Barack swept the Potomac primaries! America's liberal again! We're all addicted to hope! So it's not all that surprising that Variety reports today that 24 co-creator and executive producer Joel Surnow has left the show. Insiders are crediting his departure to the exhausting amount of work required to mount a 24 episode real-time, action-packed television series, but we're wondering if there was maybe another, more political, more secret reason.

Surnow is a cigar-smoking, Rush Limbaugh-friending, Rick Santorum-supporting member of the right wing, and has lovingly infused the series with foreigner-torturing jingoism since its inception. It was just a trick of fate that had 24, a show about an anti-terrorism unit, premiering in the same year as the September 11th attacks, a bit of backhanded luck that allowed its hard-line "patriotism" to resonate with U2-blasting, "Never Forget" t-shirt-wearing audiences. But what to do now, in this post-post-9/11 we're-all-sick-of-the-war America? Equivocate! And quit!

There have already been efforts to present a more middle-of-the-road view; last season featured a moderate, black president (hey! just like real life, maybe!) while the white VP was the evil (Cheney-like) villain. They've reportedly been working on friendlier story-lines for upcoming seasons. Producers even sat down with a "West Point commander and retired military interrogators" in meetings set up by anti-torture group Human Rights First.

Still, the show continues to lose critical support and ratings. Perhaps even crazy old Fox realized a sea change is occurring, and saw no more room for Surnow's uber-patriotism. The show won't be back this spring, so we'll have to wait till next season for any new episodes. In the meantime look below for a video of conservative newsmen using the show as a political touchstone.