Democrats have had an easy refuge for the last seven years. Whenever the Bush crime family would pull another trick out of its collective black hat, Democrats could recede into the escapist cocoon that was The West Wing.

Reveling in the glory days of the Bartlet Administration provided a comforting fiction: a world in which the President of the United States was intelligent, engaged, and wrestled with the moral and philosophical questions about what was in the best interests of liberty and justice instead of partisanship and cronyism. It was a world in which the White House staff worried about the appearance of impropriety and chided the media for not focusing on the bigger issues.

While The West Wing suffered in its final years from the departure of its creator Aaron Sorkin — a loss that manifested itself in lousy writing that lurched from one improbable uber-dramatic disaster to another, instead of on real interpersonal drama and Machiavellian political theatre — the last season returned to some of the original themes of conscientious public servants earnestly trying to do what was right, and what was right for America.

Now that The West Wing is gone and Jed and Abby are back in New Hampshire, Democrats who want to see a competent president in the White House will have to get busy and work on putting one in there as soon as practicable. Unfortunately, the criminality of the current regime suggests that we could have that opportunity sooner rather than later. Of course that would depend upon having clueful Democratic leadership to retake Congress (Note to Howard Dean: Do what Rahm Emmanuel asks and spend the money wisely instead of trying to win state legislature races in places like South Dakota or there are plenty of us Democrats who will make sure that you’ll be hardpressed to find a job delivering campaign flyers), and a Democratic Speaker of the House who didn’t promise not to bring impeachment proceedings before the full extent of the crimes were known.

I’m going to miss The West Wing, but at least I have the The West Wing – The Complete First Six Seasons on DVD.