“She’ll make Jimmy Carter look like Martin Sheen”

FRANCIE: She’s gonna support the hemline issue, and any other issue that I bring up for the rest of the year. Otherwise I’ll make her so ineffectual, she’ll make Jimmy Carter look like Martin Sheen – do you get me?

James “Jimmy” Carter Jr (born 1924), 39th president of the US from 1977 to 1981 for the Democratic Party. He is generally seen as an ineffectual president, the end of his presidency marked by emergencies such as the Iran hostage crisis, the energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Nicaraguan Revolution. His post-presidential activities are rated higher – he has worked with Habitat for Humanity, and set up a centre for improving human rights, earning him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 (after the events of this episode, but announced around the time of its broadcast). Jimmy Carter is the longest-lived American president, the oldest living president, the one with the longest post-presidency period, and the longest-married president, as he and his wife Rosalynn have been married for 76 years.

Martin Sheen, previously discussed, the actor who played President Josiah “Jed” Bartlett on political drama series The West Wing (1999-2006), created by Aaron Sorkin (at one point, there was a rumour going around that Gilmore Girls was actually written by Aaron Sorkin, using Amy Sherman-Palladino as a pseudonym!). Jed Bartlett was an amalgam of John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton – Clinton was a friend of Sheen, who often visited the White House.

Jed Bartlett was an outstanding president in the series – brilliantly intellectual, quick-witted, compassionate, stoic, and driven by integrity. He is regarded as one of the greatest fictional American presidents of all time, and Sheen won a Golden Globe and two SAG Awards for the role.

Francie is saying that unless she gets her way on everything, she’ll shut Paris down until she becomes so ineffectual that in comparison, the low-rated Jimmy Carter will seem as brilliant as fictional president Bartlett.

Liza Weil, who plays Paris Geller, was in an episode of The West Wing in January 2000, the same year Gilmore Girls began airing. Dakin Matthews, who plays Headmaster Charleston, was in the same episode.

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