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Original Airdate 02-25-04 Rerun 12-29-04

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John Hoynes is back in the news -- in a magazine article in which he says that Bartlet and Leo tried to talk him out of resigning after his sex scandal broke. This is political dynamite, and C.J. learns of it from pugnacious cable talker Taylor Reid -- on Reid's live show. Meanwhile, Toby spars with union representatives over Chinese trade policy; Josh reluctantly leaves a meeting on military-base closings to the tender mercies of Ryan Pierce; and the mayor of Washington, D.C. (James Pickens Jr.), decides that he wants a school-voucher pilot program that congressional Republicans are trying to force on him.
From NBC:
The Bartlet administration reels from press leaks that ex-Vice President Hoynes (Tim Matheson) is preparing a tell-all book that will embarrass the President (Martin Sheen) and Leo (John Spencer) as the Veep plans to make his own run for the White House. The news flash first stuns C.J. (Allison Janney) live on the air as she jousts with acerbic pundit Taylor Reid (Jay Mohr). Elsewhere, while Josh (Bradley Whitford) welcomes Washington's mayor (James Pickens, Jr.) to the White House to discuss school vouchers, Josh also faces a political firestorm when Ryan (Jesse Bradford) proposes closing a military base in a district belonging to a powerful Congressman. Toby (Richard Schiff) parleys with trade union bosses who get hung up over import safeguards for brassieres.
From Warner Bros.:
The Bartlet administration reels from press leaks that former Vice President Hoynes (Tim Matheson) is preparing a tell-all book that will embarrass the President and Leo as Hoynes plans to become a candidate for President of the United States. The newsflash first stuns C.J. live on the air as she jousts with acerbic pundit Taylor Reid (Jay Mohr). Josh welcomes the mayor of Washington, D.C., to the White House to discuss school vouchers and also encounters a political firestorm when intern Ryan (Jesse Bradford) proposes closing a military base in a district belonging to a powerful congressman. Toby parleys with trade union bosses who reach an impasse over import safeguards for brassieres.


Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Chief of Staff
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    
Jesse Bradford as Ryan Pierce Intern
Jay Mohr as Taylor Reid Conservative Talk Show Host
Tim Matheson as
John Hoynes Former Vice President
Guest Starring    
Melissa Marsala as Marina "Rena" Research Assistant
James Pickens Jr. as Washington D.C. Mayor
Sam Robards as Greg Brock Reporter
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Michael Mantell as Shelly Lukens in Toby's meeting
Ron Dean as Tom Broderick in Toby's meeting
Kenneth Kimmins as General Stanley Base Closing Commission
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Peter James Smith as Ed Congressional Liaison
William Duffy as Larry Congressional Liaison
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell (last name) / Reporter
Frank Ashmore as Congressman Chris Finn  
Mandy Freund as Hoynes Assistant Claire Huddle
Roger Hampton as Floor Manager  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Drama Series Nomination

Media Quotes

In three upcoming episodes, Jay Mohr will appear as a conservative talk-show host who engages in a debate with press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) on his cable program.

"Policy shift on 'West Wing'"
by Hal Boedeker
January 16, 2004
Orlando Sentinel

Drudge won't budge: For a plot device involving the Drudge Report, NBC's "The West Wing," starring Martin Sheen, has been trying for weeks to contact cybergossip Matt Drudge to get his permission to show an image of his Web site on television.

"We've been E-mailing and calling for the past month and half, and we never got a response," show staffer Laura Ducat told me yesterday, the same day Drudge finally gave his answer: "I will not be a prop in Aaron Sorkin's fantasy White House. I'm too busy covering the real one."

To which Ducat riposted: "Sounds to me like he's a prima donna."

"At Grammys, is it $parkle plenty?"
by Lloyd Grove
February 4, 2004
New York Daily News

... the disgraced John Hoynes (Tim Matheson), who'll turn up in two weeks in a corker of an episode written by MSNBC personality Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. (Too bad O'Donnell didn't write such scripts for the late, unlamented Mister Sterling, which he created.)

"Bingo Night"
by Paul Droesch
February 11, 2004
TV Guide Online

On Thursday, Feb. 12, when right-wing supercybergossip Matt Drudge unleashed the gravity-defying headline declaring that Senator John Kerry's campaign for President was headed for a 27-year-old speed bump named Alexandra Polier, the TV news hordes reacted like Mr. Drudge's story was the frog-creature that had come crawling out of a fetid swamp.

"It belongs where it is, on the Drudge Report, because it's crap," one NBC reporter spat.


For MSNBC senior political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, that sort of indignation sounded familiar--in fact, it echoed a line from a script he wrote for an upcoming episode of NBC's The West Wing, set to air on Feb. 25, in which the Drudge Report rattles the Beltway with rumors of--what else?--a sex scandal. While it was written in November of 2003, Mr. O'Donnell said the press reaction to the recent Drudge bombshell fit neatly into his plot line.

