MP’s embarrassing blunder after copying speech from TV show

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A Victorian MP has been caught out making an embarrassing speech gaffe after a political reporter noticed he had copied parts of his statement from popular US TV show The West Wing.

3AW radio state political reporter James Talia was listening to Labor MP for Burwood Will Fowles address parliament in a 90-second speech on Tuesday when he recognised some of the phrases.

In fact, Mr Fowles had drawn inspiration from The West Wing’s fictional president Josiah “Jed” Bartlet, portrayed by actor Martin Sheen.

Pictured is Burwood MP Will Fowles smiling white speaking to people.
Victorian MP Will Fowles made an awkward speech gaffe in parliament on Tuesday. Source: Facebook

During Mr Fowles’ statement, he was praising health workers as he spoke about the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is just how his speech compared to The West Wing:

Jed Bartlet: “We did not expect, nor did we invite, a confrontation with evil.”

Will Fowles: “We did not expect, nor did we invite, this confrontation with a ferocious and feckless enemy.”

After Talia compared Mr Fowles’ address to The West Wing episode where character Mr Bartlet makes his speech, he noticed another quote that was rather similar:

Jed Bartlet: “Every time we think we’ve measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless.”

Will Fowles: “If we think we have reached the limit of our resolve, we need only to look to these heroes and decide that our resolve may well be limitless.”

Talia said on 3AW Mr Fowles claimed he was a fan of the show, but did not knowingly copy his speech directly from The West Wing.

“He said that he has phrases that are kind of lodged in his brain from various different places and that (Tuesday’s speech) was an unconscious homage to The West Wing’s creator who he describes as one of the greatest political speech writers we’ve ever seen,” the political reporter said.

Pictured is Martin Sheen posing on set of The West Wing as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet.
Martin Sheen as President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet in The West Wing. Source: Getty Images

It’s not the first time an Australian politician has quoted The West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin.

In 2012, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese had a similar speech fail where he pulled phrases from The American President, a 1995 film starring Michael Douglas and written by Sorkin.

Mr Albanese said during the National Press Club in January 2012: “He is only interested in two things: making Australians afraid of it and telling them who’s to blame for it.”

It was almost word for word what Douglas’s character says in the film: “He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.”

After being caught out, Mr Albanese tweeted: “D’oh! Stuff up (for the record, that comes from another great American, Homer Simpson).”

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Mr Fowles for comment.

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