Cheney Hits His Mark At Correspondents' Salute to Congress

Cheney at the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner:
Cheney at the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner: "I know how to have fun. I'm a real party animal." (Photos By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 30, 2006

"I feel very comfortable up here," Dick Cheney said as he stood at the podium at the 62nd annual Radio & Television Correspondents' Association dinner last night at the Hilton Washington.

"The lighting could be better, but I can still see the whites of your eyes," the sometime quail hunter joked.

The vice president was the featured speaker at the event, and he brought along a comic slideshow. He was pretty funny, and he seemed to be having a good time. Several times he even smiled, sort of.

"I know how to have fun," he said. "I'm a real party animal."

That got a laugh.

"This picture shows me at my birthday bash, when I felt myself almost losing control," he said. And, presto, on the screen popped up a picture of a room crowded with revelers and, at the center, Cheney, sitting and poring over a stack of documents.

And so it went. There were pictures of Cheney with a rifle, Cheney on a Segway, Cheney with his dogs.

The theme of the dinner was "A Salute to Congress," which is kind of refreshing, don't you think?

After Tom DeLay's indictment and Duke Cunningham's guilty plea and Jack Abramoff's sentencing, most of the salutes Congress sees these days are the kind that feature an extended middle finger.

Does Congress deserve a salute?

"Half of it does," said Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman.

That would be the Democratic half, which, to be purely technical about it, would be a little less than half.

But Dean swears that's going to get bigger soon. "We have a message that works and we're getting it out," he said. Then he touted a speech earlier in the day by Democratic congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. "The president cleverly changed his speech time to step on it," Dean complained. "The president changed his speech from 12 to 1, when they were speaking."

About 2,000 people showed up for the "Salute," about half of them men, which meant the ballroom was filled with about 1,000 guys in tuxedos and black ties. Only one was wearing shorts with white socks and white tennis shoes. That was Eddie Favre.

"You're wearing shorts!" said Kristi King, a WTOP reporter who was wearing a green dress. "Are you a sports guy? Or are you an eccentric?"

"I'm a lunatic," said Favre. Then he smiled. "I'm a mayor."

He's the mayor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., which was pretty much obliterated by Hurricane Katrina last summer. When Favre's house was destroyed, he escaped with only the clothes he was wearing -- shorts, a shirt and a pair of flip-flops. He vowed then that he wouldn't wear long pants again until his city was rebuilt.

"Now it's become a symbol of need," he said. "We've still got a job to do, and when the job is done, we'll put on long pants."

Favre, 51, is a CPA and a distant cousin of Green Bay Packers quarterback Bret Favre. He says he has met twice with President Bush while wearing his shorts.

"It got talked about on the Letterman show," he said. "He mentioned this yoyo with short pants who met the president."

At the dinner, Favre was a guest of CNN reporter Kathleen Koch, who had done a story on him back in February.

"It was pretty brisk in Mississippi in February," she said. "But Eddie has plenty of personal insulation, so he managed to stay warm."

She was referring to Favre's impressive potbelly, but Favre said it's not his fat that keeps him warm.

"It's the tequila."

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