* At a diplomatic dinner in a scene from Madam Secretary.

our lives, though she prefers to keep her distance. "People seem to really enjoy it, but watching people scrolling through relationships with their thumb? It seems weird. I'd rather be fishing."

She's not kidding: An avid fly fisher, Leoni likes to get away for brief solitary trips in upstate New York to cast for trout using barbless hooks. "It's a very Zen pastime," she says. "My favorite meal is when I pull in something good-sized, skin it right there on the river, and bring it home and fry it. All but a few dinners go back."

For now, she's immersing herself in the world of politics as seen on TV. "Women are masters of diplomacy," she says. "We're probably at an unfair advantage, maybe because we know we can't rely upon a good right hook. We may have one, but that's not where we've been taught to go. I want to celebrate that there is a difference between the sexes; I want that bipartisanship to last forever."

She leans in closer. "I do know this already: Secretary of state may be the most fascinating job in the world, and I would never want it in real life. I'd still rather be fishing."

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