From 'The West Wing' to 'Battlestar Galactica': TV's best politicians

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martin-sheen-the-west-wing-nbc.jpgCongressman Thomas Bell ( William Katt, "Top of the Hill," CBS, 1989): Taking over his ill father's seat in Washington, D.C., Bell was an idealist who often ran up against those much more skilled at the political game.

Representative Jack Tanner ( Michael Murphy, "Tanner '88," HBO, 1988): The Michigan politician pursued the Democratic presidential nomination.

PICS: Actors who played politicians

Senator William Powers ( John Forsythe, "The Powers That Be," NBC, 1992-93): He wasn't a paragon of personal ethics, but professionally, Powers did his best for constituents.

Mayor Randall Winston ( Barry Bostwick, "Spin City," ABC, 1996-2002): He came across as a fop at times, but New York's mayor always had his city's best interests at heart.

President Josiah Bartlet ( Martin Sheen, "The West Wing," NBC, 1999-2006): Originally designed to stay in the background of the series, Bartlet was the ideal of what many want a president to be.

President David Palmer ( Dennis Haysbert, "24," FOX, 2001-06): The chief executive who regretted having to put counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer in harm's way time and again is widely deemed the model for the outcome of the real-life 2008 election.

Senator Bill Sterling Jr. ( Josh Brolin, "Mister Sterling," NBC, 2003): Created by political insider Lawrence O'Donnell, Sterling was another optimist frequently facing off against jaded peers.

mary-mcdonnell-battlestar-galactica-syfy.jpgPresident Laura Roslin ( Mary McDonnell, "Battlestar Galactica," Syfy, 2004-09): Even the future will have a president, as indicated by this leader who dealt with illness while handling political concerns of the galaxy.

President Mackenzie Allen ( Geena Davis, "Commander in Chief," ABC, 2005-06): Not alluding to other characters who had filled the slot before, Allen was the first female president in this drama.

President Allison Taylor ( Cherry Jones, "24," FOX, 2009-10): Another woman occupying the Oval Office, Taylor found her loyalty to agent Bauer ever-shifting.

Vice President Selina Meyer ( Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep," HBO, 2012): Already, it's clear this "veep" says what many other politicians likely only think.
Photo/Video credit: NBC, Syfy