In the series premiere, the White House staff is being called into work in the early hours of the morning to the news that the President of the United States has crashed his bicycle into a tree, much to the enjoyment of the press. The staff must run damage control on this and a gaffe by Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman who, after provocation by Christian activist Mary Marsh on a televised debate, quips "Lady, the God you pray to is too busy being indicted for tax fraud." Also, Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn meets and spends an evening with Laurie (Lisa Edelstein), not knowing she is a call girl, and then accidentally tells White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry's daughter, Mallory O'Brien, about it.
The Vice President refuses to fall in line with Bartlet; Sam discusses the problem of Laurie with Josh and Toby; the plane carrying President Bartlet's doctor, a naval officer, is shot down en route to Jordan; Bartlet hires Mandy as his consultant.
Still enraged at Morris's death, Bartlet makes a show of deadly force; C.J. is upset about being kept out of the loop about Laurie; Josh hires Charlie to be Bartlet's new personal assistant.
Five votes keep a very important gun-control bill from being passed and the staff has 72 hours to track down the errant congressmen;Toby is accused of manipulating the stock market by having a friend testify to Commerce on internet stocks; Leo's wife gets fed up with his long hours.
The staffers spend the day ("Big Block of Cheese day") dealing with private organizations, aka the crackpots. Throughout the day, Sam deals with a UFO nut, CJ gets a proposal to build a wolves-only road, Toby and Bartlet clash over everything, and Josh is overwhelmed by guilt regarding his sister's death.
Toby and Mandy push for a commerce bill with a census-counting provision, with three votes as the deciding factor; Sam tutors C.J. on the finer points of the census; Josh & Sam take Charlie out for a beer and are joined by Zoey and Mallory. Zoey faces a potentially dangerous situation when she goes out for the evening.
The president of Indonesia is honored at a state dinner; the staff deals with Hurricane Sarah, a potential teamster strike, and a raid involving children in Idaho; a reporter flirts with C.J.
Bartlet and Hoynes argue in front of the Cabinet; C.J. fends off Danny's advances when she suspects he's after a big story; Mallory asks Sam out; the staff leaps hurdles to pass a banking bill.
Bartlet struggles to name a nominee to the Supreme Court when the perfect nominee turns out to be not so perfect; A congressman attacks the staff, claiming that 1 in 3 use drugs.
Toby tries to arrange a proper funeral for a homeless veteran; Josh and Sam try to set up a preemptive strike against Lillienfield, who is attacking Leo because of his prior drug and alcohol problem; CJ tries to get the staff to revisit the hate crimes issue; Bartlet sneaks out to do some last minute shopping.
War breaks out between India and Pakistan and Bartlet consults with Lord John Marbury; Toby accuses C.J. of being too friendly with the press when she objects to being kept in the dark; the staff realizes that Lillienfield's efforts to bring down Leo are going to get ugly when Josh gets a subpoena.
Bartlet collapses before his first State of the Union address; Leo publicly admits to his former alcoholism and drug abuse; things get interesting romantically for both Sam and C.J.; Lord John Marbury helps the staff negotiate an agreement between India and Pakistan.
Josh and Sam are able to make a bargain to keep Leo from going through a hearing, at the expense of a new sex education report. Mandy doesn't think a couple should be present at the signing of a new hate crimes bill instigated by the death of their son. Toby contends with some of PBS's detractors.
After the Supreme Court refuses to stay the execution of a convicted murderer, Bartlet has forty-eight hours to decide whether or not to commute the sentence; Josh faces off with Joey Lucas about his staff's not backing her candidate as vigorously as she'd like.
Toby and Sam travel to Connecticut to get Roberto Mendoza released from jail; Josh must run a press briefing when C.J. has an emergency root canal.
Bartlet and the senior staff fly to California to attend an important fundraiser; Hoynes must decide whether he will support Bartlet's stance or go with his convictions when the Senate is deadlocked on an ethanol tax bill.
Abbey keeps the staff busy with the fallout when she leaks her personal preference for a Federal Reserve Board appointment and discusses child labor on a talk show, prompting a Congresswoman to offer an amendment which could shoot down the entire international tariff bill; Charlie's date with Zoey is cancelled because of threats by a white supremacist group.
Mendoza is confirmed by the Senate; Mandy needs Toby's help to replace a dead panda bear; Sam angers Mallory when she reads a position paper that he wrote supporting school vouchers; Josh meets with Jeff Breckenridge, who is irritating certain Congressmen with his stance on slavery reparations.
Mandy's old memo about Bartlet administration weaknesses surfaces; Josh tries to get administration nominees appointed to the Federal Elections Committee; Sam works to get a better policy on gays in the military.
Andrea Wyatt insists that mandatory minimums be added to a new drug policy the staff is developing; C.J. makes a mistake and sets them back.
Bartlet gets closer to making the FEC campaign finance reform-friendly, but his opponents strike back by making Sam's former dalliance with the call girl public knowledge; CJ waits anxiously for the administration's approval rating.
The staff deals with the crisis of an American pilot who was shot down in Iraq; Toby's brother is in danger on a space shuttle whose doors won't close; Bartlet and the senior staff walk into trouble as they leave a town meeting.