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When Judge Sotomayor told Mr. Franken she didn’t remember the one show in which Mr. Mason lost a case, Mr. Franken asked, “Didn’t the White House prepare you for that?”

Even the pop-culture reference provided a partisan talking point.

A White House aide quickly e-mailed reporters that the episode in question was “The Case of the Deadly Verdict,” which aired in 1963, Republican researchers countered that the Obama administration overlooked “The Case of the Terrified Typist,” in which the famed fictional defense attorney also lost.