The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 6, Episode 8 - In the Room - full transcript

Magicians Penn and Teller give a controversial performance at Zoey's birthday party in the White House that threatens to drown out the news of the impending China trip. President Bartlet goes to New Orleans on his way to China after unexpectedly requesting briefings be postponed until they are in the air. Josh tries to decide which Democratic presidential candidate he wants to support, and is alarmed that Bartlet wants to appoint California Republican Congressman Arnold Vinick to be Ambassador to the United Nations.

Previously on The West Wing:

-I had to take the summit from Josh.

Governor Baker, welcome.

Baker's running, right?

Yeah. And he'll have it wrapped up
by Super Tuesday.

-How are your numbers in Iowa?
-Iowa and New Hampshire look good.

I get why you're so worried about Baker,
but why not about Hoynes?

I'm running for president.
I want you to run my campaign.

Russell is on his way to being
the nominee and our next president.

So get onboard or get out
of my way.

You're too good at this.
You can't walk away.

Watch me.

-He's a Republican.
-Not really. He's a California Republican.

Are we really saying that there isn't
a single Democrat--?

The president thinks Vinick's
perfect for U.N. ambassador.

It's your job to feel him out,
see if he'd be up for it.

Thank you. Oh, thanks. We can't tell you
what an honor it's been to be here. . .

. . .to actually work here
in the White House.

We want to thank our new best friend,
Zoey Bartlet, the first daughter.

-I am not the first daughter.
-Well, I thought--

Okay, okay, Zoey Bartlet,
the third daughter of the first family.

-Come on, guys. One more trick.
-You are just spoiled rotten, aren't you?

-Just one.

-You deserve another trick. Teller?

A simple red handkerchief.

I love that trick. It's so simple.
There is nothing like a vanish.

So pure. But what does it mean?
I know what you're thinking.

A magic trick, a simple vanish,
could have no meaning whatsoever.

What if, instead of using a handkerchief,
a meaningless piece of cloth. . .

. . .we were to use a piece of cloth
that was nothing but meaning?

What if the piece of cloth we chose was
the flag of the United States of America?

Because, you know,
with this flag on-stage. . .

. . .there's a lot to think about.

Now it catches the gleam
Of the morning's first beam

In full glory reflected
It shines in the stream

'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner
O long may it wave

O 'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave

And what if, instead of using. . .

. . .that piece of construction paper,
we were to use. . .

. . .a piece of paper
that means more to us. . .

. . .than any other piece of paper
in the world? The Bill of Rights.

It's the one that guarantees not just
everybody in this room. . .

. . .but every single person
in the United States. . .

. . .every citizen, every visitor,
every magician, freedom of speech.

It's the one that says if we want to add
a little bit of spontaneous combustion. . .

. . .to our simple vanish,
we can do that.

We can take some tinder
and a very eccentric magic wand. . .

. . .and we can do this.

And it's okay, because even though
the flag is gone. . .

. . .the Bill of Rights remains.

Did they just burn an American flag
in the White House?

Okay, here's the latest updated schedule
for the China summit.

Guys, I'm just gonna run through
the highlights real quick.

The president leaves Andrews
at 2: 15 p.m. . .

. . .with a stop in Louisiana
before departing. . .

. . .from New Orleans
for the Beijing flight.

When will the president appoint
a U.N. ambassador?

The first lady will arrive in Beijing in time
for the state dinner on Thursday night.

How long will the U.N. post
remain vacant?

Not as long as I'll ignore questions about
anything except the China trip.

In the New Orleans stop, the president
will meet with shrimp fishermen--


They're called shrimpers,
not shrimp fishermen.

The president will meet
with representatives. . .

. . .of the shrimp industry
about their request to invoke. . .

. . .antidumping sanctions against
imported Chinese shrimp.

Here's the human rights statement
you and President Lian. . .

. . .will put out after the first day.

-Not a word about Tibet?
-Tibet's in there.

-We couldn't use the word "Tibet. "
-Show me where the Tibet sentence is.

Sir, what you say in the room
is up to you.

What we say in the joint statement
is not.

-I'll hammer them on Tibet.
-They'll hammer your Indian reservations.

-Reservations weren't my idea.
-I'm sure they'll understand.

