joe pantoliano jennifer berry.jpgNo, that's not Wonkette standing behind Joe Pantoliano. [WP/Lucian Perkins]

Truth be told, our night wasn't that wild -- more like reading Emily Dickinson than hanging out with Paris Hilton. But at least we got out of the apartment!

Last night, Wonkette (or one-half of Wonkette -- the half of us with a tux) attended the Congressional Correspondents dinner, sponsored by the Washington Press Foundation. The swanky, black-tie event, held at the Ritz-Carlton on M Street, was attended by numerous "famous-for-D.C." types, and even a few "famous-for-famous" folks -- like Fran Drescher!

Slate described the event as "a B-list affair compared with the Gridiron and White House Correspondents Association dinners"; but we still had ourselves a jolly good time. Although Marcia Davis of the Post urged them not to give up their day jobs, the dinner speakers -- Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) -- were actually pretty funny. But our assessment may have been colored by the "soft bigotry of low expectations" -- as well as too much red wine...

Of course, copious consumption of booze helped us through the evening. And did we mention that The Nanny was in the house?

Our detailed coverage appears after the jump.

Here are some highlights from the dinner and the rollicking after-party (sponsored by the Creative Coalition and Congressional Quarterly):

* At dinner, we sat next to a Charming Young Lobbyist (CYL) for a major pharmaceutical company. What a delightful dining companion -- these lobbyists get a bad rap! (When we shared this observation with Original Wonkette over IM, she quipped: "if only they had horns and tails it'd be easier for all of us.")

* CYL complained in amusing fashion about the proposed $20 limit on lunches between lobbyists and members of Congress and staff: "Where am I going to take them to -- Subway?" She enthusiastically floated another proposal for dealing with the limit: "Restaurants should offer Lobbyist Happy Meals, priced just under $20!"

* Also at our table: gorgeous Broadway star Cady Huffman, of "The Producers" (and, of course, several episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"). Alas, in a sad commentary on the state of the Great White Way, Tony Award winners like Huffman are borderline "famous-for-famous." Another guest had to ask us: "Cady Huffman... now what was she in again?"

* The audience was chattering away noisily during intorductory remarks by Rebecca Carr, president of the Washington Press Club Foundation. In an effort to quiet them down, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) whistled -- really, really loudly. It was a gallant gesture, and it worked beautifully.

* Yes, guilty as charged -- we laughed at Sen. Specter's (surprisingly off-color) jokes about Bob Dole and Viagra, as well as Alfonse D'Amato and adultery. (Is that a surprise? Multiple incoming links to this blog from Fark in the span of less than a week testify to our lowbrow tastes.)

* We enjoyed Rep. Hoyer's joke about Tom DeLay ending his letters to Jack Abramoff with, "I wish I knew how to quit you." Hitting "Brokeback Mountain" and the lobbying scandal in a single joke? Nice work, Steny (or Steny's hired joke writer).

* We also appreciated Rep. Hoyer's riff about the Republican skill at renaming everything for political advantage (e.g., "Warrantless Domestic Wiretapping" becoming "Terrorist Surveillance Program," "Hurricane Katrina Response" becoming "Terrorist Submergence Program, etc.").

* Hoyer joked that the Democrats should try to emulate the Republicans in this department. He suggested, for example, that "Knock-down, drag-out, intra-party fights" could be dubbed "Internal party debate." Our favorite euphemism? "Lunatic fringe bloggers" to be referred to as "Key media outlets"!

* At the after party, the luminous Jennifer Berry, Miss America 2006, circulated gracefully throughout the room -- while Garrett Graff, of FishBowlDC, did tiara guard duty. (See, we bloggers are good for something!)

* Another party guest told us (half-jokingly, we think): "[Berry] was probably just grateful to escape from John McLaughlin, who was sitting next to her at dinner. Every time she opened her mouth to discuss her pet cause, drunk driving prevention, he shouted, 'Wrong!'"

* At the end of the evening, we left with a lovely CQ gift bag. It may not rise to the level of Oscar party swag; but in the cab on our way home, we sure enjoyed that chocolate cigar. (In case you're wondering, we ate it. But the thought did cross our mind: "WWMD -- What Would Monica Do?)

Update: FishbowlDC's detailed report on the proceedings is available here.

The Press Club's Dinner of Ribs [WP]

Washington Week in Preview [Slate]

Heard on the Hill: Here She Comes [Roll Call]

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Image: Marriott Hotels

Great GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz, the guy who gave us the "death tax" and who urged the George W. Bush administration to talk about "climate change" since it was less politically motivating than "global warming," did some more of his characteristic word magic today! While staying at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria, Luntz offered this cautionary tale about the evils of socialism, as illustrated by the shoddy conditions in a 5-star luxury hotel owned by Dubai's "Al Habtoor" conglomerate and operated by Marriott:

Talk about your grim hellholes! Apparently, there's only one elevator in the entire building, and it's been broken for three days, proving that European-style socialism is a failure that should never be imported to the USA, where -- damn it! -- all buildings work!

As some smartass pointed out, now Luntz may have to take the STAIRS, like a common Bolshevik!

We're still trying to get our heads around how a delay in getting an elevator fixed in a luxury hotel owned by the United Arab Emirati proprietors of Dubai's

  • Habtoor Grand Resort
  • Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah
  • Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels & Resorts
  • V Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton
  • Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City
  • Metropolitan Hotel Dubai
  • Al Habtoor Polo Resort

as well as

  • Imperial Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna (Austria)
  • Hilton London Wembley (United Kingdom)
  • Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand (Lebanon)
  • Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace (Lebanon)
  • President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (United States)
  • InterContinental Budapest (Hungary)
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest (Hungary)

is an example of the horrors of socialism, but then, we don't earn the big bucks like Luntz does. Austria is among the 14 richest countries in the world, so we're fairly certain it's not a commie hellhole. Then again, there is a very strong social safety net, so maybe people in subsidized housing stole all the elevator parts. Or perhaps the elevator would have been fixed sooner if only Austria didn't have such strong unions. It's a mystery.

Or maybe it's that NATIONAL socialism that's the problem, seeing as it has socialism RIGHT IN THE NAME!

Adolf Hitler, once a day labourer outside the Hotel Imperial Vienna, returned as the Führer and "delivered a speech to a rapturous crowd from [the hotel] suite's balcony, on 14 March 1938", according to

We suppose it's worth noting that the Imperial is decidedly not owned or operated by the Austrian government, where a far-Right coalition has recently imploded -- although maybe Luntz is confused about that, since official state guests are traditionally housed there. In any case, the elevator's busted, it's in Europe, Europe is socialist, and Frank Luntz is homesick for America, where no elevator ever goes unrepaired for an entire weekend. It simply has never happened because of our efficient free market!

Still, Luntz's tweet inspired some valuable reflections on how economic theory shapes the reality of everyday life. This is the kind of Austrian economics we can support.

In conclusion, capitalism always allocates resources efficiently and fairly, although that still doesn't explain why Frank Luntz has a job. And now it would be your DOKTOR ZOOM'S BIRTHDAY PARTY OPEN THREAD, if only the socialists would fix the elevator, the end.

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