Posted at 08:23 AM ET, 07/29/2011

‘The West Wing’ explains the debt ceiling (Video)

What would President Josiah Bartlet do? (Steve Shapiro - NBC)
The debt ceiling debate raging on in Washington raises many questions, the most basic of which is, what the heck is the debt ceiling?

In times of political trouble we turn to the wonkiest television show of all time, Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing,” for answers.

A scene from the season six episode “In God We Trust” explained the politics behind getting the debt ceiling raised.

“So this debt ceiling thing is routine or the end of the world?” Annabeth Schott asks Toby Tony Ziegler. “Both,” he responds.

As it turns out, you have MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to thank for this scene. The now political commentator was a producer, writer and guest actor on the show. O’Donnell showed this clip back in January on his show “The Last Word,” when he was talking about the debt ceiling negotiations that were then just around the corner.

Related coverage from The Washington Post:

Debt-limit vote is canceled in House as Boehner, GOP leaders struggle to gain votes

Undecideds endure tough hours of lobbying on debt

Debt ceiling haiku: Poetry on the nature of Capitol Hill (#DebtCeilingHaikus)

By  |  08:23 AM ET, 07/29/2011

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