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Allison Janney Shows Up at White House Press Briefing as 'The West Wing's' C.J. Cregg

'Josh is out today. He has, I believe it's a root canal,' Janney said, referencing an affliction her own character suffered on 'The West Wing.'
Image: Allison Janney
Actress Allison Janney makes a surprise visit to the the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Friday, April 29, 2016. Janney came to the briefing to talk about and bring attention to opioid addiction.Carolyn Kaster / AP

Allison Janney hasn't had to act as a White House press secretary for nearly three presidential terms — but she sure isn't rusty.

The levity that fills the White House during correspondents' dinner weekend was not in short supply on Friday as Janney reprised her role as C.J. Cregg, press secretary for the majority of the Bartlet administration on NBC's "The West Wing." She took over for real-life press secretary Josh Earnest in a surprise appearance Friday.

"Josh is out today. He has, I believe it's a root canal," Janney told reporters when she took the podium, referencing an affliction that had her character declaring: "I have to cancel the bwiefing," in the show's first season.

"Yeah, he has a root canal. But let's be honest, I'm better at this than he is, anyway," Janney said.

The allusions to "The West Wing" didn't end there. "It's Friday, so at half-past five, I will be performing 'The Jackal' in the office for anyone who is interested or remembers or cares," Janney continued.

She also shared some vital information about the president with reporters in the room, saying that Obama was still hammering out his jokes for Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner, but "he intends to be funny. Very funny."

Obama's appearance at the annual bash will be his last, and Earnest later told reporters that he wasn't going to give any part of the president's speech away because he wanted to "protect his ability to surprise you."

Earnest did eventually reclaim his territory (without apparent dental work), but not before Janney brought up a more serious topic and the reason for her visit to the briefing room.

"I am here today to draw attention to the opioid epidemic and to celebrate those who are working to help others combat substance use disorder," Janney said, adding that the show she currently stars in, "Mom," depicts the lives of people in recovery.

"This is a disease that can touch anybody, and all of us can all help reduce drug abuse through evidence-based treatment, prevention and recovery — research shows it works," she said.

While Janney never officially opened the floor for questions, a reporter did inquire about a pressing matter: who fictional "West Wing" Democratic President Jed Bartlet is supporting in the 2016 Democratic primary.

And like any good press secretary, Janney as C.J. skirted the matter with ease. "I think you know answer to that question," she said.