All In   |  April 18, 2013

The Senate’s gun vote: cynicism at its best

The day after the gun bill was defeated in the Senate, Chris Hayes talks to "House of Cards" creator Beau Willimon about how power works in Washington and if there is any room left for idealism.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> one day after a watered down background gun check went down to defeat. pro-opponents said this is not over and want to make sure we have a different congress and ask for mothers to stop lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them, you lost my vote. astronaut kelly said what he thought.

>> what a terrible day for our country. with 80 votes, we meet with a u.s. senator who says they agree with the policy. know it will save lives, can't vote for it and couldn't give us a reason why they couldn't. that is unacceptable.

>> today, we woke up to this dark darkly "new york times" analysis gun control effort had no real chance despite pleas and presented with gloating in the light of senate minority mitch mcconnell 's facebook page mocking the bill with a sad face. that was not the precise sadness. sandy hook parents were in the gallery hoping that would matter. wayne lapierre wasn't knowing it wouldn't. yesterday was about the hopefully temporary defeat of the gun legislation. the day felt bigger than that because it was an object lesson about what doesn't work in washington , who wins and who loses. we thought who do we want to talk to about what we just saw? maybe the guy who wrote this?

>> we need to close the shipyard in your district. the brac hearing is up tomorrow and you have zero testimony to add.

>> i can't do that. i spent months on that testimony. i lobbied the commission, my entire office.

>> i'm sure you have done splendid work but it come to fruition.

>> why?

>> politics.

>> it's 12,000 jobs.

>> i know. it's a shame.

>> joining me executive and producer of " house of cards " and screenwriter on "the eyes of march." great to have you here. you work in politics quite a bit and been writing about politics. what did you make of the gun vote yesterday?

>> i think yesterday is a perfect example how truth can be far mortifying than fiction. we had an opportunity yesterday to do something special and unexpected. legislation has been pushed forward in the course of four months, which is light speed , in terms of washington , major legislation. and then you saw the nra spending millions of dollars, a half million dollars on wednesday alone influenced a lot of votes. you saw people voting largely on partisan terms and folks like max baucus who kind of turned his face -- his back on his own party.

>> max baucus , what i think what people love about " house of cards ," our staff is obsessed with it, by the way is the minute depiction of power. max baucus is just making a calculation he's up for re-election, he's in a red state .

>> sure. that goes into play. you had a lot of -- you also had mccai mccain and toomey listening to the american public. 9 out of 10 people want this to happen.

>> you sound so idealistic now. you've written such a cynical piece of work. the point is -- i've seen this in your work and the point is the way democracy actually works on capitol hill is not some sort of simple cause and effect mechanism between the will of the people and the things legislators do.

>> certainly not. our show takes a dark look at politics, showing an extreme view how politics can work at its best and worst.

>> vince underwood is not bound by ideologically and able to achieve progress because of that.

>> what's interesting to me when i moved to washington and started covering capitol hill how surprising to me how common it was. i expected everyone to be true believers. most people were operators.

>> ideologically can be quicksand. the republican party is going through re-branding because an ideologically that worked for two presidential races failed them in the third. john mccain 's story of going from progressivism to mainstream, that narrative failed because it was too entrenched in far right wing ideologically. the survivors and people operate and get things done tend to be a little loser.

>> max baucus , a good example.

>> and it's an example of how it can be petty and how he held up daschle's confirmation for health and human services or the only westerner to vote against daschle in 1994 when he was running for democratic leader. that came down to petty rivalry and a grudge. there's only 100 people in the senate. those sort of personal politics can affect 300 million people.

>> that's what i thought was interesting in the manchin and toomey, joe manchin did an admirable thing, he took a risk he wouldn't have to, the most cynical view of how he would operate in the senate and politics is heartbreaking and infuriating it did yesterday. manchin didn't do how you would script him to do in the most cynical version.

>> certainly, the people were doing a form of calculucalculus, what's more valuable to me what the electorate wants now in april 2013 or the amount of money i can count on from the gun lobby or however many years i'm in political office . t a number of people made a determination money was more valuable to them politically.

>> i think it's important for people to take away this idea we superimpose such an ideological frame on our politics and the closer you get to politics and see this in kevin spacey 's character in " house of cards ," the more it looks like power than ideologically.

>> we have the merry tockcracy, play by the rules, do everything right and you will succeed and have the american dream we know is not the case. the other is individualism, don't play by the rules and don't be a subservient to any. they don't mesh. executive producer of house of cards , beau willimon. thank you so much.

>> thank you for having me.