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Bartlet's Third State of the Union

Original Airdate 02-07-01 Rerun 06-06-01 8 p.m.

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It's State of the Union night and West Wing staffers are basking in the address's glow (or spinning furiously on a special edition of Capital Beat, telecast from the Roosevelt Room). But Abbey (Stockard Channing) has serious problems with its tone. And that's not the only distraction: guerrillas have captured five DEA agents in Colombia; and it turns out that a cop Bartlet cited for heroism in the speech was once accused of brutalizing a black suspect. Meanwhile, Josh can't get numbers on the speech from the pollster the White House has hired, Joey Lucas (Marlee Matlin).
From NBC:
There's electricity in the air as the President (Martin Sheen) addresses the Congress for his third State of the Union address -- which was intricately composed by Toby (Richard Schiff) -- and while Josh (Bradley Whitford) anxiously tracks public response via a phone poll, a crisis looms when five American drug agents are taken hostage by Colombian rebels. As Josh spearheads the sampling efforts, he crosses paths with sassy pollster Joey Lucas (Marlee Matlin) and they renew their sexual chemistry. Elsewhere, Bartlet earns Abbey's (Stockard Channing) ire when his speech omits mention of her passionate issues, including violence against women while an important cable TV political show host (Ted McGinley) sets up in the White House for a live post-speech analysis.


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
Special Guest Stars    
Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Emily Procter as Ainsley Hayes Associate White House Counsel
Marlee Matlin as
Joey (Josephine) Lucas Pollster
Guest Starring    
Corbin Bernsen as Congressman Henry Shallick Rep.
Tony Plana as Mickey Troop Assistant Secretary of State
for South America
Richard Riehle as Jack Sloan Detroit Police Officer
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Ted McGinley as Mark Gottfried Host of Capitol Beat
Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman Sign Language Interpreter
Glenn Morshower as Chysler Mike (first name)
Gregalan Williams as Robbie Mosley Military Officer
Barbara Eve Harris as Gretchen Tyler ACLU
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
William Duffy as Larry Congressional Liaison
Peter James Smith as Ed Congressional Liaison
Mindy Seeger as Chris Reporter
Bradley James as Secret Service Agent Donnie
J.P. Stevenson as Reporter #2 Jonathan
Kelly McNair as Pollster  
Jon Hershfield as Pollster #2  
Keith Mills as Mr. Finney Edgar (first name)
Sean Patrick Murphy as Floor Manger  
Ralph Meyering Jr. as Tom  
Molly Schaffer as Staffer  
Thomas Spencer as Military Aide Jeff
Marvin Krueger as Officer #2  
Michael Francis Clarke as Congressman Satch David (first name)
Doris McMillon as Newscaster Sandy
Larry Carroll as Newscaster #2  
Susan Krebs as Gail Schumer TV Anchor

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nomination by
Stockard Channing

Media Quotes

The two-parter takes place in the hours following the president's State of the Union address. Sam realizes that in the three months Ainsley has worked in the White House, she's never met the president.

"She's incredibly nervous to meet the president and knows when she does she's just going to embarrass herself somehow," Sorkin said. "So Sam arranges a meeting between the two of them and it goes terribly, and she basically spends the entire two-parter trying to make it better and ends up making it worse." - Aaron Sorkin

"'West Wing' creator vetoed a Bush cameo"
by Rob Owen
January 13, 2001
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"We've just shot the episode dealing with the State of the Union address," he said. "Toby is the major architect of that speech. While the speech is being given, DEA agents are taken hostage in Colombia. It's about the drug war, like the movie 'Traffic.'" - Richard Schiff

"Expect a 'West' Fling For Series' Janney"
by Mitchell Fink
January 19, 2001
New York Daily News

What follows is a minute-by-minute chronicle of the episodes from Wednesday night, when President Jed Bartlet was poised to deliver his State of the Union address and Mandy, Valerie and Shannon were poised to turf from the island an arrogant massage therapist named Sean. The similarities are uncanny.

9:05 Jed Bartlet enters Congress to the words: "Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!" Dano enters the running for Shannon's affection with the words: "She's a partier!"

9:11 The president concludes his speech, and a poll is conducted to determine what Americans think of the address. The third round of dating concludes and a poll is conducted to determine what the 10 single ladies on the island think of the three hunky dudes.

9:13 Press secretary C.J. Cregg appears on national television while wearing no pants. All 12 women who remain on Temptation Island (Patti, alas, was hoofed along with Sean) continue to appear on national television while wearing no pants.

9:15 Abbey, the president's wife, appears agitated as she repeatedly views a segment of video from the State of the Union speech. Mandy, the aspiring singer, appears agitated as she recalls viewing the videotape of her boyfriend, Billy, performing an impromptu striptease while hammered out of his tree.

9:17 Leo, the chief of staff, is forced to make a quick decision after being told that five U.S. drug agents have been abducted in Colombia; he chooses to summon major government officials, sighing: "This was almost a good night." Andy is forced to make a quick decision after being told that he'll pick first for the fourth round of dating; he chooses Elizabeth, sighing: "She's hot as hell."

