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Original Airdate 02-28-01 Rerun 06-20-01

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It's "Big Block of Cheese" Day, which means that Leo sends grumbling staffers to meet with organizations who are not usually heard from at the White House. Toby, for instance, meets with World Bank protesters while C.J.'s assignment is the Cartographers for Social Equality. Meanwhile, a friend of Donna's (Jolie Jenkins) asks Sam to pursue a pardon for her grandfather, a White House staffer in the '40s who was convicted of perjury in a McCarthy-era spy case and died in prison.
From NBC:
While a contemptuous Toby (Richard Schiff) is assigned to meet with a noisy, unruly mob protesting the World Trade Organization, Donna (Janel Moloney) asks Sam (Rob Lowe) to consider fronting an executive pardon for the grandfather of her friend (Jolie Jenkins) who was imprisoned for espionage in the 1940s. Elsewhere, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) fumes when there are complications in his plan to select the bucolic -- and historic -- site for his Presidential library; as part of Bartlet's tradition of setting aside one day for personal petitions to the White House, C.J. (Allison Janney) must grant an audience to an earnest group of cartographers who want to adopt a new global map that is more respectful of Third World nations; Sam is still smarting over the news of his father's infidelity.


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
Roma Maffia as
Officer Rhonda Sachs  
Guest Starring    
Jolie Jenkins as Stephanie Gault  
Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Nancy McNally National Security Advisor
Clark Gregg as Special Agent Michael Casper "Mike" / FBI
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
John Billingsley as Dr. John Fallow  
Jordan Baker as Dr. Cynthia Sayles  
Brent Hinkley as Professor Donald Huke  
Christopher Neiman as OMB Staffer  
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
Richard Stay as Terry Webber (last name)
Shana O'Neil as Protestor #1  
Free Brooks as Protestor #2  
Michael Charles Vaccaro as Protestor #3  
Shirley Jordan as FBI Receptionist  
John Strand as Cop  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nomination by
Rob Lowe

WGA Awards

Episodic Drama Nomination for
Paul Redford
Aaron Sorkin

Media Quotes

"Right now I'm learning about presidential pardons, White House vacations, the World Bank and spies," he says. "I still need to know more about spies. I'll start writing the script before I know nearly enough about any of these things to really start writing." - Aaron Sorkin

"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

"One of the guys in the staff, Paul Redford, said, 'Why don't we do a story about a pardon?' ...But there is no controversy surrounding the pardon, and it doesn't have anything to do with influence peddling. You get a little information about how pardons work." - Aaron Sorkin

"Media Talk: Television Meets Reality in a Drama on Pardons"
by Unknown
February 26, 2001
New York Times

"New facts are particularly devastating for those who say Richard Nixon, for example, just made his name as a Commie basher and tore down Alger Hiss for his own good," Lowe noted. "Nixon was right about Alger Hiss and people don't realize that. Listen, I'm no fan of Richard Nixon, but it turns out that he was right about that."

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, too.

"They were both cause celebres, particularly for liberal Democrats," Lowe noted, "and it turns out they were wrong." - Rob Lowe

"Lowe flying high"
by Phil Rosenthal
February 27, 2001
Chicago Sun-Times

"Sam often gets righteously indignant, and he's almost always right," Lowe said this week in a telephone interview with TV critics. "So one of the things I loved about this particular episode was that he gets the carpet yanked out from underneath him and has to face that. That was fun to play.

"It was a particularly great piece of writing that (creator/executive producer) Aaron (Sorkin) did for me in this show. . . . The writing is so inspiring. I was completely swept away with the character's disillusionment and betrayal.

"In the life of a TV series, you need an episode like this just to recharge your batteries. It was like a big, fat softball pitch coming down the plate for me. You just take a good crack at it." And Lowe hits a home run.

"The nature of this story and what my character goes through made me dig into a real emotional place that I haven't had reason to go to in this show yet," he said. "So it just gave me a chance to stretch as an actor in a way that I hadn't been called upon to do."

And the episode gave Lowe and Moloney, who aren't often in the same scenes, their biggest opportunity to date to work together.

"I loved that Donna was the one to comfort Sam. There was just something unexpected about it and it just feels right," Lowe said. "You know what? Aaron knows his stuff. I thought maybe he would've put me with Allison Janney for this storyline. And he chose to have me with Donna, and I think it worked out really, really well. She's a wonderful actress and I just don't get to be with her that much."


