The West Wing

Season 2 Episode 11

The Leadership Breakfast

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jan 10, 2001 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
125 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

To get real issues to be discussed at a bi-partisan breakfast, Toby makes a deal with a former acquaintance who is the majority leader's new Chief of Staff to strike a bargain and put an issue on the agenda, thereby undermining CJ and setting up the administration to ridicule; The possibility of moving the press corps across the street is briefly explored; Leo and Toby start to face harsh realities about Bartlet's re-election; Josh and Sam build a fire with unfortunate consequences; Leo tells Josh to apologize for him after embarrassing himself in front of a columnist. Unfortunately the embarrassment continues with Sam and Donna.moreless

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  • Choking on a forkful of waffles.

    Hilarious cold open, loved Josh and Sam's back and forth.

    (smoke billows out of fire place)

    Sam: "I think this might be because the wood is wet."

    Josh: "Well the fire oughta dry it pretty quick, shouldn't it?"

    And poor Charlie,

    Charlie: "Mr. President, you know how you told me not to wake you up unless the building was on fire?"

    I was a little pissed that they had to damage the mural room, its my favorite one. And by the way, who wouldn't just assume the flue is welded shut?

    The Karen Cayhill plot involving Leo, Sam, and then Donna got progressively funnier. From Leo making fun of her shoes, to Sam confusing Kazakhstan and Kurdistan, to Donna...well,

    Josh: "I'm holding your underwear in my hand right now. And the way I know it's your underwear, is that your name is sewn in the back; which obviously we will spend some time talking about at a later date."

    All made for one of the funniest story lines to date.

    I've never been a big fan of Felicity Huffman, which was one of the reasons I started TWW instead of Sports Night. But she did a good job in making me hate her, as Ann Stark, the majority leader's chief of staff. While she was impressive in pulling one over on Toby, I think it was more his fault for being so desperate to turn the bipartisan breakfast into a partisan debate.

    Even knowing he was worried about reelection, I still think he over reacted. It seems like Toby is letting the same thing happen to him that he was admonishing Bartlet for back in the first season. Letting his compulsive need to win, blind him to times when he is about to set himself up for a huge loss. Plus you have to trust CJ enough to know what she's doing when it comes to press issues. Even so, I still felt bad for Toby when Bartlet wouldn't see him. Though it led to an excellent scene between Toby and Leo, with them starting the committee to reelect the President.

    It was hard to judge coming off the brilliance of Noël, but this one was still a solid episode.moreless
  • The time they could rest is over...

    The opposite is taking the lead and they make their press conference into disaster and Leo realize they cannot have no free time anymore and have to start fighting for reelection. But Leo is for him this time too and they with Toby are taking this.

    This episode really had some great and humorous moments like the fire doing - it is something you can remember even after years.

    Also there was some suggestion to move the press to another side of the street. Funny, they can make a storyline about even that and it works.

    And ofcourse.. the episode title, hinting to the breakfast. The moment they forgot one people when CJ made the sitting order. It was create episode.moreless
  • This episode has some of the most hilaroius scenes ever! I love it!

    This episode opens with Josh and Sam trying to build a fire in the mural room. I love it!!! So great! You've got to love Josh and Sam and poor Donna.

    The rules vs. guidelines. haha! I love it! Sam and his press room thing!!! I love how Chris gets called, and they marveling at the odds. Oh, I don't like Ann at all. And the thing is, I mean I haven't finished season 3 yet, but she never came back, and you never figured out how she knew Toby and everything. Maybe then I would've liked her, or atleast understood her more... but no, she just disappeared off to Mandyville. Toby was a little annoying in this episode too. I mean, I love the guy, but...

    Karen Cahill. How hysterical. Leo and the shoes, Sam and Kirghikstan, and Donna's underwear. Whenever you need a goo laugh just look at Donna's expression as Josh throws her underwear at her.

