I recently bought the DVDs of the first three series of The West Wing, which make for far too compulsive viewing. Watching it, the same thought occured to me as has occured to many others: namely, how much better President Josiah Bartlet is than any recent real-life incumbent. But it isn’t just Bartlet, 24’s President David Palmer would also get my vote (if I had one) over most post-war Presidents. Fictional Presidents seem to incarnate the ideal virtues of the office. Not so fictional British Prime Ministers, who seem to be either Machiavellian (Francis Urquhart ) or ineffectual (Jim Hacker ). Perhaps only Harry Perkins comes close to matching an ideal in the way that Bartlet and Palmer do. I’m not sure what this says about our different political and televisual/cinematic cultures and I’m sure there are more examples of fictional leaders to play with. Suggestions?