Eric Lesser and his TV doppelganger, Donna Moss, as played by Janel Maloney. (Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images; Michael O’Neil/NBC)

Eric Lesser, former special assistant to White House senior adviser David Axelrod, on how he used to describe his arcane job to people, in a new Vanity Fair story about how the dearly remembered NBC drama (1999-2006) fueled the ambitions of young Beltway strivers. Lesser, 27, tells the magazine the show “took something that was for the most part considered dry and nerdy — especially to people in high school and college — and sexed it up,” while economics writer Matthew Yglesias, 30, says he and a college friend “definitely plotted our proposed domination of the capital in explicitly West Wing terms: Who was more like Toby? Who was more like Josh?”

Vanity Fair: West Wing Babies, April 2012