Heard any dumb blond Republican jokes lately, Aaron

Sorkin?

The new GOP staffer in "The West Wing's" Democratic White

House is based "on the new breed of young, blond, leggy

conservatives who don't know anything," says Sorkin, "but

morning-show producers seem to like them."

So does Sorkin, creator of NBC's hit sophomore drama.

That's why he came up with razor-sharp Republican pundit

Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter), who last week agreed -- albeit

reluctantly -- to join President Bartlet's (Martin Sheen)

staff as associate White House counsel.

Hayes is a composite, according to Sorkin, of real-life

Republican sage-ettes Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter and

Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, a pollster.

By sheer coincidence, they all happen to be young,

blond, conservative and leggy.

Hayes' addition was no accident. NBC had asked Sorkin to

introduce a 20-ish, "sexy-looking," female character to

attract more young female viewers to "The West Wing, he

explains.

No problem. NBC "has been nothing but fantastic to me and

this show. They make absolutely no knucklehead requests. I

wanted to oblige."

After a four-episode run, Hayes will return as a

recurring character for the remainder of the season. She

was created to present a different -- not necessarily

Republican -- point of view, Sorkin insists.

This, despite the addition this season of two GOP

heavyweights as consultants: Marlin Fitzwater, press

secretary to Presidents Reagan and Bush, and Peggy Noonan,

Reagan and Bush speechwriter. They join Democrats Dee

Dee Myers, President Clinton's ex-press secretary; pollster

Patrick Caddell; and pundit Lawrence O'Donnell, all brought

in last season.

"I would have hired Peggy if she belonged to the American

Communist Party," Sorkin says. "She's a great writer and a

reasonable person. Marlin is a smart person who knows what

he's talking about."

Sorkin's input from the duo -- strictly by e-mail -- "is

rarely about party affiliation. It's about a different

point of view, not a Republican point of view."

On the other hand, Sorkin wasn't blind to the fact that

hiring some big-name Republicans would show the public that

"The West Wing" "isn't just a liberal soapbox."

"I said, `Let's look at another drawer in the desk.'

There wasn't a star Republican who "didn't want the job,"

including Bob Dole and John Dean.

"The show is "fiction. It's what goes on behind the castle

walls. It has nothing to do with real events. It has as

little to do with the Clinton administration as the

Buchanan administration."

With two years to go until his re-election, Sheen's

President Bartlet won't suddenly turn Republican if George

W. wins, Sorkin promises.

As for Procter ("Body Shots"), her character provides "a

nice sound for that conservative voice. She's genuinely

patriotic ... a likable woman. We root for her.

"Ordinarily, we're rooting for our characters against

other characters. We wanted to make a Republican one of

us."