    The thing about this episode is it's pretty confusing and a lot is going on, so I can watch it so many times and still get new things out of it. Plus those classic classic moments. The other thing is, there isn't a whole lot of follow up on this episode. It just always felt like there should be something more. Hmm... Great, great episode though!moreless
Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

President Jed Bartlet

Dule Hill

Dule Hill

Charlie Young

Allison Janney

Allison Janney

Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

Sam Seaborn (Episodes 1-84)

Richard Schiff

Richard Schiff

Toby Ziegler

John Spencer

John Spencer

Leo McGarry

Felicity Huffman

Felicity Huffman

Ann Stark

Guest Star

Bruce Winant

Bruce Winant

Henry Hanson

Guest Star

Dude Walker

Dude Walker


Guest Star

Melissa Fitzgerald

Melissa Fitzgerald

Carol Fitzpatrick

Recurring Role

Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson


Recurring Role

William Duffy

William Duffy


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • It is mentioned in this episode that the 107th Congress is about to have its first session. At the time of the original broadcast the 107th Congress had in fact just started. Apparently in the alternative world of The West Wing congressional elections are concurrent with the real ones. The presidential elections, however, are not.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Josh: And what stupid-ass Irish thing did you say to Karen Cahill that you now need me to apologize for at Ben and Sally's like a little girl? Let me tell you what was surprising about that moment just then. I said that only 12 hours after you were very cool about my almost accidentally setting the building on fire.

    • Donna: Josh, this was delivered by messenger.
      Josh: What is it?
      Donna: (Holding the envelope in front of her face) It's ... Wait, wait. No, damn, my x-ray vision is failing me today.

    • Leo: Shake my hand. (Leo and Toby shake hands.) We just formed it.
      Toby: Formed what?
      Leo: The Committee to Re-elect the President.

    • Charlie: Mr. President, I don't know if this is the right moment...
      Bartlet: The right moment for what?
      Charlie: Donna Moss needs a favor. While talking last night to Karen Cahill, she accidentally dropped her underwear. She feels that there's a chance Karen Cahill may have misinterpreted that and Donna asked me to ask you if you would call Karen Cahill and make it clear she wasn't making a sexual advance.
      Bartlet: Well, I'm not sure there is a right moment for you to ask me that, Charlie.

    • Bartlet: Who's the next meeting?
      Charlie: Kim Woo of Singapore. You want the cheat sheet?
      Bartlet: I don't need a cheat sheet. Kim Woo, he won a bronze medial for fencing, he's a Buddhist, and he enjoys European History. You see Charles even though it's a handshake, I'm able to make him feel like a friend and that's a little thing they call 'people skills.'
      Charlie: Kim Woo's a woman, sir.
      Bartlet: The man's an Olympic athlete, Charlie. I wouldn't say that to his face

    • C.J.: Carol, did the President say that the stats were even more staggering right here, in Washington, D.C.?
      Carol: Yeah.
      C.J.: Would you remind me to clarify that?
      Carol: Why?
      C.J.: He was in Louisville, Kentucky, when he said it

    • Donna: You're not using lighter fluid or anything are you?
      Josh: No... no flammable liquids of any kind to start a fire, ever.
      Sam: (Sam enters as Donna begins to leave) Found it!
      Josh: What?
      Sam: Kerosene.
      Donna: (whips around) Josh...

    • Bartlet: Did you know it's bad luck to toast with water?
      Charlie: I didn't.
      Bartlet: Yeah, you don't want to make a toast with water.
      Charlie: Should we go, sir? [about to leave]
      Bartlet: From Greek mythology, I'm almost sure. You lose your spirit.
      Charlie: To what?
      Bartlet: [continues reading] Hmm?
      Charlie: To what do you loose your spirit?
      Bartlet: That's a great question Charlie and I could tell you, but I think it's better if you look it up on your own.

    • Josh: I'm holding... your underwear... in my hand... right now. And the way I know it's your underwear is that your name sewn in the back, which is obviously something we'll spend some time talking about at a later date.

    • C.J.: Why were you holding women's underwear before?
      Josh: Never needed a reason before...

  • NOTES (1)


    • Bartlet: I don't have to be Officer Krupke.

      Officer Krupke is a character from West Side Story, the police sergeant who has to keep two gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, under control. By comparing himself to Krupke, the President suggests that the two sides at the Leadership Breakfast behave like the gangs.

    • C.J.: Fred and Ethel would you follow me please?

      C.J. refers to Sam and Josh as Fred and Ethel. Fred and Ethel are characters from I Love Lucy. They are bickering all the time, like a typical married couple. There is also an I Love Lucy episode called Fred and Ethel Fight.

    • Toby: I'm Shocked, Shocked, I say, to find there's gambling going on in this establishment.

      This is a quote from Casablanca. A policeman says it when discovered by a higher ranking law offical in the featured club of the film. The next line is "Here are you're winning, sir."

    • The idea of moving the press corps to the OEOB (Old Executive Office Building) was actually considered during the first year of the Clinton administration; Hillary Clinton especially was a proponent of the idea. There was even talk (also mentioned in the episode) of doing so in order to reopen the old indoor swiming pool previously found below the press room.