Vice president Joe Biden gave us another reason to love him on September 28 when he guest-starred on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
The episode opened with Biden, playing himself, addressing a press conference at the fictional SVU precinct. But his comments addressed an issue that is very real, and very close to the vice president’s heart: ending the rape kit backlog.
"When the victim isn't believed, when she goes through the invasive process of having a rape kit out together, and then it's stuck on a shelf somewhere, and then the rape is never tested, we fail," he said on the show. "We fail her. We fail so many women."
In real life, Biden has frequently addressed the estimated 400,000 rape kits that remain untested in police stations and testing facilities across the US. These kits contain crucial, DNA evidence collected by forensic examiners after the rape. Without them, many women's cases are significantly hindered.
Biden's speech on Wednesday's episode mirrored his sentiments in 2008, when the Senate passed the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act to help eliminate the backlog.
"It is unconscionable that we have the ability to solve these crimes and hold the perpetrators responsible, but because of red tape and lack of funding, the criminals are free and their victims continue live in fear," Biden said at the time.
But Biden isn't the only one on SVU who's fighting the backlog in real life: Show star Mariska Hargitay is passionate about eliminating the backlog. In fact, she and Biden both appeared in a No More campaign PSA about sexual assault and domestic violence. They even helped announce an additional $79 million in funding for rape kits last year.
"Testing rape kits sends a crucial and fundamental message that what happened to you matters, your case matters," Hargitay said at the time.
Despite their co-star's friendship with the vice president, the rest of the "Law & Order: SVU" cast seemed absolutely star-struck over Wednesday's episode.
"Secret Service were here," cast member Ice-T said in a roundtable about the episode. "They'd wipe [things], sweep down the whole place. We had to move a certain way, like when we left our dressing room, we couldn't go back. They blocked the back off ... it was the real vice president here!"
Show writers Julie Martin and Kevin Fox even joked on Twitter about which of them let Biden go off-script. Fox revealed that he wrote Biden's lines based on the vice president's previous speeches — but also let him riff a little bit.
Hargitay, meanwhile, repeated her deep-seated admiration for the vice president.