By Roxanne Roberts
Monday, May 2, 2005

Michael Steele Chats with Elaine Chao
Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao share a smile at the McLaughlins' brunch at the Hay-Adams Hotel.(Lauren Victoria Burke - For The Washington Post)
The White House Correspondents' Association dinner is Washington's press prom, which means 3,000 or so of the Fourth Estate's finest and their pals donned party clothes, drank too much and stayed up way too late. So guests were a tad wobbly as they entered yesterday's post-dinner brunch hosted by John and Cristina McLaughlin on the rooftop terrace of the Hay-Adams Hotel. "My god, John -- that's a good-looking jacket!" chirped Arnaud de Borchgrave . "Does it come in your size?"

But the point of the party was not sartorial satire, or the crab cakes, the bloody marys or even the view overlooking the White House, although all were restorative. Nor was it to gawk at "Desperate Housewives" hunk James Denton, Mort Zuckerman, Jesse Jackson, Margaret Carlson, Ralph Nader, Michael Steele, Nancy Pelosi, Elaine Chao, Al Sharpton, Ron Silver, Al Franken and Patricia Duff, because the gawkers and gawkees were, by now, old friends. No, the point was to gossip.

Topic 1: Rave reviews for Laura Bush's spectacular debut as a stand-up comedian, delivering her "Desperate Housewives," Chippendale's and male-horse jokes with sly humor and dead-on timing. "She was successful in disabusing any thoughts that she's a Christian fundamentalist extremist," McLaughlin said with a chuckle.

Topic 2: Bloomberg's lavish after-party at a Wyoming Avenue mansion that was transformed into an exclusive nightclub for a few short hours of fabulousness. The star of the party was the huge, floor-to-ceiling ice chandelier that dominated a back room full of designer martinis and enhanced blondes. Celebrity sightings included Bill Maher, Joe Pantoliano, Harvard's Larry Summers, "American Idol" contestant Constantine Maroulis (who shared sex-symbol honors with Denton) and Elizabeth Smart , the 17-year-old Utah girl who was abducted three years ago and was just named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People.'' "Is it just me, or is it weird that she's here?" asked one appalled dad. No, it's officially weird.

Topic 3: The endearing wonkiness of Washington. "All I know is that I ended up talking to Gene Sperling at 3 a.m. about whether the Chinese renminbi should be pegged to the dollar," said Silver, shaking his head. "I got back to my hotel room and thought, 'That's pathetic.' Not Gene, but debating currency at 3 a.m. But that's what I like about this town."

A Night Of Bright Satin

Tweed McElveen-Bogache with Daughter Pendleton Bogache
Tweed McElveen-Bogache and daughter Pendleton at the National Museum of Women in the Arts gala.(Rebecca D'Angelo - For The Washington Post)
Spring was in the air at Friday's National Museum of Women in the Arts annual gala, and the 400 guests were feeling mighty frisky. "I have to sit next to her?" joked Smith Bagley of his seat beside wife Elizabeth. "What if she tries to grab my leg under the table?" (He should be so lucky.)

Despite the depressing drizzle outside, the museum was awash in brilliant colors: the greens in the exhibition of impressionist Berthe Morisot and her circle, the periwinkle and coral centerpieces on the tables, the guests in bright satin gowns. "You look hot," Becky Gonzalez, wife of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez , told Taylor Ensenat, who was draped in an aqua dress with an elaborate necklace of faux flowers.

The evening included cocktails, a menu of French favorites, and a silent auction with paintings and jewelry created by and for the ladies. "I'm always drawn to women artists," said gala co-chairman Anne Johnson , director of the State Department's Art in Embassies program. Johnson was fiercely guarding her bid on a watercolor in the silent auction. "It's a woman artist and she's from Texas," she said. "C'mon!"

'Goldfinger' for the Red Cross

James Wynen with Crystal Keller and Camille Pellegrino
From left: Crystal Keller, James Wynen and Camille Pellegrino play their parts at Wynen's James Bond party.(Lauren Victoria Burke - For The Washington Post)
Most twenty- something men wouldn't be caught dead holding a froufrou drink like a Cosmo. But if you throw a "James Bond Party," ask guys to wear tuxedos and give them a free drink, all the macho rules go out the window. "They're so many Bonds here, they're going to run out of olives," said Michael Abbenante , who sported a vodka martini (shaken, not stirred) at Vida Lounge during Saturday night's bash for 200 to benefit the American Red Cross. The theme of host James Wynen's second Bond party was "Goldfinger": Crystal Keller sold raffle tickets for the 20-DVD set of all the Bond films while wearing gold paint head to toe (and not much else). Next party's theme: Bond Girl . . . um, Miss Galore.

With Laura Thomas


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