Redundant Clinton aides apply to 'West Wing' team

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The Independent US

First Ronald Reagan leapt effortlessly from Bedtime for Bonzo into the White House. Then Warren Beatty admitted that he wanted to be the president, and Arnold Schwarzenegger pondered running for Governor of California. For decades, Hollywood has been a springboard for people who wanted to play in the fantasy-world of American politics.

But with the rise of The West Wing, a television series, that flow has been put into reverse. Dozens of former Washington insiders ­ ousted when the Bush administration took over ­ have been trying to get taken on by the show as consultants. "There is a fever in Washington among people who believe there may be a chance for a second career in television via The West Wing," Lawrence O'Donnell, a former Senate aide who became a producer on the show, has told the Los Angels Times.

The programme already has insiders providing the detail that has given The West Wing believability. These include Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, Marlin Fitzwater, a press secretary for George Bush Snr, Pat Caddell, an aide to Jimmy Carter, and Dee Dee Meyers, a press secretary for Bill Clinton.

While The West Wing, in which Martin Sheen portrays a liberal, disease-concealing president, has been popular with viewers, it has also become a hit with those it seeks to portray. Representative David Dreir, the head of the House rules committee, is said to be poised for a cameo appearance.

But the show's popularity might be because the characters are wittier, quicker and more stylish than their real-life counterparts. Margaret Cone, a lobbyist for the Writers' Guild, said: "All of that witty repartee: people in Washington are too stressed out to be witty."

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