iregular data set

Yes, I am plotting two lines and am using two plots,

    > the two lines plots just fine in different colors,
    > however, one line is continuous from 1983 - 1995 and
    > the other dataset has irregular data points along the
    > same period of time. So I should see a continuous
    > line for the first data set and I should see a broken
    > line only where there is data for the second.
    > Matplotlib is joining the broken points and forces
    > both datasets to appear as continuous.

matplotlib doesn't make any assumptions about whether data is
continuous or not. It only knows about points and line styles. If
you want a set of points to be connected, use a linestyle like '-'
(solid line) or '--' (dashed line)

  plot(x, y, '-')

if you don't want the points to be connected, use a marker like 'o'
for circles and 's' for squares

  plot(x, y, 's')

You will need to extract the subsets of the data that you want
connected yourself.