Bill Clinton’s chat show may be the emperor’s new program, but other pols are less camera-shy. And we’re not talking C-SPAN. This season, senators are turning up on at least three entertainment shows. Here, a guide to political stunt casting.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R-Tenn.), who leaves the Capitol in January after eight years, replaces Dianne Wiest as a by-the-book DA on NBC’s Law & Order beginning Oct. 2. TERM Open-ended WHY him? The film vet held his own against Clint Eastwood (In the Line of Fire). Plus he’s willing to shoot on Saturdays and during Senate recesses.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-Calif.) plays a senator avoiding Rory’s intolerable rival, Paris, at a mixer for a junior leadership conference on The WB’s Gilmore Girls Sept. 24. Boxer pawns Paris off on real-life Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.). TERM One scene WHY her? ”I think she’s so cool,” says creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, a Democrat who adds that Ose remained in campaign mode even off camera. ”Oh, was he shaking some hands. I saw him chatting up those extras.”

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.) will expand on his Letterman laugh getting by hosting Oct. 19’s Saturday Night Live — and maybe impress daughter Meghan, 17. TERM One night WHY him? ”He doesn’t take himself too seriously,” says showrunner Lorne Michaels, who tapped then NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani to host in 1997. ”That’s the key.”