The White House staff springs into action when they learn that President Bartlet was injured in a bicycle accident. During the President’s absence, chief of staff Leo McGarry must handle several crises including Cuban refugees trying to escape into Florida and the conservative Christians’ reaction to a comment made by deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman. Meanwhile, Sam learns that the woman he picked up at a bar was actually a call girl and Toby gets into an argument over the Ten Commandments.
Sam, despite the rest of the staff urging him not to, decides to publicly pursue the call girl he spent the night with. C.J. tries to make the best of the ongoing clash between the Vice President and President over a bill. Meanwhile, President Bartlet hires Mandy Hampton as his consultant and the plane carrying Bartlet’s doctor is shot down, leaving a young African-American Navy captain to substitute as the President’s physician.
Still angry about an American jet being shot down in the Mideast, President Bartlet overrules a plan for a “proportional” military strike put together by the joint chiefs of staff. Bartlett wants a more severe attack, but the type of attack he wants would result in thousands of casualties. While Leo tries to cool Bartlet down, C.J. talks to Sam about the possible ramifications of his ongoing relationship with Laurie, the call girl. Meanwhile, Josh hires an African American teenager as an aide to the President.
With only five votes keeping an important bill restricting the sale of automatic weapons, the staff has only 72 hours to find a way to get the five votes. Toby has to testify when he is accused of manipulating the stock market after one of his stock purchases becomes extremely profitable. Meanwhile, President Bartlet accidentally takes the wrong medication for his aching back and Leo’s long hours begin to strain his home life.
The staff must deal with several problems throughout the course of a day, including UFOs and smallpox. The senior staff meets with several interest groups referred to as "the crackpots". Josh becomes shaken when he receives a card that instructs him where to go in case of a nuclear attack. Meanwhile, Toby and President Bartlet clash over plans for a trip to California and Bartlet prepares for a press conference.
Toby and Mandy work together to get a commerce bill with a census counting provision approved. In order to do this, they have to convince Mr. Willis, a congressman who took over his wife’s office after her death. Sam helps C.J. understand what stance the administration is taking on the random census in 2000. Meanwhile, Zoey gets herself into a dangerous situation when she goes to a Georgetown bar and President Bartlet approaches Leo after learning that Leo’s wife left him.
With a state dinner in honor of an Indonesian president drawing closer, President Bartlet must deal with several problems including an FBI hostage standoff, a nearing category 4 hurricane, and a potential teamsters union strike. Meanwhile, the First Lady prepares to host the dinner, a reporter flirts with C.J., and Sam is surprised when he spots his call girl friend in attendance at the dinner.
Bartlet’s political rivals attach a land-use rider is to a vital banking bill. C.J. attempts to silence rumors that Bartlet and Vice President Hoynes fought during a Cabinet meeting, despite the rumors being true. Leo isn’t happy when his daughter, Mallory, asks Sam out, and is less enthusiastic when he accepts. Meanwhile, C.J. continues to ignore Danny’s advances when she begins to suspect that he’s only trying to get a lead on a story.
A current Supreme Court justice retires, giving Bartlet an opportunity to nominate a justice, but his perfect nominee turns out to be less perfect than Bartlet had originally thought. Meanwhile, a congressman accuses White House staff of drug use.
As Christmas quickly approaches, President Bartlet sneaks out to finish some last minute shopping. Toby, after learning more about a forgotten Korean War veteran, arranges a funeral for him. C.J. tries to get the staff to focus on the hate crime issue again while continuing to fend off the reporter who keeps asking her out. Sam and Josh plan a strike against Congressman Lillenfield who’s been hinting at Leo’s past involving drug and alcohol abuse.
When India and Pakistan go to war with each other and threaten nuclear war, Bartlet calls British diplomat Lord Marbury for advise on how to handle the crisis. Josh gets subpoenaed to testify in Lillenfield’s investigation of Leo’s prior drug and alcohol abuse. Toby accuses C.J. of being overly friendly with the media and Charlie asks Bartlet permission to date his daughter.
The White House staff shifts into crisis mode after Bartlet collapses prior to his first State of the Union address. The tension between India and Pakistan heightens when Pakistan gives its commanders control of the nuclear weapons, which leads to the staff once again consulting Lord John Marbury. Meanwhile, Leo publicly discloses his past alcohol abuse and both Sam and C.J. have romantic encounters.
Josh and Sam meet with the Senate appropriations subcommittee to try to get Leo out of having to attend a hearing over his past alcohol abuse problems. Bartlet and the staff debate what the appropriate response should be to the new sex education study while Mandy believes that a couple shouldn’t attend the signing of a hate crimes bill brought on by the death of their son. Meanwhile, C.J. continues to flirt with a White House reporter, Toby goes up against congressmen holding up the appointments for the Public Broadcasting Corporation, and Bartlet urges Zoey to drop a sociology class when the professor teaches ideas very different from his own.
When the Supreme Court fails to stay the execution of a convicted murder, President Bartlet has to decide whether or not to commute his sentence within the next 48 hours. To do so, Bartlet gets advice from Tom Cavanaugh, a childhood priest of Bartlet’s. Meanwhile, Josh goes head to head with Joey Lucas, a campaign manager, when her candidate isn’t being backed strongly backed by the Democratic party.
Sam and Toby rush to Connecticut when Roberto Mendoza, Bartlet’s Supreme Court nominee, is jailed for drunk driving. There, Sam and Toby try to secure the secret release of the nominee while doing damage control along the way. Meanwhile, Josh does his best as a replacement White House spokesman when C.J. has an emergency root canal.
President Bartlet and the staff travel to Los Angeles for a fundraiser hosted by a wealthy filmmaker. Back in Washington, Leo has to convince the Vice President to support Bartlet’s stance on an ethanol tax bill that is deadlocked in the Senate. Meanwhile, in order to protect his daughter, Bartlet has the Secret Service close down a restaurant where she’s dining.
The First Lady’s staff is sent into action when her statements about foreign child-labor laws motivate a Congresswoman to suggest an amendment that would end an international tariff bill. The President is also kept busy when the chairman of the Federal Reserve dies and Bartlet must appoint a successor. Meanwhile, Zoey fights with Charlie when she suggests that they don’t go to a club opening again, per the request of the Secret Service after they receive hat letters about their interracial relationship.
When Zoey attends a party where one of her friends is caught using illegal drugs, C.J. tries to keep the story out of the media. The staff celebrates when Supreme Court nominee Mendoza is confirmed by the Senate. Josh meets with Jeff Breckenridge, a nominee for assistant attorney general who believes in slavery reparations. Meanwhile, Sam fights with Mallory over private school vouchers and Mandy works to get two new pandas for the National Zoo.
Rumors fly when a memo surfaces that outline the weakness of the administration. C.J. soon finds that a reporter has the memo and she tries to persuade him not to publish it. Sam and Toby meet with the military to work out a better policy about gays in the military. Meanwhile, Josh tries to get Democrats nominated when two Federal Election Commission members resign and Leo has issues with the White House’s e-mail system.
President Bartlet names two Democrats to the Federal Election Commission, despite threats not to do so. However, the polls show that the public’s reaction the appointments are not good. Toby agrees to meet with his ex-wife to hear her reaction to a new drug policy. Meanwhile, C.J. makes a mistake that sets the staff back and Leo agrees to be the front man for the drug law revisions.