The Department of Transportation
has a lot on its plate right now.

Mr. Secretary, you've got transportation
on your plate.

Look, Josh, the truth is I assumed you
were going on the China trip. . .

. . .and we'd have a week
to do research.

This is more important than the trip. This
is the U.S. budget we're talking about.

Your department hasn't submitted
a budget proposal.

I can't ask OMB to put together
a complete budget estimate until I got--

I'll be back.

Vinick's confirmed for 11: 15. We have
to move your OMB meeting to now.

-One minute.
-Then you've got that other thing.

-What thing?

Right. Sure.

Hey. You're back.

No. I just have to sort out some files
I left in my office.

-Can't Margaret send them to the house?
-Be a federal crime.

-"Your eyes only" kind of thing?

-Hear about this Vinick thing?
-President ran it by me yesterday.

I can't believe it. Vinick's been
investigating us for seven years. . .

-. . .and we're offering him a job?
-We've had run-ins with him--

-Some run-ins?
-He has supported the president. . .

. . .on foreign policy.

-Hey, sweetie.
-Hey, boss.

-Let me tell C.J. you're here.
-No. Set me up with the files.

-I'll stay out of the way.
-They're in C.J.'s old office.

-Engine's running.

And this is the statement
on regional security that you. . .

. . .and President Lian will put out
at the end of the last day.

The last day should just be
about North Korea.

They'll only discuss North Korea
in the context of regional issues.

Don't they understand that North Korea
is their regional security problem?

-Fix that, we've saved half the world.
-I made it clear you want to talk about it.

Tell China if we discuss North Korea,
we don't have to discuss anything else.

Mr. President, our agenda with China
is now as long and complex. . .

-. . .as it is with any other country.
-I know.

-To narrow a summit to this one issue--
-I know, I know.

We can talk about the rest
on the plane.

Mr. President, let's cover as much
as we can with the staff--

We got 20 hours to kill in the air
over the next two days.

We got an election coming up,
and we're saying. . .

. . .no Democrat can represent us
at the U.N.?

-The president wants Arnold Vinick.
-Was Vinick your recommendation?

I've known the guy 30 years, and
I don't know anyone better for the job.

I'm sorry. I'm having some trouble
imagining Arnie Vinick as a diplomat.

The U.N. could use some tough love.
The president wanted to ask him himself.

But you don't want him alone in the
room until we know Vinick will say yes.

If he plays hard to get, I'm out of there.
I'm not begging a Republican.

If he says yes, he won't be
investigating us anymore.

We're doing this to get him
off our backs?

No. The president thinks
he's the best we can get.

I'm just trying to give you
your motivation.

I think we're all anxious about
the subjects because you're insisting. . .

. . .on being alone
with the Chinese leaders.

-Now you want to be in the room too?
-I do not, but I think C.J. and Kate and--

I don't want to fly all the way to China
just to participate. . .

. . .in another phony ritual
of putting out joint statements. . .

-. . .on what we agreed to before.
-After the Taiwanese flag controversy. . .

-. . .we're lucky they didn't cancel it.
-This is my last China summit.

It's my last chance.

I want to walk in there
and show the Chinese. . .

. . .that they are not dealing with some
staff-dependent puppet.

I want them to see that I'm ready to get
some work done right there in the room.

Progress isn't good enough for me now.
I want to get something done.

-You like shrimp, don't you?
-I love it.

You might be interested to know how
much of the shrimp sold in the U.S. . .

. . .actually comes from China.

Nice. Okay, go ahead.

Yes. Well, one of the most difficult
trade issues. . .

. . .on the agenda this time is shrimp.

-On the summit's last day. . .

. . .the agenda
will be regional security.

-Does that include North Korea?

So can we expect to hear--?

Let me get through the return trip
itinerary, and we're done.

Is it true that Penn and Teller burned
a U.S. flag in the White House?

I'm not taking any questions.

They say that they were gonna
burn a flag?

-Who invited them to the White House?
-Penn and Teller performed. . .

. . .at a private party last night
in the East Room.

As it was a private party,
the White House has no comment.

-Do you have a list of who was at--?
-As I said-- I'm not taking any questions.

-You just did.
-Well, I'm not taking any more.

Even if we make significant progress
in tariffs and quotas. . .

