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Party Time '08: From Jimmy Hoffa to Mickey Hart

DENVER -- Night two of the late-night party hopping scene here took the Sleuth from a scotch-and-cigar bash, to GQ magazine's celebrity-and-beautiful-people party, to a raucously uplifting concert by Robert Randolph & the Family Band. And in between, there were other stops. (And yes, we are hurting today.)

Lots of members of Congress, lobbyists and members of the Fourth Estate partied it up at the booze lobby's - the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States - reception at a hip nightclub, where peppy cheerleaders from the Denver Nuggets walked around handing out fine cigars and lobbyists leered (admired, they would argue). Bartenders poured some of the finest single malt scotch available, while ink-stained wretch reporters chowed down at the buffet.

We chatted with Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa Jr., who told a small group of us that he was a little worried that if John McCain picks former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be his running mate, it could hurt the Democrats in Michigan, where Romney's father was governor. (Everyone at the party, it seemed, was vying for a few minutes with Hoffa.)

After the booze lobby party, which had several other corporate sponsors, we darted off to the GQ bash. Lots of members of Congress showed up, including Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his brother, Teddy Kennedy Jr., who were coming off an emotional evening on stage with their ailing father, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who made a dramatic appearance despite his brain cancer to hail Barack Obama.

The party was filled with celebrities, none too terribly A-list, including: Tim Daly, Richard Schiff (of West Wing fame), Rosario Dawson (who, we're told, stayed until 1 a.m.), Fran Dresher and actress Tatyana Ali, who turned heads all night.

Other Democratic members partying it up at the GQ bash included: Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Ed Towns (N.Y.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), John Yarmuth (Ky.) and Joe Crowley of New York.

Crowley walked out of the party and ran into Washington power lobbyist couple Tony and Heather Podesta, hugging them and exclaiming, "I love lobbyists!"

The Podestas needed the reassurance. When the Sleuth ran into them outside the GQ party, they both wore tiny patches on their lapels bearing the scarlet letter "L" - lampooning their evil status as lobbyists at the Obama convention. "Just call me Hester Prynne," Heather Podesta joked. (They were heading home relative early - around midnight - to get some rest before hosting a second day of their champagne and croissants brunch at Bistro Vendome in Denver.)

Then we stopped by a party around the corner co-hosted by Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe and their media strategy firm, AKP&D Media. We didn't see Plouffe or Axelrod, but we did see Jim Margolis, who is making Obama's campaign ads.

Their party had four great bands, including a Sleuth all-time favorite -- the English Beat.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) held a party with Second City comedians at the Irish bar Fado, where Michelle Obama and her entourage made a surprise visit. Among the friends the would-be first lady showed up with were her close pal Penny Pritzker, the Obama campaign's finance chairwoman.

The Sleuth didn't make it to the Rahmbo-Durbin bash, but we're told by those who went that the highlight of the night was a Second City skit about the dichotomy of the two Illinois lawmakers -- the good cop/bad cop, yin/yang dynamic.

The wildest party of the night, with the most energy, dancing and full-on revelry came after midnight, at the gospel-infused funk concert by pedal steel guitar master Robert Randolph. The party was hosted by HeadCount, a nonpartisan group that registers young voters at music venues. Hottest celebrity we spotted at the show was Mickey Hart, of the Grateful Dead, who is a member of the board of HeadCount.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  August 26, 2008; 2:07 PM ET
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