While the staff nervously awaits the newest poll results, Bartlet begins to reassign Federal Election Committee members in order to start campaign finance reform. But his plan is delayed when a photographer catches Sam giving a gift to his call girl friend. Meanwhile, C.J. worries that she’s being marginalized for her recent mistakes and Josh clashes with Joey.
Bartlet and the staff prepare for a town meeting with college students while dealing with getting an American pilot, who was shot down in Iraqi territory, home before he’s captured. Toby’s brother is involved in a potential disaster on an orbiting space shuttle. Josh works to convince the Vice President to change his stance on campaign finance reform. Later, as Bartlet and the staff leave the meeting, bullets begin to fly.
As the staff awaits the news on the condition of Bartlet and Josh after the shooting, they reflect on how Josh, Sam, and Toby became involved in the campaign years ago. Meanwhile, the media demands details on the shooting while the staff deals with a military crisis in Iraq after a fighter pilot's aircraft is downed.
Now that the shooter has been taken into custody, the target of his shooting is revealed to be Charlie, not Bartlet as the staff assumed. Meanwhile, the staff awaits news on Josh's condition and reflects back on how C.J. and Donna became involved with the campaign.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Josh continues to recover from his bullet wounds while the staff prepares for the upcoming midterm congressional elections. C.J., knowing how the staff was affected psychologically, deflects press questions about the mood in the White House. After Charlie learns more about the shooting, he begins to pull away from Bartlet and Zoey. Meanwhile, Sam encourages a friend to run for congress, and Bartlet keeps an eye on a school board election in New Hampshire.
After outdoing Sam on a television program, Bartlet offers to hire Ainsley Hayes, a Republican adviser, as assistant White House counsel, despite being from the Republican party. However, Bartlet's offer shocks the rest of the staff and causes resentment to build. Meanwhile, Toby and Josh attend a summit concerning the cost and availability of AIDS medication in the African countries that need it the most.
Ainsley Hayes has a rough first day as new White House counsel after she receives her first assignment: clean up after two staffers who gave an inaccurate testimony before the House. Her day isn't made any easier when she gets a less then welcome response from the staff and is later humiliated by two other staffers, Mark Brookline and Steve Joyce. Meanwhile, Josh's insurance denies his claims for his recent medical bills and Sam urges Josh to sue the shooters -- which happens to be the Ku Klux Klan.
Sam, Josh, Toby and Bartlet consider calling back Congress from their winter holiday break in order to push through a nuclear test-ban treaty. A drunken Ukrainian leader shows up at the White House demanding a meeting with President Bartlet. Meanwhile, Donna attempts to get the President to back legislation on stress injuries; Sam reluctantly works with Ainsley Hayes; and C.J. argues with Danny over him wanting access to the President for an exclusive story.
The President takes a late night flight to Portland the night before an education speech. Sam goes along with the President because Bartlet is having trouble getting the speech right, and Toby goes along as well to help Sam. C.J. is also forced to go after she criticized Notre Dame, Bartlet's alma mater. Meanwhile back in Washington, Josh argues with gay Congressman Matt Skinner over a bill prohibiting same-sex marriages, while Leo keeps an eye on a crisis in the Persian Gulf. Margaret worries that Leo might be tempted to drink again after he is served divorce papers.
As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, Bartlet must decide what to do with 83 Chinese citizens who stowed away on a ship bound for California in order to seek asylum from religious persecution. C.J. has her own minor crisis to deal with when she is forced to chose one of the two turkeys that will receive a Presidential "pardon". Meanwhile, Toby encourages the President to appoint Leo's sister to an education post despite Leo's objections; Josh, Sam and Toby make plans to watch the football game; and Charlie is sent out to find the perfect knife for Bartlet to use for Thanksgiving dinner.
As Bartlet prepares to speak to thousands of elementary students as the Galileo probe approaches Mars, major problems begin to pop up, including a missing F-15 fighter pilot, a fire inside a Russian nuclear missile silo, and the loss of contact with the Galileo probe. Meanwhile, Josh and Donna work together to decide whose face will appear on the newest postage stamp; and C.J. and Sam accompany Bartlet to a concert where they run awkward situations with people they've tried to avoid.
Christmas has arrived at The White House but Josh's lack of holiday spirit forces Leo to ask Josh to consult with a doctor who specializes in helping trauma victims. Meanwhile, President Bartlet decides that he wants to sign his Christmas cards by hand -- all 100,000 of them. Sam confronts the Energy Secretary after he advocates the use of federal oil reserves. Elsewhere, C.J. becomes interested in a elderly female tourist who has a strange reaction to French painting and sets out to find the story behind the painting.
With Congress reconvening, the White House plans a bi-partisan "leadership breakfast". To do so, Toby has to meet with Ann Stark, the Senate Majority Leader's chief of staff, to work out the details. Meanwhile, Sam wants to move the media briefing room out of the White House; and after Leo, Donna and Sam embarrass themselves in front of a columnist, Leo asks Josh to apologize for him.
Leo continues to try to get President Bartlet to back the expensive missile defense system while the President fulfills his Chief Diplomat duties by welcoming foreign ambassadors to the U.S., including the charming Lord John Marbury. Meanwhile, C.J. is sent out to convince a comedian to decline an invitation to a dinner in which the President will be in attendance. Elsewhere, Sam is enraged when Toby adds a "drop-in" to Sam's seemingly perfect speech without his consent.
As Bartlet delivers his third State of the Union address to the United States, which Toby helped carefully craft, Bartlet ends up upsetting Abbey with what he doesn't say. Josh's tracking of public opinion polls is delayed by both a power outage and the news that five DEA officials have been taken hostage by a group of Colombian terrorists. Meanwhile, C.J. prepares for a live recording of "Capitol Beat" all while doing damage control when it is uncovered that a police officer Bartlet cited for heroism was once accused of brutally attacking a black suspect.
As the crisis surrounding the captured DEA agents becomes increasingly worse, Bartlet authorizes a rescue, but the rescue attempt doesn't go as planned. C.J. continues to deal with the fallout of the merited police officer's accused beating while Toby deals with a Senator who threatens to run for President as a third-party candidate after the State of the Union's Social Security reform changes. Meanwhile, Sam arranges for Ainsley to meet the President, but she fails to make a good impression; Bartlet and Abbey talk about possibly running for a second term; and Josh finally gets the poll results from Joey Lucas all while being urged by Donna to ask her out.
The President returns from Tokyo and is met by a wave of controversy after Surgeon General Griffith says that marijuana should be legalized. Things are made worse when the President's daughter, Ellie, tells reporter Danny Concannon that her father would never fire the Surgeon General. But Bartlet has much more personal things to worry about after he confronts Ellie about her statement. Meanwhile, Toby is forced to ask his ex-wife, a Maryland Congresswoman, for help regarding the Social Security panel; and Charlie's choice of movie for the President to watch ends up creating more controversy than expected.
It's once again "Big Block of Cheese" Day, and the staff is sent out to meet with organizations that aren't typically heard from at the White House. Toby is assigned to meet with World Bank protesters while C.J. meets with the Cartographers for Social Equality. Meanwhile, after a friend of Donna's enlists Sam's help in getting her late grandfather a pardon; and Bartlet is enraged when complications arise surrounding his choice location for his Presidential library.
