176-7626_IMG.JPGPhotos, as always, by Liz Gorman.

We figured it out: if one open bar = good Washington party, an endless succession of open bars over the course of the entire night = the best Washington party. The rest of it's just window dressing. Trust us.

Having clipped on our bow tie and slipped into our scuffed patent leather shoes, we went down to the Hilton a little after 6. The red carpet was out, with camera crews set up on one side and a couple dozen disposable camera-wielding gawkers behind a vinyl barrier. If they had bothered to rent a tux, they could've just sidestepped the divider and sauntered on into the receptions, as no one bothers to check names until the dinner actually starts. Once we got past the bank of photogs, we were confronted by the black-clad Reuters models for the first of what would be many times -- eager to generate a little last-minute buzz, they'd decked out a couple models in black Reuters t-shirts and armed them with drink menus (as seen here last week). That might've been a bit too tacky for the crowd, as we can't remember if anyone we know actually went to the Reuters "mixology lab" or whatever the hell it was called. The full reception report, after the jump.

175-7557_IMG.JPGJust found out that her bootleg rock candy-constructed Bloomberg invite wouldn't fly.

As we said, we got there a little before six, making us one of the first to arrive. Which meant that when we got into the Newsweek reception, the room was almost empty except for a couple unidentified journos looking uncomfortable, and Tony Snow chatting it up with George Clooney. It was the last time we'd see an empty room for the rest of the night. Within half-an-hour, word got out that Clooney was at Newsweek and the place filled up. There grew around Clooney a wall of estrogen that would not subside hours.

175-7558_IMG.JPG"You remind me of a young Lionel Barrymore, whom I saw in original run of 'It's a Living!' in 1914..."

We kept seeing Daily Show folks and people who could've just looked like they were Daily Show folks -- Ed Helms was hanging around looking sort of lost (and so was Ed Henry, come to think of it). David Gregory managed, in the words one one operative, to simultaneously be at every party at once. Really, the sightings list could go on infinitely, so we'll just give a special shout-out to friends-of-Wonkette Froomkin! and Tom Toles(!), who started the night-long trend of people complaining that something we wrote got them in trouble.

175-7560_IMG.JPG"If Brad's asking too much, I'm available for 'Ocean's 13'"

Somewhere around our third free whiskey, we asked the Secret Service guarding Michael Chertoff if they were at least able to partake of the free shrimp and cocktail weiners. "It's all right, I ate before I came," answered the shorter one. We salute you, oh protector of Skeletor. Chertoff seemed to be enjoying himself, probably just relieved that he wasn't the goofiest-looking guy there once John Bolton showed up.

175-7564_IMG.JPGThe WHDC money shot, right here.

Newsweek handily won the pre-party game. Once Kissinger arrives, you can be sure that a) you're at the right party and b) you're no longer the evilest motherfucker in the room.


And hey, it was a lotta fun, but there's something about the Jefferson room in the subbasement of the Hilton that screams "crappy conference room in the subbasement of a hotel," so, elbowing past Madeleine Albright and George Pataki, we went outside for a little fresh air into what seemed to be a no man's land of unsponsored partying in the courtyard. That's where we found Ludacris chatting it up with Maureen Dowd, as well as an old and tired-looking Chris Matthews. We neglected to ask him if he was actually running for Senate, because he looked deep into our souls and found us wanting, and he kept turning away every time we tried to harass him.

175-7567_IMG.JPGTony Blankley enjoys a little cocktail before dinner.

Tucker Carlson, though -- very friendly. Also, Tucker is on the record as reading Wonkette, except when we're "mean" to him, which is more or less every time we write about him. He's a good sport for not ripping our heads off, though we think we could take him. He was extremely tan and (shh!) is apparently moving back down to DC fairly soon. For once, the bow tie was appropriate. He and we agreed that we liked Maura Tierney in Newsradio.

175-7568_IMG.JPGIf you're gonna be the only guy wearing a Trilby or whatever the hell it is, couldn't you at least find one that fits? And not look so damn smug about it?

It was quite illuminating to compare the crowd that gathered around Clooney to the crowd that gathered around Joey Pants -- the Pantoliano crowd was much more nasal, but Joey was more likely to hug his fans than George. We neglected to say that we loved him in The Goonies.

175-7573_IMG.JPGWe swear, he looks, like, almost normal in real life, but as soon as a camera shows up his face contracts and becomes a seemingly computer-generated mass of unnatural polygonal arrangements.

Shortly after Ann Coulter showed up, they began herding everyone into the dinner. Those without seats went to either an impossibly crowded Lauriol Plaza or the hotel bar. The mean age of the crowd in the hotel bar was, according to one observer, "approximately 400." Outside the Hilton, an ambulance sat waiting to cart Bob Novak away in case his heart grew three sizes. Then there was the dinner bit, which was boring and which you presumably saw on C-Span. We'll pick this back up with the afterparty report shortly.

175-7596_IMG.JPG"I had to get outta the adult entertainment business, man, it just got too commercial."


176-7601_IMG.JPG"Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm trying to look at your chest."

176-7610_IMG.JPG"Power is the ultimate... hello? Hey, come back, ladies... Clooney's never bombed anything!"


176-7624_IMG.JPGDrinking the kool-aid.

176-7637_IMG.JPG"I can't believe I told him I liked 'Batman and Robin.'"


annlegs.jpgWe instructed Liz to get a photo of Ann's legs, which creeped out everyone involved, but this still doesn't do justice to how insect-like they are. To be fair, the rest of her looks much more normal in reality. Sort of a Chertoffian situation.


176-7682_IMG.JPG"I loved that one movie or tv show where you played a dangerous psychopath!"

176-7689_IMG.JPG"I loved that one tv show where you play a dangerous psychopath!"

176-7692_IMG.JPGAs part of the deal for the photos, Liz demanded, against our better judgement, that we run this one.

176-7700_IMG.JPGLosers' lounge.


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