The second season of The West Wing aired in the United States from October 4, 2000 to May 16, 2001 and consisted of 22 episodes. It aired in the United States on NBC, a terrestrial television network.
While the staff awaits news regarding the injuries to Jed and Josh, they recall how Josh, Sam, and Toby became involved in the campaign three years earlier; Leo, Toby, and C.J. deal with inquiries on Secret Service protection policies, as well as the absence of executive authority while Jed was in surgery.
With the accomplice in custody, it's revealed that the intended target was Charlie, not Bartlet. The staff still awaits news about Josh, and recalls how C.J. and Donna came to join the Bartlet campaign.
While Josh recovers from bullet wounds there's a noticeable tension among some of the White House Staff. Toby is gung-ho to go after extremist groups in light of the attack. Charlie withdraws from the first family after learning more about the shooting. Bartlet's mind is preoccupied with a small time school election because of an old rivalry. CJ mangles physicist by referring to them as psychics as Josh listens from his sick bed. A subplot involves a reception for radio talk show hosts. Dr. Jenna Jacobs, whose doctorate is in English Lit., is one of those attending. Sam encourages a friend to run for office, unfortunately it doesn't go as he intended.
To investigate the cost and availability of AIDS medication needed in Africa, the White House plays host to representatives of American pharmaceutical companies and the president of an African nation; C.J. accidentally leaks information to a freshman reporter; after Sam is shown up by an amateur Republican operative on a television program, Jed decides to hire her.
Leo tries to make Ainsley's arrival as painless as possible, despite resistance from her new boss and several other White House staffers; Donna helps with the President's weekly radio address; C.J. tries to derail a retiring General's attempt to speak out against Bartlet; Sam gives Josh ideas on how to deal with his insurance company.
The president considers recalling the Senate to push ratification of a nuclear-test-ban treaty. Meanwhile, Donna lobbies new legislation introducing ergonomic standards in the White House; A Ukrainian politician shows up at the White House drunk demanding to see the president.
After ridiculing Notre Dame, C.J. is forced to accompany the President on a trip to Oregon; Toby and Sam struggle to write Jed's education speech for the following day; back at the White House, Josh tries to dissuade a gay Congressman who supports legislation banning same-sex marriages and Leo gets divorce papers, which causes Margaret to worry that he may fall off the wagon.
Toby encourages the President to appoint Leo's controversial sister to a national education post, against Leo's objections; Bartlet must decide what the do with 83 Chinese citizens who stowed away on a freighter ship and seek asylum on the grounds of religious persecution; CJ has to decide which one of two turkeys the President should "pardon" but then tries to save the other from the chopping block; Charlie is tasked with buying the President a new carving knife which is not as easy as it sounds.
On the eve of Jed's participation in a national television conference with thousands of school children as the Galileo probe arrives at Mars, NASA loses the communication link; Leo contends with a Russian ambassador who denies that a fire has broken out in a nuclear missile silo; C.J. and Sam accompany Jed to a concert where they're each faced with people they'd rather not see; Josh and Donna work on the nomination for the next person to appear on a postage stamp; C.J. wrangles a minor controversy ignited by a leak that Jed doesn't like green beans.
Josh investigates the suicide of a pilot with whom he has things in common; Donna tries to get an invitation to the Congressional Christmas party to hear Yo-Yo Ma perform; Jed insists on signing a mountain of Christmas cards himself; after a White House visitor has a strange reaction to a painting, C.J. sets out to discover its provenance; following weeks of volatile behavior and an outburst in the Oval Office, Josh meets with representatives from the America Trauma Victims Association and finally deals with the trauma from his shooting.
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.
Bartlet has the duty of formally welcoming newly appointed ambassadors from other nations; Leo continues his efforts to get the President to support the "missile shield: defense system", even though the shield doesn't quite work; CJ must ask a popular comedian to turn down an offer to host the Will Rogers dinner; Sam is angered when Toby adds a "drop-in" to Sam's already perfect speech without consulting him.
The President delivers his 3rd State of the Union address, what critics call "the speech of his political career" and ends up angering Abbey by what he does and doesn't say; Josh must work the polling center with Joey Lucas, but a power outage delays the results; Sam attempts to introduce Ainsley to the President with disastrous results; CJ must juggle a live recording of the show "Capitol Beat" being broadcast within the White House and run damage control when a cop has a (possibly undeserved) black mark on his record; Leo and Bartlet must handle the matter of five DEA officials who are taken hostage by Columbian terrorists.
Bartlet authorizes a special ops team to rescue the five DEA agents only to have them caught in an ambush; CJ arranges for the host of "Capitol Beat" to have an exclusive interview with the wronged police officer; Toby must deal with Senator Gilette who threatens to make a third party run for president due to the tone of the changes on social security reform; Sam gives Ainsley another chance to meet the President, but she still fails to create a good impression; Josh finally gets the poll results from Joey; Abbey and Bartlet discuss his running for a second term.
During an online chat, the Surgeon General comments favorably on the legalization of marijuana. The controversy heightens when Ellie Bartlet tells a reporter that her father would never fire the Surgeon General. Toby asks his ex-wife, a Congresswoman, for her help in strongly persuading Seth Gillette to participate in the Social Security panel.
It's Big Block of Cheese Day again. Toby meets with World Trade Organization protesters, and CJ meets with a group of cartographers who want the standards for maps changed to be a more accurate reflection of geographical and political reality. Donna asks Sam to look into granting a pardon for a friend's deceased grandfather. Bartlet is having problems selecting a site for his Presidential library.
The staff is blindsided when an elderly senator stages a Friday night filibuster to block their Family Wellness bill; Toby is confused when VP Hoynes, a strong supporter of the oil industry, volunteers to give a speech attacking the energy sector; CJ tries to locate a valuable Egyptian cat goddess statue given to the President.
Toby, suspicious that there's something going on with the President, finds out about Bartlet's MS and informs Leo of the legal ramifications; Josh and Donna disagree about the date of their "anniversary"; Sam and Ainsley argue about the necessity of the ERA; staffers struggle to punch-up the speech the President will give at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Bartlet confers with Babish on the legal ramifications of his MS cover-up; Sam has a personal interest in an oil spill off the coast of Delaware; Josh and Donna argue about a loan to Mexico; Toby orders C.J. to flush out a leak in the White House staff, which is far from easy.
Babish menacingly questions CJ and Abbey about their involvement in the MS cover-up while Josh asks Joey Lucas to create a hypothetical poll the gauge the public's reaction; Sam is happy with a projected smaller-than-expected budget surplus; Donna is the only one worried about a Chinese satellite hurling toward the Earth at 2,000 mph.
The staff prepares for the worst as they make arrangements for the public announcement of the President's condition; Sam and Babish grill Abbey about her medical treatment of the President's MS; a crisis erupts in Haiti; Josh deals with two Democratic senators who won't support the administration's suit against tobacco companies; Mrs. Landingham buys her first new car, with tragic consequences.