The staff, eager to begin their weekend, are blindsided when a stubborn, elderly Senator takes the floor to stage a Friday-night filibuster against the Family Wellness Act bill everyone thought they had in the bag. Toby becomes suspicious when the Vice President, who typically supports the oil industry, suddenly supports a fuel-emission standards bill. Meanwhile, C.J. racks her brain in order to find a ceramic cat statue given to the President by an Egyptian official who expects to see it on his next visit to the White House; and Josh works hurriedly in order to catch his flight to Florida to see the New York Mets' spring training camp.
Toby, thinking that there's something going on with Bartlet, connects the dots and figures out that the President has multiple sclerosis. Toby is the 17th person to find out about the President's ailment and quickly becomes the second person -- the first being Abbey -- to forcefully challenge him on the political and legal ramifications of hiding his disease. Meanwhile, Bartlet decide whether or not to order a heightened security alert for airports when a terrorist is caught at the U.S. border carrying explosives. Elsewhere, Sam and Josh try to add one-liners to the President's upcoming speech while Sam and Ainsley argue over equal rights for women.
President Bartlet goes to Oliver Babbish for advice on the potential ramifications of hiding his MS. Meanwhile, an oil spill near the Delaware coast spikes Sam's personal interest; Josh deals with a Mexican economic crisis, all while bickering with Donna; and Toby orders C.J. to get rid of a White House leak about a change in the President's position on school vouchers.
Oliver Babish questions both Abbey and C.J. about their involvement with President Bartlet's MS cover-up, and Josh secretly asks Joey Lucas to take a public opinion poll about a hypothetical situation similar to the one Bartlet is in. Meanwhile, Sam is happy to hear about a lowered surplus estimate; Josh tries to seek out more funding for the Justice Department and its prosecution of tobacco companies; and as a Chinese satellite sails towards Earth at 2000 miles per hour, none of the staff members are alarmed -- except Donna.
The White House staff and the President deal with the disastrous hypothetical poll results but are torn away from the national broadcast announcing his condition when the newly elected Haitian president flees and requests sanctuary in the U.S. embassy. C.J. and Leo discuss the keeping the news under wraps while Babish talks to Abbey about her treatment of Bartlet's MS. Meanwhile, Josh has to deal with two Senators who aren't supporting the Bartlet Administration's lawsuit against tobacco companies; and Mrs. Landingham buys a new car, but her excitement soon turns tragic.
On the day of Mrs. Landingham's funeral after her car accident, the staff has to deal with the building Haitian President crisis. Bartlet continues to deal with the Senators who don't support the tobacco company lawsuit while preparing to disclose to the public that he has MS and has been hiding it for the past eight years. Meanwhile, Toby gets an unexpected job offer; and Bartlet must decide whether or not he will seek reelection.
In this special episode, the White House is put on lockdown and the staff tries to help a class of gifted high school students come to grips with the events of September 11th.
In this documentary special, clips from all three seasons of the series are aired. Former Presidents of the United States, including Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter, as well as former White House staff are interviewed
When Bartlet decides to officially announce his plans for re-election, the staff is thrown into a frenzy to prepare a speech. The speech hits a snag when Sam realizes that Bartlet has yet to apologize for not disclosing his MS and then is further delayed when C.J. slips up in a press conference. Meanwhile, Bartlet has to deal with his own problems, including Abbey, who is enraged that he didn't talk to her about his re-election decision, and whether or not to give the orders for a military rescue of the U.S. embassy in Haiti. Elsewhere, Charlie is advised to get is own lawyer before prosecutors look into his possible involvement in the MS cover-up.
In part two of the season premiere, the staff continues to refine Bartlet's re-election announcement to the American public and call in a political strategist to help them decide whether or not Bartlet should publicly apologize for not disclosing his MS. C.J. continues to deal with the aftermath of her statements of the press conference. Meanwhile, Bartlet continues to make peace with Abbey while contemplating if he should accept the requests of the Haitian leader.
Special Prosecutor Clement Rollins begins his investigation into the President's non-disclosure of his illness. The White House staff isn't happy with getting Rollins as the Special Prosecutor, so C.J. shrewdly drops subtle clues to the press that might get the prosecutor replaced with someone more favorable to the staff. Meanwhile, a forest fire rages in Wyoming and the governor rages along with it when Bartlet backs up the forestry departments decision to let the fire burn itself out; Josh and Toby work on the estate tax that has been tied up in Congress; and Donna goes on a date with a Republican.
With the State Department dinner nearing, Bartlet vetoes the "death tax" bill, throwing the staff into a frenzy when they learn that the House of Representatives will have enough votes to override the veto. Meanwhile, Josh talks to a governor who is debating running against Bartlet in the next Presidential election; Charlie is urged to ask for immunity in the upcoming testimony concerning Bartlet's non-disclosure; and C.J. singles out an entertainment reporter, Sherri Wexler, for retribution.
Testimonies begin in the non-disclosure investigation and Donna is first to give her deposition to the House committee. There she is questioned by none other than Cliff, the Republican she's been dating. Bartlet and Vice President Hoynes argue over gun control when Bartlet asks his Vice President to speak at an anti-gun rally in Texas. Meanwhile, Leo and Alan Adamley, an Air Force General have it out over the War Crimes Tribunal; Sam is perplexed by legislation that would eliminate the use of the penny; and C.J. informs Toby that Will Sawyer, a reporter, overheard one of his comments that doesn't shed good light on the President.
When a United States submarine "goes quiet" of the coast of North Korea, Bartlet is forced to decide between contacting the enemy or launching a risky rescue. Meanwhile, Abbey learns that past malpractice suits against her might damage the President's criminal investigation; C.J. is thrilled when a presidential candidate is indecisive while speaking in public; and Toby meets with a committee about Congress' controversial funding of avant-garde artists.
On the eve of Thanksgiving day, Bartlet stresses over all things turkey, especially how to best cook a gourmet turkey. C.J. deals with two Native Americans who set up camp in the lobby waiting to meet with an official about public health projects on their reservation, and threaten to start a media bonanza if they don't get their meeting. Meanwhile, Josh tries to get a teenage boy who murdered his teacher extradited back to the U.S. from Italy; Sam works on the new poverty income index that could bring the President serious trouble; and Toby talks to Bartlet about ways to improve his poll numbers.
C.J. goes up against the rest of the staff, including the President, over whether or not to publicize a mad cow disease outbreak. Later, C.J. takes a negative stance on the administration's decision to renew the air base lease in Qumar, a country known for its poor treatment of women. Meanwhile, Josh works with a women's group lobbyist concerned with the wording of a treaty concerning prostitution; Sam deals with a lawsuit against the administration by a woman angry with Bartlet's remarks about a national seat belt law; and Toby meets with WWII veterans protesting a Pearl Harbor exhibit at the Smithsonian
The White House is adorned with holiday decorations, but the staff is feeling anything but merry as they deal with threats to firebomb black churches in Tennessee on Christmas Eve. Leo is also lacking the holiday spirit as he prepares to testify to the House committee concerning the non-disclosure of Bartlet's MS issue -- and the $650 an hour he's paying his lawyer doesn't help any. Flashbacks reveal the President's reasons for not disclosing his illness during his time as governor.
Leo rejects Congressional Oversight Committee's offer that would end the investigation into Bartlet's non-disclosure of his illness. The rest of the staff deals with a revealing book published by a former White House photographer. Meanwhile, Josh plots to meet with Amy Gardner, an attractive women's rights leader; and Bartlet decides to give Charlie a 1709 map of Palestine as a gift, but the staff warns him of the political ramifications of doing so since the map does not include the nation of Israel.
