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President Barack Obama this week heaped praise on HBO's critically acclaimed television series "The Wire," calling it one not just of the greatest TV shows ever, but also one of the greatest "pieces of art" of the last couple of decades, the Associated Press reported.

The Commander in Chief sat down with the show's creator, David Simon, at the White House; the two had a 12-minute discussion about the need to reduce the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders and steps to make cities safer, the AP detailed.

"I've got to tell you, I'm a huge fan of 'The Wire,'" Obama admitted at the beginning of the interview, according to a Salon transcript. "What is it that you saw or you learned or you heard that made you start thinking about the culture of the drug trade and its impact on the inner cities, that compelled you then to want to tell these stories?" the president asked the writer.

Simon, a former police reporter, replied that the Maryland city was "very drug-saturated" when he arrived there in the 1980s and that a "limited number of resources" made it difficult to effectively tackle the problem.

Authorities "were arresting people for drugs, and that was presumptive police work -- but actually it wasn't," the author noted. "Meanwhile, the arrest rates for robbery, murder were going down. And the one thing that makes cities safer is competent retroactive investigation of felonies," he argued.

Obama revealed that Omar Little, a notorious Baltimore stick-up man who frequently robs street-level drug dealers, was his "favorite character" on "The Wire."

"I was worried about that when you said it," Simon joked before the president explained that Little represented the show's "generational element."

"You've got entire generations of men being locked up, which means entire generations of boys growing up either without a father or ... seeing them in prison," Obama noted.

The video of the encounter was played at the Bipartisan Criminal Justice Summit in Washington on Thursday, the AP noted.

The conference, sponsored by what U.S. News & World Report called an "unlikely coalition of allies" -- including the American Civil Liberties Union and Koch Industries -- was attended, among others, by Republican Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, seen as a potential Democratic White House candidate.

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