The West Wing Episode Guide -
Bookmark this Site

Abu el Banat

Original Airdate 12-03-03 Rerun 12-22-04

Previous Episode  ||  Season 5 Episode Index  |  Main Index  |  Season 5 Information Index  ||  Next Episode
Descriptions  |  Credits  |  Information Links  |  Awards  |  Media Quotes


As the entire Bartlet clan gathers for the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony (though Ellie's late, as usual), Christian missionaries are arrested in Sudan for proselytizing. Meanwhile, the DEA has suspended the license of a doctor who assisted with the suicide of a terminally ill patient in Oregon (where it's legal), and Bartlet's attorney general (Dylan Baker) is siding with the DEA; and Bartlet's son-in-law, Doug Westin (Steven Eckholdt), has decided to run for Congress. He won't get White House backing.
From NBC:
The festive Christmas spirit at the annual White House tree-lighting is dimmed when the President (Martin Sheen) learns that Christian relief workers have been jailed in Islamic northern Sudan while he welcomes his three headstrong daughters -- including the returning Zoey (Elisabeth Moss) -- and is surprised to learn that his son-in-law (Steven Eckholdt) wants to run for Congress in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, when the licenses of some doctors in Oregon are suspended after they administer drugs in an assisted suicide, Toby (Richard Schiff) tries to keep the administration from being bogged down in a debate -- and clashes with Will (Joshua Malina) when he tries to convince the Vice President to address the political hot potato.
From Warner Bros.:
The festive Christmas spirit at the annual White House tree-lighting celebration is dimmed when the President learns that Christian relief workers have been jailed in Islamic Northern Sudan. Bartlet welcomes his three independent daughters, Zoey (Elisabeth Moss), Liz (Annabeth Gish) and Ellie (Nina Siemaszko), and is surprised to learn that Liz's husband, Doug Westin (Steven Eckholdt), wants to vie for Congress in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, when the licenses of some doctors in Oregon are suspended after they administer drugs in an assisted suicide, Toby tries to keep the President from being bogged down in a debate--and clashes with Will, whom he sends to convince the Vice President to address the political juggernaut instead.


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
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 Star
Lily Tomlin as
Debbie (Deborah) Fiderer President's Secretary
Guest Starring    
Dylan Baker as Alan Fisk Attorney General
Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Patricia Bartlet Bartlets' youngest daughter
Annabeth Gish as Elizabeth "Liz" Bartlet Westin Bartlets' eldest daughter
Steven Eckholdt as Doug Westin Elizabeth Bartlet Westin's husband
Nina Siemaszko as Ellie (Eleanor Emily) Bartlet Bartlets' middle daughter
Ron Canada as Theodore "Ted" Barrow Under Secretary of State
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Mark Moses as Donald Richter Congressman
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Michael Krepack as Gus George Westin /
Bartlets' grandson
Jonathan Brent as Jim WH Photographer
Charles Currie as Steward John
Jerry Giles as Mover  
Bruno Gioiello as Agent Len  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Drama Series Nomination

Media Quotes

"We are going to spend a little more time learning about the first family, but not to the extent where it's more than an episode here and there," Wells said. "The truth is that the rest of [the characters] don't have a home life, because of the job requirements."

"NBC's Early Emmy Preemption"
by Lisa de Moraes
September 20, 2003
Washington Post

Why is someone trying to set up "The West Wing" spokeswoman C.J. Cregg with former Oregon legislator Chris Beck?

The scandal began about 16 minutes into last Wednesday night's episode. In the midst of a show that revolved in part around Oregon's assisted suicide law, the appearance of a familiar name rattled loudly in a lot of ears.

Cregg, the perpetually lovelorn Bartlet spokeswoman already distracted by the debate on assisted suicide, bumped into a colleague outside her White House office. After a quick exchange about environmental organizations, she caught Cregg's eye.

"And there's a guy want you to meet," she said, smiling conspiratorially. "Named Chris Beck."

Which came as a surprise to the real-life Oregon pol and environmentalist named Chris Beck.

A former legislator and current project manager for the Trust for Public Lands, Beck -- who like Cregg is 40ish and single -- said he would be more than happy to hit the town with the fictional White House spokeswoman.

"She's my kind of woman," he said. "She's smart and quick-witted and holds her ground. I generally don't like flacks, but I would absolutely go out with her."

And what if his new White House connection leads to a job offer? "Oh my God, of course!" he said. "I'd go to work for the Bartlet White House. It'd be an honor."

But Beck, who describes himself as an occasional watcher of "West Wing," will first have to give up his habit of channel-surfing between that show and "The Bachelor." And according to NBC spokeswoman Liza Rindge-Peterson, who spoke with Debora Cahn, the "West Wing" writer who crafted last week's show, the real Beck shouldn't hold his breath waiting for a call from Cregg.

"It was purely a coincidence," she said of the dueling Chris Becks.

"Real Chris Beck would love a date with 'West Wing' flack"
by Peter Ames Carlin
December 10, 2003

Unfortunately, the answer was a resounding "no." One of President Josiah Bartlet's (played by Martin Sheen) aides informs him early on that three bible-carrying Christian Relief Workers in northern Sudan were arrested for proselytizing: "Sir, these are Christians doing work in a drought-stricken, civil war-ridden nation." And here is precisely where the problem begins.

To the unknowing, hearing the phrase "civil war" automatically brings forth an assumption that there are two or more sides involved in a domestic dispute. But in the case of Sudan this is factually incorrect. In Sudan one side has been brutally attacked and made war against by the other. One side is heavily armed, the other is not. One side has seen its people brutalized and massacred, and hard as it is to believe in the 21st Century, had tens of thousands of its women and children put into chattel slavery. Only one side suffered from famine because they were denied access to relief supplies. In every instance the victims in Sudan have been the black Christians and animists who mainly populate the southern half of Sudan, while the perpetrators are the Arab Muslim jihadist rulers of Khartoum in the north.

"The West Wing: Lies About Sudan"
by Michael Margolies
March 3, 2004

"It's a pinnacle for an actor because the writing is so fantastic," says Annabeth Gish, who played Elizabeth, Bartlet's oldest daughter. "In my career, I was the most nervous guest-starring on that show because you have to speak politically, you have to speak eloquently and you have to speak rapidly."

"'West Wing' finale a perfect coda"
by Charlie McCollum
May 14, 2006
San Jose Mercury News

There are a couple that always come to mind. [Allison] was doing this episode about her father and she kind of broke down and she looked at me, tears were still in her eyes after the scene was done. She gave me a big hug and said I couldn't have done this with anyone else so thank you. - Richard Schiff

"Q&A: Richard Schiff answers your questions"
February 10, 2007
London Theatre Guide

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
Previous Episode  |  U.S. Flag Main Index 5 Cast Season 5 Episode Index U.S. Flag Season 5 Information Index  |  Next Episode