Aaron Sorkin is pretty busy these days tapping out Oscar bait like Moneyball and The Social Network, but last night’s State of the Union made us wonder if he’s been moonlighting at the White House. Something about President Obama’s third annual address before Congress seemed so oddly familiar. Then we did a little digging into our West Wing library and found a second season episode titled “Barlet’s third State of the Union.” Check out part of the episode after the jump.
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Talk about politics imitating art. Both Bartlet’s and Obama’s speeches were full of pleas for bi-partisanship. “To build the new future we must boldly set aside our partisan blinders and abandon our ideological entrenchment,” the fictional president told the nation. Both speeches made Constitutionally iffy proposals for improvements in public education; Bartlet argued that school uniforms should be made mandatory while Obama took him one better by suggesting that finishing high school should be mandatory. Even off the podium there were similarities to how the two addresses unfolded. On Sorkin’s 2001 episode, President Bartlet learns right after his speech that five DEA agents had been captured by drug lords in Columbia. In Obama’s even more dramatic real-life White House, the President learned just before his speech that two hostages had been freed from Somalian pirates during a daring SEALS raid.
All of this raises one obvious question, PopWatchers: Which would you rather watch? Sorkin’s West Wing or Obama’s?