedral and the upcoming service. When asked by Charlie if there is anything else he needs, the President replies, "I need pallbearers."
C.J. is giving a briefing to the press primarily focusing on Haiti. Carol calls the three reporters back to C.J.'s office. As C.J. walks back to her office - Sam stops to tell her they need to move the press conference from the East Room and they have to prepare a list of alternatives. In C.J.'s office, she leaks the MS story to the three reporters.
In the Oval Office the President and Leo are getting a briefing on what impact the MS story may have on the financial markets. Margaret comes in to tell Leo and the President the motorcade is ready. She mentions to Leo that it is going to be a non-denominational service, which leads the President to another flashback, remembering a conversation with Mrs. Landingham about non-denominational services and his relationship with his father.
In the car on the way to the cathedral, Abby and Jed talk about the drunk driver that killed Mrs. Landingham. They arrive at the cathedral and the service begins. While listening, the President has another flashback, remembering another conversation with Mrs. Landingham, where he went to his father at her request to seek salary parity for female teachers at the school. He tells her that, "if you want to convince me - show me numbers."
The service concludes and the President continues to recollect the series of conversations he had with Mrs. Landingham - she realizes that he is going to talk to his father - he asks her why she thinks that - she tells him, "you stuck your hands in your pockets, looked away and smiled."
Following the end of the service, Leo and the President talk - the President asks for the cathedral to be sealed. The President, walking toward the altar, proceeds to rant at God in both English and Latin. He then doubles back to the transept, lights a cigarette, takes a drag, and then crushes it out under his foot. The last thing he says in the cathedral is, "You get Hoynes!"
Back at the White House, Sam, Toby, Josh, and C.J. are planning for the responses to the reelection question. Toby has his meeting - he is offered a job as a news director at a new cable news channel. In Josh's office, he and Donna are talking about how the decision is being made, when Leo calls - the President has made up his mind. Toby comes to Josh to rant about Leo getting him a job offer - when Josh tells him the President has decided not to run.
Later, the interview has just completed and the White House staff is awaiting the start of the Press Conference. Leo brings the President back to the Oval Office to rest for a few minutes before leaving for the press conference. Toby appears insulted that Leo got him a job offer -- a "life boat" -- and asks if Leo thought there was any chance he would take it. Leo says no, he didn't think so -- it was "to show him [the President] that" Toby wouldn't take it. Toby asks Leo if he thinks the President is going to change his mind. Leo does not answer, instead confirming again that "CJ's in her office."
C.J. comes to see the President to tell him to call on a medical reporter first to avoid the reelection questions right off the bat. In his final flashback - the President recalls a conversation with his father at the school, where Jed had written an article in the school newspaper about banning books. The two argue and Jed's father strikes him.
Back in the Oval Office, the President has one final "meeting" with Mrs. Landingham - they go back and forth about numbers and statistics - and the President changes his mind. The President steps out into the rain on the portico and Charlie comes to get him - it's time for the Press Conference. The staff leave for the Press Conference in silence - at the locale - C.J. is fielding questions. Upon the President's arrival - Carol nods to C.J. to tell her the President is there.
The President takes the podium and asks if there are any questions. Instead of calling on the medical reporter, he asks another reporter - who immediately asks if he is planning to run for reelection. Leo realizes what is happening and tells the other staff to "watch this." The President puts his hands in his pockets, looks away, and smiles.
- Leo McGarry: Harry, Bill, there's gonna be a press conference tonight, I'd watch.
- C.J. Cregg: Notebooks, no tape recorders, the story's embargoed for an hour, and you'll identify me as a Senior White House Official. [closes door to her office]
- Young Delores Landingham: Look at you. You're a boy king. You're a foot smarter than the smartest kids in the class. You're blessed with inspiration. You must know this by now.
- President Bartlet: You're a son of a bitch, you know that? She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, is that supposed to be funny? "You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," says Graham Greene. I don't know whose ass he was kissing there, because I think you're just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman, a warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to Yours but praise His glory, praise His name? There's a tropical storm that's gaining speed and power. They say we haven't had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the North Atlantic last year. 68 crew - you know what a tender ship does? It fixes the other ships - doesn't even carry guns - it just goes around and fixes the other ships, delivers the mail - that's all it can do.
President Bartlet's Latin "rant" in the Cathedral, along with its translation:
- Gratias tibi ago, domine. Yes, I lied. I committed a sin, I've committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug? 3.8 million new jobs - that wasn't good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade? 30 million new acres for conservation? Put Mendoza on the bench? We're not fighting a war - I've raised three children - that's not enough to buy me out of the doghouse? Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto, a deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem. Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui. Officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem! You get Hoynes!
- I give thanks to you, O Lord. Am I really to believe that these are the acts of a holy God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with your punishments. I was your servant here on Earth, your messenger. I did your work. To hell with your punishments. To hell with you!
- Delores Landingham: You know, if you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if you don't run cause you think it will be too hard or you think you're going to lose, well, God, Jed, I don't even want to know you.
Trivia / Goofs
- Due to security concerns, the President would not likely walk to his seat in the cathedral down the main aisle. He would likely be brought in a side entrance - after everyone has been seated. The same for the end of the service - the President would leave first before anyone else would be allowed to leave.
- In the closing scene - the President is traveling to the Press Conference, as a custodian finds the cigarette butt on the floor of the cathedral - the motorcade passes by. The motorcade would not pass the cathedral on its way from the White House to the State Department.
- The song played at the end of the episode is "Brothers In Arms" by Dire Straits.
- In the beginning part of the episode the President's motorcade heads northwest on Pennsylvania avenue with the Capitol in the background when the President is in transit to the National Cathedral. The motorcade would not travel by the Capitol on its way from the White House to the National Cathedral.
- 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 Jed Bartlet
Special Guest Star
- Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Nancy McNally
- Kirsten Nelson as Young Mrs. Landingham
- Jason Widener as Young Jed Bartlet
- Don McManus as Greg Summerhays
- NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
- Lawrence O'Donnell as Dr. Bartlet
- Gregalan Williams as Robbie Mosley
- John Bennett Perry as Bill Wakefield
- Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham
- Fred Ornstein as Congressman Harryn Wade
- Bill Gratton as Advisor #1
- Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
- Devika Parikh as Bonnie
- William Duffy as Larry
- Peter James Smith as Ed
- Kim Webster as Ginger
- Patrick Thomas O'Brien as Hanson
- Christopher Murray as Tony Phillips
- Shelley Malil as Renfro
- Angelo Tiffe as Greenway
- Jane Lynch as Reporter Lucy
- Charles Noland as Reporter Steve
- E.E. Bell as Advisor #2
- Robert A. Becker as Monohan
- Trevor Eddy as Young Bartlet's Friend
- Doris McMillon as Reporter Sandy
- Ivan Allen as Roger Salier
- Lewis Grenville as Reporter
- Wendy Poole as Staffer
- Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits