By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
WASHINGTON, DC IS OFFICIALLY OBSESSED WITH 'HOUSE OF CARDS'. Plagued by drug, sex and snooping scandals, Washington really should be so over political intrigue. But D.C. apparently hasn't had its fill of illicit activity. The capitol city is officially obsessed with Netflix drama "House of Cards" - and its deliciously cold-blooded protagonist, Frank Underwood, notes ABC's ERIN DOOLEY. In fact, in advance of today's release of the second season of the series, several congressional super-fans took to the small screen to recreate iconic moments from the show in a video released by social media startup NowThis News. With much of Washington snowed-in on Thursday, Cards fans inside the Beltway called for the early release of season two - but to no avail. "HBO made a brutal mistake by not timing the release of House of Cards with the snowstorm," quipped Amanda Carpenter, an adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Though Netflix execs refused to leak the series before Friday's release, the "House of Cards" team hasn't been silent - they've been interacting with real-life politicians via the series' official Twitter account. http://abcn.ws/1cDq08h
BACKSTORY: WHY THE SENATE HELD A RARE SILENT VOTE OVER THE DEBT LIMIT. When the Senate held a drama-filled procedural vote on raising the debt limit earlier this week, there was one element missing from what should have been a typical roll call vote - the calling of the ayes and nays, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. In nearly every roll call vote held on the Senate floor, the clerk reads who voted in the negative and in the affirmative before the final vote is called. But on Wednesday, with the Senate engaged in arm twisting, senators switching votes, and the full faith and credit of the United States on the line, the Senate floor broke from normal procedure and went silent. The clerk never publicly announced how each senator voted, leaving viewers watching on CSPAN and observers not in the room in the dark about just how close the debt limit vote was. http://abcn.ws/1meDrFe
-SENATE REPUBLICANS MADE THE REQUEST: Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, explained in a statement today that Senate Republicans made the request for the votes not to be called in order to convince their colleagues to switch their votes to advance the bill. "After the vote began, it was quickly clear that Republican leaders were struggling to deliver enough votes to clear the 60-vote hurdle upon which they had insisted instead of a simple majority, and a potentially catastrophic default suddenly seemed possible," Jentleson said. "At Senate Republicans' request, the clerk did not call the names during the vote to make it easier for Republican leaders to convince their members to switch their votes." At the request of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the procedural vote required a 60 vote threshold be met, forcing some Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to take a politically risky vote that will certainly be used in campaign ads against them this year. Not announcing the votes on the Senate floor afforded McConnell and other Republican senators the opportunity to convince their colleagues to switch votes to ensure the 60 vote threshold was met. http://abcn.ws/1meDrFe
HILLARY CLINTON WANTS YOUNG WOMEN TO 'GROW SKIN LIKE A RHINOCEROS'. The snow did not stop Hillary Clinton from delivering a strange but serious message to young women on Thursday: "Grow skin like a rhinoceros." The former Secretary of State and once and possibly future presidential candidate steered clear of politics, making no mention of any 2016 plans, when she delivered that advice to an enthusiastic and largely female audience at New York University, according to ABC's BEN WALDRON. Flanked by her daughter, Chelsea, and philanthropist Melinda Gates, Clinton focused on women's economic empowerment as she spoke in support of the "No Ceilings" project - a joint venture of the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that seeks to empower women and girls by aggregating the best data on their contributions to society and security. "One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard from anyone is from Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1920s who said that women in politics or in public roles should grow skin like a rhinoceros," Clinton said. "I think there is some truth to that." http://abcn.ws/1czuMU0
THE LEAST ROMANTIC VALENTINES ANYWHERE COME FROM DC. Struggling to find a valentine's message in Hallmark's 1,400-card collection? The romantics over at the Republican National Committee have you covered. The RNC recently released a series of eight Valentine's Day cards taking aim at prominent Democrats, notes ABC's ERIN DOOLEY. "If you like this Valentine, you can keep it," quips the Barack Obama card - an allusion to the president's now-infamous promise, "if you like your plan, you can keep it." Another card mocks Democrats' decision to change Senate filibuster rules: "Can we take this to the nuclear level?" asks the valentine picturing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "I'd never flip-flop on our love," says a card featuring former Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, who defected from the Republican party in 2012. http://abcn.ws/MOXcDh
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
LINCOLN'S LEGACY: "THE BOYS" WHO WON THE WAR FOR LINCOLN'S PLACE IN HISTORY. Abraham Lincoln is remembered in U.S. history as one of the nation's greatest presidents, whose steadfast leadership in the Civil War helped preserve the union and free the slaves. But Lincoln wasn't always held in such high esteem - and the men history might thank for that blazed a trail that leads straight to modern-day presidential advisers such as Karl Rove and David Axelrod. In the years following the president's assassination, Lincoln's closest aides John Hay and John Nicolay were waging a full-out public relations war to counter what was then a popular notion that Lincoln was a "failed president," according to historian Joshua Zeitz. They started what is now a well-established process by which presidential aides work to craft a president's lasting narrative. In the new book, "Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image," Zeitz examines the role that these two young advisers, whom Lincoln referred to as "his boys," had in shaping Lincoln's legacy. Learn more about how Lincoln's image was shaped, and how the president waged public relations wars during his lifetime in this episode of "Top Line": http://yhoo.it/1drRx0r
WHAT WE'RE READING
"ISSA FINDS GOOD MONEY IN INVESTIGATING OBAMA," by USA Today's Paul Singer. "As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa is discovering a powerful political equation: red meat = money. At the close of 2013, the California Republican had raised more campaign money than nearly all of the other House committee chairmen, trailing only Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012. According to FEC records, Issa's campaign brought in $2.15 million in 2013, while Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., brought in $2.05 million and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., both brought in $2.08 million. Not the biggest war chests in the House - for example, Majority Leader Eric Cantor posted a $3.93 million haul for the non-election year - but robust totals. (None of this counts receipts of the members' leadership PACs or related fundraising entities.)" http://usat.ly/1lNY5Zp
@ByronYork: Link: Angry at Cruz, Republicans should remember what he represents. http://ow.ly/tCRuH
@mckaycoppins: So, House of Cards has been online for five and a half hours now. Anyone on the sixth episode?
@GlennThrush: Of course DC would love House of Cards. It's dopey, fake, unintentionally funny and streams endlessly.