. . .if they don't budge
on the currency issue. . .

. . .then we might not actually be able
to achieve any real gains--

"State has confirmed that China
just released Wen Jong. . .

. . .as a goodwill gesture
before the president's arrival.

The dissident had been jailed for six
and a half years--" Congratulations.

They always give us one
before a summit.

-Wen Jong's not just any dissident.
-We need to draft a statement. Milly.

-Hi, C.J.
-Madame Surgeon General. . .

. . .the briefing book on public health
in China is maybe. . .

. . .a touch too technical for someone
who almost flunked organic chemistry.

-What'd you get, a B?
-B plus, as I recall.

I don't remember any of it.

-Are your bags packed?
-Excuse me?

I need a seminar from you on the plane
about SARS and AIDS in China.

-No joke?
-Wheels up at, what, C.J.?

Two-fifteen, but we're
20 minutes behind, so. . . .

-So you got time to pack.
-Yes, sir.

-Leonard, go ahead.
-Stanley. As I was saying. . .

. . .since the Chinese currency remains. . . .

-Penn and Teller thing leaked.
-Big surprise.

I got it when I gave
the China schedule.

-How'd the "private party" line work?
-Like a lead balloon.

-President won't let us say anything.
-They want to know who invited them.

-And who was in the room.
-And if the president was there.

I knew it would leak
the second it happened.

The second what happened?

It was a magic trick.
How do we know what they did?

-They didn't burn the flag?
-Doesn't matter. People saw them do it.

Maybe they just pretended
to burn a flag.

Get Penn and Teller to make a statement
saying they didn't burn the flag.

I don't want flag questions chasing us
all the way to China.

"We commend the Chinese government
for releasing Wen Jong, but hope--"

-"Commend" is too strong a word.
-How about "encouraged"?

-"We were encouraged by the Chinese. "
-That's better.

I need a couple signatures.

We need to get that statement out
before we get on the plane.

Could we talk about who China
should release next?

We should focus on
what we won today.

So a line about what we hope
they do in the future?

Right. We need to tie it
into the summit.

Like how it shows that the Chinese
are ready. . .

. . .for real negotiations on all
of the issues on our agenda.

-Let me look at that.
-We should check this with State.

They'll want to have input on
any statement referring to the summit.

We'll get Penn and Teller
to put out a statement. . .

. . .explaining that they didn't
really burn a flag.

And ruin a perfectly good segment
of Crossfire tonight?

I didn't realize you wanted
all press-conference questions. . .

. . .to be about flag burning
in the White House.

Want to see these Christmas party
invitations I'm declining for you?

Only ones you're accepting,
which I hope are none.

-So far.
-Are wheels up yet?

In four minutes.

So that's like, what, 50 minutes
behind schedule?

-Okay, so you owe me. . . .

No, no. You bet 45 or under,
and l--

I'd never bet under 45
on a foreign trip.

You really want to become a liar
over 3 bucks?

-I'm late for Vinick.
-Not anymore, you're not.

-Did he cancel?
-No, I just rescheduled it for you.

-This better be good.
-Vinick's scheduler was fine with it.

Did it occur to you
I'd have a problem--?

She said later would actually be better
for the senator. He won't be rushed.

-So Charlie needs you.

-Obviously, that means it's a C.J. thing.

He's been passing along stuff
for her since she's been on the road.

You can say "China trip. "
When you say "on the road" . . .

. . .it screams avoiding
saying "China trip. "

-Me, avoid saying something to you?
-Get two things straight:

First, I'm fine not going to China.
Picking a U.N. ambassador's a big thing.

-You didn't pick him.
-Second, only I can reschedule Vinick.

To keep your ego intact, I've been
trying to avoid using the phrase:

"Direct order from C.J. "
I'll take your coat.

We will be landing in New Orleans
in 25 minutes.

The press will be to your left as you exit
the plane.

I have nothing more on the flag thing.

C.J., I think we've used about enough
presidential time. . .

. . .talking about a kid's birthday party.
What else you got, Kate?

-Did they really burn the flag--?
-I don't know.

I was in bed five minutes
after Zoey blew out the candles.

I have a draft statement for you
to look at.

We really should get a statement out
before we land in New Orleans.

