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Original Airdate 10-13-99 Rerun 02-02-00

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While staff members strive to regain five crucial votes on a gun bill, McGarry (John Spencer) is told by his wife (Sara Botsford) that their marriage is in trouble.
From NBC:
Presidential Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) needs five more House votes to pass a bill restricting the sale of automatic firearms -- but the cost might be too high, especially if he has to go to the unpredictable Vice President (Tim Matheson) to help put them over the top. The staff's annual financial disclosure statements prove to be thorny for Toby (Richard Schiff), whose innocent technology stock purchase last year proved to be wildly profitable, which raises eyes due to his association with an expert in the field. In addition, Leo's long hours on the job cause an unforeseen crisis at home, and the President (Martin Sheen) unintentionally mixes up the potent medications he receives for his ailing back.


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Moira Kelly as Mandy (Madeline) Hampton Public Relations Consultant
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Richard Schiff as Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler Communications Director
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Chief of Staff
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Deputy Chief of Staff
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Guest Star    
Michael McGuire as Congressman Cal Tillinghouse from Texas
Thom Barry as Congressman Mark Richardson Black Caucus
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Jay Underwood as Chris (Christopher) Wick Freshman Rep. / Josh's Frat Brother
Mark Blum as Congressman Katzenmoyer Democrat from Wisconsin
Sara Botsford as Jenny McGarry Leo's Wife
Jillian Armenante as Leela White House Lawyer
Special Guest Star
Tim Matheson as
Vice President John Hoynes  
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Jackie Mari Roberts as Janeane Vice President's Secretary
Bradley James as Secret Service Agent #1 Donnie
Mongo Brownlee as Secret Service Agent  
Cynthia Abeln as Female Groupie #1  
Paige Taylor Adams as Female Groupie #2  
Hanna Cheek as Female Groupie #3  
Penny Griego as Newscaster #1  
Sheila Frazier as Newscaster #2  
Ivan Allen as Newscaster #3 Roger Salier
Victor Love as Reporter Mike
Mia Tate as Cocktail Waitress  
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Julia Pearlstein as Volunteer  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nomination by
John Spencer

Prism Awards

TV Prime Time Drama Series Episode Commendation

Media Quotes

Could a White House staffer go to AA meetings just as the chief of staff and vice president do on TV?

"I think you could do it now," says Podesta. [John Podesta, former chief of staff for President Clinton] "If someone came to me, a senior person in the office, and said, 'I am an alcoholic, and I am going to AA, and it might get out,' I would think that would be something I would accept, and [that I would] try to work with that person. I don't think it would be a case for firing. It's about how much you are willing to take the initial attacks of your political opponents and from the press. We know a lot about that."

"House Call"
by Mary Murphy
July 22, 2000
TV Guide (American edition)

The longest and most complicated Steadicam shot so far on The West Wing was four minutes long and took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The operator was Dave Commides [Chameides]. Del Ruth recalls, "It started out on the dance floor, went into the lobby, through the top-floor kitchen area, down two flights of stairs into the bowels of the kitchen and through the cavernous kitchen, where food was being prepared for a banquet. We worked our way through that area, went down another flight of stairs to where the laundry facilities are, then proceeded into the catacombs, all the way through the base of the hotel and out into the parking lot, where we ended up in a motorcade. The shot involved more than 500 extras and nearly all of the major cast members, and it was all done in one seamless Steadicam shot.

"Each take required one magazine of film, and the actors had to pass off dialogue from one person to another. It required quite a bit of orchestration. It was about a five-page scene and took us half the night [to shoot]. Dave was walking backward at full speed for the entire shot; on take 13, he almost collapsed!" - Thomas Del Ruth

"Tom Del Ruth, ASC lends an idealistic ambience to NBC's critically acclaimed presidential drama THE WEST WING"
by Unknown
October 2000

"But they don't have a dog," Jake [Siewert, former press secretary for President Clinton] said, pausing for a moment's reflection. "They should have a dog. It could make a good plot."

"'West Wing' not unlike real thing?"
by Bob Deans
October 4, 2000
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"All the network has asked us to do is present a very balanced view of an issue, to present both sides," .... "The only issue we don't do that on is gun control. Frankly, no one involved in the program feels there is a logical reason for streets to be flooded with Saturday night specials and automatic weapons." - John Wells

"'The West Wing': Leader of the Free World (Free TV, That Is)"
by Bernard Weinraub
October 17, 2000
New York Times

"If in the script there is an argument about gun control, the most precious document you could produce at 'The West Wing' that week is a passionate, intelligent case against gun control. We know how to do the other one," - Lawrence O'Donnell Jr.

"Washington Casts an Eye on Hollywood"
by Faye Foire
July 15, 2001
Los Angeles Times

Sorkin: There are AA meetings going on all over the world, 24 hours a day. I guarantee you that within five miles of you there's one happening right now. And you don't need a ticket ... nobody checks your I.D. There are a few exceptions. Commercial-airline pilots have private AA meetings, so do judges and surgeons. So it occurred to me that somewhere, deep in the basement of government, late at night in Washington, D.C., is an AA meeting for government officials so high-profile that they couldn't possibly go to a regular meeting.

Longworth: Do you know if your assumption was correct?

Sorkin: I have no idea, (but) I would be very surprised if there weren't. I have to believe that with 545 congressmen and senators, agency directors and White House staff, there have got to be a bunch of people there who are recovering alcoholics, and it wouldn't shock me at all if there were such a meeting.

"Aaron Sorkin worried about effect on writing of getting off drugs"
by Jim Longworth
April 11, 2003
Winston-Salem Journal

The West Wing's [John] Spencer, sipping on club soda, refers to the parallels between his early alcohol problems and those scripted for White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry. "It was weird. I really wasn't acting."

"Pitch and catch"
by Dusty Saunders
January 24, 2004
Rocky Mountain News

And, like Sorkin, who called his show "a valentine to public service," Wells believes the show's foundation is still good government, "without being Pollyannaish about the sausage making that is politics."

"Big changes await occupants of the "West Wing" White House"
by Gail Pennington
October 17, 2004
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I was sitting with him during an NBC Hollywood cocktail party in January of 2004 when the subject turned to alcoholism. Sipping a club soda, Spencer recalled the first time he looked at background material about Leo McGarry, his character on The West Wing. "It was weird," Spencer said. "Leo McGarry is an alcoholic and so am I. "When we began shooting the series, it felt, at times, like I really wasn't acting, particularly during scenes that dealt with Leo's battle with alcohol."

"Spencer's role mirrored life"
by Dusty Saunders
December 20, 2005
Rocky Mountain News

Funniest Martin Sheen anecdote: "I think the day we laughed most was when he called Toby 'Topol,' " she says. Richard Schiff, it seems, laughed so hard that it was 40 minutes before they could reshoot. - Allison Janney

May 14, 2006
Washington Post

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
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