LONG BEACH (coup2k.com) May 21, 2001 -- With a name like Bradley Whitford, it was absolutely inevitable that I would be a fan. Yes, he may have played a tool in "Revenge of the Nerds," but roles don't come any better than Josh Lyman on "The West Wing."FROM AOL LIVE CHAT, AFTER GORE'S CONCESSION
Host: What would Josh Lyman have done if President Bartlet had been in Al Gore's position the last few weeks?THE DECEMBER 20 AP INTERVIEW
Bradley Whitford: I think that we would have fought to the bitter end to defend the principle that every vote should be counted.
Host: Would you have been to Palm Beach?
Bradley Whitford: I would have been there in a second. I truly believe that regardless -- I think it was a real mistake for George Bush -- and I'm actually not saying this in a partisan way. I think if the situation were reversed, I would have thought Gore should have done the same thing. I think if you lose the popular vote and on election night you're up by less than 300 votes with a lot of people screaming that there were problems in a state where your brother was governor, I think the only thing you can do to avoid problems down the line is to say count, recount, make sure we get this right. I think it was a mistake for him and for the country to run out the clock like that.
Host: Last week the show had to be preempted. How do you feel about that?
Bradley Whitford: I was actually at the vice president's Christmas party...
Bradley Whitford: ...the day after, on Thursday. And I told him that I thought that his speech was spectacular, and I knew that it was a very emotional and difficult thing for him to do, but I admonished him for not waiting just one more stinking day. And he laughed about that. It was absolutely fine for me that the show was postponed. You know, it was such a fascinating turn of events, and I thought the vice president was great, so I'll gladly give him the airwaves.
Host: Is it safe to say you'll be involved in some campaign in the next two years in terms of midterm elections and campaigning for a candidate?
Bradley Whitford: Me in life or on TV?
Host: In life.
Bradley Whitford: I'll tell you, it's an interesting thing. I mean, first of all, you get this -- being on the show, you get this kind of bizarre political credibility, which is embarrassing and unearned, because we're just actors doing a show. But you also, with the success of a show, get an opportunity to call attention to things that you believe in. And you don't want to become one of those Hollywood idiots who is just blathering about anything. In a good way. You don't want your credibility banana to turn brown, but you do want to speak out about what you believe in. So, yes, I will.
Then they inquired (Josh being, after all, a Washington insider) if he had any updates on the election mess. "We've been on a bus," they explained.[DIVA NOTE: EMOTIONALLY DISCOMBOBULATED? ME, TOO...]
"I can't believe George Bush might be president," said Whitford, not looking so happy as he echoed the thoughts of maybe half the electorate.
He had campaigned for Al Gore in Minnesota, Oregon and New Mexico, and in October traveled to his native state, Wisconsin, to introduce Gore at the biggest rally of the campaign. "I'm not a politician, I just play one on TV -- kind of like George Bush," Whitford would tell audiences. "This election ain't no stinkin' TV show."
"For me," he recalled, "one of the most surreal moments in this election was after the third debate, when I heard a talking head say, 'Well, clearly, Al Gore won on substance, on the issues. But you have to give the victory to Bush, because he seems presidential.' I -- I almost spit my Pink Squirrel!"
He shook his head in disbelief. "SEEMS presidential? SEEMS presidential?! That's Martin Sheen's job, to SEEM presidential! When did SEEMING presidential ...?"
A few hours later, the race would be settled; 36 hours later, NBC's coverage of Gore conceding to Bush would pre-empt the "West Wing" episode Whitford was here to promote.
On Election Day, it was that episode he had been shooting, he recalled, with cast and crew gravitating to TVs after each take to catch the latest returns.
Whitford laughed. "I had worked hard on the campaign and I was very anxious," he said. "Thank God it's an episode where I'm supposed to be emotionally discombobulated."