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The Reliable Source: Inaugural Party Scene

Inaugural Festivities

Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2005; 12:00 PM

Today Richard Leiby sifts through the ashes of late-night revelry and answers your burning questions about the inaugural party scene and celebrity sightings.

This Week's Columns:

The Creative Coalition's Star(ish)-Studded Night (Post, Jan. 21)

Hey Hey, My My: The Florida Crowd Gets a Little Spacey (Post, Jan. 20) Two Parties, One Event (Post, Jan. 19)

After a 25-year career as a distinguished editor, feature writer, investigative reporter and war correspondent, Richard Leiby has never, ever won the Pulitzer Prize. Now he's found his life's calling as a gossip columnist. He'll take your tips, chew the fat, discuss the dish and babble in cliche-ridden prose right here once a week.

After a 25-year career as a distinguished editor, feature writer, investigative reporter and war correspondent, Richard Leiby has never, ever won the Pulitzer Prize. Now he's found his life's calling as a gossip columnist. He'll take your tips, chew the fat, discuss the dish and babble in cliche-ridden prose right here once a week.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Richard Leiby: Four words: THANK GOD IT'S OVER.

(Wait, that might be five words. At this point in the week I can't count -- and barely type, for that matter.)

Through the noontime haze -- mine, that is -- we'll endeavor to address any lingering questions you have about the week's revelries. One might be: Was all of this, the gaudy limos, the bad sequined gowns, the heaving cleavage, the apple-tinis, the cowboy hats and live Texas longhorn steer named Bevo, an appropriate display in a time of war?

I posed that query last night to Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, who showed up at a pre-ball dinner hosted by Hollywood types. Should the GOP have tamped things down a bit?

"No, I think that America can rub its head and pat its stomach at the same time," the senator told me. Exact quote. Interesting metaphor.

Indeed, that's exactly what I'm doing now, though in reverse order: I'm patting my throbbing forehead and rubbing my queasy tummy.

Anyway, Specter also said it's fine to take a day off "to hear the president speak about his ideas for the future," and "it's a great system and we ought to focus on it from time to time." Etc.

At that point I decided to take his advice. I went to the buffet table to feast on stone crab claws, shrimp and oysters. Because I support Freedom.

The High & Mighty Quidnunc is tired of typing now. Please, you guys take over.


Washington, D.C.: Is it true the Bush twins had an entourage of 80? And if so, did they all follow the First Family around to the various balls, or did they just party themselves while Jenna and Barbara hung with mom and dad?

Richard Leiby: We saw Jenna Bush with arrive with a posse of about 20 when she showed up at a "Late Night In the Green Room" party Wednesday night, featuring a country crooner named Pat Green. That was around 1:40 a.m. Wednesday night, when Mom and Dad were safely tucked in bed. Given that the prez usually calls it a night by 10 p.m. (as he did last night), we can safely assume that the twins did plenty of their own solo partying. Maybe that's why Jenna was yawning on the reviewing stand yesterday.

I didn't go to ANY of the nine official balls last night -- they're equally horrendous -- so I can't say whether the First Daughters tagged along.


Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: I didn't see Anne once during Inaugural week. I know everyone was clamoring about Laura Bush's dress -- but what was Anne wearing?!

Richard Leiby: Her actual answer: "Nothing." I leave the rest to your fevered imaginations.


Alexandria, Va.: Aside from the disgusting, fur-clad rednecks making racist comments on the Metro, the coronation festivities seemed to come off without much grief. So will you dish some nice, sexy gossip already?

Richard Leiby: Umm. I got none. The Dennis Hopper snub was kind of interesting -- Mr. Easy Rider found himself disinvited by the Presidential Inaugural Committee at the last minute -- but what makes you think anything "sexy" was happening in this town? Unless you're turned on by sequined Texas cleavage, tuxedoed car dealers and security measures. In which case you, Alexandria, are SICK.


Tom Feeney's Dream: "Well, I dreamed I saw a silver spaceship flying in the yellow haze of the sun ...

