'House of Cards,' 'Scandal,' and the Other TV Shows U.S. Politicians Are Binge-Watching

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It's no surprise that lots of American politicians cite Modern Family as their go-to TV comedy. Or that many of them find the Washington D.C. machinations of one Frank Underwood to make for riveting drama viewing. But do you know which senator — and perhaps future presidential candidate — is a Trekkie? Which senator has a jones for MTV reality shows? And which female and male leaders are just as obsessed with Scandal as the rest of us are? Hint: The former POTUS who watches Scandal is certainly no stranger to it himself.


Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and U.S. senator


In a new cover story in People magazine, the politician, former first lady and potential 2016 White House candidate says she and husband Bill Clinton have been spending a significant portion of their shared downtime — what else? — binge-watching TV shows, including House of Cards. The fun of marathon-viewing was "a little bit of the, 'Oh, my gosh, I can't believe we can just sit here and do this' and 'We're only going to watch one episode, oh, let's watch another. OK, well, we have time, we're not going anywhere, let's watch a third,'" Clinton told People. "I know that sounds kind of devoid of content." Uh, no, it sounds kind of perfect. Last year, Clinton also tweeted about her love of Downton Abbey.

Bill Clinton, 42nd U.S. president

As for the former POTUS's personal viewing lineup, The New York Times reports he's a big fan of Scandal and 24 — wonder if he's enjoying Jack Bauer's return in Live Another Day?

The Clinton family


Bill Clinton told Time magazine he and Hillary also put Grey's Anatomy on their joint appointment-viewing list, before the 2008 election campaign left little TV time in their schedules. "We both love Grey's Anatomy and did our best to watch it together whenever we could before the campaign began," he said. "In the new season, we'll have to TiVo it!"

Barack Obama


President Obama's TV watch list is a substantial one, so much so that The New York Times ran a feature in December on the POTUS's viewing habits. Things we learned: As of December, he was still trying to catch up with Breaking Bad (frequently reminding those around him not to spoil anything); he's a big fan of HBO dramas, including Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and The Wire (which he calls one of the "greatest shows of all time"); he also digs Downton Abbey and Homeland; and his favorite Mad Men character is Peggy Olson, because, according to the Times, she "has given him insight into what it must have been like for his strong-willed grandmother in a world dominated by men."

[Related: Burning Question: How Michelle Obama Became May Sweeps Secret Weapon]

Michelle Obama, first lady


A long flight to Hawaii last Christmas provided the FLOTUS with the perfect opportunity to binge catch-up with Scandal, now one of her favorite series. "I watched all the seasons … I had never watched it," she told Ryan Seacrest in January. "I love Kerry Washington. She is amazing, so it makes the show fun." Meanwhile, her hubs told TV Guide the first lady also likes to watch The Biggest Loser (which she has guest-starred on), because the contestants inspire her.


 

The Obama family


"When our family gets together to watch TV, we usually watch shows like Modern Family and Parks and Recreation, because they give us a good laugh," President Obama told TV Guide in 2012. Also, though it may not be a family viewing experience, a 2014 Obama profile in The New Yorker revealed that 15-year-old daughter (and aspiring filmmaker) Malia is a big fan of the naughty HBO comedy Girls.

[Related: The Stars of 'Jessie' on Meeting and Working With First Lady Michelle Obama]


Cory Booker, U.S. senator from New Jersey


In 2013, Booker called in during Jersey radio station WFMU's pledge drive to play Star Trek trivia game versus comedian John Hodgman. Not only did the former mayor of Newark prove to be well-versed in the various Trek universe series, but he also told Hodgman he's a fan of his work on The Daily Show.

[Related: 'And the Sky's the Limit': The Writers of the 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Series Finale Look Back, 20 Years Later]


Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential candidate


When asked by ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos in 2011 what his TV guilty pleasure was, Romney responded, "Watching Modern Family with my wife." Ann Romney also named the ABC comedy as her favorite show, which prompted MF creator Steve Levitan to tweet her a cheeky invitation to guest star as the officiant at Cameron and Mitchell's wedding.