9:20 Amid a frenzy of nighttime activity in the raucous polling centre, Josh urgently inquires: "When do I get numbers?!" Amid a frenzy of nighttime activity on the raucous island beach, Mandy urgently inquires, "Is this an orgy?!"

9:23 Donna urges Josh to ask out enchanting polling expert Joey Lucas. Mandy and Valerie urge Shannon to ask out studly "polling expert" Tom.

9:29 Sam awkwardly attempts to display his affection for Ainsley by telling her, "You're a blond Republican girl and no one likes you." Vanessa awkwardly attempts to display her affection for Billy by picking up a tropical butterfly and gently running it between her breasts.

9:36 Toby and the first lady duke it out over changes in the wording of the speech regarding Medicare and social security, the issues that Abbey views to be of paramount importance. Andy and Kaya duke it out over the fact that Kaya was massaging the tonsils of Megan, the former Lakers Girl who Andy views to be of paramount foxiness. "I look like a jackass," Andy says in an erudite analysis. "Megan looks like a whore."

9:45 President Bartlet shows the stress of trying to determine how to save the lives of the captured agents. Billy shows the stress of trying to determine how to select his ultimate dream date. "This whole process is literally killing me!" he moans.

9:53 The first lady tearfully laments that her husband has decided to run for a second term. Megan tearfully laments that her Kaya has decided to choose sexy Alison for his dream date.

9:59 A preview of the NEXT portends plenty of tension, frayed tempers and the prospect of the United States going to war. A preview of the NEXT portends plenty of tension, frayed tempers and the prospect of an ice cube being rubbed along the neck of a scantily clad woman.

"The West Wing of desire"
by Scott Feschuk
February 9, 2001
National Post

Marxist rebels abducted five U.S. anti-drug agents in the coca-growing region of Putumayo in southern Colombia. After a tense White House briefing, the president authorized a Special Forces-led rescue mission to the region.

How the mission ends only NBC knows: Part one of the story line was introduced last Wednesday in the hugely popular television drama The West Wing. The conclusion is scheduled for Wednesday.

NBC ripped the story straight from the headlines, painting a gloomy picture of the guerrilla war that has plagued Colombia for almost 40 years.

About the only thing that the network changed was the reference to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. In the series, it is the frente, or the front.


The Colombian embassy in Washington wasn't thrilled with the program, probably because it was broadcast at a time Colombia is trying to improve its image overseas, especially in Europe.

"'West Wing' focuses on Colombia"
by Paul De La Garza and John Balz
February 11, 2001
St. Petersburg Times

Later that Friday, associate producer Julie Herlocker and editor Janet Ashikaga sat with Sorkin to edit the first cut of the episode they had titled "Bartlet's Thrid State of the Union."

"We're going to spell 'Third' correctly, right?" Sorkin asks right off.

Besides spelling, however, it's easy to see how small the margin is between just good and excellent. They fight for timing and specific looks. Sorkin wants Bartlet's game face showing before he delivers his speech. He wants less anger, more disappointment from Stockard Channing, who plays the first lady, when she braces the president with the line, "We had a deal."

He wants faster cuts, less waiting, tiny things that are hard to notice.

"If there are 904 things to get right," Sorkin says later, "and we do 900 of them, you still want the other four."

"Inside 'The West Wing': A visit to the set of TV's most creative prime-time drama"
by Rick Kushman
February 25, 2001
Sacramento Bee

It is obvious that Martin Sheen has no trouble being presidential, but while he and his character have a lot in common, he maintains they are definitely not identical. "He won a Nobel Peace Prize for economics and he speaks Latin as well," says Sheen. "I can't speak English properly and I can't balance a check book."

"Inside the West Wing: The final term"
by Jim McAteer
February 28, 2001

"To make this guy a practicing Catholic who crosses himself before major events in his life creates a powerful sense of the earnest leader," says [Robert] Thompson, a Syracuse University professor and director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television. As Bartlet's character unfolds from episode to episode, [Robert] Thompson says, "we get a sense that he really believes in God, that he's not using him as a campaign consultant or dropping his name in speeches. . . . One gets the sense that this isn't just stained-glass window dressing."

"A true believer in 'The West Wing'"
by Nancy Haught - Religion News Service
March 31, 2001
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Question: I loved the "Bossa Nova" scene... was that improved or scripted out?
Emily Procter: The scene was scripted, but I unfortunately had to come up with the dancing. So, I spent many hours alone with myself in front of my mirror... LOL And actually, I thought I had figured out a way to seem cool while I was doing it, but it just didn't happen... LOL

May 17, 2001
AOL Chat

"I remember a stunning moment that Aaron Sorkin actually wrote, in which everything was stopped, and President Bartlet reached down and tied his shoe. And there was a good 35 seconds that there was nothing going on. There are a lot of silences." - Janel Moloney

"'West Wing' Remains Stellar"
by Roger Catlin
February 4, 2004
Hartford Courant

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