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A Change Is Gonna Come

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.

Final preparation goes into President Bartlet's visit to China when he accepts a flag from the Taiwanese delegation representing the Taiwanese Independence Movement, prompting China to prepare for military action.

Summary Edit

Opening - Friday NightEdit

The television is on, showing Former Vice President Hoynes on a talk show touting his new book, an apologetic tell-all to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the American voter.  The President is dressing for a formal affair - and having difficulty with his bow tie.  In his office, Josh is also watching the talk show.  C.J. comes to see Toby, who is reading a copy of Hoynes' book.  Josh opens his copy of Hoynes' book - in which the former Vice President has inscribed - "Josh - Time to Lead - John"  C.J. gets a call from Hoynes in her office.

In the residence, Charlie comes to see the President - asking the President where Curtis, his new body man, is.  Charlie helps the President to tie his bow tie.  Abbey comes in to see what is taking so long.

Josh goes to meet with Hoynes, who asks Josh if he saw the interview or read the book.  Josh says no to both and tells Hoynes that he has no idea why he's there - Hoynes tells him that he does.

Act I - Thursday MorningEdit

Josh arrives at the office - there is a buzz about, as the President is preparing for a trip to China.  Josh has a meeting with Chinese officials to plan the events, and another meeting that Toby and Kate are already making their way through is in the Roosevelt Room.  Toby comes to C.J., begging to be pulled out of the monotony of the meeting.  Senator Hunt grouses to Josh about the sale of planes to Taiwan that the Chinese are not going to like.

In the meeting with Toby and Kate, the Chinese receive a call and abruptly stand up and leave the meeting.  In C.J.'s office - Josh is talking with C.J. about the China trip, when Carol comes by to ask about a flag the President accepted at the National Prayer Breakfast that morning - a flag that turns out to be the Taiwan Independence Movement Flag.  Josh says they need to get the flag back before anyone finds out about it - as Toby pokes his head in to tell C.J. and Josh the Chinese officials just walked out.

In the Oval Office, Debbie is having the President sign some papers when C.J. and Kate come to the Oval Office to ask the President about the flag.  He has no recollection of receiving the flag.  Charlie will investigate where it may have been taken.  As the President leaves, C.J. asks if the President is reconsidering the US policy on Taiwan.  He repeats that he didn't notice the flag.

Act IIEdit

Charlie comes to the gift office to find the flag and Bernard Thatch (who is now in the Gifts Unit) refuses to give it back, because it is too historically significant and of such value that it cannot be returned.

The entire Chinese delegation arrives at the White House to meet with Toby and Josh, who are trying to fix the flag problem.  The Chinese Ambassador gives them the statement they have released to the press and Josh promises the flag will be returned (as soon as it is located).  As a consequence, the Chinese have some "alterations" they wish to make, including welcoming the President in Tiananmen Square.

In C.J.'s office, Kate is telling C.J. about the various incarnations of Taiwanese flags, when Josh comes in to report on what happened with the Chinese.  Toby comes in with news of Senator Hunt planning to go to the floor of the Senate to ask the President to display the flag in the State Department.  Things are quickly getting out of control.  C.J. asks Josh what he wants to do.  Josh tells Toby to go to the Chinese Embassy to play down the actions of Senator Hunt and that when the flag is returned everything goes back to normal - no changes to the schedule.  C.J. tells Josh that he needs to go see Hunt instead.  C.J. tells Toby to prepare for the possibility of the President being welcomed in Tienanmen Square.

Will comes to see Josh (who is on his way out to see Hunt) about the President's planned photo-op with representatives of the National Constitution Center, to whom he is lending the letter that temporarily removed him from power.  Will wants the Vice President to be part of the ceremony, because one of the Trustees of the Constitution Center is Pennsylvania Governor Eric Baker.  Toby gets involved in the conversation and they both shut Will down.  Josh tells Toby that Hoynes has called him a few times.

Josh comes to see Senator Hunt, who is not backing down, but he tells Josh that if he can find a way to return the flag, he might reconsider taking to the floor the next day.

Act III - Friday MorningEdit

Charlie comes to see Bernard again - armed with legal precedent to get Bernard to give the flag back.  It doesn't work.  Josh tells C.J. about his meeting with Hunt - and tells her that he wants to let Hunt speak on the floor of the Senate.  She tells him if Kate and Toby are on board - they'll take it to the President.

Governor Baker comes to see the President to accept the letter that temporarily removed him from office when Zoey was kidnapped.  The President and Baker talk about politics when Vice President Russell shows up to be a part of the photo-op.  Josh and Will talk in the hall about Russell, Baker, and Hoynes, and the race for the nomination.  Following the photo-op - the President takes Russell aside and tells him not to do that again.  The President is not taking sides in the nomination fight, neither for Baker, nor Russell.

