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The West Wing: Season 06 ()

The crises facing the various members of the Bartlet administration at the outset of The West Wing's sixth season include the ever-escalating hostilities between Israel and Palestine, with President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) refusing to exploit the situation by staging a preemptive strike against a longtime enemy; and the slow recovery of Donna Moss (Janel Moloney), assistant to Barlet's deputy chief of staff, Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), after her surgery to remove a pulmonary embolism. Nor is this the only health crisis facing the staff: it is painfully clear that Josh's boss, veteran chief of staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer) is himself suffering from an as-yet-undetermined ailment. Alas, this doesn't take long to "determine": three episodes into season six, Leo has been rushed to the hospital to undergo an emergency bypass after suffering a massive heart attack. In his absence, press secretary C.J. (Allison Janney) is thrust into the responsibility of negotiating a peace accord in the Israeli-Palestine war with the UN and NATO. In another plot development, the race has begun for a worthwhile Democratic candidate to run for the Presidency now that Bartlet is winding down his second term. One of the leading contenders is the party's first Hispanic Presidential candidate, Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits). Emerging as the most viable Republican opponent is the venerable Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda), who, somewhat surprisingly, shares many of Bartlet's more liberal opinions. Amidst these and other intrigues, the series actually finds time to pause for a somewhat comic episode, "In the Room," featuring gonzo magicians Penn and Teller as "themselves" in a story which gently tweaks the nose of activists who equate desecration of the American flag with wholesale treason. The season climaxes at the Democratic National Convention, as Matt Santos vies with the two other leading candidates for the precious 2,162 votes needed to choose a nominee who can successfully halt the apparently invulnerable Arnold Vinick political juggernaut come November (the choice of the Democratic running mate is quite a surprise!); and the outgoing Bartlet finds he still has one final crisis to deal with, this one a matter of life or death in outer space. Hal Erickson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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