9:26 PM. By all of the TVs in the room, it appears that getting CNN et al. to stop spreading rumors has been really successful. Not. All are reporting an explosion at the plant. One goes on to talk about "Arab tourists" that had been seen in the area. Kate is appalled at how they can spread those rumors, but C.J. quietly points out that generally, this close to something happening, everything is rumor. They enter the Oval Office. "How we handle this in the next 90 minutes will determine whether there's panic within 100 miles of every nuclear plant in this country. We don't get a second chance to make a first impression." Oh, there's nothing I enjoy more than some good dandruff-nuclear-fallout humor! Jed turns to Harry. (Hi, Harry, who are you? I suspect the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?) The coolant level is down a foot, which is exposing an eighth of the rods. Bartlet just wants to know how to get coolant back in, and…okay, I've rewound this scene about five times now, and it's not getting any easier, so here's the "Sure, so I dropped physics and replaced it with art, what of it?" description. It's hot, a valve is broken, they've got an emergency heat removal pump (I didn't make that part up, and clearly I need one of these for my non-air-conditioned apartment in the summer) at work; however, their measures aren't working well enough because a valve is still stuck open, so radioactive steam is billowing into a containment building. Phew! The worry isn't a radiation leak, as C.J. suggests, but that they'll have to pump this steam into another building not meant to hold it. This building could possibly leak, and although Harry and his sidekick are reporting that this might happen, Cal Vista Gas and Electric (who run the plant, thanks, Kate) believe this wouldn't endanger the public. Bartlet points out that they don't even know how big the leak would actually be. He announces that he wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take control of the plant, and to evacuate the area. C.J. points out that it's a local matter, to which Bartlet announces that he needs the Governor on the phone. Kate, Harry, and the others tag-team to give the Governor's reasons why he would argue against an evacuation just yet. Bartlet merely launches into a phone conversation convincing him otherwise, assuring him, "…We would rather have a few fender benders on the I-5 than a generation of babies with thyroid cancer." He tells "Gabe" (ah, nuclear disaster makes us so chummy) that the FEMA director is in his office. A-ha! Harry's sidekick is FEMA! So I guessed right about Harry's position. Gabe is assured that he'll have all the resources he needs, as Bartlet is going to declare this a major federal disaster. After gamely assuring him that "we're going to get through this," C.J. suggests that Bartlet might want to appoint a czar to oversee this, but he interrupts, "You're looking at him."
Vinick is trying to call a number that is busy from his campaign headquarters. Bob and Bruno enter and argue over what to do, while Vinick just says that he wants to issue a statement supporting the plan to evacuate as a result of Bob's reporting "hundreds of press requests." Bob wants to also call for an investigation, but Bruno wants to tread more carefully because of Vinick's pro-nuclear stance. Bruno and Bob continue to bicker as Vinick tries the number again and hears another busy signal. Bruno asks, "Jamie and your grandkids are in, uh, San Diego?" Vinick just says the phone lines are all jammed. Bob is quieted, just saying he'll put out that support statement, and leaves the room. Vinick dials once more.