As the White House reels from the kidnapping of Zoey, the youngest daughter of Democratic U.S. President Josiah Edward Bartlet, the government is temporarily passed from the distraught Bartlet to the Republican party--specifically Speaker of the House Glenallen Walken--due to the prior resignation of Bartlet's Vice President. First Lady Dr. Abigail "Abbey" Bartlet staunchly supports her husband, but the trauma of potentially losing their child forces her to confront Bartlet with the harrowing notion that the crisis was the direct result of the assassination of a dangerous foreign official he ordered months ago.
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Episodes: 22 | Released: 2003 | Certificate: 12 | Genre: Drama | Director: Alex Graves
Actors: Martin Sheen , Glenn Close , Gary Cole , Matthew Perry , Bradley Whitford , Allison Janney , Richard Schiff , John Spencer , Dule Hill , Janel Moloney , Stockard Channing , Joshua Malina
The international crisis concerning the terrorist abduction of Bartlet's daughter Zoey reaches a critical point as Speaker of the House Glenallen Walken, the acting President, orders the bombardment of Qumari terrorist camps. The kidnappers issue a 24-hour deadline for the removal of American troops from Qumar. Meanwhile, Josh fumes over his perceived notion that the Republicans will exploit and push forward their own legislative agenda. And Toby visits his newborn twins--even as he oversees the drafting of two presidential speeches that hinge on Zoey's fate.
Following a harrowing chapter in the nation's history, the White House celebrates the Fourth of July. Bartlet endures the painful process of nominating a candidate for vice president. But his first choice, Secretary of State Lewis Berryhill, will have a difficult time getting approved. Meanwhile, while the reclusive First Lady tends to personal matters, Amy champions Abbey's violence prevention provisions for an upcoming bill. Josh and Amy share a romantic moment. And Donna is appalled by a new intern, Ryan.
A renowned North Korean pianist is greeted at the White House for a solo performance, but the formalities change when the musician slips a message to the President stating that he wants to defect. Despite C.J.'s passionate argument, others counsel Bartlet that granting the defection would endanger crucial ongoing negotiations with the nation. Also, members of the staff work hard to get the President's new choice for Vice President, Colorado Congressman Robert Russell, unanimously approved by both houses of Congress--but there's one holdout whose "nay" vote could embarrass everyone.
After Josh is hailed as the "101st Senator" in a newspaper profile, he clashes with conservative Senator Carrick, a Democrat from Idaho. Carrick withholds his approval of a backlog of military promotions so he can secure an expensive but faulty missile launcher to be built in his home state. Will gets a flattering offer from the newly approved Vice President, Robert Russell, while C.J. runs afoul of Leo's temper when she deviates from the administration's scripted line regarding an Environmental Protection Agency report on coal-based energy. Likewise, Amy earns the President's wrath when she aggressively pushes for funding of the First Lady's agenda on violence prevention. Meanwhile, Toby creates a message calendar to maintain focus during Bartlet's second term.
Bartlet is preoccupied with a killer tornado in Oklahoma and flies there to lend his support. But his compassion overrules good judgment, and Bartlet stays longer than planned. Meanwhile, Leo worries about several crises in the capital that need the president's immediate attention. Josh fears the worst after a political miscalculation costs the Democrats dearly. And Donna becomes concerned about Josh's welfare after he becomes Washington's latest target of scorn.
The President's staff wrangles with new Speaker of the House Jeff Haffley over the pending federal budget. Meanwhile, Toby dispatches former Supreme Court clerk and personal friend Joe Quincy to check on the condition of stricken Chief Justice Roy Ashland, an elderly Supreme Court icon who has Washington wondering if he will finally resign. With the budget deadline quickly approaching, aggressive advisor Angela Blake faces a mighty challenge as she tries to work out an agreement that could compromise Bartlet's campaign promises. But the President is also focused on a crucial national television interview that Zoey has agreed to tape with a well-known newswoman, Diane Mathers, who has a knack for exposing raw emotions.
