On the NBC drama ‘The West Wing,’ the Secret Service code name given to staffer CJ Cregg was “Flamingo.” And while she wasn’t all that happy about it, it made sense — the character was played by statuesque actress Allison Janney.

But many are scratching their heads about the current code names being used by GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Unlike the fictional CJ, most people under Secret Service protection get to choose their own code names, and it’s recently been revealed that Romney opted for “Javelin” and Santorum went with “Petrus.”

Lest you think we’re revealing confidential information, we’re not. The tradition of code names began before Secret Service communications were encrypted, and even though the names are no longer necessary, old habits die hard. The only rules are the names chosen can’t be similar to anyone else’s, and they must be clearly understood during radio conversations between agents.

So why did Romney and Santorum go with “Javelin” and “Petrus”? No one’s entirely sure, but some speculate “Javelin” might be a reference to the 1960s-era muscle car manufactured by American Motors Corporation, the company once run by Mitt’s father, George.

As for “Petrus,” the devoutly-religious Santorum could’ve based it on the Bible — it’s associated with the first pope of the Catholic Church, Saint Peter. And since “Petrus” is also derived from the Greek word for rock, it might also refer to Santorum’s principles — steady, solid and unmoving.

[GQ]