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Mr. Willis of Ohio

Original Airdate 11-03-99 Rerun 03-08-00 and 08-08-01

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A widower (Al Fann) who took over his late wife's seat in Congress reveals his accountability in a census matter; the President asks Josh to help Charlie relax.
From NBC:
Toby (Richard Schiff) and Mandy (Moira Kelly) work to convince some congressmen -- including the nervous Mr. Willis (Al Fann), who assumed his late wife's office -- to approve a commerce bill that includes a vital census-counting provision. The President's daughter (Elisabeth Moss) gets into an ugly fracas in a Georgetown bar along with Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Sam (Rob Lowe). Elsewhere, C.J. (Allison Janney) swallows her pride and asks Sam for help to understand the basic components of the administration's stance on random census-taking in 2000, and a peeved President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) scolds Leo (John Spencer) when he learns that Leo's wife has left him.


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    
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Patricia Bartlet Bartlets' youngest daughter
Suzy Nakamura as Cathy Assistant to Deputy Communications Director
Allison Smith as Mallory O'Brian Teacher / Leo McGarry's daughter
Renee Estevez as Nancy Mrs. Landingham's Assistant
Al Frann as Mr. Joe Willis Congressman
Charley Lang as (Matt) Skinner Congressman
Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield Head of POTUS' Secret Service detail
Kenneth Tigar as Gladman Congressman
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Eric Balfour (uncredited) as Frat Boy from
Blake Sheilds as Frat Boy #1  
Justin Urich as Frat Boy #2  
Bradley James as Secret Service Agent #1 Donnie
Greg Wrangler as Secret Service Agent #2  
Juan A. Riojas as Secret Service Agent #3  
Gathering Marbet as Waitress  

Information Links

The Legislative Process of The House of Representatives


Banff Rockie Awards

Continuing Series Episode Nomination

Media Quotes

Cynthia Mostoller, National History Day teacher of the year in 1998, was enchanted with a character presented as an eighth-grade social studies teacher, Mr. Willis, who becomes a congressman from Ohio and votes his conscience in a battle over a bill.

"I'm an eighth-grade social studies teacher from Ohio. And the show was exactly on target with what we are teaching right now," she says.

"Lessons in entertainment"
by Cathy Lynn Grossman
December 14, 1999
USA Today

These [census] scenes work, says [Thomas] Schlamme, precisely because they're not about teaching. "You're involved with the fact that Sam is the smarter one and C.J. has to be the student at this moment, so you're enjoying that, first and foremost," Schlamme explains. "From a directing point of view...[t]he essence of the scene is not about teaching us about the census; it's about how are these two people going to end up being closer to one another by the end of this episode. So if you start from that, then you can lay on... any dialogue you want and it's fascinating."

"The Real White House"
by Matthew Miller
March 2000
Brill's Content

"Make the Census interesting, who'd have thought?" says (real) White House spokesman Joe Lockhart.

"You Could Call It the Wonk Wing"
by Jay Branegan
May 15, 2000
Time Magazine

Mr. [Scott] Reid [communications director for Paul Martin, the Canadian Finance Minister says, a discussion of tax cuts versus tax rebates was punctuated by one West Wing staffer who said repeatedly: "I want to keep more of my money! I want to buy a DVD!" The line became a favourite among staff in Mr. Martin's office, who now use it themselves.

"Ottawa insiders see selves in TV's idealistic West Wing"
by Francine Dube
May 18, 2000
National Post

"That Aaron can make things like the census as fascinating as he does on the show is a benefit for anyone who watches." - Richard Schiff

"A Taste of 'West Wing's' Nonpartisan Politics"
by Steve Hochman
September 11, 2000
Special to The Los Angeles Times

"You just say the word "census" and people fall asleep. It's a questionnaire; turns out it's terribly important." - Aaron Sorkin

"They did a program where a third of the episode involved a recurring story line, and it was the debate on census and statistical sampling. And they did a better job of framing the issue, the politics on each side, and the passions on each side, than anybody in the broadcast world did throughout this debate. We've been having this debate for two years. It's a very interesting debate. It's got to do with the future, and how we're going to allocate our money. It has to do with the politics of Democrats versus Republicans. It's perfect for the kind of arguments we have here in Washington, and I can't tell you that I ever saw anybody put this story on television." - Joe Lockhart [former press secretary for President Clinton]

"And I thought Aaron was crazy. I read that, and I was like, "Well, this is going to be the most boring thing ever." And then as we did it, we had such a good time, and I learned, right along with C.J., as did my friends who watched the show. And now I can guarantee you everyone who saw that show is going to fill out their census because they saw how, and they learned how important it actually was and what it means." - Allison Janney

"Popular Politics"
by Terence Smith
September 27, 2000
Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

"When you do a show on the census, 13 million or 14 million people watch it all the way through," ... "And somebody at the White House was saying, when we want to talk about something, if we get the news cycle, it's maybe a million people, and if we bring up the census, the channel changes." -Bradley Whitford

"Hail to "The West Wing""
by Gail Pennington
October 4, 2000
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

On the "Dave of Love" Remember in Sports Night when Dana is dealing poker and she hands out the Ten of Hearts, calling it the "Dave of Love?" I think he used it again in TWW? One night, Aaron and some friends were playing poker (Brad Whitford among them) and one of the guys, John DiSimmio from Castle Rock had called it that. Aaron, an amateur poker player, thought everyone just did this. Much to his surprise, after that episode of SN aired, he got a call from the actual DAVE OF LOVE.

Posted at
by AJ
September 12, 2003
Message 31492
Notes from "A Conversation with Aaron Sorkin" at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills

'When someone is able to explain to me, say, the census, what seems to be an arcane argument in front of Congress, and they can make me smile when explaining it well, then I want to dramatise that. I'm certainly better at something like that than dramatising the end of the world.'

"Wing and a prayer"
by Jay Rayner
July 10, 2005

El Dorado native Alex Graves has been involved with the NBC television drama series "West Wing" almost from the beginning - in fact, he joined the series at its sixth episode.

"El Dorado native Graves nominated for an Emmy"
by Steve Smith
August 9, 2005
El Dorado Times

I think of Michael O'Neill [who played Secret Service Agent Ron Butterfield], who just came on with such conviction. He was just using all of himself from the first day he walked in and briefed the president on security. You were like, "This guy has a heart and a home, and this guy's for real." - Bradley Whitford

"Fearless Leaders"
by Jenelle Riley
May 11, 2006
Back Stage

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