6 Real-Life Political Scandals from the Show 'Scandal'
PHOTO: Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope with Judy Smith on the set of ABCs Scandal. President George H. Bush gestures while heading toward a helicopter at the White House, Sept. 10, 1992.

From start to finish, each episode of the hit ABC television show "Scandal" is a drama-filled hour of revelations, suspense and, most importantly, scandal.

Each week Olivia Pope, played by actress Kerry Washington, protects the secrets and reputations of America's politicians, CEOs and public figures, while simultaneously guarding her own secrets.

From attempting to prevent the scandal of the president's affair with an aide becoming public to discovering that the National Security Agency is using a program to spy on American citizens, the drama of Olivia Pope's life and those around her is so compelling that it doesn't seem as if it could ever actually happen.

But many of the events and characters that appear on "Scandal" are based on actual people and real scandals that have made news headlines in the past. Check out how some of the real-life scandals from "Scandal" played out on the television screen.

Spoiler alert: If you haven't watched every episode, there are some major spoilers ahead.

Season 1, Episode 1 (The Entire Series)

The Scandal From the Show:

Former presidential media relations consultant Olivia Pope has a client list that includes the president of the United States, senators and governors.

The Real-Life Scandal:

Shonda Rhimes, the creator and writer of ABC's "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," based Pope's character on crisis manager Judy Smith. Smith is also the show's co-executive producer.

"What I really try to do is help people that have problems and issues," Smith told ABC News in a recent interview. "They could be big or small. [I] help corporations, associations and individuals. ... We really try to help to develop a communications strategy that will help protect their reputation and their brand as they navigate through the crisis."

Like Olivia Pope on "Scandal," several celebrities, politicians and major companies have hired Smith to handle a variety of problems. Clients have included celebrity chef Paula Deen, NBA player Kobe Bryant, NFL player Michael Vick and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Season 1, Episode 1

The Scandal From the Show:

One of the earliest scandals on the show was the alleged affair between Amanda Tanner, a former White House aide, and President Fitzgerald Grant, known as "Fitz."

The Real-Life Scandal:

In the 1990s, a sexual relationship between a president and a White House intern, similar to the alleged affair between "Fitz" and Amanda Tanner, emerged. President Bill Clinton admitted to having had a relationship with former intern Monica Lewinsky while she worked at the White House between 1995 and 1996.

It led to the House impeachment of President Clinton and made Lewinsky the center of a media frenzy. Judy Smith, who the "Scandal" character Olivia Pope is based on, was Lewinsky's lawyer during the scandal.

Season 1, Episode 2

The Scandal From the Show:

Olivia Pope's client Sharon Marquette is a madam in Washington, D.C. Marquette has a client list filled with high-profile figures, including Patrick Keating, who is likely to become a Supreme Court nominee. Marquette's client list is highly sought after.

The Real-Life Scandal:

Marquette's character is likely based on Deborah Jeane Palfrey, known as the "D.C. Madam." Palfrey was found guilty by a jury in Washington, D.C., of money laundering, racketeering and using the mail for illegal purposes in connection with a prostitution ring she ran from 1993 to 2006.

Palfrey was later found dead in an apparent suicide. Similar to the D.C. madam of "Scandal," Palfrey's client list included members of Congress.

Season 2, Episode 3

The Scandal From the Show:

In Season 2 of "Scandal," Artie Hornbacher, a National Security Agency analyst, steals a program called "Thorngate" to prove that the government is spying on American citizens. Using Thorngate, Olivia Pope and her associates are able to hack into White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene's computer.

The Real-Life Scandal:

Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, recently made headlines in June 2013 when he leaked information about the NSA's surveillance programs to the press. While the character Artie Hornbacher was eventually turned over to the NSA on "Scandal," Edward Snowden remains wanted by the United States for leaking thousands of secret files.

Snowden has been living in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum, since this summer. He recently started a new job at one of Russia's largest websites.

Season 2, Episode 7

The Scandal From the Show:

On the advice of Olivia Pope, the Senate majority leader publicly resigns after having an affair with an intern, during episode 7 of season 2.

The Real-Life Scandal:

California congressman Gary Condit made headlines when he admitted in July 2001 to having had a sexual relationship with intern Chandra Levy, who had been missing since May 1, 2001, and was found dead a year later. Condit was a married man.

Judy Smith, the inspiration for Olivia Pope's character, represented Levy's parents during the scandal.

"I think one of the most difficult times was a case involving Chandra Levy and Congressman Condit," Judy Smith told ABC News. "That difficult situation was, I had to tell Chandra's mom, Sue, that her daughter's remains were found."

Season 3, Episode 4

The Scandal From the Show:

Olivia Pope takes on a new client, Sen. Richard Meyers from Washington, in season 3. Meyers had been sexting a woman and was accused of murdering her.

The Real-Life Scandal:

While "Scandal" character Richard Meyers' story seems too bizarre to be true, former New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner had his own real-life sexting scandal.

In 2011, Weiner, a former U.S. representative from New York, resigned from Congress after posting a sexually explicit picture of himself to Twitter intended for a woman who was following him, and he acknowledged that he had engaged in online relationships since his marriage in 2010. However, in 2013, after his resignation from Congress, a woman also came forward revealing that Weiner had sexted her using the name "Carlos Danger."

Weiner lost the Democratic mayoral primary race.

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