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'House of Cards' stand-ins: Kevin McCarthy is no Kevin Spacey

Kevin McCarthy is more comfortable in his usual role: number three Republican in the House, flanking Speaker John Boehner.
Kevin McCarthy is more comfortable in his usual role: number three Republican in the House, flanking Speaker John Boehner.
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Kevin Spacey has nothing to worry about.

Washington is in love with "House of Cards." So much that several members of Congress have tried their hand at some of Frank Underwood's most famous lines, captured in the video below (produced by First to tackle the role: House Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.


It's a good thing political reporters aren't TV critics. Otherwise you might be reading reviews like this:

"House Whip Kevin McCarthy is at his best when he serves as House Speaker John Boehner's followup guy. At the press conference after the weekly Republican conference meeting, McCarthy steps to the microphone and repeats the theme presented by the Speaker, but  never offers reporters a memorable sound bite they can run with. He knows not to upstage his leader. 

In the same way, McCarthy underwhelms as he attempts to portray his fictional counterpart, House Whip Frank Underwood. The Bakersfield Republican has the great hair and handsome dark eyes of the Hollywood version of a politician, but his dramatic skills leave something to be desired. McCarthy's line reading is precise, but uninspired and less than convincing. there's a deer in the headlights quality to the delivery. Some excuse can be made for his lack of thespian magic: there are far fewer acting schools in Bakersfield than there are in Los Angeles or New York and a real Whip's time is constrained. None the less, Emmy voters likely stifled a collective yawn at his performance. McCarthy should keep his day job."

But if you freeze the image, you do gain some interesting clues about the less-than-fictional McCarthy from his "set" — aka his office. Unlike Frank Underwood's large and organized desk, McCarthy's is a mess of papers. Like most D.C. politicos, he has both his Congressional Blackberry and an iPhone. (I don't recall Underwood juggling the two.)

McCarthy's got the standard issue office chair, sans the tasteful nailhead trim of Underwood's leather seat. There's also the ubiquitous product placement of a Mac front and center. McCarthy's taste in art is less classical than Underwood's: there's a Steve Penley on his wall. Penley's known for his modern take on American icons such as Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. And on the credenza, there's also a bottle of wine — presumably from California.  

And after this review, I'm unlikely to ever get invited back for an interview in that office...