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Idol Beats Presidential Contender

NBC's season finale of The West Wing came in fourth in its 9 p.m.-10 p.m. time period with a 3.5 rating/9 share for the episode that set up next season's presidential race between Democrat Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Republican Arnold Vinick, played by Alan Alda. (Frankly, we would have cast him as Ralph Nader.)

Still, that was West Wing's  highest numbers since January and up from its 3.1 rating for last season's finale, which was during the May sweeps.

Since there was an American Idol vote-off episode last night (how does Scott manage to stay in the competition?), the nightly winner was nigh on to a foregone conclusion.

Fox won the night in the 18-49 demo with a 5.0/14 for Idol at 9-9:30 (9.9/25), down from its 10.5/26 last Wednesday, and a 4.7/12 for new sitcom Life on a Stick.

That was enough to hold of ABC (4.2/11), which started strong with drama Lost (5.7/17) but not strong enough to hold off Idol.Alias come in second at 9-10 with a 3.8/9, but new drama Eyes came in third at 10 with a 3.1, behind repeats on the competition.

NBC was third for the night. Its strongest show was a repeat of Law & Order (3.6/10), which won at 10 p.m. against Eyes and a repeat of CSI: NY.

CBS was fourth. It's best show was Yes, Dear (4.0/10) at 9:30. UPN put up a strong showing at 8 with Next Top Model (1.7/5), which just lost out to CBS' Amazing Race (1.8/5). UPN averaged a 1.3/4 on the night. The WB was sixth with a 1.1/3 for repeats of Smallville.