As the staff works endlessly on Bartlet's State of the Union address, Bartlet suddenly requests that a section promising to find a cancer cure within 10 years is added. Sam is interviewed for an article in Vanity Fair magazine by a reporter who has a close personal history with him -- they were once engaged. Meanwhile, Josh has a hard time getting Amy Gardner's attention after telling her that her current relationship with a Congressman is only due to political gain; and Joey Lucas studies the poll numbers prior to Bartlet's speech.
While the staff debates on whether or not to counter an attack on Bartlet from a Republican presidential candidate, Josh is forced to postpone his vacation with Amy Gardner in order to deal with a situation at a Navy firing range Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Sam has a meeting with Robert Engler who believes that gold is missing from Fort Knox; C.J. and Toby square off on affirmative action; and Donna asks Josh to relieve her of jury duty.
Five days after the Iowa caucuses Bartlet is still having trouble sleeping so he consults Dr. Stanley Keyworth for treatment, but it becomes more a sobering wake-up for Bartlet. C.J. lobbies for the release of a White House reporter after the reporter is taken hostage in the Congo. Meanwhile, Toby faces off with his ex-wife over an upcoming foreign policy speech; Sam asks Ainsley to review an act that calls for the U.S. to payback loans to the United Nations; and Donna receives a surprising job offer.
On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Bartlet becomes involved in a game of military chess against China after the Chinese threaten to attack Taiwan. Meanwhile, Josh stresses over 42 votes in the small New Hampshire town of Hartsfield's Landing's election that typically predict the winner of the state's primary; and C.J. plays games with Charlie when she hides his copy of the President's daily schedule, leading to a inter-office war of tricks and mind games.
It's Abbey's birthday, but she isn't in the mood to celebrate as the medical board is about to rule on her on involvement in the non-disclosure investigation. But despite her lack of birthday spirit, a party is being thrown in her honor and high-ranking guests including Lord John Marbury are invited. Meanwhile, Sam has a meeting with a Senator who is blocking the funding for a superconductor; Abbey, C.J. and other female staff members sneak away to a closet to drink and gossip; and Donna finds out that she's not technically American.
After Bartlet's remarks about a potential Republican presidential nominee, C.J. is dispatched to do damage control. Toby meets with the new U.S. poet laureate to try to convince her to not speak out about the United States' non-support for a land-mines treaty. Meanwhile, Sam cuts Ainsley's vacation short when he needs help spinning Bartlet's remarks; Bartlet thinks about saving a failing company; and Josh is intrigued when he finds out he has an Internet fan-site: LemonLyman.com.
A truck carrying uranium fuel crashes in an Idaho tunnel, leaving the staff to prepare for an environmental crisis. Bartlet continues to work out campaign strategy, which may include dropping Vice President Hoynes from the ticket. Meanwhile, unaware of his potential exit from the campaign, Hoynes works on a bill that would provide Internet access to the poor, then attends the same Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as Leo. Elsewhere, Charlie files his taxes on-line after being urged to do so by Bartlet, but immediately regrets taking his advice; and Josh tries to get a presidential proclamation honoring the retirement of Donna's favorite teacher.
After making a critical public statement about Saudi Arabia, C.J. receives a serious death thread leading Bartlet to assign Secret Service protection to her. While Sam is busy working out the details of the President's upcoming summit with the new Russian President, satellite photographs show an Iranian nuclear facility built with the help of Russian technology. Meanwhile, Charlie works to find out the source of an encoded letter sent to the President; and Toby debates whether or not to let a controversial Russian reporter attend the upcoming summit.
While C.J., now code-named "Flamingo", adjusts to being followed by Secret Service Agent Donovan, Bartlet and the staff rush to deal with a predicted terrorist attack. Meanwhile, Toby argues with TV network executives when they threaten to pull coverage of national conventions from their broadcast; Sam gets his hands on a copy of a commercial bashing the President; and Josh, back in Washington after the Helsinki summit, gives Donna a gift from his trip: cured moose meat.
As Bartlet, with the help of Leo and Fitzwallace, struggles over deciding whether or not to forfeit diplomatic immunity for a Middle Eastern official known to be plotting terrorist attacks, Josh and Amy square off over a welfare reform bill. Meanwhile, Sam kills environment-friendly legislation for the Everglades; C.J. begins to appreciate her bodyguard even more; Toby advises the President not to attend a fundraiser; and Donna travels to North Dakota as the administration's representative at a meeting to change the state's name.
Bartlet has a life-or-death decision to make regarding the known foreign diplomat terrorist, and thinks on it while attending a charity event where Governor Robert Ritchie is also in attendance. Meanwhile, C.J. and Donovan come to an understanding regarding their flirtation; Josh and Amy's relationship is threatened when they take opposite stances on a piece of key legislation; and as the search for a replacement for the late Mrs. Landingham continues, Charlie recommends Deborah Fiderer, a former White House secretary.
The re-election campaign is in full swing, and moving quickly -- so rapidly, in fact, that Josh, Toby, and Donna are stranded in Indiana when they are left behind by the motorcade carrying the other staff members. Back in Washington, Sam fills in for Josh; Bartlet interviews Debbie Fiderer for the late Mrs. Landingham's job; Abbey creates a buzz when she calls herself "just a wife and mother"; and the Middle East begins to stir over their missing Defense Minister.
Bartlet interviews Debbie Fiderer for the secretarial position for the second time, and for the second time it doesn't go well. With the Dow continuing to drop and the stress over the Qumaris, Bartlet takes out his frustration on an elderly White House visitor. Meanwhile, General Fitzwallace and Nancy McNally worry about how much the Qumaris know about their missing Defense Minister; Toby, Josh, and Donna continue to make their way back to Washington; and the staff has to deal with a crisis in Iowa when a bomb explodes at a University of Iowa swim meet.
Bartlet, worried about his liability in the Qumari matter, has Leo hire him a lawyer. The re-election campaign deals with a setback when a judge rules that debates must be open to all third-party candidates. Meanwhile, Josh gets mad at Amy after she accepts a job interview; Toby and Josh plan out a new idea for college tuition payments; and the approval process for Deborah Fiderer goes slower than expected when new evidence is uncovered.
Bartlet debates the consequences of ordering a strike force to breakup a barricaded group of terrorists in Iowa, one of whom needs medical attention. Governor Robert Ritchie, Bartlet's Republican rival wants to have less debates, but the staff attempts to negotiate with the Governor for more debates. Meanwhile, Josh accuses his girlfriend of helping Senator Howard Stackhouse, the liberal third-party candidate, draw votes away from Bartlet; and Leo secretly meets with an Israeli official over strategy in regards to the Qumari assassination.
The staff goes on a weekend retreat to North Carolina to prepare for the upcoming presidential debates. While preparing, Bartlet must deal with a possible Israeli air attack on Qumar that could light a fire under other Middle Eastern countries. Meanwhile, flashbacks recall Bartlet and the staff's error-filled first days in office; Josh and Donna recall how she almost lost her job over a national security issue; and Toby considers the prospect of parenthood.
On the eve of Bartlet's final debate of his career, Toby is skeptical that Bartlet is prepared to go head to head with his popular Republican rival, Robert Richie. After rehearsal, Toby meets up with his ex-wife, Congresswoman Andy Wyatt, then informs C.J. that Albie Duncan, an old, crazy Republican will help C.J. in "spinning" the even for the White House. Meanwhile, Leo negotiates a settlement in the Qumar-Israel conflict; Sam attempts to get a deceased Democratic candidate removed from the Congressional ballot; and the staff watches as Bartlet easily defeats Richie in the debate.