"While I do not condone flag burning. . . .
I was not present when. . . . " It's too long.

-Let me work on that.
-No, let me.

-It was a private party.
-I'll stress that.

No, that's it. That's my statement.

-It was a private party, period.
-It was in the White House.

-Underline "private. "
-It was in the East Room.

There were 50 people there.

I'm not getting into a national
shouting match. . .

. . .about what happened
at my daughter's birthday party.

-Landing in New Orleans in 20 minutes.
-Thank you.

Go ahead, Kate.

So you know,
I'm not comfortable with this.

C.J. wanted to call,
but she got pulled into a thing.

-On the plane.
-It's not just you.

She's had me on the phone
with half the Cabinet.

She just can't make every
phone call herself.

She wants you to help out
on the flag-burning thing.

-Instead of getting a U.N. ambassador?
-Not instead of. Before.

Twenty-seven congressmen
signed this. . .

. . .demanding the president explain what
happened. The story's on cable news.

C.J.'s afraid it'll drown out
coverage of the China trip.

-She needs you to--
-Put out the fire?

Did she actually say "put out the fire"?

We're buried in calls
from the usual suspects. . .

. . .plus Entertainment Tonight,
Access Hollywood...

...Hollywood Reporter,
Magicians Monthly.

Okay, why don't you track down
Penn and Teller. . .

-. . .and get them on the phone.
-Them? Teller doesn't speak.

-It's an act.
-Penn told me Teller doesn't speak.

-You talked to Penn?
-Right before you came in.

He'll be here in a couple of hours.
Sounded pretty cooperative.

Okay. Who we kidding,
you don't need me in this thing.

I wanted to give you the vice president's
statement about the flag burning.

He wants to get it out this afternoon.

"When I was in Congress,
I led the fight. . .

. . .for a constitutional amendment
to ban flag burning.

This obscene stunt once again points out
the urgent need for a constitutional--"

Can this guy open his mouth
without pandering?

Let me know when Penn and Teller
show up.

I tried to talk him out--

Donna, where's the OMB report
on the HHS budget?

Where the OMB reports always are,
in the stack beside the thing.

Right. Oh, and the supplements?

Supplementary stack,
beside the other thing.

Okay, I'm done helping you
ignore Will.

How would you suggest the vice
president handle a flag burning?

I would tell him to show a little loyalty
to the president and his family. . .

. . .but then I'd have to explain to him
what loyalty is.

Do you have time to do that now?

He shook too many hands
in New Orleans. . .

. . .but the pilot says we can make up
some lost time.

Yes, China's definitely dumping shrimp
in the U.S. at below-cost prices. . .

. . .but so is Vietnam. So if we threaten
to bring a WTO case against China. . .

. . .then we have to threaten
Vietnam too.

The U.S. threatening Vietnam could
wake up a lot of sleeping dogs.

How much shrimp comes
from China and Vietnam?

Twenty-five percent. There's no way
our domestic industry. . .

. . .could replace that.
And it would only make it easier. . .

. . .for Brazil to increase
their market share.

I told those guys in New Orleans
that I would do something.

You will do something. You'll raise
the issue with the Chinese.

Only the State Department. . .

. . .thinks "raising the issue"
and "doing something" are the same.

I co-sponsored the flag-burning
amendment when the House voted on it.

Big difference between being
a congressman and being VP.

I know, but I've got a lot of history
with this.

Voters didn't know much about me. . .

. . .but what they did know was
that I was against flag burning.

That's in one district in Colorado.

You need to define yourself nationally.
You want to start with flag burning?

-It's the story of the day.
-China summit's the story of the day.

If you don't have something to say about
U.S. relations with China. . .

. . .why are you running for president?

Voters understand loyalty. They're not
expecting you to take a shot. . .

. . .at the president on something that
happened at his daughter's party.

Baker is going to New Hampshire
to announce his candidacy.

-The press is gonna ask him about this.
-lf Baker--

lf? Baker has to jump on this. He needs
to move to the right on something.

So what? Do you think that helps either
one of you get the nomination?

It's never too early to think about
the general.

Mr. Vice President, have you seen
Baker's numbers?

That's why I can't miss any opportunity,
like this flag thing.

Baker's at 32. You're at 19.

