View Full Version : Justin Trudeau geeking out on West Wing podcast this week

07-25-2017, 02:28 PM
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's face is all over the Internet again -- and not because of politics. Not real-world politics, anyway.

He'll be a guest on Wednesday's episode of The West Wing Weekly, a podcast for fans of the beloved 1999-2006 U.S. political drama created by Aaron Sorkin.

Each week, hosts Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina dissect one episode of the West Wing, often with help from people who worked on the show and experts on its subject matter.
Trudeau may be positioned as one such expert – on what it means to be Canadian. In the episode he discussed, season three’s Dead Irish Writers, the character Donna finds out she might not be a U.S. citizen because she was born just over Minnesota's border with Manitoba.

The topic is a natural fit for Trudeau, said Alex Marland, political science professor at Memorial University and author of Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control.

“The Liberal Party of Canada sees itself as the party of Canada, the party of national unity, that Liberal values are Canadian values,” he said. “They would want to talk about it.”

The Prime Minister’s cool-dad shtick on social media and mainstream media -- unicorn-hugging, photo-bombing, podcast-chattering -- will be well-received as long as he isn't seen ducking hard questions from the press at the same time, Marland added.

On Saturday the @WestWingWeekly Twitter page posted a photo of Trudeau chatting with the hosts on Skype, wearing a pink open-necked shirt and looking slightly sleepy, but smiling. The image is not exactly prime ministerial, but “he is wearing a shirt,” Marland said.

Cameron Ahmad, media-relations manager at the Prime Minister's Office, wrote in an email to Metro that the Prime Minister was happy to talk about a TV show that "developed the interest and curiosity of many into the world of politics and public policy."

The chat touched on "governance, gender equality and diversity," Ahmad said, adding, "We are always looking for ways to engage with people through different media platforms – from more traditional mediums to new and emerging ones."

It's no surprise that fans of progressive president/loveable dad Josiah Bartlet, the fictional Commander-in-Chief on the West Wing, reacted to the news of Trudeau’s appearance with a deluge of celebratory West Wing gifs. Trump-weary American liberals have been looking at Canada with particular longing lately.

Clearly Trudeau’s media team calculated that his guesting on a podcast all about U.S. politics would be a “net positive” Marland said, adding that it could help build up Canada's "brand" as the two countries prepare to face off over NAFTA.

But it might not be as complicated as all that. The podcasters said on Twitter that they’ve been chasing the PM for an interview for a year. Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff, tweeted Saturday that she’s a fan of the podcast and is glad the interview worked out.

The West Wing Weekly's creators were unable to comment before press time.

07-25-2017, 02:43 PM
It was a good show. But being made by Democrats about Democrats for a Democrat audience it also had many "make me #&cking gag" moments too. Nice to see the left suckling on to their dreams, seeing as that is all they have left. Get it, left.

07-25-2017, 03:53 PM
It was a good show. But being made by Democrats about Democrats for a Democrat audience it also had many "make me #&cking gag" moments too.
I assume you mean the 1999-2006 The West Wing,
rather than the podcast justin is to appear on.

Ainsley Hayes was a joy to watch in every scene she was in.

07-25-2017, 04:12 PM
I assume you mean the 1999-2006 The West Wing,
rather than the podcast justin is to appear on.

Ainsley Hayes was a joy to watch in every scene she was in.

I enjoyed Rob Lowe's character too.

07-25-2017, 05:56 PM
"“The Liberal Party of Canada sees itself as the party of Canada, the party of national unity, that Liberal values are Canadian values,” he said. “They would want to talk about it.”

I thought they said there was no such thing as "Canadian values".

07-25-2017, 06:06 PM
“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.” -- The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, November 10, 2015, Guy Lawson from The New York Times

07-25-2017, 06:30 PM
A script? He's good with those. It's working without one that goes all "ummm, ahhhh, uuumm, ahhh".

But can he work with a script written by anyone other than Gerald Butt(hole)s?

07-25-2017, 08:49 PM
That show sucked.

Butters Stotch
07-26-2017, 08:17 AM
A West Wing podcast, Aaron Sorkin probably listens to it while he masturbates.

07-26-2017, 09:19 AM

He occasionally appears on the podcast.

07-28-2017, 04:44 PM
July 26, 2017

Justin Trudeau during a visit to the Electronic Arts Canada Inc. Capture Lab in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

On a podcast about the show, the prime minister explained how it influenced his career, and why he’s okay with comparisons to Sam Seaborn

Justin Trudeau poses a challenge for American and British journalists trying to tell their home audiences about him. The time-honoured way of approaching Canadian stories from outside is to touch on politeness, moderation, snow—and then move along. But Trudeau is too conspicuously good-looking, his political persona too undeniably fascinating, for those clichés to be sufficient.

Quite often the solution involves likening him to a universally familiar pop-culture product. This week’s Rolling Stone cover story says, “Trudeau and his young staff give off the aura of a well-meaning Netflix adaptation about a young, idealistic Canadian prime minister.” Last year, Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff wrote, “Imagine a West Wing episode come to life, and that’s basically Justin Trudeau.”