On Election Day, Bartlet leaves Washington to shake hands with the voters, but returns to Manchester after casting his own ballot. There, Charlie begins to notice a change in Bartlet's behavior that makes him worry about Bartlet's health. Meanwhile, the deceased Democratic congressional candidate isn't politically dead; Debbie Fiderer begins setting rules that Josh dislikes; and when Andy discovers she's pregnant, Toby worries about how kids will effect their political careers.
The White House staff celebrates after Bartlet's landslide defeat of Robert Ritchie, but Bartlet wasn't the only winner -- Horton Wilde, the deceased Congressional candidate also won his race. This puts Sam in a bad position since someone leaked that Wilde's widow would be able to take over her late husband's seat. Toby's ex-wife, Andy Wyatt, also won her seat with 85% of the vote, but Toby worries how her pregnancy will affect her career. Meanwhile, a coup is brewing in Venezuela; and Bartlet tries to share a romantic night with Abbey to celebrate his victory.
The elections have finally wrapped up, but Hoynes is already planning for the next election, as well as the Senate minority leader, which is plotting to delay the president's legislative agenda. Meanwhile, when the 15 year-old son of an Iranian leader needs a heart and lung transplant and needs to come to the U.S. for the surgery, complicated politics threaten to interfere. Also, Toby tries to repay a Congresswoman whose proposal helped aide Bartlet's victory, but was damaging to the Congresswoman in the polls.
Sam packs up for California to begin his campaign, leaving Toby without speechwriting help. Sam suggests that Will Bailey, a skilled campaign manager to take over his position. Meanwhile, when a female fighter pilot is dishonorably discharged after having an affair, women's groups, as well as the female staffers, want the President to intervene. Elsewhere, Donna asks Josh to find out if Commander Jack Reese has the hots for her.
It’s two days before Christmas and a winter storm blankets the northeast with snow while Danny shows up at the White House dressed as St. Nick, but spreads anything but cheer to the staff. Toby’s father also shows up at the White House, who Toby isn’t keen on seeing; and Zoey also returns to the White House with her boyfriend, who Charlie isn’t keen on seeing. Meanwhile, Bartlet decides to throw out the HHS budget, leading to endless work for the staff during the holiday week; and both Bartlet and Leo visit psychiatrist Stanley Keyworth to talk to him about concentration lapses.
The administration works tirelessly on the foreign-aid bill, but Senate Republicans, as well as Democrats, have different ideas, leaving Josh to get the votes the White House needs. To do so, Josh dispatches Donna to hunt down a freshman senator while Josh deals with a Senator who will only vote with the White House if they agree to fund a medical study on the efficacy of prayer. Meanwhile, Danny continues to get closer to the truth behind the Sharif affair; and Charlie sets out to help a soldier’s family who is in need of food stamps.
C.J. reluctantly returns to her hometown of Dayton, Ohio for her 20-year high school reunion, and ends up enjoying herself when she bumps into a handsome former classmate. However, her enjoyment is cut short when C.J. finds herself in the middle of a sad family crisis – her father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. But as C.J. deals with all the emotion, she constantly feels the need to check up on Toby who’s running the press briefings in her absence.
Bartlet’s second inauguration is only less than a week away, but the staff has to re-write his inauguration address after an escalating genocide in Africa leads Bartlet to consider using force to end it. However, Bartlet’s idea is met with negative responses from both the West Wing and countries from around the world. Meanwhile, C.J. becomes increasingly irritated with Danny while he continues to dig into the Sharif affair; the betrayal of a staff member leaves the administration stunned; and Charlie has trouble finding the Bible for Bartlet’s inauguration.
The staff continues to prepare Bartlet’s inauguration speech and newcomer Will Bailey’s work leaves everyone impressed, especially the foreign policy doctrine it promotes. Meanwhile, Charlie continues to hunt for the Bible for the inauguration; the staff gets ready for possible military action; and Danny’s reporting causes quite a stir.
While U.S. troops take military action against the genocide in Africa, the President and his staff fly to California to campaign on behalf of Sam. However, Congressional Republicans just announced a tax-cut proposal, leaving the administration to counter with a plan that would increase the tax on the rich – something that won’t go over well in Sam’s affluent Orange County district.
News of the hostage situation in Africa cut the President’s California visit short, but Toby decides to say in Orange County to be campaign manager for Sam’s failing campaign. Back in Washington, Josh and the First Lady square off on a budget request involving immunization education; Will Bailey, feeling the pressure of working in the White House, terrorizes his interns; and tensions grow as the staff waits for news on the captured American soldiers.
During Amy’s first day as Abbey’s chief of staff she is given her first task: get the President to veto his own foreign-aid bill now that an anti-abortion rider has been attached to it. Toby finds himself in a legal bind when a former classmate gets into a tough ethical situation involving the E.P.A. Meanwhile, while Zoey is about to be inducted into the Daughters of the American Revolution, Abbey’s membership is threatened when it is uncovered that her ancestors were pirates, not patriots.
As Air Force One prepares to land at Andrews Air Force Base, a front-wheel light indicator fails to go off, meaning either the light is burnt out or something potentially dangerous. Upon hearing this, C.J. has to keep the news from a plane full of reporters and keep them off their cell phones at the same time while the crew checks out the problem. Tensions begin to rise both in the air and on the ground as people begin to wonder if the plane has been tampered with. Meanwhile, Josh and a Republican Congressman work on a Chesapeake Bay-cleanup bill.
When a gunman opens fire in the press briefing room, the secret service puts the staff on lockdown until the situation is under control. While on lockdown, Josh interviews Joe Quincy, a lawyer who applied for Ainsley Hayes’ old job, and though the interview goes well, Josh has a nagging feeling that something is off with Joe. Meanwhile, poker night also continues despite the lockdown, but Bartlet keeps getting interrupted after a spy plane is shot down over Russia.
During his first day on the job, Joe Quincy is given three pieces of information and as he pieces them together, he uncovers a scandal that affects the upper-administration. However, the staff, thinking the leak is small and containable, isn’t aware that the leak is only the beginning of a larger, more damaging problem.
The night before Zoey’s commencement ceremony, Bartlet informs the staff of his role in a covert killing after five alleged terrorists go missing, leading C.J. and Danny to strike up a deal to keep the truth a secret. Meanwhile, Charlie has to decide whether or not to keep a promise he made to Zoey while they were dating; Andy’s water breaks; and Zoey goes missing from the nightclub where she was celebrating her graduation.
After Bartlet learns that Zoey’s kidnapping was arranged by Qumari terrorists, Washington D.C. is shut down as the search for his daughter begins. Thinking he may do something impulsive, Bartlet decides to evoke the 25th Amendment to avoid conflict of interest while the staff fears that terrorists might have orchestrated Zoey’s kidnapping. Meanwhile, Toby gets his first taste of fatherhood when Andy gives birth to twins – one boy and one girl. However, the moment proves to be bittersweet as Toby fears for Zoey’s safety and fears that he might not be a good father to his newborn twins.