Hoynes and everyone else
are in single digits.

You're not gonna catch up to Baker with
flag burning. Baker's just a governor.

He's gotta jump at every issue
to get coverage outside Pennsylvania.

You're vice president
of the United States.

You can't go chasing every little
controversy that comes along.

You can't let Baker dictate
your agenda.

You pick your spots carefully,
every speech you give. . .

. . .will be treated as breaking news
on CNN.

I need you to pick those spots for me.

Will's been telling me that you're the guy
to run this campaign.

Now I can see why.

They're ready for you now.

-He's not stupid.
-That a bumper sticker?

-He took your advice.
-That was a setup.

No, it wasn't. He wanted to put out that
statement. I couldn't talk him out of it.

Once I heard your take, it seemed
perfect to put you two together.

It's a write-your-own-ticket offer.
Complete control.

-You don't want to run it?
-I've never done a national campaign.

Baker's gonna chew him up
in the debates.

Even Hoynes will run rings around him
on the issues.

The VP will be the only guy with enough
money to hang in there against Baker.

-What about Hoynes?
-Damaged goods.

So you think it's a two-man race
by Super Tuesday?

Right. And Baker's not gonna
play well in the South.

I heard Hoynes made you an offer.

-Has Baker called you?
-Bruno runs Baker's campaigns.

Bob Russell might be
the next president.

You get in now, you can make him
the candidate you want him to be.

After that, we make him the president
we need him to be.

-Where is Vinick's office?
-Dirksen 464.

-Got Penn and Teller's statement.

-Let's see.
-You're not gonna love it.

How about after the Vinick meeting?

-For what?
-For me, for that talk we were--

"Supreme Court ruled we can do
what we want with the flag.

And the Founding Fathers obviously
intended--" Are they still here?

Juggling identical objects,
identical weights is pretty easy. . .

. . .with about five years' practice.

But juggling different weights,
different shapes. . .

. . .stuff you got off people's desks,
stuff you haven't practiced with. . .

-. . .that's when it gets a little bit tricky.
-That's amazing.

This statement does me absolutely
no good.

I need a statement saying exactly
what you did last night.

Preferably that you did not burn a flag.
And if you did actually burn a flag. . .

. . .I need you to admit it and emphasize
that you did not clear your act. . .

. . .with anyone in the White House,
and had you done so. . .

. . .you now realize you would have
been explicitly forbidden. . .

. . .to burn a flag in the White House,
and you now regret. . .

. . .this controversy
and apologize to the president. . .

. . .and his family for treating his home
with such disrespect.

-Hi. I'm Penn Jillette. This is Teller.
-Hi. Josh Lyman. How you doing?

He doesn't talk.

Doesn't talk, like Harpo Marx,
or really doesn't talk?

-What's the difference?
-Okay. How did you do the flag trick?

-We're not gonna tell you that.

So if Annabeth goes out there
and says. . .

. . .that you did not burn a flag last night,
no one can refute that.

Except the people who saw them burn
a flag, or think that's what they saw.

You tell me, Charlie. Did we burn a flag,
or did we just. . .

-. . .vanish a flag in a flash of fireworks?
-Don't know.

-What's the difference?
-There's a big difference politically.

Why? I mean, what if we burned a flag
not in protest. . .

. . .but in celebration of the very freedoms
that allow us to burn a flag. . .

. . .the freedoms that everyone who
has ever worked in this building. . .

. . .has pledged to preserve and protect?

-Did you go to law school?
-No. Clown school.

Let's find a compromise on shrimp that
I can ask the Chinese to offer Vietnam.

Something that nudges both of them
closer to fair price levels.

Okay, everyone. The president has
a phone call to make.

-What was all that about?
-You okay?

-I'm fine.
-You're not eating.

-I'm not that hungry.
-You said you were hungry earlier.

Don't worry. I'll eat.
But thanks for getting rid of them.

Sixteen more hours of that
would be a bit much.

Send Milly in. I don't need
to talk shop with her.

Yes, sir.

The senator will see you now.

Mr. Chairman.

Shine your own shoes, Josh?

No, I can't say that I do.

My father used to say you can't trust
a man who doesn't shine his own shoes.

-Does anybody shine those things?
-Not really. No.