A disastrous fiscal crisis looms when the federal government is shut down after the President and the powerful Republican Speaker of the House disagree over an extra two percent in budget reductions that would trim many of Bartlet's key social programs. Opinion polls reveal that the public blames the Democrats for the impasse. As Leo, Josh and Toby send the staff home, the trio remains uneasy as the President refuses to compromise--until he hatches a bold plan to personally and publicly challenge the Republicans in the halls of the Capitol. Meanwhile, Abbey suddenly reappears from her self-imposed exile for a State dinner that she might have to cook herself.
The festive Christmas spirit at the annual White House tree-lighting celebration is dimmed when the President learns that Christian relief workers have been jailed in Islamic Northern Sudan. Bartlet welcomes his three independent daughters, Zoey , Liz (recurring guest star ANNABETH GISH) and Ellie, and is surprised to learn that Liz's husband, Doug Westin, wants to vie for Congress in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, when the licenses of some doctors in Oregon are suspended after they administer drugs in an assisted suicide, Toby tries to keep the President from being bogged down in a debate--and clashes with Will, whom he sends to convince the Vice President to address the political juggernaut instead.
When a former President of the United States dies, the two remaining ex-Presidents fly on Air Force One with Bartlet to attend the funeral. Onboard, Bartlet's two historic guests partake in a lively debate about their administrations. Their past mistakes haunt the current administration including a recent event--protestors have surrounded a Saudi Oil headquarters, taking 200 hostages, including 50 Americans. Meanwhile, C.J. investigates government experiments on mind control. Leo discovers his ex-wife is engaged to be married. And Josh referees a debate concerning an original copy of the Bill of Rights. Acclaimed novelist JOHN SACRET YOUNG wrote the teleplay.
Toby finishes the State of the Union Address a few weeks early, and a pregnant Joey Lucas polls responses to the speech from everyday people. Charlie is intrigued by Meeshell Anders, an aspiring female journalist with a secret. Abbey pressures her husband to pardon a Native American tribal leader convicted of killing two FBI agents in North Dakota. Bartlet opposes minimums and guidelines for prison sentences and pardons over 30 inmates. And Toby hires a new assistant, Rena.
Toby convinces Bartlet to secretly sanction his solo attempt to make history by reforming Social Security, but Toby's efforts to recruit a Republican senator and a Democratic cohort are publicly divulged--forcing the administration to back down while Josh and Leo are left clueless and furious. Meanwhile, an equally unaware C.J. parries with a reporter who is ready to print all the backstage details. Also, the female staffers complain to Josh about a new employee--a mysterious, seductively dressed woman assigned to Toby.
When the flash of a secret nuclear detonation is detected over the Indian Ocean, Bartlet calls upon his people to investigate which nation now has the atomic bomb--and since conventional thinking favors Iran, Bartlet orders bombers into the air to destroy that nation's most likely uranium-enriched targets. Meanwhile, Josh chides NASA personnel on the future of space exploration--until he is introduced to an attractive female administrator. C.J. fumes when a combative television talk-show host, Taylor Reid, denigrates her on the air, and Will discloses to Vice President Russell that Russell is considered a buffoon by the White House staff.
When five crew members of an airborne Thunderchief are shot down by North Korean jets near the hostile country, President Bartlet dispatches a Navy SEAL team to retrieve them--prompting Leo to recall his own harrowing experience when he was downed as a pilot over North Vietnam. Leo's good friend and fellow flyer saved Leo's life and now is in trouble for allegedly paying bribes to defense contractors to obtain military contracts. Meanwhile, C.J. accepts the challenge of dueling on live television with an opinionated, conservative talk show host. Josh fumes when he briefs the President about a contested tax cut for stay-at-home mothers and is undercut by brash, young intern Ryan. And the commander in chief balks at posing for his official portrait.
