Political Plots Stranger Than Fiction

Netflix’s “House of Cards,” back Feb. 14 with 13 new episodes, thrives on scheming, sex and ambition in a fictional Washington. As if the show didn’t already have enough material, nonfictional Washington’s inhabitants and their ilk have been busy producing plenty of real-life political intrigue that would fit neatly into the show’s story lines. Picture Frank Underwood, the powerful politician played by Kevin Spacey, making cynical asides to the camera after a run-in with a Rob Ford-like character. A screenwriter can dream …

1. An eccentric Canadian mayor makes a splash when he shows up uninvited to a political soiree. Things get even more raucous when a drunken congressman, whom Frank Underwood had planned to add to his presidential ticket in 2016, cozies up to the bawdy Canuck.

2. An e-commerce magnate buys the Washington Herald and woos Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara) back from Slugline to run the Herald’s WonkWorld after its creator leaves to start a competing news organization. WonkWorld falters on Barnes’ watch until some mysterious video footage arrives in her inbox showing a rising politician and … whoa, is that crack?

3. Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright) accepts generous “gifts” from a dietary supplements company in exchange for business dealings through her nonprofit and political introductions through her husband. Frank is seen wearing a $7,000 Rolex watch, which draws the attention of WonkWorld.

4. The outspoken governor of Virginia, a rival of Underwood’s with dreams of becoming president, closes the Key Bridge after Arlington’s mayor refuses to back the governor’s campaign for the Senate. This backfires, though, when the president’s motorcade gets caught in the scrum.

5. Rep. Underwood’s chief of staff, Doug Stamper (played by Michael Kelly), gets caught sexting strippers using the pseudonym “Pedro Peril.” The scandal diverts attention from everything else for six months — just in time for Season 3.


D.C. Would Win the Cheating Olympics

Love stinks. That appears to be especially true in the Washington region, at least when it comes to not-straying-from-your-spouse love, that is. D.C. ranked first — with Richmond and Baltimore also making the list— in this year’s Least Faithful Cities poll conducted by ashleymadison .com, the dating site marketed to married people. (Tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.”) Noel Biderman, the company’s CEO, says that D.C.’s “success” might be because the city is a seat of political power, which tends to attract a set of competitive individuals with elastic morals. “People who are willing to be that way when it comes to their professional lives would probably have a higher [likelihood] to be that way when it comes to their personal lives,” he says. Right, then. Happy Valentine’s Day!


It’s Winter. Time to Take Your Pants Off.

But beware: Not all events that encourage you to disrobe are created equal.