Previously on The West Wing: Abby tried to cut through Jed's denial of his MS; Toby complained that they can't plan strategy when they don't know whether POTUS is even planning to run; C.J. arranged for the revelation of Bartlet's news; Oliver Babish instructed Bartlet to order the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor; post-election conflict occured in Haiti; Mrs. Landingham was killed in a car accident with a drunk driver.
We follow the back of Margaret's head into Leo's office, where Leo is having a confab with two Democratic party representatives who've recently learned the news about Bartlet's MS and are telling Leo that it's not just about the President getting re-elected, but that the whole House is up for re-election, and that Democrats are going to take it "in the throat." Both of them feel that Democrats who are running for re-election will be telling POTUS not to come to their districts, and the campaign "will never get out of the Rose Garden." They're also concerned that the campaign will end up being about Bartlet's illness and the cover-up, and that their numerous valid policy cases against Republicans (tax cuts, education, environment) will be shunted aside. Leo listens to all this with a look of serious concern. The guy wearing a sweater vest and bowtie says, "I don't like being the first one to say it, but I'm gonna. I think the President has got to strongly consider not running for re-election." Leo looks slightly irritated and asks, "You think you're the first one to say it? You are, at minimum, the thirty-fifth in the last two hours." Sweater Vest leans forward and says, "Well, we're the ones you're talking to now, and we're the ones who are asking: is the President gonna run for re-election?" The camera glides toward Leo as he says, "Harry, Bill, there's going to be a press conference tonight. I'd watch." And the opening music plays for the forty-fourth time. That must be Sorkin's shortest opening yet...I'm almost certain it's my shortest opening. While the credits and commercials are running, I realize I haven't got any Kleenex™, so I run and get some.
Safely ensconced with my Kleenex and the phone off -- although not, perhaps, adequately prepared for the presentation of Shakespeareo-Biblical proportions that is to come -- the show begins. Toby's giving orders in the Mural Room to Larry and Ed about where the President will sit for the interview -- not by the fireplace ("too much") -- and reminding the guy to light the room from outside the window. Toby complains about an Easter message from the President that wasn't lit from outside and therefore "looked like it was lit by Ed Wood." Toby wanders over to the communications area with Sam hot on his heels. Toby's still muttering about the lighting and Sam interrupts, "I don't care. Look, Toby, has anyone considered whether he's up for this?" Toby, irritably: "Up for this?" Sam mumbles that some stuff has happened since they decided to do this -- obviously, he's referring to Mrs. Landingham's death -- and Toby reminds him that the cat's already out of the bag, so there's really no turning back. Sam's hair looks pretty good. Sam asks when they're prepping POTUS; Toby says, "After the service." Sam's concerned about whether there'll be time; Toby says they'll have the afternoon. Sam keeps pushing for reconsideration but Toby tersely says, "There aren't any options left! We're going on TV at eight!" Sam gives up and walks away. Ginger, wearing a sombre black suit, comes up, apologizing to Toby for putting Greg Summerhayes back on his schedule. Toby's not happy, but Ginger explains that Leo's office insisted she do so. Toby's frustrated; he mentions the funeral service and all the other things going on. Ginger softly says that she offered the guy four o'clock. Toby relents and pats Ginger lightly on her sleeve before taking off down the hall.