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The West Wing’s Allison Janney, aka CJ Cregg, briefed the press at the White House today

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

It's White House Correspondents' Dinner weekend, the time every spring when celebrities descend on DC and are forced to deal with fanboys who work in congressional offices demanding autographs. To mark the occasion, the White House enlisted Allison Janney — currently the star of CBS's Mom but most famously White House Press Secretary-turned-Chief of Staff CJ Cregg on The West Wing — to conduct a very special press briefing:

Janney announced that actual Press Secretary Josh Earnest was out, with a rationale alluding to Cregg's dental emergency in season one of The West Wing, which led to a disastrous briefing by her colleague Josh Lyman ("He has, I believe it's a root canal? Yeah, he has a root canal, but let's be honest, I'm better at this than he is anyway, just between us").

She also declared that at 5:30 pm she would be performing a version of "The Jackal" by Ronny Jordan, just as she did on season one:

Then — surprise! — it turned out Earnest actually was there, protesting to Janney, "This is not your show anymore!"

After her intro, Janney got serious on opioid issues; she lost her brother to suicide following a long struggle with drug addiction, and has teamed up with her Mom costar Anna Faris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy for a PSA on the subject. Both Faris and Janney's Mom characters are in drug and alcohol addiction recovery, and the show has dealt with the issue repeatedly. "This is a disease that can touch anybody, and all of us can help reduce drug abuse through evidence-based treatment, prevention, and recovery," she told reporters.

She also answered one West Wing question from the crowd: "Who is President Bartlet supporting in the Democratic primary?" She replied simply, "I think you know the answer to that question."

This is as good a time as any to remember that The West Wing, while fun at times, is a wildly inaccurate and fantastical portrait of how politics works, and that Jed Bartlet was a disastrous failure of a president who put a hardline anti-abortion justice on the Supreme Court and agreed to Social Security privatization without passing major legislation on health care or global warming or really anything. For more, read Ezra Klein's classic takedown from 2006:

This was the world of The West Wing, a realm of comity, decency, respectable opponents, and honorable intellectual warfare. A world where the moderate Republicans triumphed and the ideologues got rolled. It laid bare a peculiar, and possibly temporary, quirk of liberals: their aching desire to believe the best of their opponents.

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