How many guys left in this town
shine their own shoes?

-Not a lot.

-Is that how many you trust?
-That's exactly how many I trust.

-Mr. Chairman--
-I know what you're thinking.

"Must be Ionely being this mean old guy
who doesn't trust anyone. "

Well, I trust my brother,
my four children. . .

. . .my nine grandchildren
and my dog.

I suspect that's more than
you trust. . .

-. . .now isn't it?

The Founding Fathers didn't set up
a government based on trust.

They could've designed a government
based on trust. . .

. . .but they knew that power corrupts.
So they invented checks and balances.

That was genius.

The Founding Fathers did not
want me to trust you. . .

. . .and they did not want you
to trust me.

Well, they must be very proud of us.

Have a seat.

Oh, we're still negotiating Christmas.

Tommy wants to go on an archaeological
dig with some heathen professor of his.

And Cleo's doing Christmas
with her dad.

Then do Christmas with
your goddaughter and her family.

I can't afford another Bartlet Christmas
on this government salary.

Way too many presents.

Milly, I can't move my hands.

-Ever happen before?
-It's usually one or the other.

-Never both?

-You feel that?


You want me to bring
in the flight doctor?

Not unless it gets worse.

Well, I guess I'm gonna have
to feed you then, aren't I?

Every White House forgets about checks
and balances. You guys are no different.

It's the witch hunts
I got a problem with.

You'll need cordovan for those.
Pick up a brush.

You're not leaving this room
with shoes like that.

Here's another check you won't like.

I'm holding another hearing
on your man, Margudian. . .

. . .taking a Marine helicopter
to play golf in Florida.

-That was a year ago. We fired the guy.
-This was another incident before that.

-You think the American people care?
-Hope not.

But 12 members of my committee do,
or think it's a good way to get on TV.

-You think I like investigating this stuff?
-Fooled me.

Have I ever campaigned saying I'd be
the best investigator in the Senate?

Of course not.
This isn't what I came here to do.

I came here to make this
a better country.

I wish you guys would stop serving up
these things for us to investigate.

-We've run a pretty tight ship.
-Yes, you have.

Which is why they had to go back
a few years to find something new.

But just do me a big favor, will you?

No more flag burnings
in the White House.

I've had four nuts demand hearings
on that one already.

-So I told them that the U.S. Senate. . .

. . .does not investigate what happens
at kids' birthday parties.

Not as long as I have
anything to say about it.

Have you decided
if you're gonna run again?

Yep. Flying home tonight, making
my announcement tomorrow.

Why, you want to make me
a retirement offer?

Yeah, I happen to have one on me.

-Help the president. . .

. . .make the world a better place.


That's tempting. It's very tempting.

But that's not the job I want.

The president didn't send me
with a menu of jobs. Just this one.

-President can't give me the job I want.
-Which one?


-You're running?
-Starting tomorrow.

You missed a spot on the heel.

The only thing to do is let him rest.
He could feel fine. . .

-. . .by the time he gets off the plane.
-Or he could get worse.

Well, if this is as bad as it gets,
no one will notice a thing.

Except when he has to shake hands,
which he has to do 200 times tomorrow.

It'd be good to minimize
the handshaking.

We should cancel the first reception.

You know how long the protocol
officers spent on that one?

Public events are the ones
the Chinese care about.

If the president can't publicly
shake hands with a head of state--

It'd kill the flag-burning story.

-Could we get Abbey on the phone?

-Who else should we call?
-For an MS patient. . .

. . .this is the equivalent
of a headache.

I mean, who would you want us to call
if you had a headache?

Okay. Let's just keep this on the plane
for now.

-I thought you'd be long gone.
-More junk here than I thought.

Shouldn't you still be, you know,
taking it easy?

I think a long nap qualifies as taking
it easy. Did you hook Vinick?

-Not exactly.
-He's gonna run for another term.

I don't know much about heart stuff. . .

. . .but aren't you supposed--?
Maybe we--

You're not gonna shock me
into my grave.

He's running for president.

-He announces tomorrow.

I don't see how he gets
the nomination.

What's he gonna run on?
Tax cuts and more tax cuts?

Every Republican candidate
will be for tax cuts.

-Then what? Flip-flop on abortion?
-He's against late-term abortion.