Donna comes to see Margaret and C.J. walks in and they talk about Josh and the flag problem.  They look at the TV where the news is showing rallies taking place in Taiwan, using the same flag that the President accepted earlier.  C.J. tells Margaret to page Kate and to get the CIA Director on the phone.  C.J. comes to brief the President about what is going on in Taiwan and Kate comes in to tell them the Chinese have deployed subs into the Taiwan straits.  The President tells Kate to fly to Taipei immediately and tells C.J. to get Beijing on the phone - they are going to end this right now.

C.J. comes to see Josh and tells him they have to shut Hunt down.  She then tells him that he is off the China trip - she is going instead and Toby will come to handle the press.  Josh is going to stay behind and monitor the White House.  C.J. comes back to her office and finds Leo waiting for her.  They sit down for lunch and Leo tells her how things will go and what will happen and that she is doing a great job as Chief of Staff.

Act IV - Friday AfternoonEdit

Toby is briefing C.J. on where things stand with the Chinese.  She sees Charlie in the hall and tells him that he has to get the flag back now.  Charlie goes back to see Bernard Thatch with a lawyer from the Counsel's Office to counter Bernard's claims that he can't just give the flag back.  The flag is carried from the White House by Marines in dress uniform as Josh watches, disappointed that it has come to this. 

Donna finds him and gives him some briefing materials and his garment bag - though he doesn't tell her that he is off the trip.  She gives him a copy of Hoynes' book, which arrived for him.  Leo comes to see the President in the Oval Office and they talk about the flag. Bartlet comes close to telling Leo something, but holds back and Leo leaves.

Friday NightEdit

Hoynes finishes his interview and tells his new wife that he has a phone call to make and a meeting to get to, but it shouldn't take long.  Back at the White House, the President is making remarks at the National Medal for the Arts reception and introduces James Taylor as the surprise musical guest.

In C.J.'s office, Margaret comes to tell her that the former Vice President is on the phone for her.  C.J. finds Toby and tells him that Hoynes called her and told her to look in the index of the book for her name. Toby tells her that she's not in it.  Josh meets with Hoynes in his car and tells him that he has no interest in helping him in anyway.  Hoynes tells him that he is running for President and he wants Josh to help him.

At the reception, the President leans over to the First Lady and tells her that he didn't see the flag when it was handed to him and that he has been unable to see out of his right eye for more than a day.

Trivia / Goofs Edit

  • Toby's perusing of the Hoynes book is a very "Washington thing" - flip to the index and see how many entries you have in the index.
  • Some of the soldiers in the "terracotta army," referred to in the meeting with Toby and Kate, were exhibited at the National Geographic building in Washington DC and other locations in the United States in 2009-2010.
  • A Senator refers to "3-PC Orion" airplanes being sold to Taiwan. The correct designation for this airplane is "P3-C Orion".
  • We find out in this episode that Hoynes had a vice-Presidential debate with his Republican opponent in the 1998 election. You can see a entry in Hoynes book index under, "First Vice-Presidential debate".
  • This episode marks the first time that President Bartlett admits to suffering from specific, physical issues brought on by Multiple Sclerosis.

Quotes Edit

Toby Ziegler: Want to know how many times you're mentioned?
C.J. Cregg: No.
Toby Ziegler: Want to know how many times I'm mentioned?
C.J. Cregg: Not really.
Toby Ziegler: Want to know how many times Josh is mentioned?
Toby Ziegler: Hoynes called you?
Josh Lyman: Yeah. I haven't called him back. I'm not interested.
Toby Ziegler: Interested in what?
Josh Lyman: In anything having to do with John Hoynes.
Governor Baker: Mr. President, the museum wants this exhibit to focus on the nobility and patriotism that you demonstrated in invoking the 25th Amendment. It's really kind of a tribute to your leadership and the principled spirit of your presidency. Vice President Russell, while a sterling leader in his own right...
President Bartlet: You going to be a part of this photo op?
Governor Baker: Well, as a trustee of the museum, I...
President Bartlet: Yeah, well, I'm sure no one will mind if Bob sits in. I mean, after all, he's sort of a trustee of this office.
Josh Lyman: Sure. I'll start pulling together the briefing packets for you. Come on, you're going; you need Toby to deal with the press. Somebody's got to man the fort here. I'm fine staying. You're his guy. You're in the room, in the chair. He needs you. That's how it was with Leo, that's how it's supposed to be.
Leo McGarry: I lived through the first Cold War. One was enough.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Special Musical Appearance ByEdit



"The West Wing" A Change Is Gonna Come (2004)
The West Wing Episode Guide