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Bartlet For America

Original Airdate 12-12-01 Rerun 06-05-02 8 p.m. and 12-25-02

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Descriptions  |  Credits  |  Information Links  |  Awards  |  Media Quotes


It's Dec. 23, but no one at the White House is feeling much in the Christmas spirit. Indeed, the most pressing holiday matter is a threat to firebomb black churches in Tennessee on Christmas Eve. As for Leo (John Spencer), he and his new $650-an-hour lawyer (Joanna Gleason) are on Capitol Hill, where he's about to testify before the House committee probing the MS matter. The ground to be covered: Bartlet's failure to disclose his condition during his Presidential campaign (the reasons for it are recounted in flashbacks).
From NBC:
While the White House is festooned with Christmas finery, Leo (John Spencer) fears the worst when he testifies in the Congressional investigation into the President's (Martin Sheen) possible lack of public disclosure about his illness while flashbacks reveal the background leading to Bartlet's decision as governor to not come forward with the damaging information. In addition, the President personally investigates a series of church firebombings in the South after a two-year probe proves fruitless and threatens using troops to protect parishioners the next day on Christmas Eve.


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
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
Tim Matheson as
John Hoynes Vice President
Guest Starring    
Joanna Gleason as Jordon Elaine Kendall Leo's lawyer /
misspelled Jordan Kendall
Mark Feuerstein as Cliff (Clifford) Calley Majority Counsel
Clark Gregg as Special Agent Michael Casper "Mike" / FBI
James Handy as Joseph "Phil" Bruno Congressman / Chairman
Steven Gilborn as Rep. Paul Dearborn Congressman
Doug Ballard as Edward "Ed" Pratt Governor of Tennessee
Todd Waring as Rathburn Congressman
Mark Hutter as Rep. Erickson (R) "Gentleman from Pennsylvania" /
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Delores Landingham President's Secretary
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Ashley L. Clark as Alan with glasses
Carlos Jacott as Allen What's New ?
Randy Thompson as CEO Donor
Dennis Haskins as CEO Donor
Ellis E. Williams as Reverend Algiss Skyler  
David St. James as Congressman Gibson Darren (first name) R-MI
Greta Sesheta as Congresswoman  
Joe O'Connor as Calhoun Congressman
Judy Kain as Event Planner  
Thomas Carrington as Congressional Staffer  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series Nomination for
Thomas Del Ruth, A.S.C.
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series Nomination for
Lauren Schaffer
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Win by
John Spencer
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win

ADG Awards

Excellence in Production Design for a Television Series Episode of a Single-Camera Series Nomination for
Kenneth Hardy

ASC Awards

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Episodic TV Series Win for
Thomas Del Ruth, A.S.C.

Prism Awards

TV Prime Time Drama Series Episode Commendation

Media Quotes

I've just gotten back from a steak lunch for the crew where the Emmy was passed around and spirits were high. I'm about to start writing the Christmas show. - Aaron Sorkin

Posted at
by List Owner
November 5, 2001
Message 10930

Just so you know, there was something else in Aaron's letter that I didn't include ... The last line of his letter was, "Now it's Spencer's turn."

Posted at
by List Owner
November 5, 2001
Message 10967

McGarry is, like [John] Spencer himself, a recovering alcoholic. "But I hardly want to be the poster boy for sobriety," the actor says. "It's my personal journey, and I have a hard time with the responsibility that putting the truth out there gives you, because then you're not only responsible for yourself, but also for everyone with the same struggle."

"'West Wing' Takes Season Finale to Broadway"
by Robert Kahn
May 15, 2002
New York Newsday

"I loved the Christmas episode because you learned a lot about Leo and his past." - John Spencer

"'West Wing' makes his heart soar"
by R.D. Heldenfels
August 14, 2002
Akron Beacon Journal

The West Wing's [John] Spencer, sipping on club soda, refers to the parallels between his early alcohol problems and those scripted for White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry. "It was weird. I really wasn't acting."

"Pitch and catch"
by Dusty Saunders
January 24, 2004
Rocky Mountain News

"I don't want to minimize winning the Emmy--it's sort of a celebration of you by your peers--but for me, I had been nominated two times before, so it was like getting the monkey off my back. I didn't find any sort of unique things happened after. I don't say this as a complaint. It's an observation. Even with my family. They've had esteem for me since the first time they saw me walk out on stage in a school play in elementary school. They've been wonderful about that. So winning the Emmy for me was, 'OK. Wonderful. Now on with the show."' - John Spencer

"Waxing About the Award's Impact"
by Lee Alan Hill
May 2, 2005
Television Week

I was sitting with him during an NBC Hollywood cocktail party in January of 2004 when the subject turned to alcoholism. Sipping a club soda, Spencer recalled the first time he looked at background material about Leo McGarry, his character on The West Wing. "It was weird," Spencer said. "Leo McGarry is an alcoholic and so am I. "When we began shooting the series, it felt, at times, like I really wasn't acting, particularly during scenes that dealt with Leo's battle with alcohol." Spencer recalled a vivid flashback episode when McGarry's alcoholism almost ruined his political career. Spencer said that his acting career "saved my life." "Acting, rather than alcohol, became my drug of choice. "And I always feel that Leo's driving career in politics was his life saver."

"John Spencer seemed to be aware that life imitated art or vice versa"
by Dusty Saunders
December 20, 2005
Rocky Mountain News

For more information about this episode:
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