-Won't work for the Republican base.
-A lot of California money behind him.

-Even if he raises twice as much--
-Eric Baker's live on MSNBC right now.

Says he's not running.

And so I have decided for family reasons
that this is not that time.

It's the time that I can keep
my commitment...

... to the people of Pennsylvania
to be a full-time governor...

...and the commitment to my family
to be a full-time father.

-Family reasons?

Well, I never decided to get into
the presidential race... I can 't see how you can say
I dropped out of it.

-How lucky can we get?
-You're never gonna get luckier than this.

Milly says you should use the flight
to rest.

-No more meetings.

-I won't interrupt you for anything.
-Fine by me.

Mr. President, Baker just dropped out.

-Baker's not running?
-It looks like our very own Bob Russell. . .

. . .is the new frontrunner
for the Democratic nomination.

Toby, please. Sir, this is exactly
what we're not going to do.

You need rest.
We won't bring you anything. . .

. . .you don't need to know

But we mean real rest,
not studying briefing books.

-Are you gonna watch me rest?
-lf I have to.

Get out of here.

-Family reasons.
-Go figure.

-He's close to Vinick, you know.
-No, I didn't know.

Yeah. Baker was on the Judiciary
Committee staff back when Vinick. . .

. . .was a freshman senator.
They've been tight ever since.

So? Since when have you seen friendship
trump ambition in politics?

Maybe Baker figures the Democratic
nomination's not worth winning. . .

. . .if he's against Vinick
in the general.

But there's no way Vinick's
getting the nomination.

I'm just saying, Baker's not sitting
this out for family reasons.

Could be Vinick.
Could be something else.

-Who's our frontrunner with Baker out?
-Run a poll without Baker in it. . .

. . .and Russell's gonna go sky-high.

-Hoynes will pop too.
-Russell or Hoynes gets our nomination.

-Who gets the Republican nomination?
-That's wide open.

They've been out of power for
eight years, and they're desperate.

Probably why Vinick figures
he has a shot.

You're serious?

Ever see Arnie Vinick campaign?
Up close?

He'll go into those
high school gymnasiums. . .

. . .in Iowa and New Hampshire
and blow them all away.

Shake every hand in the joint,
kiss every baby. . .

. . .hug every widow
on Social Security. . .

. . .and sound smarter and more honest
than any Republican they've ever seen. . .

. . .because he is.

He could win in the early states.

Go into the South
with some momentum.

Then. . .

. . .who knows what happens?

Republican who wins California wipes
us out in the Electoral College.


He's not getting the nomination.

If he does, we've got no one
who can beat him.

And so I have returned. . .

. . .to the place where my career in public
service began, right here at city hall. . .

. . .to announce my candidacy to be the
next president of the United States.

And I ask you--

I ask all of you who have been with me
from the beginning. . .

... to set out with me today
from this valley on this new quest...

... to help me bring the promise
and the opportunity...

...of America to all Americans.

Do you think you're conservative enough
to get the Republican nomination?

I think I'm Republican enough.
I've been a lifelong Republican.

Always been loyal to the party.

Should the president investigate. . .

. . .a flag being burned
in the White House?

No. I accept the president's statement
that it was a private party.

-We don 't need to hear about it.
-Don 't people have a right to know--?

People should know
the president's position on issues.

But they don 't have the right to know
what happens at his daughter's party.

-But if they burned a flag--
-I think this is a perfect demonstration...

. . .of what the president is flying
around the world now. . .

. . .to try to teach the Chinese

The meaning of freedom.

It's good the magicians didn 't try
this trick in China...

... with the Chinese flag wrapped
in the Chinese Bill of Rights.

Because there is no Chinese
Bill of Rights.

-Senator! Senator!
-Thank you. Thank you.

You have a year to talk me out
of voting for him.

We've reached our cruising altitude
of 41,000 feet.

We're anticipating a smooth ride
over the Pacific tonight.

We'll be passing the Hawaiian Ridge
to our south in approximately an hour...

...and as always, I'll give you
a reminder as we....

-We've got a situation.

South Korea.

-I thought you were gonna let me rest.
-Sorry, sir.

State got a heads-up from the IAEA. . .

. . .that they're gonna report
that South Korea. . .

