'West Wing': The next Fake President of the United States is...

91911__ww_l_2Victor Sifuentes!

Er, I mean, Bobby Simone. That is, Matt Santos, a.k.a. Jimmy Smits (at right), is The West Wing‘s new fake president! Kudos to Alan Alda, though, whose tough-as-nails performance imbued Republican Senator Arnold Vinick (at left) with enough integrity and wherewithal to be a worthy successor to the godlike Democratic President Jed Bartlet (center), who we’re all heartbroken to see go.

Of course, the new beginnings of Fake Election Day were tempered by the news that Vice President-elect Leo McGarry (John Spencer) had had another heart attack and passed away. It looks like next week’s episode will give McGarry — and class-act Spencer — a proper send-off, reuniting us in the process with some of our favorite West Wing alumni. Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn and Anna Deavere Smith’s Nancy McNally are confirmed. But how many more surprises can The West Wing jam into its final five episodes?

addCredit(“The West Wing: NBC Universal Photo”)

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  • Sven

    According to today’s New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/10/arts/television/10wing.html?_r=1&oref=slogin), the original plan before Spencer’s death was for Alda’s character, Vinick, to win. But the writers thought it was too cruel for the audience to have the Dems lose both their VP candidate and the election. Interesting…

  • Bassinger

    The great thing about the West Wing is/was that it showed how we would like our politicians to act. The candidates who, with an election so close, could have debated the results with lawyers and law suits both indicated they wouldn’t drag America through that process. It also makes the staffers seem like rats to encourage the process. Alan Alda was really great this season on West Wing. I hope he gets some kudos.

  • Paul K

    It would have been more realistic to have Vinick win given the way this country has swung crazy conservative. But, I am happy that the writers had Santos win. It gives me hope that there will be a Democratic resurgence in the mid-term November elections – and in the 2008 presidential election.

  • Mariane

    That Santos won was contrived and unbelievable, and lost me as a viewer, not that it matters since the show is over.

  • Howard

    Yes Paul, because The West Wing has always been the harbinger for American politics. If Democrats in real life had as much of a strategy as the ones on this show, then they’d have a chance in 2008. Then again, they’d also need a candidate as charismatic and likable as Santos was.
    This season was everything it should have been. I’d like to have seen it continue with the Santos presidency (Josh as Chief of Staff, Donna in some greater capacity and the rest all new), but I understand the decision to end it hear. This was also an election that we’d love to see in real life: two passionate, intelligent candidates running aggressive but ethical campaigns, either of whom the country would be proud to have as Commander in Chief. That, and a great send-off last night for John Spencer.

  • S.C.

    I used to be irked by this show sometimes, but I’ve become resigned to the idea that this show is just wish fulfillment for the writers and doesn’t even begin to try to take political reality into account.

  • Jason

    I’ll bet Santos asks Vinick to serve as his vice president.

  • Tim L

    What a great ending. I know it is unrealistic, and that Vinik truly should have won but I like to think that conservatism is on a downswing in the US as we are oppressed by the Ultra-Conservative Stephen Harper who just came to power here in Canada.
    Having said that, I was really happy to see Santos win. It’s a shame we won’t get just one more season back in the West Wing to see the new president in action.
    Having to settle for five episodes just isn’t satisfying for me. Studio 66 will have to do I suppose.

  • Lois Carlson

    It amazes me that this show was canceled. Given all the press, blog and internet traffic over last night’s show and its outcome, it just doesn’t make sense to me that we won’t get at least one more year to follow President Elect, Santos. There should be a recount of NBC’s decision to cancel!

  • Don

    Looking forward to the next episode! Sure wish we could continue on.

  • Sam M

    I think the producers were 100% right. Once John Spencer died, Santos had to win. The death of the Leo character was already wrenching enough to fans of the “Bartlett Administration.” To also lose the WH to the other party as the show signed off would have just been too much. I know, I know — it’s fiction. But for those of us who’ve invested so many years, and our intense interest, in the show, these characters and this world really came to life for us. Knowing that the Bartlett legacy includes what the Clinton legacy didn’t (keeping the presidency in the party) is some sweet consolation. The next step: Bartlett for VP!!! He would be eligible, you know . . . .

  • Sven

    Sam,
    Bartlett would only be eligible if he made himself ineligible to become President. He can of course only serve two terms, so the position would go straight to the Speaker of the House, who as we learned last night will be a Democrat.
    Like Jason, I too wondered if Vinick might become VP, but there is no way the Democratic Party would allow that. Don’t give me the Kerry-McCain analogy, as that would never have happened (and didn’t). So I don’t think the writers can expect the viewers to completely surrender their claims to reality at the door.

  • Sam M

    Sven,
    Not so! The 22nd Amendment says: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.” If Bartlett were chosen by the House as V.P. after Santos was elected, he would even be eligible to ascend to the presidency again. The only thing he could not do is be ELECTED again. Becoming President upon the death of President Santos would be permitted.
    Bartlett for Vice-President!!!

  • Dave

    What about Sam Seaborn as the new VP…

  • Sam M

    Sam Seaborn? Nah. Remember, Leo was chosen for his experience, to balance out Santos’s lack of it, especially in foreign policy. How about the former Secretary of State, Lewis Berryhill, played by William Devane in a few episodes? He was the guy Bartlett originally wanted to replace Hoynes, but the GOP House wouldn’t confirm him — leaving Bartlett with Bob Russell. I’d bet money on Berryhill. It fits: foreign policy experience, with a newly-Democratic House.

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