Noah Wyle Martin Sheen Inspired Me ... to Get Arrested

4/24/2012 11:55 AM PDT

Noah Wyle appeared cool, calm and collected this morning after he was arrested in a Washington D.C. protest ... claiming he was just following in the illegal footsteps of a Hollywood icon -- Martin Sheen.

On his way through Dulles International Airport, Wyle was asked who pulled off a better civil disobedience arrest -- him or his former "E.R." co-star George Clooney ... when Wyle dropped Charlie Sheen's father's name.

In case you didn't know, Martin Sheen's a famed activist -- who claims he was arrested more than 60 times for various political protests throughout the years.

As we previously reported, Wyle was busted on Capitol Hill ... while hoping to convince Congress to prevent Medicaid cuts that would allegedly force a bunch of sick and elderly people into nursing homes.