The Bartlet administration reels from press leaks that former Vice President Hoynes is preparing a tell-all book that will embarrass the President and Leo as Hoynes plans to become a candidate for President of the United States. The newsflash first stuns C.J. live on the air as she jousts with acerbic pundit Taylor Reid. Josh welcomes the mayor of Washington, D.C., to the White House to discuss school vouchers and also encounters a political firestorm when intern Ryan proposes closing a military base in a district belonging to a powerful congressman. Toby parleys with trade union bosses who reach an impasse over import safeguards for brassieres.
Bartlet becomes furious when a rival conservative congresswoman tries to end funding for a controversial National Institute of Health medical study by exposing the fact that Bartlet's daughter Ellie is working at the institute as a scientist. As Toby searches for the internal White House leak that led to Ellie's press scrutiny, Josh tries to convince an old college friend to remain in contention as a judge on the 6th Circuit Federal Court--even though his confirmation has been blocked for the past 12 months. Meanwhile, C.J. urges Abbey to increase her public profile as the First Lady and a working doctor. Part of C.J.'s plan includes educating children about medicine via a public service announcement with Abbey and characters from the children's show "Sesame Street," Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Zoe.
When a Republican Supreme Court justice suddenly dies, the Bartlet administration scrambles to find a worthy replacement, and the halls are filled with candidates. But the President senses that the process is a political minefield until Josh devises a wild plan that could also create an opening for Evelyn Baker Lang, a liberal who would be an unthinkable choice. Potential judicial nominees visit the West Wing offices and are interviewed--some serving only as decoys to confuse the press. But everyone gets curious when the President meets with Christopher Mulready , a bright but conservative judge.
Producing a program on past and present White House press secretaries, a television documentary crew follows C.J. around to film a "typical" day. But the presence of outsiders adds stress when a crisis involving a terrorist shootout with the FBI has a smiling C.J. trying to keep the story a secret. Meanwhile, C.J. supervises her team in preparation for a formal papal visit with Bartlet and dodges difficult questions about the imminent future of the current FBI director.
On the eve of the President's controversial trade summit meeting in Brussels, Josh is troubled when he learns that Bartlet will reverse his position concerning the loss of American jobs to foreign nations. C.J. is frustrated with a new Federal Communications Commission ruling allowing multimedia companies increased ownership of TV stations. Meanwhile, the administration tries to downplay job-loss statistics, and Donna tells Josh about her dissatisfaction with her limited role on his staff. During all of this, Bartlet meets Kate Harper, the brash, new deputy national security advisor.
After attending a formal dinner at another location, Bartlet and his staff return to the White House and experience an emergency quarantine inside the West Wing when the environmental hazard monitor detects a dangerous foreign substance. The unexpected lockdown creates odd couplings of people forced to occupy small rooms together. Isolated with Will, Toby accuses his former assistant of backstabbing Bartlet. As Secret Service agents and hazardous materials inspectors search for the source of the anomaly, the President, Fiderer and Charlie submit to physical examinations, while in another room C.J. gives Donna strong career advice. And stuck with security adviser Kate, Josh queries her on why one of his jokes was deleted from Bartlet's speech--and gets an unexpected response.
Donna and Admiral Fitzwallace travel with a few Congressmen to the hotly disputed Gaza Strip on a fact-finding mission, trying to sort through the rival issues between the Palestinians and Israelis. But the killing fields soon claim some members of the delegation when a deadly bomb shatters their vehicle, prompting Bartlet to consider targets for military action. In flashbacks, Donna is attracted to a dashing British photojournalist, Goran Marik, who reveals to her his graphic world of recording mankind's most heinous acts of violence.
In the season finale, after the murders of high-ranking U.S. officials in the explosive Gaza Strip, Bartlet weighs appropriate military action. A wary Josh meets with a mysterious foreign operative while tending to Donna, who is fighting for her life.