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Correction to This Article
A March 13 Style article on the annual Gridiron Dinner incorrectly described Gridiron President Dick Ryan as the Detroit News's Washington bureau chief; he is the newspaper's senior Washington correspondent. In some editions, the article incorrectly reported that a satirical version of "Sweet Home Alabama" was performed at the dinner and described reaction to it. Such a skit was written, but it was dropped before the final performance. Also, a photo caption identified attendee Mark Shields as Mark Russell.
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Careful, That Dish Is Hot

Second, you can't guffaw at jokes about Republicans but just giggle at digs at Dems. That would imply you're being partisan, and that is not being a Good Sport. (This is actually a great comfort to the people onstage. It may be the only routine in showbiz where the pressure is on the crowd.)

Finally, if selected to give a speech, you must -- and this is essential -- make fun of yourself and your political party. Bad form if you don't, old boy. (Real insults are what Fox News is for, and you can get back to that next week.)



So, although we weren't actually there, we were reliably informed that the evening started with riffs on D.C.'s new baseball team, pulled in steroid jokes on Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, and then the pundits took aim at the political set.

The speeches fell to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D). Dick Ryan, Washington bureau chief of the Detroit News and this year's president of the Gridiron Club, gave the traditional opening monologue, the Speech in the Dark.

Richardson got sent up in the middle of a set piece that pictured Democrats stuck at Guantanamo Bay. Looking for a presidential candidate for 2008, they turned to Richardson -- when an impersonator walked onstage in a Don Quixote getup. The band launched into a cheesy pop hit from the 1960s, a Tex-Mex ditty called "Come a Little Bit Closer."

The revised lines:

Democrats, we need new blood, not more Clintonistas

To make Cheney and Bush take some lumps with their "Hasta la vistas"

To win, you must play some bluffs

I know, I studied at Tufts

All I've learned how to do is to run

'Cause enough's not enough!

Richardson demonstrated the required skills of being a Good Sport (see Rule 3, above) in his speech, riffing on his Hispanic heritage and alleged presidential ambitions.

"I want to be very clear about this," he said. "So clear, in fact, that I will give you my answer, slowly and definitively, in both English and Spanish: No, I will not run for president. Si! Seguro que voy a ser candidato para la presidencia!" (Yes! Certainly I will be a candidate for the presidency!)


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