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Banking on Holiday Cheer

Amount raised: $30,000.

Bar: Open!

Food: Shrimp and grits served in martini glasses; crab beignets; the best bread pudding ever.

Quirkiest silent auction item: Drumhead signed by members of My Morning Jacket.


"I was asked how we can get politicians to stop speaking in sound bites and level with people, and [responded] 'I suggest you bar the press.' Apparently, that didn't go over too well. . . . [National Press Club prez] Jerry Zremski asked, 'Has Dean read the First Amendment?' Well, Jerry, I have . . . and you can keep your guns. Fox News said, 'Stalin thought he was right when he did the same thing.' That was painful. . . . If anybody knows about Joseph Stalin's tactics, it would be the people at Fox News. . . . How is it that this dinner is called off the record? [A reporter] explained it to me this way: Off the record means you can't write about it for Sunday, you have to wait until Monday. . . . Seriously, though . . ."

-- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean razzing his journalist hosts at Saturday's Gridiron Club dinner. Ba-dum-bum.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

Jordin Sparks shoe shopping at the Pentagon City Nordstrom on Friday afternoon. The "American Idol" champ (here for the KenCen Honors) looked like a regular teen in jeans, a ponytail, a newsboy cap; sat hugging her new black boots (size 11!) and chatting with staff while she waited for her mom to find fancy-dress shoes.

Antonella Barba belting out tunes ("Ordinary People," "Silent Night," an a cappella "Amazing Grace") amid the whir of hair dryers at the Andre Chreky Salon Saturday during its annual charity "salon-a-thon." The "American Idol" also-ran, now back to normal life as a Catholic University undergrad, looked tiny in gray jeans, red tee, brown stilettos; stayed for a haircut and facial.

Hank Paulson and wife Wendy shopping at the Georgetown Whole Foods on Saturday. The Treasury secretary wore jeans, running shoes, an outdoorsy jacket; toted a bunch of those reusable canvas shopping bags.

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