Flying Mother Nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun."

After the Gold Rush by Neil Young.

Richard Leiby: This refers to my item earlier in the week in which Florida Rep. Tom Feeney (R, naturally) referred to Neil Young as the first man to walk on the moon. Now we have documented confirmation that Young was there well before Neil Armstrong. Many thanks!


washingtonpost.com: Tight Security, Strong Opinions Dominate a Day Full of Divisions (Post, Jan. 21)


Washington, D.C.: I'd love to send this into Gene's chat, but he's not on today. You'll have to do.

Did you read Tony Williams' quote about the protesters in one of the inauguration stories today? (Don't know which one; there are, like, 300.) Really, really priceless:

-Mayor Williams] said he was saddened and angered by what he described as inappropriate displays, including obscene gestures and protest signs and vulgarities shouted in front of children.

"It really does piss me off that people are so selfish that they can't give him this one day," Williams said.

Richard Leiby: So you tune in here back-reference the P-word? Please stick with Weingarten, he'll give you "poop" all the time.

Yes, it's true Williams said that. He also called the president's speech "inspirational" and said the inauguration was "very well done."

I saw the Mayor at a ball last night at the Reagan Building around midnight and he looked very tired and was still recovering from a bronchial illness. I wasn't able to coax any sizzling quotes from him.

Again, I urge you to stick with Weingarten's blather. Sorry, but we don't want you here.


Washington, D.C.: So where was Paris Hilton?

Richard Leiby: In Baltimore with Nicole Richey, shooting episodes of their God-awful show. That's what I heard mid-week.


Richard Leiby: This just in from an email source: "An image for which words seem woefully inadequate: Arlen Specter in a Stetson."

Darn, I missed seeing that! Arlen wore no hat when he and I chatted. But who says a Philadelphia lawyer can't get all yeehaw once and a while?


Washington, D.C.: It looks like the Balls were all flops, and there was also less enthusiasm for the entire inaugural this year. Disagree if my impression is incorrect, but I didn't see anything that would cause Bush to be criticized for partying too much during a wartime inaugural. I know that public opinion is far down the list of the Bush administration priorities, but I didn't see that many rich people turning out for the celebrations.

Richard Leiby: Clearly you didn't get out much. All I saw all week was drunken partying by big-shot lobbyists and donors. I saw more stretch limos than I've ever seen in D.C., even during World Bank/IMF summits. Also, see comment below.


Washington, D.C.: Are they gone yet? Please, tell me they are all gone. If I see one more fur coat I am going to puke.

Richard Leiby: That's why Quidnunc is rubbing his tummy, too.


Richard Leiby: For those who missed the early edition of the Post, here's the Green Room party report. No disrespect meant to Texan yeehaw music fans, but we killed this item after the first edition to make room for sizzling updates about Joe Piscopo's whereabouts.


Country crooner Pat Green had an invite to a previous presidential inauguration but took a pass. Why? "It was for Clinton—I wasn't really interested." Shocking but true. Other facts: He's Texan. He considers President Bush "great." Also: "He's shorter than I am. He does the whole run-the-free-world thing better than I do."
Green headlined a "Late Night in the Green Room" shindig at the Wyndham Washington Hotel that did indeed stretch into the wee hours Wednesday. The theme was lots of drinking and unrestrained dancing, presented by "The Next Generation of Republican Leaders," our entry badge said. Lots of pink and pearls meandered up and down multi-tiers of the hotel. If the preppy Georgetown bar Smith Point—-Jenna and Barbara Bush's favorite hangout—-could hold 1,700 people, that'd pretty much sum up the Wyndham scene. Jenna and a posse of 20 pals actually did dropped by the party around 1:40 a.m. before it wound down by 2. Mary Cheney, one of the veep's daughters, also showed up, along with various young White House staffers.

GOP gals couldn't get enough of Green. "Can I be a total tourist?" asked one doting fan. "I love you." Gushed another: "I know you're married, but you're the cutest guy here."

