Heard any good jokes lately? Rep. Chris Lee scandal is talk of Washington Press Club Foundation congressional dinner
"Is Congressman Chris Lee here? He left his phone."
As emcee of the first big media-political dinner of the season, Jake Tapper waited, oh, about two seconds to get around to joking about D.C.'s latest sex scandal.
It was a relief, really. The only thing anyone was talking about during the reception before the Washington Press Club Foundation's annual congressional dinner Wednesday night was the New York congressman's Craigslist come-on and abrupt resignation just hours earlier: How could anyone be so clueless? Why did he use his real name? Did he look good in that photo? (The consensus: Meh.) And how swiftly the sordid, tantalizing story played out.
"I have to tell you, I'm disappointed," Tapper told the crowd at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. "I want more." And then the ABC newsman delivered the coup de grace: "Now he can be a divorced lobbyist for real, not just online."
Too soon? In a ballroom filled with congressmen and reporters, the only question was not if but who would be the first to mention the Man in the Mirror. Lee's colleagues at the gathering -- at least those who even knew the second-term representative -- declined to comment for the record, possibly because had trouble keeping a straight face.
On the bright side, Lee's antics provided a jolt of energy into the foundation's 67th annual dinner honoring freshman members of the 112th Congress. The night is an opportunity for rookies to introduce themselves to Washington by delivering a short, punchy speech to the crowd, which always proves to be harder than they anticipated.
The standout: Sen. Chris Coons, the Democrat from Delaware who won Joe Biden's old seat over Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell. "Never in my wildest dreams was I convinced I would be a United States senator... until right at the end there, when it was pretty obvious." The height-challenged senator served up plenty of predictable short jokes. "I will be brief," promised Coons with a grin. "I am always short."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) struggled through their comedy riffs. (A tip, ladies: professional joke writers.) And Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.), the "Real World" star-turned-politician, hit only one out of the park. Turning to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Duffy quipped: "We do have something in common: We're both the last speaker."
The night's only serious turn came with remarks from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who shared the latest news about close friend Gabby Giffords (she's able to talk now) paid a tribute to Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords' congressional staffer who died in the Tucson shootings.
The night's takeaway: Don't try comedy unless you know what you're doing. And for heaven's sake, don't turn elected office into an audition for Chippendales. "Remember, Craigslist is for selling your car," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) "Otherwise, stay off it.
The Reliable Source
| February 10, 2011; 11:08 AM ET
Categories: 44: Obama's Washington, Politics
Save & Share: Previous: Update: City Paper's legal defense fund raises over $18,000 in five days
Next: Hey, isn't that...?: Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy
Posted by: MarilynManson | February 10, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: webcontent2011 | February 10, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mwallace_5 | February 12, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse