They promised us "beautiful people" with sequins, cleavage, suntans, blond hair and cowboy hats, so how could we resist partying with those fun-loving Florida Republicans? Several hundred of them braved bitter winds to witness the presentation of the first "W Awards" at a Sunshine State inaugural gala at Georgetown's Sequoia Restaurant on Tuesday night. The emcee, Rep. Tom Feeney, praised the winners as sterling examples of "ability, patriotism and strategery, as our great president would say."
Yes, strategery: However you say it, strategy wins elections. Among those picking up W-shaped trophies: Porter Goss, the Florida congressman turned CIA director; Sens. Mel Martinez of Florida and John Thune of South Dakota; country music hitmakers Mark Chesnutt and the Bellamy Brothers (surely you remember 1975's "Let Your Love Flow"?); and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
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Feeney lauded Aldrin as the second man to walk on the moon, following " Neil Young." Huh? Certainly he meant Neil Armstrong?
"We have an official position: I did not intend to say that it was Buzz Aldrin and Neil Young who were the first two men on the moon," Feeney told us yesterday. "Number two, we are printing a full retraction. And number three, it was David Crosby who I intended to say was one of the first men on the moon."
Feeney, 46, a fan of Young's earlier albums, explained the gaffe this way: "Some of his later work leads me to believe he spent some time on the moon."
See, we told you those Florida Republicans love fun. And, truth be told, the sequins and cleavage were pretty remarkable, too.
Dennis Hopper, Persona Non Gala
Uneasy rider: Veteran actor Dennis Hopper is steamed that he was abruptly and mysteriously disinvited from a major inaugural concert last night saluting troops and others on the Ellipse.
"We were dismayed this week when my invitation to participate in the 'Celebration of Freedom' event . . . was withdrawn by the Presidential Inaugural Committee," Hopper, a Republican donor, said in a statement yesterday.
We're told he was scheduled to introduce an unspecified "hero." Hopper's participation was arranged by the event's producer, George Schlatter. A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee declined to comment.
Hopper and his wife, Victoria, a Democrat, canceled a long-planned trip to Washington. They also were to chair a Hollywood-style gala for the nonprofit Creative Coalition, one of the week's hottest parties. Robin Bronk, the group's executive director, told us she's "totally mystified" on why Hopper was booted by inaugural officials.
"It's awful," she said. "It's a terrible thing because I know that he was also thrilled to be chairing our event. We are deeply saddened that it's not possible."
Hopper's rep said he would not comment beyond the statement, which also expressed his "deep regret" over not being here. "However," the actor added, "I would still like to express my support for President George Bush and our next four years."
When It Comes to the First Family, These Simpsons Are Homers
Texan Joe Simpson, proud father and manager of singing sensations Jessica and AshleeSimpson, got to chat with President Bush at the inaugural youth concert Tuesday night: "I said a lot more to him than he said to me," Joe tells us, "but I said, 'The Simpsons are big supporters.' "
Jessica couldn't be in town because she's filming a movie, and we're somewhat relieved that lip-syncer Ashlee couldn't perform either -- she's prepping for her first tour. But the younger daughter's boyfriend, Ryan Cabrera, sang at the youth bash at the D.C. Armory. Cute young gals swarmed Cabrera, 22, when he showed up later at the Texas State Society's "backstage party" at the Marriott Wardman Hotel. "Yeah, he's dating my daughter," Simpson observed. "I gotta watch him!"
Cabrera excitedly revealed that Bush called him "dude" when they shook hands. "I didn't know what to say, so I said, 'I love you.' " (Awww.) The heartthrob from Dallas also said he hopes to meet the Bush twins, "but not for any bad reasons!" (Of course not.)
Everybody has friends in town: A lucky group of eight guests got a West Wing tour from a former resident yesterday afternoon. George H.W. Bush led the group into the press office and was confronted by a closed door. "Anybody in there?" he called out, as if concerned about disturbing actual work on the other side, in the briefing room. Then "41" entered, reports The Post's Mike Allen, telling surprised television crews and reporters hanging out between assignments: "You're probably wondering why I called you together . . . " Ducking back into the press office, he asked a young press aide about a longtime employee, then was off to the next stop on the tour.
Breaking news: Facing deadline for a piece about inaugural security, ABC correspondent Pierre Thomas got stuck in gridlock Tuesday night, so he jumped from the car and raced, tape in hand, toward the network's downtown studio. On the way, he tripped and broke his left wrist, but saved the tape. "Of course my wrist gave and the concrete didn't," he told us from home yesterday. Thomas quickly got up and made it another two blocks -- in time to make deadline. "It's very 'Broadcast News,' " he says. After airing the piece, he went to the emergency room.
With Anne Schroeder