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Not Sucking Up?

In addition to the Radio/Television Correspondents Association event this week, there was another dinner in Washington — the less-reported, sans-rapping-MCRove Gridiron Dinner. This is the extravaganza (begun in 1885) that first came to public view when imperious First Lady Nancy Reagan endeared herself to a stand-offish DeeCee press corps, costumed as a baglady singing "Second-Hand Rose."  The homeless — such a source of merriment!

Usually shrouded in a strict press blackout, there's always some spoiler who brings us a scrap or two from inside the tent. This year it's Linton Weeks in the WaPo Style section.

Linton paints a picture first:

The Gridiron is a dubious leftover from a time when journalists and politicians pummeled each other by day and partied together by night. We close our eyes and imagine the olden, pre-gotcha days before tell-all tabloids, cable news channels and cellphone cameras. Before fear of blogosphere and YouTube accountability. Before O'Reilly rants and "Hardball" harangues and before Watergate and the Scooter Libby trial lifted the rock to show the complex, squirmy relationship between politics and journalism.

Ah, those good old, pre-accountability days… although, this seems a throwback to those days:

Columnist Robert Novak in a Darth Vader costume pretending to be Vice President Cheney singing "It's Not Easy Being Mean." He warbled, "If Scooter lied to make us free, it could make you wonder why."


Two very good singers, imported by the Gridiron Club, pretending to be Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Arm in arm they proffered a revisionist version of "I Remember It Well" from "Gigi." In the song, Rumsfeld remembers Iraqis welcoming U.S. troops "with open arms." Rice reminds him, "They opened fire! They set off bombs!" An oblivious Rumsfeld responds, "Oh, right, I remember it well."

Ha, ha, ha! Betcha they all 707'd! But there's more — even our heroine Helen Thomas may have been compromised by this evening's seductive siren song:

Other song parodies included a paean to Democratic political strategist Rahm Emanuel — "O Rahm! O Rahm! Emanuel," sung to the tune of the Christmas carol "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" — and a gallows-humor diddy by former New York Times reporter Hedrick Smith as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Helen Thomas of Hearst Newspapers as Kim Jong Il about Saddam Hussein's feet "in the air."

Oh, dear. But Linton obtained some reassurance from the event's organizers:

Asked if the apparent coziness between Gridiron members and newsmakers bothered him, club president Bill Neikirk of the Chicago Tribune said: "I don't know why it would feel too cozy. We're not sucking up to them."

I ask you: were they?

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