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The Journey of Leo McGarry

By RD Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2005

''The West Wing'' has been about a lot of people. President Bartlet, a little-seen figure in the series pilot, has constantly stepped center-stage. Josh has had a lot of emotional moments, and I hope we haven't seen the last of Toby. But when we sit down to write the complete history of ''The West Wing,'' Leo should be at the center.


We saw that again Sunday night, where Leo was featured not only as a vice-presidential candidate but as the ultimate Democratic party pro, always the smartest guy in the room when the issue is politics, the one man who can validate anyone and end any argument. Yes, there is a huge fantasy at work in the show, including the idea that someone with Leo's terrible past could end up getting the vice-presidential candidate. But even that selection played off the notion that, if anyone had to hold the hand of an underdog and maverick presidential nominee in a rough campaign, then Leo was the one to do it.


Can't say I really liked Sunday's episode, and not just because I'm watching it in HD, which has been brutal to Mary McCormack. Entertaining stuff here and there, including Josh's tortured expression and Barlet's phone tantrum. And every time John Spencer, who plays Leo, gets onscreen with Martin Sheen as Bartlet, it's just a joy to watch.


But the campaign stories are still much more interesting than anything the White House has going now; the show keeps having to pound war drums, like a real-life president trying to get attention by starting a war somewhere. So for all the wedding business, I wanted to be back in the rooms with Josh and Santos -- and, of course, Leo.

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