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The Midterms

Original Airdate 10-18-00 Rerun 12-13-00 8 p.m.

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In the aftermath of the shooting, the Administration is polling at 81 percent. But those numbers are soft, Sam cautions, and no one disagrees. Moreover, they probably won't hold up for the midterm elections in 12 weeks. Still, Toby wants to use this honeymoon as leverage for a domestic-terrorism initiative. In fact, he's obsessed with it. The President also seems obsessed---with thwarting an old foe who is running for a school-board seat in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Sam enlists an old law-school classmate (Jamie Denton) to run for an open House seat.
From NBC:
As one of the President's staff, Josh (Bradley Whitford) recovers from bullet wounds, the rest of the team pushes on to the "mid-term" congressional elections in November -- but as C.J. (Allison Janney) deflects press requests on how the assassination attempt has affected the mood in the White House, she knows that nearly everyone bears psychological scars in its aftermath. In particular, Charlie (Dulé Hill) is affected when he learns more about the shooting and reacts coldly both to Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Zoey (Elisabeth Moss). For his part, Toby (Richard Schiff) surveys the President's newfound popularity in the polls and proposes that the administration pursue a course that would turn up the heat on extremist groups while Sam (Rob Lowe) convinces a friend, Tom Jordan (Jamie Denton) to run for Congress after the death of Grant Samuels, the current congressman. Elsewhere, Bartlet is obsessed with an obscure school board election in New Hampshire for purely personal reasons.


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
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 Starring    
Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Patricia Bartlet Bartlets' youngest daughter
Claire Yarlett as Dr. Jenna Jacobs Ph.D. in English Literature
Rebecca Creskoff as Sarah Jordan Tom Jordan's wife
Jamie Denton as Tom Jordan Sam's law school friend
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Alfonso Freeman as Andrew Mackintosh from Technical Support
Myles Killpatrick as Jeffery Mackintosh Andrew Mackintosh's son
Franc Ross as Sonny Saunders Radio host
Jesse Corti as Dave Stewart Radio host
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Peter James Smith as Ed Congressional Liaison
William Duffy as Larry Congressional Liaison
Alan McRae as Gary with a "G" Radio host

Information Links



Shine Awards

Scene Stealer Win

Media Quotes

"We want to stay on the other side of the street from the actual election," he [Aaron Sorkin] says, noting that the political calendar on the series is intentionally two years out of step with the real one. "We have midterm elections coming up in November," he says, mentioning that the administration of Democratic President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) will be busy fighting for control of the House, not the White House.

"Undebatable: 'West Wing' In A World Of Its Own "
by James Endrst
October 4, 2000
Hartford Courant

While all this is going on, the ramifications of the assassination attempt lurk in the background. The West Wingers "are all dealing with it, and now [they] need to get back to work. ...We're not spending a season on the aftermath of a bloodbath." - Thomas Schlamme

"The Capitol Gang"
by Paul Droesch
October 4, 2000
TV Guide Online

One day, when I started to rehearse literally the most difficult scene I'd ever done, the 'Today' show came bursting through the door just as I said my first line." - Richard Schiff

That incident, Schiff says, led to a new policy that restricts such set visits, and requires" that the cast and crew give their approvals.

"'West Wing' player keeps a cool head"
by Virginia Rohan
October 4, 2000
Bergen Record

"A friend forwarded me a copy of an anonymous Internet posting in which the author sarcastically agreed with Dr. Laura [Schlessinger, the controversial talk-radio host] that homosexuality was an abomination as cited in Leviticus. He or she then went on to point out other Old Testament passages that mentioned extreme punishments for what today are some pretty ordinary things." - Aaron Sorkin

Sorkin already had written a subplot for the episode about President Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) taking an obsessive interest in a New Hampshire school board election. The race was in the district where Bartlet, a former New Hampshire governor, sent his kids to public school. And the leading candidate was Elliot Roush, a Christian fundamentalist whom Bartlet beat in the first election of his political career.

With that story line already percolating, Sorkin said he looked at the e-mail about Schlessinger and thought, "Gee, this is right for this episode, and there's a way to dramatize it."


But Sorkin said he was troubled by his use of the Internet material.

"If you're a writer," he said, "the only thing worse than not getting credit for something you did is getting credit for something you didn't do."

So Sorkin mentioned the situation in a weekly meeting of "West Wing" producers. "I wanted to make sure that nobody thought I was trying to pull a fast one," Sorkin said. "Being called a plagiarist is like being called a sex offender. Even if it's not true, once the stench is out there, it's not easy to get rid of."

Staff members were assigned to try to identify a specific author, and efforts included asking questions in some of the many anti-Schlessinger Internet chat rooms and contacting gay-oriented publications like The Advocate.

"We came up empty," Sorkin said, "except that all the people we spoke to said they'd seen several different versions of the [Schlessinger/biblical] material over the last year or so."

"'Wing' Uses Net Asset"
by Eric Mink
October 25, 2000
New York Daily News

Refreshingly candid exec producer Aaron Sorkin admits he lifted the diatribe from a much-forwarded anonymous e-mail. (For those who missed it, Sheen's prez blasts a Dr. Laura-esque radio host for saying the Bible condemns homosexuality; he notes that the Good Book also advocates many odd punishments, like the death penalty if you work on the Sabbath.)

Sorkin, who hoped to give credit, says they "cast a fairly wide net, but we didn't find the author." And he has yet to hear from Dr. Laura herself. "I don't imagine I'll be getting a Christmas card from her."

"Burning Questions"
by Tricia Johnson and Ann Limpert
November 3, 2000
Entertainment Weekly

"And then you turn on 'The West Wing,' this fictional place, and you've got all of these people who, in fact, have developed language and imagery that can work in the post-Watergate, post-Monica era. And they can talk about politics in a sincere way."

[Robert] Thompson [Director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University] cites a recent episode that ended with the staff members sitting on a stoop and saluting each other, and the country, with a heartfelt "God bless America" toast.

"The scene was moving," Thompson says. "It made sense. What they've captured on this show -- and most of it is due to Sorkin -- is a type of language in which we can talk about our country, our nationhood, our citizenry, our responsibilities. That we can, in fact, take it all seriously again.

"A Program We Can Support"
by David Bianculli
November 6, 2000
New York Daily News

"You want to hear about the lines being blurred?"... "Our production office got a phone call from a woman wanting to know Josh Lyman's e-mail address because she would like to send him a get-well card."

"What's amazing about that is she had to call Warner Bros. to get it. There's obviously some acknowledgment there that it's a TV show." - Aaron Sorkin

"Indecision 2000: 'West Wing'-Style"
by Unknown
November 9, 2000

We gotta talk about the Dr. Laura scene. It really pleased people, especially that last beat of it, for some unknown reason. When Rob Lowe comes and takes the little apron -- for some reason that tickled people to no end. - Paris Barclay

I'm glad. To me, she is a horrifyingly, staggeringly mean and ignorant person. She should be given access to the airwaves. I'm given access to the airwaves, and there was a good scene to write and I wrote it. Listen, I don't want to pretend that I'm not passionate about this stuff, that "hey, there was just a scene there and I wrote it." It's great when you can catch hold of one that you really feel like, gee, my blood is in this too. - Aaron Sorkin

"A Few Good Stories"
by Paris Barclay
February 13, 2001
The Advocate

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