Actor and author Ben Stein played poker at various tables and got his fair share of adoration, too. He and wife Alex had just come a candlelight dinner at the Celebration of Freedom Ball. "Karl Rove was extremely, extremely good," Stein, clenching a bottled water, told us. "I'm happy to be in Washington. I love Washington." Finally: Someone!
Wait—he's from here, so does that really count?


Left Holding the Can: For $250K I expected a little more than Cheese Whiz and at the very least a Booker's.


Richard Leiby: Do you mean a Hooker?


New York, N.Y.: How funny is it that Michael Moore's personal bodyguard got arrested for carrying a gun in JFK? Will that make it into the sequel of "Bowling for Columbine"?

Richard Leiby: That may qualify as "ironic." Yes, Michael Moore seems to be as security-conscious as a candidate standing for election in Iraq. When Moore briefly stopped by the Republican convention in New York, he had a squad of security guys. Then again, I'm sure a lot of people hate Michael Moore. (I personally don't, because I'm a uniter, not a divider.)


washingtonpost.com: Michael Moore's Bodyguard Arrested on Airport Gun Charge (Fox News, Jan. 20)


Washington, D.C.: I've never seen so much fur in all of my life. It seemed that every where I went, women were draped in animal hides. (Not that I have a thing against animal products -- just all that fur seemed so icky!) What really surprised me the most, though, was that with all the crazy protesters running around town I did not see any paint flying or splattering on the 'furbies'. Did any such acts occur that you know of? ... And were these out of towners warned against the possibility of their fur becoming a target?

Richard Leiby: Heard of no paintball attacks on fur-clad women or of any PETA protests about the presence of a live steer at the Black Tie & Boots Ball. (Poor Bevo the Longhorn--he was reportedly so terrified that he had to be sedated.)

I think the anti-fur activists have given up aggressive paint-splattering tactics in favor of sexy endorsements by nude models. Maybe they're looking to get more men on their side.


I want pictures!: For all the print the dresses got before the inaugural festivities I was amazed not to see any pictures of the dresses Jenna and Barb2 wore at the Boots Ball. Can you produce some head-to-toe pics?

Richard Leiby: We have that picture on page C2 of the Style section today. Maybe Rocci the Web Stud can post it here for those cheapskates who still refuse to spend 35 cents on the newsprint edition.


Re: Tony Williams: No, the Tony Williams's quote is funny because it's immediately preceded by a paragraph saying how upset he was about the protesters using vulgarities in front of children.

Irony, see.

Richard Leiby: Clearly you people don't realize that I'm not thinking clearly when I type these real-time answers. I can BARELY READ at this point. Everything is a blur of Republicans and Meat.


Washington, D.C:. Last night at the Gallery Place Metro Station, a "Four More Years" chant started up among the drunk, penguin-suited lot, and I couldn't quite help think about how these power-hungry, big-money spending, oil-conscious, loud-mouthed "visitors" occupied our city for a few days, when 91 percent of the population did not want them there. Thankfully, we knew when it would all be over!

Richard Leiby: Are there ANY Republicans on this chat? I urge them: Bring it on. (Also, feel free to Bring the Noize.)


I'm confused: Pat Green is friends with Kucinich supporter Willie Nelson. How can this be?

Richard Leiby: Pat Green also told us his wife is a liberal and that "Love is blind." So maybe that's the Willie Nelson connection. Either his wife likes Willie or he does. Because who among us does not love Willie Nelson?


New York, N.Y.: Where were the good parties, everything I saw on TV looked boring as hell?

Richard Leiby: The official balls are really lame. You stand there with several thousand strangers, jostling to get a cocktail plate full of bad food and, if you're lucky, a drink.

