After a talk and Q-and-A session that touched on sequestration, immigration and the future of the beleaguered California Republican Party, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy turned to a topic that has had politicos in the beltway and beyond buzzing for weeks: "House of Cards."
The Netflix series, which centers on the often unseemly political and personal dealings of a power-hungry fictional U.S. Representative named Francis Underwood, has become a must-watch program among political junkies.
McCarthy, who like the show's lead character serves as House majority whip, recalled meeting with actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Underwood, before the series began.
"He keeps calling my office and wants to know if I'll sit down with him. I'm saying no because I know it's not going to turn out well for me, right?" he told an audience at a Sacramento Press Club luncheon today. "Well then they tell me he's going to play a Democrat. I said, 'Sure, come on in!"
The Bakersfield Republican said he tried to dispel Spacey's assumptions about power and punishment in Washington, before sharing what he tells members as he's surveying the prospects for a bill: "Vote your conscience, vote your district. Just don't surprise me." Before the meeting ended, the two took a picture in front of a framed whip that is on display in McCarthy's Capitol Hill office.
When the series began, McCarthy started to see and hear some familiar things.
"I start watching this show and after the first couple of shows, his office starts to look like my office. There's this map, right, sitting there. I look over on the wall, he's got that whip sitting there. Then, in the ninth episode, he has these two members in and he's trying to pass this bill and he says 'This is where you guys are, this is where you are, this is where the conference is and I'm going to tell you one thing, you vote your district, you vote your conscience. Just don't surprise me.'"
That, McCarthy said, is where the parallels to actual politics on Capitol Hill stop. He said, however, that while "there's certain parts of it I'm not a fan of," he finds the show interesting.
"This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."
PHOTO CREDIT: Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, speaks at the Sacramento Press Club.The Sacramento Bee/ Torey Van Oot.