If non-Canadians see the Prime Minister that way, no harm done. It would be more problematic, though, if Trudeau and his team lapsed into thinking of themselves as some sort of hit show. This struck me particularly last year at a Liberal convention in Winnipeg, where videos and speeches portrayed Trudeau’s inner circle in a way I thought unmistakably echoed The West Wing’s ensemble of idealistic, driven, young political staffers.

And so the Prime Minister’s interview this morning on a U.S. podcast called The West Wing Weekly promised to be more than a novelty. Not surprisingly, Trudeau confirmed that the hour-long NBC drama, which aired from 1999-2006, was a formative influence, back when he and his future top aides were dreaming up political careers. Even more intriguingly, his musings on the podcast about the similarities and differences between his prime-ministership and the fictional U.S. administration of President Jed Bartlet provided several flashes of insight.

The podcast is co-hosted by musician and composer Hrishi Hirway, who describes himself as also being “a political news junkie,” and actor Joshua Malina, who played a political staffer on The West Wing. Hirway explained how Trudeau came to be their guest. It started last year when he called Trudeau “the real-life Sam Seaborn,” a reference to the West Wing character played by Rob Lowe, in the particular sense that both “can really wear a tuxedo.”

That comment drew the attention of Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, a big West Wing fan, and Hirway began prodding her to make Trudeau available. Agreeing might have seemed like a low-risk proposition, a nostalgic nod to a cherished cultural touchstone. In its day, The West Wing presented a consistently inspiring view of Democratic politics, depicting the machinations of speechwriters and spinners and strategists as the essential undergirding for a brilliant, principled president.

It aired when Trudeau and the men and women who would become his core coterie—very young then and still pretty young now—needed a way to imagine themselves in politics. “We’re all of the same generation. We all watched The West Wing,” Trudeau told Hirway and Malina. “We were all in a certain sense coloured by having watched The West Wing while we were thinking about how we wanted to have an impact on the world in our lives.”

But Trudeau was careful not to identify uncritically with The West Wing. After all, the show reveled in the shadowy manoeuverings of staffers, not the sunshiny side of politics he likes to talk up. So Trudeau made a point of saying the “big difference” between the show and his daily work is that he needs to stay “connected with regular people, having real conversations, and not getting wrapped up or even glorifying the insider nature of the political universe.”

A smart distinction to draw. Still, he wasn’t dismissing the show’s depictions as fantasy. “A lot of the interplay—from campaigning, to machinery of government, to the political lens you put on things—is very, very real and [a] very reasonable facsimile of what we’re doing,” he said. Real enough, in fact, that Trudeau said he watched an old episode in which Bartlet skewers his Republican rival in a TV debate as preparation for his own campaign debate performance.

West Wing Presidential Debate

Trudeau named Martin Sheen’s Bartlet as his favourite West Wing character, but said his own style is more about interacting directly with people. That rings true: Trudeau is outgoing and instinctive; Bartlet was reserved and cerebral. When Hirway raised another possible identification, mentioning how he had earlier dubbed Trudeau “the real-life Sam Seaborn”—Lowe’s tuxedo-rocking character—I expected the PM to try to deflect.

But Trudeau took the Seaborn point quite seriously. He picked up on how the character was depicted as an extraordinarily gifted speechwriter. So when Hirway asked if he’s okay with the comparison, Trudeau said, “Yes, on the side of the importance of communication and language, understanding how to use language as a way of telling the stories that drive us, reminding us of who we are and where we want to go.”

He kept going: “When you talk in policy, or you talk in numbers, you sound good but you don’t connect. The stories we tell about who we are, where we’re going, it happens in narrative form. I’m trying to uplift, represent and tell the story of Canadians in a way that resonates around the world. And that focus on storytelling is why I’m fine with the comparison.”

If Trudeau had emphasized, let’s say, any of the earnest policy debates that featured so often on The West Wing, or made too much of the show’s ideological bent, he might have sounded silly. But if there’s one thing about The West Wing that’s worth remembering—as Sam would grasp and Trudeau evidently does—it’s how hungrily audiences responded to its inspiring, though often implausible, plot lines.

Trudeau’s most important trait as a political leader might just be his constant alertness to how voters crave stories that make them feel good about politics. And part of the way he came to recognize that appetite for uplift, it seems, was by watching a prime-time TV show whose last episode aired the year before he launched his political career.


07-28-2017, 04:50 PM
What made {President Bartlet, Sam Seaborn, Toby Ziegler, Josh Lyman, Leo McGarry, Will Bailey} fascinating was that they were knowledgeable and as spontaneously witty as Aaron Sorkin during his cocaine years -- more than Pierre Trudeau.

I can't say I'd compare justin to any of those.
Although there was the Rob Lowe sex scandal.

07-28-2017, 04:54 PM
"That comment drew the attention of Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, a big West Wing fan, and Hirway began prodding her to make Trudeau available."

Yeah, must have taken all kinds of prodding to get Telford to make Trudeau available.

After all, we know how much Trudeau hates this kind of stuff cuz he's such a you know, serious and hard working Prime Minister.....

07-29-2017, 09:27 AM
Sure wish Canada had a 2 term max., like the States. 'Cause this clown is going to be with us for a while.