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Original Airdate 02-21-01 Rerun 12-05-01

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The President returns from Japan to learn that his Surgeon General (Mary Kay Place) has said some things about marijuana that might prove troublesome. Then his daughter Ellie (Nina Siemaszko), a medical student, says something about the controversy to reporter Danny Concannon. Meanwhile, Charlie's choice of a movie for the President to watch proves controversial, too. And Toby tries to enlist his ex-wife (Kathleen York), a Congresswoman, in his effort to make peace with liberal Democrats over the Social Security flap.
From NBC:
The President (Martin Sheen) wings back from a Tokyo trade summit, a firestorm of controversy awaits him when Surgeon General Griffith (Mary Kay Place) hints that marijuana should be decriminalized -- but Bartlet is even more incensed over his meek middle daughter Ellie's (Nina Siemaszko) public assurances that her father would never fire Griffith. When he confronts Ellie, the President gets a sobering reality check about their relationship. Elsewhere: Toby (Richard Schiff) floats an idea of putting a controversial Senator on a special commission to study social security reform and encounters resistance to the notion of raising the retirement age; Sam (Rob Lowe) tries to head off the misleading story that the White House refused to screen an incendiary new film promoted by a savvy movie producer.


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 Star
Mary Kay Place as
Dr. Millicent "Milly" Griffith Surgeon General
Guest Starring    
Kathleen York as Rep. Andy (Andrea) Wyatt Congresswoman
Nina Siemaszko as Ellie (Eleanor Emily) Bartlet Bartlets' middle daughter
Robert Knepper as Morgan Ross Movie Producer
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Paul Eiding as Labor Leader in Toby's meeting
John Capodice as Lenny AARP
Renee Estevez as Nancy Mrs. Landingham's Assistant
Ned Schmidtke as Industry Leader #1  
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt (last name) / Reporter
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell (last name) / Reporter
Mindy Seeger as Chris Reporter
Greg Baker as Interviewer with Surgeon General
William Duffy as Larry Congressional Liaison
Peter James Smith as Ed Congressional Liaison
Greg Wrangler as Secret Service Agent  
James Kiriyama-Lem as Industry Leader #2  

Information Links

Violence in Media

Media Quotes

And there was Dulé Hill, who plays the president's aide Charlie Young, intensely memorizing the lines of Japanese he would have to say later despite the "help" from crew members. "It means, 'Your mother needs a face-lift,' " a sound guy tells Hill.

"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

Each has a copy of this week's script, Sorkin's 37th since the pilot, a stack of paper half an inch thick, about 10,000 words (including stage directions), the cover emblazoned with the presidential seal. "I've taken another whack at this," Sorkin sense, calling this week's read through to order on late Friday afternoon. They read at hyperspeed, stumbling occasionally (who knew that President Bartlet wouldn't know how to pronounce Yemen?), laughing like an audience at their own jokes, and snapping back into character, managing -- without lights, music, props, or even sitting up straight -- to make the story so compelling that when it's over, they can't help themselves, they applaud: for Sorkin, I'm sure that's the idea, I think also for themselves.

"The Secret Life of an Actor"
by David Whitford
May 2001

"It was a realistic portrayal," says John Rother about a recent West Wing subplot that referred to AARP and a Blue Ribbon Commission on Social Security. Rother, AARP's Director of Legislation and Public Policy, said it reminded him of many White House negotiations he's taken part in.

The only difference: "Meetings like this usually take place in small offices with only a few people, not in the Roosevelt Room as it did on the show," said Rother, ..."And I have a beard and the actor who played me didn't."

"Winging It"
by Unknown
May / June 2001
Modern Maturity

Tony Newman, communications director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says the show in which the surgeon general suggested marijuana was not particularly harmful "was a huge breakthrough for us. While we have the DEA shutting down medical marijuana clubs in San Francisco, on 'West Wing' you have a surgeon general having an honest discussion on the issue. The sad thing is, it's on NBC TV."

"Getting President Bartlet's ear"
by Mark Jurkowitz
March 27, 2002
Boston Globe

"I don't think a writer is doing himself any favors by letting people know a lot about him on a personal level. I don't want to get between the audience and what it is that I'm writing. I felt, last year, any time I wrote anything about decriminalizing marijuana, for instance, that the audience would, say, 'Welllll.'" - Aaron Sorkin

"'West Wing' wizard"
by Heather Salerno
October 6, 2002
Journal News

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