"At the point that we were doing this, nobody thought that (Clinton pardons) story had any legs at all," Lowe said. "It was pre-Hugh Rodham. It was pre-Roger Clinton. It was pre-a lot of that stuff. That story was sort of not on anybody's radar quite yet.

"And the spy thing is just a weird fluke. . . . It's really kismet that all of these things came together at the same time that we did this show."

"Rob Lowe stands out in latest 'West Wing'"
by Scott Pierce
February 28, 2001
Desert News

"At the point we were doing this, nobody thought that [pardon] thing had any legs at all. . .and the spy thing [the recent arrest of an FBI agent on charges of being a Russian spy] is just a weird fluke," Lowe said, describing the episode as "a show about betrayal."


"That I can speak knowledgeably about the pardon process is a great gift, considering that's in the news now," - Rob Lowe

"With 'Best Friends' like these ... "
by Ellen Gray
February 28, 2001
Philadelphia Daily News

"I've always been unabashedly romantic and patriotic about this system, even when it was uncool and very unhip to be that way. When Sam gives a speech to Donna (Janel Moloney) about why high treason is so terrible, that sort of gives voice to that part of myself." - Rob Lowe

"Rob Lowe in the Limelight"
by Daniel R. Coleridge
February 28, 2001
TV Guide Online

for ... all those who felt maybe I didn't give the protestors a fair shake, I've decided to blame it on television itself. We have to deliver a show to the network that's 41 minutes and 35 seconds, it can't be 41:36. As a result, you have to cut stuff, and sometimes the stuff you have to cut, you needed.

Here's about 40 seconds from the cutting room floor--

RHONDA: So what's wrong with that?
TOBY: Nothing's wrong with that.
RHONDA: What would they say if I asked 'em the same question?
TOBY: They'd say the WTO benefits corporations and not people.
RHONDA: Does it?
TOBY: Well what they wouldn't say is that lowering trade barriers allows for cheaper food, cheaper clothes, more selection of goods and generally cuts the cost of living.
RHONDA: Yeah, but it isn't the cost of just living that's being cut, right?
TOBY: What do you mean?
RHONDA: I mean isn't the reason I can buy, on a cop's salary, what most people would consider to be luxury items, isn't it that companies use overseas labor?
TOBY: Yes.
RHONDA: And some of that cheap labor, some of it's kids, right?
TOBY: When countries join the WTO they agree to certain standards.
RHONDA: So things that are produced, like, in sweatshops, those things wouldn't be allowed?
TOBY: No, I mean, no, they would be allowed.
TOBY: The WTO doesn't allow bans on products based on how they're produced. They can't refuse textile products, for instance, just because they're made by underage workers.
RHONDA: Or agricultural products just because they might be harvested in a way that harms the environment?

And in the background, the crowd has worked itself into another-- CROWD: GLOBAL JUSTICE NOW! GLOBAL JUSTICE NOW!

TOBY: Rhonda?
TOBY: Are you a ringer?
RHONDA: (smiles) Just a peace officer.

Posted at Forum
by Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
March 2, 2001

It seems like the world is coming to an end every week on The West Wing. ... How 'bout last week when they took the pardon story, cut in footage of the WTO protestors and intoned "A pardon enrages a nation." - Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin

Posted at Forum
by Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
March 5, 2001

Sales for Peters maps have skyrocketed at ODT Inc. since the show aired last week. Before the show, ODT sold about three maps a day. In the days since it aired last Wednesday, ODT has received 120 orders for Peters maps.

"'Accurate' map of the world gets boost from West Wing"
by Jerry Abejo
March 6, 2001
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Rich Mills, spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, rejoiced last season when TV press secretary Toby Ziegler gave anti-trade protesters an earful.

"I was pumped," Mills said. When the rerun aired, he watched the episode again.

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

How 'bout Laura Glasser coming to me with, "Did you know the Mercator Projection isn't right?"


How 'bout Paul Redford coming up with the entire spy story for "Somebody's Going to Emergency" - Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin

Posted at Forum
by Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
July 22, 2001

A question was raised about storylines from SN [Sports Night] that have repeated on TWW. He said basically he steals from other people and himself. In the case of Jeremy and Sam's father having an affair--that was based on something that really happened to a friend of his and he found compelling.

Posted at
by Catherine from Sam Seaborn Central
July 21, 2002
Message 21551
Notes from a L.A. book signing with Aaron Sorkin

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