OnlyOnAOL: Tea Leoni on what matters most to her

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Erich Bergen, Geoffrey Arend and Patina Miller On "Madam Secretary"
BY DONNA FREYDKIN

Let's face it: Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord is the politician we all want, especially in these rather colorful and confounding times. She's upstanding, dignified, loyal, honest, and always tries to do the right thing on "Madam Secretary"; new episodes return on Sunday, March 6, on CBS. (See an interview with her cast above).

The show is led by TV veteran and mom of two Tea Leoni, who's in the midst of time away from her Brooklyn location, where the show shoots.

"If you look at me, you'd think I had more than two kids or I just put in the finger in the socket. I don't look the part of someone who is punctual. I don't know what to do with myself," she says, adding that her day is the antithesis of glam. "It's filled with cavities and mammograms and talking to the plumber. At the end of these days, I just want to get me back to the safety of my set."

US-ENTERTAINMENT-POLITICS-MEDIA-WHCAShe loves playing Elizabeth, in no small part because she deals with topical problems, in an idealized setting -- one in which no one compares the sizes of their phalluses during a debate. Elizabeth has deep knowledge of the Middle East and at one point helps restore relations with Cuba.

"Elizabeth is secure in her office, being a television secretary of state. She doesn't have to run. Things get wackadoodle when you have to run. You campaign. You run for office. And then you make these plans and have these grand ideas," she says. "And I'm dying to be a fly on the wall the first day in office when you sit down with everybody and they tell you, 'Here's why you can't do anything you promised you're going to do.'"

Best of all, she says, "We're not politicians and we're not in the business of fear-mongering, we're following the way likely things will unfold. We don't have an agenda."

CBS' 2014 Summer TCA Tour PortraitsSo if Elizabeth was somehow, in a fictional parallel universe, elected our actual president, she'd embark on a series of reforms. "Elizabeth would be great. You know why? The first thing she would do, she'd arrest everyone who drives in the left hand lane. If people would use it for passing only, as the law states, we wouldn't have traffic. People would have less road rage," she says, adding that in general, it would lead to more civilized discourse and less instances of people cutting the proverbial line to get what they wanted.

She has no plans to leave the show. "I hope that we can make years and seasons distinguish and not meld together. I'd like for her to stay in office for a while and not have to get thrown out. Part of the fun of the show is not watching a political career trajectory but the day in and day out of being a woman. Day in and day out. I think we're fascinating enough," she says.

True, that. Leoni shares custody of her two children, a son and daughter, with ex-husband David Duchovny. Things, she says, don't quite get easier as the kids get older.

"When they're little, you throw them in a backpack and take them with you. When I worked when the kids were younger, I had them on set. Now my kids, their social lives, their school lives, their schedules read like something off a senator's desk," says Leoni. "That's very hard. Between my schedule and theirs, we have to fight for the right to have meals together. And we do. That's hugely important."

And here's a look at our recent secretary of state, and presidential contender, Hillary Clinton.

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OnlyOnAOL: Tea Leoni on what matters most to her
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, laughs out loud after Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., asked Clinton if she was home alone during night of the 2012 Benghazi attacks during testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. After laughing out loud, Clinton said it was a bit of levity at 7:15 p.m., more than nine hours since the hearing began. She described conversations with other officials and said, "I did not sleep all night." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts as she talks to supporters after a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts to a supporter before speaking at a community forum, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and democratic candidate for U.S. president, gives a thumbs-up to supporters during her introduction at an Iowa launch event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Hillary Clinton voiced discontent Sunday with the current status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and suggested that she would fight to change it to 'take the lemons and turn it into lemonade.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
DES MOINES, IOWA - JUNE 14: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters after campaign rally at the Elwell Family Food Center inside the Iowa State Fairgrounds during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, June 14, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about Iran at the Brookings Institute September 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. Clinton spoke in favor of the Iran nuclear agreement and its implications for U.S. foreign policy and national security. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, holds a pork chop on a stick and lemonade as she tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. Clinton said today she doesn't see the continued scrutiny of her e-mail practices while heading the State Department as a liability for her campaign for the White House. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - JULY 17: Secretary Hillary Clinton greets, talks, and takes pictures with her Iowa organizers during a pizza party in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, July 17, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: JULY 16 - Secretary Hillary Clinton with voters at her first town Hall meeting in Dover, New Hampshire, on Thursday, July 16, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton arrives to speak on outlining economic vision at the New School in New York on July 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FLORISSANT, MO - JUNE 23: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters on June 23, 2015 at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri. Clinton's visit to the St. Louis suburb neighboring Ferguson, Missouri focused on racial issues. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JUNE 14: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign event at the the Elwell Family food Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on June 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton officially kicked off her 2016 bid for the White House yesterday during an event on New Yorks Roosevelt Island. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a news conference, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. Clinton, who won Puerto Rico's 2008 Democratic primary election, defended her support for giving Puerto Rico bankruptcy protection during the round-table discussion focused on the island's health-care problems. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets Des Moines businessman Bill Knapp, right, during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton responds to the cheers of supporters at a Jefferson Jackson event hosted by the Democratic Party of Virginia at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, in Fairfax, Va., Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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