From The Denver Post is this article, Alias is mentioned several times. Sunday, March 16, 2003 - The commander-in-chief is in a bunker, quoting Abraham Lincoln. He laments the fact that he is no longer in control of events, that events are controlling him. As the tension mounts minute by agonizing minute, President David Palmer confides to a senior aide that, "This could be World War III." In the fantasy world of "24," every line resonates with current headlines. Looking to television for a diverting bit of dramatic entertainment, we run smack into the questions that keep us up at night. In another behind-the-scenes glimpse, another prime-time president is in the underground White House situation room, dealing with the aftermath of an attack abroad. American military men have been kidnapped. A rescue operation is deemed exceedingly risky. Upstairs, the families of the victims await word on whether their kin are being subjected to torture. In the fictional universe of "The West Wing," wise and wonderful public servants work hard to do good for the country. The idealized Oval Office occupant is capable of profound speeches and insightful offhand remarks, steeped in history, theology and philosophy. President Josiah Bartlet's underlings respect him as unusually brilliant. They even tell their boss to tone down his display of smarts to appeal to a broader cross-section of voters. Meanwhile, in volatile countries around the world, an American intelligence agent is tracking arms traders and missing plutonium cores, dealing in biochemical weapons and withholding information from evildoers who torture her. Sydney Bristow represents a network of invisible operatives we assume are doing very real covert work even as we channel-surf. Viewers may be forgiven for wishing the U.S. government would just send Keifer Sutherland and Jennifer Garner to Iraq and get the job done. While the Bush administration says the recently captured al Qaeda leader is not being tortured in the process of debriefing, those of us accustomed to torture scenes on "Alias" suspect there may be more to the story. The fictions of a spy action-adventure on TV begin to sound as plausible as the daily headlines. Where do the Hollywood scenarios end and the actual events begin? In matters of international espionage, it's always been hard to tell. But on dramas such as these, the public shares imagined versions of secret government activity that makes sense given the war jitters we're feeling now. Aaron Sorkin has said he writes "West Wing" in the storytelling tradition that stretches back thousands of years, weaving tales about "kings and their palaces." He lets us in on the internal battles of the heavy head that wears the crown. And he wants his leader to be heroic. Sorkin also wants to depict the tremendous difficulty of making heroic decisions. While our real-life leaders present foreign policy as an unambiguous battle of good vs. evil, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) struggles en route to answers. President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) gnashes his teeth. They express fears and doubts. We're way past the reflex of the Eisenhower era, when the public obediently believed that the government must have more information than they're telling and assumed it was always best to trust authority. In today's more convincing television scenarios, the authority is shown to be just as stymied as the rest of us. The TV presidents stare out the windows of Air Force One or the Oval Office with the knowledge that, sometimes, there is no right answer. They mull more shades of gray, entertain more doubts, than the real president relates in his television appearances. The secret factions on "Alias" have shifting motives and alliances, confirming our hunch that international relations change as quickly as Syd's fashions. How many times can Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin), the nefarious head of SD-6, the CIA offshoot, surprise us? Nothing is simple. Today's dramatic protagonists struggle to gather information. They don't break it down into quick, black-and-white arguments. The geopolitics expressed in current TV dramas are surprisingly complicated. There are more nuances there, it seems, than in actual prime-time press conferences. The audience can handle the complex ideas scripted for entertainment sake. It's just possible the TV-watching masses have the capacity to weigh the difficult issues in real life, too.