This is a very special party crash, because we actually did crash it: despite being on the panel that selected one of the winners, we weren’t actually on the list for The Week’s annual award dog-and-pony show. It all worked out in the end, of course, as we’re consummate complainers.
The event, held last night at the Four Seasons, honors people whose opinions a group of rich old people can generally agree are pretty good, or at least entertaining. Oh, and a blogger.
The list was basically the same as last year’s except without Arianna. But we thought we saw Mickey Kaus before the dinner, and that seems like a fair trade. It was also, though maybe we’re just imagining this, a bit bigger, and thus less intimate than last year’s. Though we also got much drunker at last year’s (one refill on the wine, guys? Do we have to beg?).
Chris Matthews looking thin but in good spirits, Mr and Mrs George Stephanopoulos, and Terry McAuliffe (sporting a Hillary pin) were all mingling at the outdoor reception. We showed up late, so we only got one Maker’s. We drank it with the Comics Curmudgeon, Chip Bok, and Tom Toles — truly an historic meeting. Despite the fact that Josh has written terrible things about both of them, they were all thrilled to meet. Toles even tossed one of his collegues under the bus by suggesting a recent cartoon that Josh should mock soon.
We got a hello from Matt Cooper, funniest journalist in the mid-Atlantic, and successfully avoided Tucker Carlson, wearing a suit that made him look slightly less orange than usual by comparison.
Oh, and while Ana Marie Cox didn’t show, David Lat was there, thus continuing the tradition that every Washington function must feature at least one former or current Wonkette editor.
Our table was nice, as these things go. Though we missed sitting, as we did last year, with the lovely Jackie Kucinich, we did have the very friendly Steve Clemons and Jim Wooten, who politely asked us what the hell bloggers do and didn’t yell at us for being as irresponsible as he surely thinks/knows we are.
As for the awards themselves, well, they started off well: Ben Bradlee’s introduction went long because he wanted to finish his gin. (An anonymous operative told us that he thought he heard Ben loudly announce some time before going on that he was “horny,” but our op was very willing to admit he could be wrong. But hell, it’s spring, Ben, we’re all horny!)
Then some people got awards. The columnist of the year is apparently Michael Kinsley and we won’t mock him as much as usual because he gave a pretty funny little talk. Chip Bok is the cartoonist of the year — the highlight of his introduction was watching Margaret Carlson, with spotting from Sir Harold Evans, hold up a bad xerox of one of his cartoons and try to explain it to the crowd.
Oh, and blogger of the year is our very own Josh Fruhlinger, who helps explain the violent world of cartooning to you each Friday. Josh looked nervous as hell but was very gracious. Especially considering that we’d spent the afternoon trying to convince him to use his time before the assembled elite of Washington journalism to either give Al Pacino’s pre-game speech from Any Given Sunday or launch into an obscenity-laced tirade against his co-winner, Michael Totten, who couldn’t accept the award in person because he’s saving Iraq right now with blogging.
Josh’s nervousness was apparent to others, too — “you did much better than Jessica Simpson,” a Kennedy Center rep told him.
Then came the panel discussion. Four people with absolutely no credibility ambled on stage, sat down, and began bullshitting about Iraq. Thomas Friedman, Tucker Carlson, Jim Lehrer, and Claire Shipman were all goaded by typically frantic moderator Sir Harold into saying whether they’d been for or against the war. In one word, yes or no.
* Friedman: Yes.
* Lehrer: He had no opinion. Because, and this is a fairly accurate paraphrase, he knew too much about it, probably more than anyone else, and therefore could come to no conclusion.
* Shipman: What Lehrer said.
* Carlson: No. Well, yes. No at first. But then yes, as it was starting. But then no again!
We immediately ditched for a cigarette.
Thankfully we returned in time to hear Thomas Friedman say “9/11” fifteen times in one sentence, a sentence that also ended with the word “marketplace.”
Just as we were deciding to leave for another cigarette, Sir Harold got one of his wild notions again and shouted, “let’s get an anwer to that from someone in our audience. How about — TERESA HEINZ KERRY!” He pointed accusingly at a corner of the room and the entire crowd nearly gasped, like they were watching the end of The Mousetrap. Sure enough, there she was, in the very back. Sitting directly across from Josh, who hadn’t noticed her all night either.
She plugged her book and we left. In leaving so early, we missed out on the secret elite post-dinner cocktails in at the lounge, but hey, we hated so many of the people in the room!
Here’s a special bonus anecdote from Josh:
Also, on the way home last night, my driver last night got a slightly panicked phone call from the car company headquarters. Seems Sir Harold “Dr. Zaius” Evans never got into his car after the event ended and his driver was kind of freaking out. My driver assured him that probably he was just talking to someone and left with them instead (the implication being that if you’re Sir Harold Evans you don’t have to give a moment’s thought to how your whims affect the hired help) but it’s fun to imagine him wandering aimlessly around Georgetown, demanding that passersby admit whether they were for or against the Iraq war before it started.
Oh, and the food was really damn good but we’re still pissed about the wine thing so we won’t even tell you about it.