In the Loop: Paul Ryan isn’t fond of Frank Underwood

Editor’s Note: The original version of this column included an offensive subhead on an item about Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. We removed the subhead on Tuesday, and issued this apology: 


Julian Castro, the new HUD secretary, is joined by wife Erica and daughter Carina as Vice President Biden ceremonially swears him in. (Susan Walsh/AP)

A presidential contest between Paul Ryan and Hillary Clinton would surely be billed as a race between the future of the Republicans and the old guard of the Democrats.

But Friday we learned of an even greater divide between the two pols that gets right to the heart of Washington: “House of Cards.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

In an interview with Parade magazine, Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.) revealed a secret that so few Washington insiders have ever shared (more on that later). He doesn’t like the show.

Ryan was turned off by the Netflix series, upset that the Frank Underwood character painted members of Congress in a bad light by — spoiler alert! — cheating on his wife in the first season. (Congress’s reputation can get worse?)

“I watched the first couple of episodes until [Underwood] cheated on his wife with that reporter. It turned my stomach so much that I just couldn’t watch it anymore,” Ryan said. “His behavior was so reprehensible, and it hit too close to home because he was a House member, that it just bothered me too much. And what I thought is, it makes us all look like we’re like that.”

Coincidentally, on the same day Ryan’s inner TV critic was revealed, the Clinton Foundation released a “happy birthday” video for former president Bill Clinton that featured Kevin Spacey. In the video, Spacey’s Underwood (pretending to be Bill Clinton) calls Hillary Clinton to discuss the gift she’s buying her husband.

“I told you this is a very personal decision that I will make when I’m ready,” Hillary Clinton tells Spacey-as-Underwood-as-Bill Clinton. (Yes, that was a “Will she run for president?” joke.)

Our colleague Sebastian Payne reminds us that, aside from Ryan, few Washington politicians have criticized “House of Cards” on the record. The Obamas are big fans. So are the Clintons. In an interview with People magazine this year, the former secretary of state described how much she enjoyed binge-watching the show.

But there are other naysayers. Barney Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman, lambasted the show in his local newspaper, arguing that its portrayal of Washington and politicians is inaccurate and unfair and fuels distrust of the democratic process. (Barney. Lighten up. It’s television. No one would think that’s the real Washington. This town does things at a much slower pace.)

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) told Politico last year that he was a fan of the show but found an episode about a peach-shaped water tower “hokey.” In the same article, then-House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), now majority leader, warned fans not to “believe what you see in there.”

Castro brings aides with him

 Julian Castro has been on the job as secretary of housing and urban development for less than a month, but he’s already a man about town. As our colleagues Ed O’Keefe and Phil Rucker reported Thursday, Castro is being courted by the Clintons to join their inner circle. He even shared a meal at Bill Clinton’s Washington house last week with other Democrats from the Clinton network.

For a guy who interned in the Clinton White House during college, we imagine that must be some heady stuff.

But what is it they say about old friends keeping you grounded?

Since moving to Washington last month — he was officially sworn in July 28, and Vice President Biden performed a ceremonial swearing-in Monday — Castro has brought at least three aides with him from San Antonio.

Jaime Castillo, his City Hall chief of staff, will serve as a deputy chief of staff at HUD. Castillo is a former reporter and columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. Frances Gonzalez, who handled housing, transportation, financial and water issues in the mayor’s office, will be a policy aide. She’s also a former assistant city manager. In addition, a personal aide and scheduler from his mayoral run has transitioned with Castro to HUD, and we hear he may bring on other outside hires soon.

Of course, it’s not unusual for new Cabinet secretaries to enlist familiar faces.

And as they settle in, Castro and his friends won’t be the only newbies around the agency. The department is on a hiring spree, planning to add 1,000 jobs this year.

Never too late

 They say love isn’t just for the young. Though in this case, love is for Rep. Don Young.

The 81-year-old congressman made public over the weekend that he’s engaged to remarry.

Young (R-Alaska), the second-oldest Republican in Congress, introduced his fiancee “during ‘Candidate Sunday’ at an Anchorage mega-church on Sunday,” according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

His bride-to-be is Anne Garland Walton, who, according to public records is an age-appropriate 75 years old and a registered nurse. In 2010, she donated $500 to Young’s campaign, so we know her heart’s in the right place.

Young, who is running for reelection, is perhaps most well known for pushing the “Bridge to Nowhere,” which became a symbol for those opposed to earmark spending.

If Walton was looking for a romantic spirit, she’s found it. We recall that, as chairman of the Transportation Committee, he named a highway bill after his late wife, Lu: the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). (Flowers last a week, but public laws are forever — or until they expire.)

Lu, who was a fixture in Young’s congressional office, died in 2009. They were married for 46 years.

Young spokesman Matt Shuckerow said no wedding date has been set.

A hearty Loop congratulations to the happy couple.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Kevin McCarthy’s name. It has been corrected.

— With Colby Itkowitz

Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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