. . .has admitted to conducting
an experiment to enrich uranium.

South Korea is not releasing
any details.

We need you to get on the phone
and get the president to come clean.

We can't ask China to help stop
North Korean nuclear experiments. . .

. . .if the South is doing it too.

Get us a secure line
with the South Korean president.

C.J. . .

. . .hold it.


I can't move.

Progressive paralysis.
He had trouble with his hands.

Now it's both legs and his right arm.

So much for being staff-dependent
in China.

Fairbanks is closer.
Anchorage is better.

I've got better doctors up here
than I'd get there.

We can't take the chance--

-We knew this was gonna happen.
-No, Mr. President, I didn't know.

I mean, we always knew it was gonna
happen someday.

-I'm ready for it. You better be too.
-Sir, we can't land in China with you--

This plane is going to China.

That's a direct order from
your commander in chief.

Okay, we're gonna need to clear
the room for some tests.

Some new numbers.

Tracking poll has us up 16 points
with Baker out of the race.

-Hoynes is up too.
-Yeah, but we picked up a lot more.

Russell's the man to beat now.


Listen, we have a breakfast tomorrow
with senior campaign staff. Drop by.

It doesn't commit you to anything.
Be a fly on the wall if you want.

-See how it feels.
-No, thanks.

This isn't a Broadway show.

We don't just close it down
after a successful eight-year run.

You have to care who'll be
in that chair after Bartlet's gone.

I do.

That's why I don't want
Bob Russell to be president.

Hopefully the doctors will influence him
and get us turned around.

We turn this plane around,
and that's the end of his presidency.

-It'd say he can't do the job.
-We'd be saying he's sick.

We'll go back to China
when he's up to it.

We might as well just say
he's a part-time president.

He can only do the job
when he feels up to it!

You really think he'll let you
turn this plane around?

If we cancel, China might not believe us.
They'll think it's because South Korea. . .

. . .got caught working
on nuclear weapons.

We gotta do full disclosure on this.

Milly should do a full press briefing,
all the medical facts.

Right here on this plane.
Just as soon as we know what. . . .

He knew.

That's why the surgeon general's
on the flight.

He wanted her here to do the briefing.
He knew this might happen.

We're three hours from Beijing.

If we turn around,
we're gonna have to refuel.

Maybe we should let the cockpit
start checking their options.

-Yeah, okay.
-He wants to see you. All of you.

Not there. In the infirmary.

I just got off the phone with
President Wang of South Korea.

He insists he didn't know
about the nuclear experiment.

Says it was a couple
of curious young scientists.

And they only enriched about
two-tenths of a gram of uranium.

That's not nearly enough for
weapons-grade enrichment, is it?

No, sir. Weapons-grade would have to be
at least 90 percent higher than that.

Okay. Wang says they're cooperating
fully with the IAEA inspectors.

He's ordered these young scientists to
participate in a joint press conference. . .

. . .with the inspectors tomorrow,
then he's gonna fire them.

-It won't make North Korea feel better.
-I know, but it's a start.

C.J., we gotta set up
a quick press briefing. . .

-. . .for the gang in the back of the plane.
-Mr. President, are you. . .?

My left hand is back. I still have
no feeling in my legs. . .

. . .and my right arm's in no shape
to be shaking hands.

Remember to tell
the protocol officer that.

-Are you in pain?
-No, as long as I don't attempt. . .

. . .any superhuman feat like, say,
writing my name.

Okay, let's get started.

Think anyone's gonna ask about
that flag-burning thing now?

All right, when we get out there,
I'll lead off with the MS thing. . .

. . .then discuss South Korea.

I'll leave it to you, Milly,
to give medical details. . .

-. . .if anyone has questions about that.
-I think they might have a few hundred.

I'm just gonna say that the president
will be working from a wheelchair again.


Do I have to remind those kids. . .

. . .that Roosevelt fought WWII
from a wheelchair?

-Yeah, but. . . .
-But he died in office.

Okay, I'll skip the Roosevelt bit.

Bring that thing over here, would you?

How much you want to bet I can get
them to ask about South Korea?

How much you got?

Sorry to wake you up, but the president
has an announcement to make.

No, no. I'll take it from here.

Ladies and gentlemen,
the president of the United States.