Seven hours have passed since Zoey’s kidnapping, and all eyes are on the situation as the world waits for news. After Bartlet evoked the 25th Amendment, Speaker of the House Glenallen Walken, now acting president, reviews military options upon receiving a ransom note from the terrorists. For Zoey’s safe return, the terrorists demand that U.S. troops pull out from Saudi Arabia and Qumar as well as the release of Pakistani terrorists. Meanwhile, the staff worries that Walken will order military action against Qumar; Charlie stays with Bartlet instead of serving acting President Walken; Danny threatens to release a story about the assassination of an official from Qumar; Josh continues to search for Vice Presidential candidates for when Bartlet returns to office; and Toby and Will prepare two speeches -- one if Zoey is alive and one if she isn't.
As the kidnapping crisis heightens, acting President Walken orders the bombing of terrorist training camps in Qumar. The kidnappers issue the U.S. a 24-hour deadline for the removal of American troops from Qumar. Meanwhile, Josh is certain that Walken’s aides are going to use the situation to get their conservative agenda though Congress; and Toby visits his newborn twins all while overseeing the writing of two versions of a presidential speech, each dependent on Zoey’s fate.
In the wake of kidnapping situation, Bartlet makes his return to the Oval Office and turns his attention to finding a new Vice President. But this proves to be a difficult process when Bartlet has a tough time getting his first choice, secretary of state Lew Berryhill, through the approval process. Meanwhile, the First Lady continues to deal with the trauma of the kidnapping, and things are made worse when the Qumari assassination is exposed. Meanwhile, Josh is upset after being confronted by Amy, and Donna deals with Ryan, the new intern.
The White House welcomes a world-renowned North Korean pianist for a performance, but Leo worries that the pianist’s wish to defect will interfere with nuclear disarmament talks. The staff works to get Bartlet’s choice for Vice President, Bob Russell, approved by both the House and the Senate, but one “nay” vote could embarrass everyone. Meanwhile, Will and Toby are humiliated when a draft of a speech is accidentally substituted for the final draft of the speech.
It’s Josh’s birthday, but Will receives a gift instead: an offer to be newly confirmed Vice President Russell’s top aide. C.J. has to deal with Leo’s temper when she doesn’t stick to the administration’s script concerning an EPA report. Amy lands herself in a similar situation when her pushing for funding of the First Lady's agenda on violence prevention evokes the wrath of the President. Meanwhile, Josh is hailed as the "101st Senator" in a newspaper profile, then goes head-to-head with Senator Carrick over the approval of a backlog of military promotions.
Josh lands himself in hot water due to his role in Senator Carrick's switch to the Republican Party. Upon seeing this, C.J. talks to Donna about how to look out for Josh now that he’s not the party’s favorite person. Bartlet is preoccupied after a deadly tornado devastates Oklahoma and flies out to Oklahoma to lend his support to the community, but stays longer than he originally planned. Back in Washington, Leo worries about several crises that need the President’s attention, including the capital-gains tax, the chancellor of Germany and escalating hostilities between Greece and Albania.
While the staff debates Speaker Haffley over the federal budget, Toby enlists the help of Joe Quincy to persuade Chief Justice Roy Ashland to retire after recent health problems. Meanwhile, Josh watches as the rest of the staff negotiates with Congressional Republicans over the budget; and C.J., as well as President Bartlet, worry about Zoey’s television interview with a reporter who’s known for being able to expose raw emotions.
Bartlet and the Speaker of the House continue to disagree about the budget, and the fiscal crisis results in the federal government being shut down. Opinion polls show that Americans blame the Democrats for the halt within the government, damaging the administration’s approval ratings. Josh, Leo, and Toby send the rest of the staff home while Bartlet unfolds a bold plan to challenge the Republicans and get the administration up and running once again. Meanwhile, Abbey emerges from her brief self-imposed hiding for a state dinner that she may have to cook for.
Christmas spirit has once again returned to the White House, and the entire Bartlet family comes together for the annual White House tree-lighting ceremony. But everyone’s spirits soon fall when Bartlet learns that Christian relief workers have been imprisoned in Islamic northern Sudan. Later, Bartlet is surprised when his son-in-law informs him of his Congressional ambitions. Elsewhere, Toby tries to keep the administration out of a controversial debate when the licenses of some Oregon are suspended after they order drugs in an assisted suicide.
Bartlet joins “former president” Glenallen Walken aboard Air Force One to fly to the services for another former president who recently passed away. While at the funeral, Bartlet continues to monitor a building situation in Saudi Arabia as freedom protesters threaten civil war. Back in Washington, Josh mediates between two representatives over a copy of the Bill of Rights, while C.J. meets with a Pentagon scientist about invasive security innovations. Elsewhere, Leo learns that his ex-wife is engaged to be married.
With the State of the Union address nearing, Bartlet goes over a long list of prisoners that qualify for pardons while considering the potential political repercussions due to "the benign prerogative". Charlie meets an attractive woman and shares small, private White House facts, and is horrified to learn that she’s a White House reporter. Meanwhile, Toby and Joey Lucas "mall test" an upcoming presidential speech; Abbey vows to be more pro-active when it comes to influencing Jed; and Bartlet entertains a couple from Colorado.
Toby convinces President Bartlet to sanction a secret mission to “save” Social Security, but the administration is forced to retreat when efforts to recruit a Republican Senator are leaked. Meanwhile, C.J. deals with a reporter who threatens to write a story about the efforts; and the female staffers complain to Josh about the newest employee.
A nuclear bomb explodes in the Indian Ocean, but no one in Washington knows who set it off. Bartlet and the staff scramble to figure out which country has nuclear capabilities, and when their thinking leads them to believe it's Iran, Bartlet orders bombers to destroy Iran's uranium-enriched targets. Meanwhile, Josh yells at NASA about the future of their program until he goes stargazing with a female administrator. Elsewhere, C.J. is fuming after being labeled "Chicken of the Week" by a local news station; and Will lobbies for a new "policy focus" for Vice President Russell.
A Navy fighter pilot collides with a North Korean jet and the crew goes missing in hostile North Korean territory. Upon hearing this, Bartlet orders an elite Navy SEAL team on a rescue mission, triggering Leo's memories of being downed as a pilot over North Vietnam. Meanwhile, C.J. decides to go head-to-head on air with the newscaster who labeled her "chicken of the week"; Josh is angry after being undercut by Ryan in a briefing with the President; and Bartlet poses for his official portrait.
The staff is shocked when John Hoynes is back in the news via a magazine article about how Hoynes is claiming that Bartlet and Leo tried to talk him out of resigning, as well as how he is writing a tell-all book that will embarrass the Bartlet administration. C.J. learns the news from cable talker Taylor Reid, while on Reid's live show, leading to disastrous results. Meanwhile, Toby fights with Union representatives over Chinese trade policy; Josh and Ryan go over military base closures; and D.C. mayor decides that school vouchers would be best for the city.
Bartlet becomes enraged when a Congresswoman uses her knowledge that Ellie Bartlet is working at a scientist for the National Institute of Health in order to get funding for a controversial medical study. Toby scrambles to find the internal leak who exposed Ellie's position while Josh meets with an old friend who happens to be a judicial nominee that's being held up in committee. Meanwhile, Abbey appears on an episode of Sesame Street, despite C.J.'s political concerns, with Elmo and Big Bird as a doctor who gives Elmo a check up.
When a Supreme Court justice dies suddenly, Bartlet and his staff rush to find a nominee to replace the late Republican justice. As the staff go over hundreds of possible candidates, Bartlet begins to think the nominee will be a "political minefield" until Josh comes up with a plan to get a liberal, Evelyn Baker Lang, approved by the Senate. Potential nominees are invited to the White House -- mainly to mislead the press -- but suspicions are heightened when Bartlet meets with a young, controversial judge.
