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"He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham, your President's a geek!"




Josiah Bartlet wanted to be a priest. He went to Notre Dame, then to the London School of Economics where he earned a PhD and, later, a Nobel Prize. He spent two terms as the Governor of New Hampshire, is a direct descendant of one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, and is one of the biggest nerds on the face of the planet with an encyclopedic knowledge of all forty-four national parks, a love of filling out tax returns and the complete inability to keep from riding his bike into trees. He's as far left (and as Catholic) as Kennedy, as well-spoken as Clinton and as intelligent as Carter or Gore. He's a flaming, flaming liberal. Not all that surprisingly, he's been shot at, and he's been shot.

Problem is, he's fictional. He's played by Martin Sheen on NBC's "The West Wing."

The series got its start in September of 1999 and was in full swing during the...well, let's call it the dubiously ethical 2000 United States presidential election, an election where the democrats got hosed in a particularly brutal way. After getting punked in the national elections and punked in the Congress, Democrats fought back with the only two outlets we have at our disposal when we've lost the battle and, for good measure, lost the war: Hollywood and bumper stickers. Aaron Sorkin and his team of writers gave us the President we wanted (at least for an hour a week) and the national kitsch-peddlers gave us a way of venting out dissatisfaction with the party as a whole. We slapped Bartlet for America stickers on our minivans or, in my case, on the side of my computer. We actually thought about the ideals of government for once instead of who would screw us less, given the choice. In some small way, we chose fabulation in the hope that, one day, storytelling and the ability to do so without, you know, lying, would carry some weight somewhere. We watched, amazed, as they put some of the fun back into national politics.

The point is, give the media some slack, ok? Some of them are trying as hard as they can.

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