Justin Trudeau really is Canada’s pop culture PM: He’s appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone and mock-challenged actor Matthew Perry to a fight on Twitter — and now we know that he drew some inspiration for his political career from a network TV drama.
The world leader was an improbable guest on the podcast “The West Wing Weekly,” which dissects episodes of the classic Aaron Sorkin-penned NBC political drama with fanboy fervor. Trudeau, it turns out, is among the legions of “West Wing” devotees. As hosts Joshua Malina (he was an actor on the show) and Hrishikesh Hirway marvel at their “get” of a guest, Trudeau proved his bona fides on the topic at hand, revealing that he turned for guidance to a 2002 episode in which the fictional President Josiah Bartlet debates his rival, a smooth Florida governor played by James Brolin.
“I watched it on YouTube to try to bone up for my own debates,” Trudeau said.
The episode does offer a blueprint for owning a televised faceoff with Sorkin-esque eloquence. On the debate stage, Bartlet vanquishes the governor with pithy lines, like when the governor talks about states’ rights, President Bartlet responds by reciting all the ways Florida got money from the federal government and then caps it with a zinger: “Can we have it back, please?”
Trudeau particularly liked the part when Bartlet challenged a pat sound bite from his opponent by asking him what the “next 10 words” were, he said.
Trudeau did offer a dose of real-life cold water to the portrayal of how things get done on the world stage, though. Presidenting — or, in his case, prime ministering — isn’t as easy as it looks on TV, he said.
“I wish it was more like that. … There’s the part in the first episode where the president walks in and fixes everything in five minutes, and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’ll …” He trailed off. “But it doesn’t actually work like that,” Trudeau said.