John McCain, U.S. senator from Arizona


After finding out reality TV alum Heidi Montag — of plastic surgery and "and Spencer" infamy — was voting for him in the 2008 election, McCain revealed himself to be a fan of Montag's The Hills. "I'm honored to have Heidi's support, and I want to assure her that I never miss an episode of The Hills, especially since the new season started," McCain told Time magazine's Swampland blog. Continuing his apparent affinity for MTV reality shows, McCain also bonded with Jersey Shore standout Snooki, tweeting his promise never to tax her beloved trips to the tanning bed. His tweet also included a mention of The Situation, and an advisement to wear sunscreen. Solid tip, though it makes it no less disturbing that Snooki and The Situation take up valuable real estate in John McCain's thoughts.

Joe Biden, U.S. vice president


He's admitted to watching "snippets" of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Air Force Two flights, but the veep says Modern Family and Parks and Recreation are the shows "I spend most of my time [watching]." And in the case of Parks and Rec, not just watching, but guest-starring on. His body is, after all, Leslie Knope's ideal.


 

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey


It's one of the lesser scandals in the Jersey boy's political career, but his revelation of his favorite childhood TV show did indeed lead to a minor controversy last year. When Christie was asked by one of his kiddie constituents what his favorite show was, Christie said he loved Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! when he was 4 years old. The problem: Scoob and the Mystery Machine gang didn't make their tube debut until Christie was 7. Was it a fib, or simply a bit of fuzziness on his childhood timeline? Either way, not a big deal in the overall scheme of things, but fine fodder for a Scooby Snack-sized bit of ribbing from Stephen Colbert.
 

Ted Cruz, U.S. senator from Texas


During Cruz's famous 21-hour filibuster speech in September 2013 to protest Obamacare, he name-checked several pop culture properties, including Green Eggs and Ham and Darth Vader (complete with his own impersonation). As for his TV faves, Cruz mentioned Duck Dynasty and quoted inspiring words he'd heard from Ashton Kutcher's speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. Cruz had even tweeted about Kutcher's speech earlier in the year.

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential candidate


Yep, she's a fan of the Robertson clan, and defended Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson when he came under fire for his viewpoints on homosexuality, which he shared in a 2013 GQ mag interview. Palin voiced her support on Twitter, writing "Free speech is endangered species; those 'intolerants' hatin' & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all," and posted photos of herself with the stars of the A&E reality series on her Facebook page, though she later admitted she hadn’t actually read Robertson's controversial comments.

Post by Sarah Palin.

 

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City


"As acting debuts go, mine went pretty smoothly. It was on The Good Wife, one of my favorite shows, and I was playing an over-the-top version of myself,” newbie Mayor de Blasio wrote in The Hollywood Reporter about his 2014 cameo on the CBS drama. "In between takes — and I'm proud to note that I only needed three — I marveled at the crew as they bustled around me, doing a hundred different things in unison. From the camera crew to the makeup artists to the caterer, so many skilled professionals contributed to my brief moment in the spotlight."

Bill de Blasio on 'The Good Wife'
Bill de Blasio on 'The Good Wife'


 

George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president


Dubya was apparently not a big TV watcher — we cannot relate — but The New York Times reports the former co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team did make exceptions to watch sports and episodes of A&E's Biography series. (And yes, he was the subject of a Biography episode).
 

Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president


Alex P. Keaton was a fan of Ronald Reagan, and the president was just as big a fan of his. The actor-turned-POTUS loved Family Ties so much, in fact, that he even offered to come out of acting retirement and make a guest appearance on the NBC comedy. It was an offer that was "pointedly ignored by the producers," according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications' entry on Family Ties. Another Reagan-Michael J. Fox pop culture connection: The president also loved Fox's work in Back to the Future, even telling a joke at his expense.