A documentary crew comes to the White House to film a documentary about a day-in-the-life -- their main focus being C.J. However, the constant presence of the crew adds stress to an already stressful FBI-standoff crisis in Washington State that C.J. is trying to keep under-wraps for the time being. During the day, Meanwhile, C.J. and her staff also prepare for Bartlet's upcoming trip to the Vatican to visit the Pope.
The night before Bartlet's trip to Brussels to sign a trade pact, Josh is torn knowing that the pact will reverse Bartlet's stance on outsourcing American jobs to foreign countries. C.J. becomes increasingly frustrated over the FCC's ruling concerning companies increasing ownership of television stations. Meanwhile, Donna confronts Josh about her limited role on his staff; and Kate Harper, the new Deputy National Security Adviser, meets with Bartlet for the first time.
After a fancy dinner at the White House, President Bartlet and his staff are placed on lock-down when a suspicious substance is detected. While waiting for clearance to leave, the staff are forced to stay in small rooms where they reflect on their past and their relationships with one another. However, the night turns confrontational when Toby accuses Will of being a backstabber to the President. Meanwhile, Debbie and Charlie agree to be inspected; C.J. gives Donna advice; and Josh tries find out why his joke was omitted from a speech.
While on a fact-finding tour in the Gaza Strip, Donna is seriously injured in a terrorist car bombing that leaves three other Americans dead. The staff, as well as the President, find it hard to deal with their emotions while trying to come up with an official response to the attack. In flashbacks, Donna recalls falling for a British photojournalist who photographs deadly and bloody violence.
With Donna recovering in a military hospital in Germany, Bartlet struggles to decide what "appropriate" military action to take against the Palestinians. Fears are heightened when Israel launches its own strikes and the President is unable to contact the chairman. Josh, in Germany to see Donna, comes in contact with a mysterious foreign operative. Meanwhile, Bartlet, in a bullet-proof vest and with extra Secret Service protection, throws the ceremonial first pitch of the Major League Baseball season.
With Donna remaining in critical condition in a hospital in Germany, Palestinian leaders agree to meet with the U.S. and Israel to discuss a peaceful resolution to the pending conflict. As the three nations meet, Donna's condition worsens, Colin begins to question Josh about his true feelings for Donna.
With bombs falling on terrorist training camps in Syria, Palestine and Israel continue to talk about a resolution to the conflict. Bartlet and Leo continue to clash over the settlement, leaving the two to realize their irreconcilable differences. Meanwhile, Josh returns to Washington and begins questioning Leo's well-being.
The staff returns after the Camp David peace settlement to chaos in the White House after Leo has a heart-attack. With Leo in the hospital, Josh and Toby are assigned to get congressional support for the peace accord. C.J. works to gain additional international support from the U.N. Security Council. Meanwhile, Donna returns home from Germany; and Charlie refuses to take a swimming test that would allow him to graduate.
While Leo continues to recuperate after his heart attack, C.J. is named Chief of Staff. But her first day on the job isn't made easy when an emissary from the Republic of Georgia comes to the White House to offer the U.S. enriched uranium from a former Soviet reactor. Josh goes to the DCCC for tax cut support and meets Matthew Santos, a congressman and potential Presidential candidate from Texas. Meanwhile, Toby and Donna interview applicants to fill C.J.'s old position.
When Josh test drives an SUV and accidentally crashes into a hybrid car, Annabeth Schott, the newly named Press Secretary, must deal with the publicity as well as the general opinion that she's too young for the job. Meanwhile, Zoey throws Charlie a graduation party; Leo gives C.J. hints to succeed as Chief of Staff; and Toby worries that Annabeth may be too young to do well in her new position.
After a U.S. peacekeeping compound is attacked, resulting in several American soldiers being fatally wounded, the White House struggles to contain the story when a soldier speaks out against the mission. Meanwhile, Congressman Santos attaches a patients' bill of rights to a Republican bill, setting up a strategy to add Democratic elements to a Republican agenda; Leo faces off with his nurse; and Charlie starts his job at the White House.
As the staff finalizes President Bartlet's visit to China, their plans are thrown a curve when Bartlet inadvertently accepts a a flag from the Taiwanese delegation representing the Taiwanese Independence Movement. His accidental action leads the Chinese to mobilize their forces, causing chaos among the White House staff.
At a Bartlet family birthday party at the White House, guests Penn and Teller burn an American flag, causing a publicity catastrophe for the staff. With Bartlet's second term nearing its end, candidates for President are emerging, including Senator Arnold Vinick, who has managed to impress Josh. Meanwhile, Bartlet experiences an MS episode while aboard Air Force One; and Josh is asked to run the Vice President's campaign for President.
In China, Bartlet is having difficulty sitting through meetings due to his paralyzing MS episode while aboard Air Force One. Back in Washington, NASA warns the staff that an asteroid is heading towards Earth, leaving Josh and Leo to decide how to prepare for the possible collision. Meanwhile, Donna confronts Josh about her future while Josh continues to search for the perfect Democratic candidate for the upcoming Presidential elections.
The press get wind of a rumor that C.J. is a lesbian, and when C.J. refuses to comment on the rumor, the media becomes increasingly suspicious that the rumors are true. While the rumors fly, a Republican candidate attaches a rider to a bill that would ban gay marriages. Meanwhile, Santos tells Josh he'll run for President -- only if Josh will run his campaign; and Abbey, as well as the staff, assess Bartlet's health.
Santos begins to work on his Presidential campaign and sets up headquarters with Josh in New Hampshire. Together, they sort out a myriad of problems from setting up their office to the ideals and goals of the campaign. Meanwhile, Donna and Will work on Vice President Russell's campaign, but Donna has a hard time accepting that Josh is gone.
Its the day after Bartlet's final State of the Union address, but there's no time to rest with a hostage crisis looming in Bolivia that takes the staff's attention away from an agenda meeting set up by Leo. Meanwhile, as Kate works on the Bolivia situation, C.J. monitors the situation in North Korea; Annabeth tutors Abbey on NASCAR etiquette; and Toby focuses his attention the unemployment situation.
Presidential rivals Santos and Vinick meet by chance at an Iowa motel restaurant after a day of campaigning. Earlier in the day, the two candidates, as well as Vice President Russell spoke at the Iowa Corn Growers' Expo, each having to take a stance on ethanol subsidies. By the end of the day, Santos and Vinick come to realize that they both have worthy opponents.
When the staff learns that the Iranian pilot had mistaken the passenger jet for a U.S. spy plane, Bartlet calls in Lord John Marbury for guidance. Meanwhile, Abbey and C.J. argue over the President's rigorous work schedule; Toby and a law professor help work out a constitution with the representatives of Belarus; and the rest of the staff attempt to avoid an appointment with Miss Universe.
With the New Hampshire primary quickly approaching, Josh has to find a way to get Santos into the local debate between front-runners John Hoynes and Vice President Russell. However, Santos and Josh take a gamble and stage their own debate, bringing in Amy Gardner, Josh’s ex-girlfriend, leading Josh and Santos to clash over the campaign.
Now that Vice President Russell appears to be the Democratic nomination front-runner, Josh is becoming increasingly annoyed that Santos is drawing less press coverage despite his strong New Hampshire finish. Josh begins to suspect that the White House is secretly backing a candidate when he finds a link between Senator Rafferty’s health care plan and Bartlet’s original health care plan. Meanwhile, C.J. deals with lobbyists over a Western drought; and Charlie talks with Kate Harper when a man at his gym asks about her.
