West Wing Staff Tours Bush-Less White House

A presidential showdown was avoided Sunday night as President Bush and his fictional TV counterpart, The West Wing's President Josiah Bartlet, both skipped out on a White House tour.

The cast members of the Emmy-winning NBC political drama were guests at the White House Sunday night, but they were minus their liberal-minded TV leader, Martin Sheen, who has openly criticized Bush in the past.

Sheen, who has suggested that reformed heavy drinker Bush should be in rehab, couldn't be released from his West Wing filming schedule. Bush was out entertaining other, unidentified guests, a White House representative told The Associated Press.

Several White House aides showed West Wingers Rob Lowe, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, and Bradley Whitford around the real presidential digs and treated them to a mock news briefing, reports the AP.

"They've been incredibly nice to us. We are, after all, the fictional opposition," said Whitford, a deputy chief of staff on the show.

The actors also attended the White House Correspondents' Association's annual dinner Saturday night. Sheen not only missed out on the White House action, but he was also too busy with his acting duties to accept an honorary degree from Ohio's Antioch College on Saturday.