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Rahm Emanuel Cleans Up His Act

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) stole the show at last night's annual congressional dinner, where lawmakers and the ink-stained wretches and fake-bake tanned TV reporters who cover them make nice for a night.

Known for cursing about as freely as one breathes, Emanuel refrained from dropping his signature F bombs during his comedy performance. (Though he was overheard telling one reporter at a reception before the dinner: "[Expletive] you" -- in response to the reporter advising the congressman that his success as keynote Democratic speaker would hinge on his delivery.)

But he did lampoon his own, and others', foul-mouthed personas. "I'm Dick Cheney with low cholesterol," Emanuel said.

"Senator Obama and I have a lot in common. We don't just share a home state, we also share exotic names that were given to us by our fathers," he said. "Barack, which in Swahili means Blessed, and Rahm, which, roughly translated from Hebrew, means Go Screw Yourself."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who introduced Emanuel, said she had figured out a way to pay for the economic stimulus package: "Put a quarter in a jar every time Rahm uses a swear word."

Emanuel even dared crack jokes at the expense of his old boss, President Bill Clinton. The Illinois congressman said he has learned a lot since his days as a Clinton White House aide: "Back then, the words 'stimulus' and 'package' had a whole different meaning."

Then he dared go further: "I've spent more time alone with Bill than Hillary has."

Emanuel, a superdelegate by virtue of being a member of Congress, has been between the heaviest rock and the hardest place on endorsing a candidate. If he endorses his old boss's wife, he risks upsetting his same state's junior senator; If he goes with Obama, he risks snubbing the Clintons.

So he has remained conspicuously neutral -- just like Miss America, Kirsten Haglund, who also attended the dinner hosted by the Washington Press Club Foundation.

Miss America told the Sleuth she voted in her home state of Michigan's primary, but wouldn't say for whom. (It wasn't Obama, whose name didn't appear on the ballot in Michigan.) The crowned one -- her sparkling head gear sat perfectly atop her flowing blonde mane -- told us she's a registered independent, the ideal picture of nonpartisanship.

Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, also made fun of his legendary missing body part.

"I'm the man missing a finger--and over the years there have been a number of wild stories about how I lost my finger. Tonight, the truth will come out. It was a bris gone horribly wrong," cracked Emanuel, who did, indeed, lose the middle finger of his right hand -- but to a meat slicer, not a mohel.

Sen. John Corynyn (R-Texas) had a tough act to follow as the appointed GOP funny man, but he elicited chuckles nonetheless. Known for being slightly milder than milk toast, Cornyn opened his act by saying, "Wow... big crowd....I haven't seen this many journalists in one place since Mitch [McConnell] and I were in the cloakroom the other day watching streaming video of Britney Spears' driveway."

"The President has a penchant for handing out nicknames...and, it's true -- President Bush calls me 'Corndog.' Admittedly, it's not my favorite nickname...but it sure beats the heck out of what Senator McCain calls me," joked Cornyn, referring to McCain famously cursing him out last May during negotiations over immigration legislation.

And Cornyn, a freshman, joked that for those who don't know him well, they may recognize him as "someone who got his start on Capitol Hill like so many others...as one of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's purse boys."

Perhaps the most provocative line of the night came from Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who introduced Cornyn. McConnell noted that the Democratic presidential primary has boiled down to two candidates: "A New York senator who was born in Illinois, and an Illinois senator who was apparently born in a manger."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  February 14, 2008; 9:51 AM ET
 
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Comments

Look! Alllll the corrupt, unethical, lobbiest-paid, and innefectual dinasaurs in the MSM and government are together in one spot for once!!!

GET 'EM!

Posted by: JBE | February 14, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I usually think that Senator McConnell is a pompous windbag, but he hit the nail on the head about Barak Obama apparently being born in a manger. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid!

Posted by: Andy | February 14, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

....and try to to write legibly---some of these notes look like they've been written by a fourth grader who just flunked his spelling lesson.

Posted by: Elisabeth | February 14, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow, MaryAnn, were you there? Are you reporting out of school on an off-the-record event? Or are reporters allowed to report on these events nowadays? Or are only you cool enough to be allowed to report on them? Or are there other cool reporters?

Or are you still in junior high?

Posted by: TeddySanFran | February 15, 2008 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Bunch of self congratulatory freeloaders--take your pick--both the Congress and Press fill the bill equally as well!

Posted by: John Lison | February 15, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Miss America -- a REGISTERED independent! There is no such thing in Michigan. Inedpendents are NOT registered and in order to vote in the primary, one has to declare party affiliation.

Posted by: bfg | February 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

My belief has always been that Rahm Emanuel crowned himself King a few years ago. Thank God I've never heard him speak but his actions speak as loud as any words springing forth from his mouth. He got on my badside when he totally dissed a fantastic Progressive Dem candidate for Congress from his home State in 2006 and couldn't be bothered to return calls or emails. The sooner he leaves politics, the better. Superdelegate my arse.

Posted by: ProgressiveDem | February 15, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I thought you meant he took a bath and got a shipment from Proactiv for his off-putting cystic acne.

Posted by: sawargos | February 15, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Rahm learned all he knows from bill clinton, and that is how to curse and love the women. Other than that he is nothing but a smart arse.

Posted by: elmerck | February 15, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess the only thing I got out of this article was that the man curses. I recently dated a man that was the picture of elegance. Had every word right, promised me the world and in the end was a jerk. So, I don't know in all honesty if I care that he curses or how many women he sleeps with as long as they know what they are getting. The thing that makes me take the measure of a man are his actions. A a man that looks like a prince, talks like a prince, and acts like a jerk really gets less respect from me than the man that curses every other word and stands up for what he believes in.

Posted by: Kimberly J. Koch | February 18, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I love watching this annual dinner on CSPAN, it's always funny, and you get to see the kids playing nice together.
I do think that the line of the night was

"McConnell noted that the Democratic presidential primary has boiled down to two candidates: "A New York senator who was born in Illinois, and an Illinois senator who was apparently born in a manger."
It perfectly targets the slavish Press coverage Obama is getting, and is 100% true.

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