When the Speaker of the House won't schedule the President's stem cell bill, Santos hatches a plan to pass the bill. Bartlet reluctantly meets with the economist that he split his Nobel prize with, but the meeting doesn't go well since the two are political rivals. Meanwhile, Toby takes interest in a group of middle school children who come to the White House to talk to the staff about voting age; and Kate deals with a Canadian border crisis.
Super Tuesday is approaching, and Santos flies to Sacramento in order to prepare -- if Santos fails to do well in California, his campaign will be over. While in Sacramento, Santos continues to work to push his health care agenda while he receives pressure from the press to take a stance on California's legislation that would provide driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Russell decides not to travel to California; Donna tries to figure out why Hoynes refuses to campaign in California, then takes a bigger role in the Russell campaign by becoming the new spokeswoman.
With rumors flying over the U.S.'s connection to Cuba, Bartlet is forced to decide whether he wants to continue talks with the communist dictator or reaffirm the sanctions that would lead to political fallout. Meanwhile, Leo and Kate find a common connection over corrupted elections and drinking habits.
Vinick wins the Republican nomination for presidency and immediately begins working tirelessly on his campaign. He brings in political operative Bruno Gianelli for advice on choosing a vice presidential candidate and the controversy over Vinick's lack of church going. Meanwhile, the Democrats have a three-way race for the nomination with Russell leading Santos and third-place Hoynes; and Bartlet tries to show party unity.
With Vinick securing the Republican nomination for president, Russell offers Santos the vice president slot in the Democratic ticket -- but Russell has yet to win the Democratic nomination. While Santos and his staff debate the offer, Bartlet gets Leo to help with the nomination stalemate. Meanwhile, the staff is put to work when a space station begins leaking oxygen and a rescue mission becomes more and more complex; and Bartlet catches Charlie leaving Zoey's bedroom at 1 in the morning.
The Democratic convention begins and Santos, Russell and Hoyes continue to hunt for votes. The convention will nominate a candidate, but not before the candidates' scheming catches the attention of the nation. Meanwhile, Bartlet has to decide whether or not to launch a rescue mission to save the astronauts trapped in the space shuttle.
Political commentators begin to criticize Santos' choice of running mate, but Josh remains sure of Leo as his running mate. The investigation into the leak continues and White House Council Babbish interviews C.J. about the investigation. Meanwhile, Donna approaches Josh for a job.
When the Grand Jury convenes on the military leak investigation, Santos and Vinick are left to deal with the fallout. Vinick deftly handles the issue, but Santos, bound by party loyalty, is forced to take the same stance as the Bartlet administration.
Weeks into the campaign, Vinick decides to begin targeting immigration - an issue that Santos hasn't yet addressed. Santos pulls a stunt which leads to higher approval ratings and throws off the Vinick campaign. Meanwhile, Vinick has a meeting with Charles Frost.
C.J. has to deal with issues by herself when most of the White House staff is subpoenaed to testify in the leak investigation. A Palestinian leader is assassinated and Bartlet, despite major security issues, decides to attend the funeral. Meanwhile, C.J. is given intelligence information, and the public response to Santos' answer to an intelligent design question bothers Josh, though the rest of the staff is unaffected.
As the White House copes with the knowledge of the leak, Babish's questioning leads Toby to call his lawyer. Josh, with the persuasion of Lou, decides that the Santos' campaign must clean house, and is forced to make hard decisions about who out of the young, inexperienced staff should go. Meanwhile, Bartlet and Abbey meet Ellie's fiancée, and Kate confronts Frost about his ambush on C.J.
An attack ad on Santos sponsored by a pro-life organization puts both campaigns in a bind when the focus turns to the candidates' stance on abortion. Donna joins the Santos campaign team, but is hired by Lou, not Josh. Meanwhile, Will takes over Toby's old job and is forced to face the press buzz surrounding the leak investigation.
Santos and Vinick go head-to-head in a live, primetime debate. Two versions, one for the East coast and one for the West coast aired, moderated by Forrest Sawyer and hosted by Ellen Degeneres.
After the boost from the debate, Santos runs into trouble when he visits a Los Angeles community where a young African-American boy was shot and killed by a Latino police officer. Meanwhile, Ellie continues to plan her wedding, and C.J. deals with a crisis between China and Kazakhstan.
On the day of Ellie's wedding, Bartlet must try to help an escalating situation between China and Russia regarding oil all while preparing for his daughter wedding at the White House. Meanwhile, as Election day approaches, the Santos campaign begins to question Josh's leadership, threatening his job.
As the staff prepares for Leo's Vice-Presidential debate, they must deal with Internet criticism that Leo is weak and unfocused. Meanwhile, when Santos stops by his home while on the campaign trail, he and Helen must learn to cope with the new security surrounding their home as well as problems that Jorge Santos, Matt's brother, may cause them.
C.J., while in the middle of the China-Russia crisis, must deal with embarrassing information about a Bartlet all while monitoring the conditions in the Sudan. Meanwhile, Josh goes to Will for help with the campaign, and C.J. and Danny go to dinner together.
With the possibility of a nuclear reactor exploding in California, the presidential hopefuls struggle try to come up with a strategy to deal with the impending disaster while President Bartlet faces the problem as well. Meanwhile, Kate keeps close watch on Russia and China fighting over Kazakhstan.
The candidates are surprised at their poll ratings after a close call at the San Andreo nuclear plant. Meanwhile, Bartlet debates whether or not to send U.S. troops to Central Asia to keep the peace between China and Russia in their continuing battle over Kazakhstan.
As election day nears, the candidates begin to feel the strain of the campaign trail. Despite the lack of sleep and physical ailments, the candidates are forced to make difficult campaign choices. Things take an unexpected turn when Vinick finds an opportunity to hurt the Santos campaign.
Toby is pressured to reveal the source of the shuttle leak; as election day nears, Santos pushes himself to his limit while on the campaign trial.
During the night before Election Day, C.J. is faced with choosing between job offers, Josh stresses over the returns, and Annabeth makes a shocking discovery.
As the polls close and results begin to trickle in, tensions, as well as emotions, fly. Santos and Josh deal with the loss of the Vice Presidential Candidate, and Vinick argues with his campaign team. Meanwhile, the First Lady and Liz Bartlet-Westin eagerly await the results of Doug's campaign for Congress.
In the wake of Leo's death, the current staff, as well as staff members from the past, join President Bartlet at Leo's funeral. Meanwhile, Santos must deal with the loss of his running mate.
The White House is shocked when the President-Elect calls the President of China, taking a different position on foreign policy than that of President Bartlet. Meanwhile, Josh debates who to choose as deputy Chief of Staff.
While Santos debates who to choose as his Vice President, Helen has to deal with her new duties as First Lady and new issues the First Family are facing. Meanwhile, Vinick has to figure out what to do now that the election is over.
With Santos' inauguration nearing and the Bartlet administration preparing to leave the White House, C.J., as well as the other staff members, has to decide what to do with her future. Meanwhile, Andy asks Bartlet to pardon Toby so he won't be faced with jail time, and C.J. and Danny talk about their relationship.
As the Bartlet administration prepares to make their exit, the staff pauses to look back on their past 8 years working in the West Wing. Meanwhile, the incoming Santos administration nervously awaits the inauguration, and then Santos' staff take their new positions and offices in the White House.