I went to private parties, mainly. The pros in town know that Inaugural week is amateur hour for out-of-towners. I hung out with semi-stars from the Creative Coalition last night, trying to hear Macy Gray's set, but the echo-chamber acoustics inside the Reagan Building spoiled the show. Earlier in the week I attended a pretty swank soiree at the US Chamber of Commerce, where the sushi was exceptional and the drinks very upscale (that you, Distilled Spirits Council!) Also, Cafe Milano and The Palm restaurants had some tolerable parties.

But, let me tell you, I'd gladly never see another buffet table nor drink another Cosmo after a week like this.

Anybody want this hideous job? Anybody?



Jenna, Barbara, Laura and George Bush


Cleveland, Ohio: Where did ANSWER, or the Democrats for that matter, go to party?

Richard Leiby: I don't know about ANSWER but some liberals went to designated "Blue Zones" around town set up by NEXT PAC. Frankly, I didn't see many Dems last night. Bill and Hillary Clinton were at a private party in Georgetown with Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh.


Washington, D.C.: How can liberals complain about Republican fashion? Did they somehow miss the women in pajama pants with pink hair at the protests or the boys clad in all black with piercings in every visible appendage? Now that's real class.

Richard Leiby: Noted. I'll take sleek, shiny, skin-tight $1,000 dresses over piercings anytime.


Arlington, Va.: Richard, where are your journalistic standards? Did you feel any of that fur to confirm whether it was the real thing?

Richard Leiby: Why, of course I did. I have a fur fetish.


Dallas, Tex.: What? I could have gotten a hooker with my package! Where was my hooker?

Richard Leiby: I'm sure there are still a few around town. Check with your concierge. Oh, wait, you're in Dallas. Do they have the oldest profession down in Dallas? I imagine not.


TidyTown, USA: Was there any Republican harrumphing about Jenna's low-cut dress?

Richard Leiby: Our fashion reporter, Robin Givhan, reports today that Jenna Bush's cleavage could be seen from "at least 20 feet away."

Sister Barbara showed some skin also, but "while the neckline plunged," Givhan reports, "it did not dip to depths that would require the aid of double-sided tape ..."

Can somebody explain that tape thing to me?

Anyway, I didn't hear any complaints. But maybe Bevo the Longhorn Steer got excited.


washingtonpost.com: Laura Bush, Stepping Out (Post, Jan. 21)


Washington, D.C.: I was at the Creative Coalition party last night and I agree with you about the acoustics. I was really disappointed that the crowd was pretty lame. Most people talked right through her set, refused to dance or respond, and most everybody left halfway through the show. Is that to be expected from stuffy Republicans or is it just rude?

Richard Leiby: Not sure. It was supposedly a non-partisan crowd. I actually met a young Democrat. Lots of lobbyists were there. Maybe that explains it.


Arlington, Va.: As much as I loathed Bill Clinton as a man, husband, let alone a president, I would have Never dared behaved like some sort of militant throwback. Like Bush or not, he is our president (really!) and that office deserves our respect. The protestors were so awful --I'm embarrassed for them. And some of those young female protestors -- if they would wash their hair and put on a little make-up, then they might not have to go out and get pepper-sprayed to get attention.

I was also wearing mink AND pearls (those poor oysters).

Richard Leiby: MEOW.

But you go, girl. This is about Freedom.


Longhorn, Tex.: You've got Bevo all wrong. They tranquilize him for our safety. He ain't skeered of nothin'. If you may recall, he is a 2000 pound bull with 10 foot horns.
Also, they tranq him for every game, since the cheer section fires off a cannon after every score.

I am a U.T. grad, native Texan and think that Bush is about as awesome as herpes, But I love Bevo. He is a non-denominational a$$kicker.

Richard Leiby: Sadly I didn't get to meet Bevo my own self. Next time I'll try to. (I'm presuming Bush Dynasty domination of the White House for several decades.)


Anonymous: Are you suffering from a hangover?

Richard Leiby: Uhh, what makes you say that? Am I more inarticulate than normal?

Yes, I am. I'd better go now. Need to find some hair o' of the dog, or hair o' the steer. See you next week. Stay free.

Quidnunc the Magnificently Hungover.


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