"The standard reaction to the Drudge Report publicly is, 'Oh gee, you can't believe every crazy Web site,'" he said. "Which I think is word for word one of the reactions I wrote into my script--by a character who then privately says, 'I assume the Drudge Report is right.' And that's the perfect description of the way the Drudge Report is received."

In Mr. O'Donnell's West Wing episode, the Drudge Report "reveals" that The New York Times Magazine is working on a story that exposes the sordid truth behind Vice President Hoynes' resignation. Another Times reporter publicly discredits it, but privately believes Mr. Drudge.

Reached for comment, Mr. Drudge told NYTV that he had not seen a single episode of the NBC show and was immediately concerned with copyright infringement. "They can't use my image if they use my Web site," he snapped. "It's going to be a scandal!"

But when he calmed down, Mr. Drudge agreed with Mr. O'Donnell's premise, that the media publicly shunned the messenger while coveting the message.

"That's a very close mirror to the last five days," he said, "because people in Washington were fully aware of the story and when I did it--'Oh shit


While the TV news anchors and talking heads may use Mr. Drudge as the ethical whipping boy, loudly washing their hands of him on the air and in print, the media privately tends to trust his reports exactly because of their origins: the backstage of the media itself. "It says something about Drudge's credibility," said Mr. O'Donnell. "It's huge! It's very, very powerful. That's why other media outlets that did pick it up, they were going with Matt Drudge's credibility. In general, over time, that's not a bad bet."

"Drudge Pitches, Media Swings: 'It's Too Easy,' Says Web Gossip"
by Joe Hagan
February 18, 2004
New York Observer

Several cast members said this season's scripts often have more of a contemporary feel. Tonight's scheduled hour is a graphic example, though the script was written last November by Lawrence O'Donnell Jr., who also serves as senior correspondent for MSNBC.

"'West Wing' still flying high"
by Dusty Saunders
February 25, 2004
Rocky Mountain News

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. John McHugh are picking a fight with the fictional "West Wing" White House over a scene aired Wednesday where an aide discussed closing a upstate military base.

Clinton, D-N.Y., and McHugh, R-N.Y., fired off a letter Thursday to TV character Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman, played by actor Bradley Whitford.

"Dear Josh," begins the letter from Clinton and McHugh, who are real, to Lyman, who is not.

On Wednesday's episode, a general meeting with Lyman suggested Fort Drum in northern New York should be shuttered because its "deep-snow" training program is not very useful.

"We want to make sure that such a recommendation doesn't make it into another West Wing scene," the partly tongue-in-cheek letter says. "It is important that all White House advisors have the most current information to respond to such flawed proposals."

The surreal missive shows just how seriously some lawmakers take the actual threat of base closings. Clinton and McHugh are trying to protect Fort Drum and other military facilities in New York during an upcoming round of closures.


Fort Drum is home to the 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry division trained for mountain environments and cold weather. The 10th has been deployed extensively in Afghanistan.


Clinton and McHugh, members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, have met with members of the 10th stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"West Wing" producer Laurence O'Donnell, who wrote the episode, responded: "Josh Lyman is quaking in his boots."

O'Donnell said that in his earlier job as an aide to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Fort Drum was always in danger, but in his show, at least, it will be saved.

"Clinton lobbies 'West Wing' aide"
by Devlin Barrett
February 26, 2004
Associated Press

It was a scene that illustrated how much easier it is for a fictitious president like Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, to behave like a statesman than it is for a real one.

The issue was school vouchers. The District of Columbia's Democratic mayor and the president of its school board had broken party ranks to ally with congressional Republicans behind an experimental program to help low-income D.C. pupils attend private schools at taxpayer expense.

Hard to imagine? Not at all. Up to that point, the TV program matched real life. Amid heated controversy, the Republican Congress in January approved a $14 million voucher program to enable hundreds of D.C. schoolchildren to attend private schools at taxpayer expense this coming fall.

The bill, supported by President Bush, also was supported by Mayor Anthony Williams and School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz. Both are black Democrats but also fiercely independent enough to shrug off the disapproval of national Democrats when they see a chance to get something--anything!--out of Congress to help D.C. pupils.


I called Lawrence O'Donnell, a "West Wing" consulting producer and former aide to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) It turned out that he scripted the voucher episode. He was inspired by his Washington experiences. He was in the room, for example, when President Bill Clinton put out fires with the unions and House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt over the North American Free Trade Agreement bill.

But O'Donnell, who also helps hold up the liberal end of "The McLaughlin Group," told me he also was inspired by his earlier experiences as a substitute school teacher in the Boston area.

Experience in really run-down schools, where even the teachers had lost hope, changed O'Donnell's mind about vouchers.

"I saw kids academically dying before my eyes," he said. "I found it too painful to actually look in their eyes and say, "No," even if there is a better school around the corner, there are policy reasons why I cannot tell you to go there. Or help you to go there."

"Even a TV president has embraced school vouchers"
by Clarence Page
March 3, 2004
Chicago Tribune

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