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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 9th, 2013
06:14 PM ET

Hollywood's version of a government shutdown

If Americans are starting to feel like they've seen this current political show down before, it's probably because they have – government shutdowns make for big laughs and high drama in Hollywood.

When the government shutdown on NBC's "West Wing," fictional President Jeb Bartlett – in language very similar to what current Democratic lawmakers have been saying for the last week – declared, "I will not negotiate with a gun to my head!"

On HBO's "Veep," despite bumbling fictional Vice President Selina Meyers' best efforts, the government shuts down, and she must sort out who is "essential," and who will be furloughed.

"She is furloughing indiscriminately into the crowd!" Meyers' chief of staff says at one point.

On the show, National Parks shuts down. But instead of World War II veterans storming the gates of their own monument, in the fictional "Veep" a furloughed park ranger who has left his post leads to someone getting eaten by a bear.

"Now I'm to blame because some goober got eaten up by a bear?" says Meyers.

"The main thing is the political tension – who's up, who's down," said Paul Fahri media reporter for The Washington Post.

"It makes for comedy, it makes for drama, but in a real shutdown, the effect is on thousands, and hundreds of thousands of people, and how they're effected by the loss of government services," said Fahri.

While the real life executive office tries to hammer out a deal with Congress, they could always look to the west wing for inspiration.

"We will not vote to keep footing the bill. You will be held responsible for shutting down the federal government," the fictional Republican Speaker of the House says to Bartlet, as negotiations fall apart.

"Then shut it down," Bartlet responds.

It only took the television president two one-hour episodes to end the West Wing shutdown showdown.

And lest the kettle call the pot black, let's not forget hollywood had a shut down of its own. A 100-day writers strike crippled the entire entertainment industry in 2007 and 2008.

"I don't remember many laughs about that," said Farhi.

Maybe that time on the picket lines helped inspire NBC writers for "Parks and Recreation."

"Effective tomorrow morning the entire government will be shut down until further notice," character Ben Wyatt said.

"I'm sorry i just started hearing really loud circus music in my head. What did you say?" replies Deputy Parks Director Leslie Knope, played by actress Amy Poehler.

And it looks like the shutdown circus will be in town here in Washington, D.C., for a while, too.

Maybe the Senate chaplain had the right idea this morning.

"Have mercy upon us, o God, and save us from the madness."

This shutdown just might inspire Hollywood less, and clergy more.

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