Survival of the Fittest Festivities

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, August 26, 2008; 1:35 PM

It was party gridlock in downtown Denver Monday night, thanks to the magical synergy of serious lobbyist money and the fleet of Hollywood celebs who seemed to arrive en masse that afternoon. So many soirees going on -- at least 40, according to some cheat-sheets -- that more than a few succumbed to natural selection.

At a much anticipated Rock the Vote Ballot Bash, Jakob Dylan kicked off his opening set to an almost empty Ellie Caulkins Opera House. after his first two songs were greeted by a smattering of applause, one of the VIPers whispered to our colleague Jose Antonio Vargas: "This is embarrassing. We gotta get more people in here!"

Where was everyone? A nightclub event (whiskey bar, free cigars, DJ) sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council, The Hill newspaper, and some half-dozen industry interests was so mobbed with D.C.'s media-political party party people it looked like the Palm had just been airlifted from downtown Washington to Denver. A mayor's welcome party sponsored by the American Wind Power folks at a brew pub (elk kabobs, beer-sampling bar, excellent rock band) drew a lot of tall good-looking happy people who turned out to be mostly Denver natives.

But as of 12 a.m., the mobs on the street were still being held back by the clipboard girls at Planned Parenthood's celebrity-studded "Sex, Politics, and Cocktails" party. This was the groovy wing of the Democratic party -- cute youngsters gyrating in pink PP T-shirts, free condoms ("Protect Yourself From John McCain (In This Election)"), the dance floor sticky with mango mojitos, the fire marshal threatening to shut it down.

And upstairs: pretty Hollywood people just dying to talk to us about politics: Alan Cumming, Joy Bryant, Cyndi Lauper. Ashley Judd told us about her busy agenda for the week -- an NDI confab that Madeleine Albright got her into, an Emily's List event. Was she always an Obama supporter? The actress, in a 1950's looking red cocktail dress and a couple bottles of sparkling water by her side, got a certain look on her face: She was an Edwards person. Ohhh, how do you feel about that? "Disssss . . . " Judd began. "I'd prefer to spend more time talking about Senator Obama."

Aisha Tyler loomed over us in a black ensemble with jeweled neckline and told us that she wants "to be inspired" by the political process -- "not as a celebrity, just as an American." She had spent the evening watching the convention on TV. "I'm trying to absorb as much of the eperience as possible and not just be shuttled from one event to another."

And there was Fred Armisen, the "Saturday Night Live" comic, who bravely took on the job of portraying Obama. What was the trick to getting Obama? "Watching him in the debates with Hillary, I felt like he was a good listener," Armisen told us. "He was like this" -- and he leaned forwarded, squinting and blinking at us earnestly thorugh his chunky dark-rimmed glasses.

Obama visited SNL last year, and Armisen was blown away. "He was so charismatic and friendly . . . " he paused. "And tall."

Hmmm. Is it a challenge to do a caricature of a personality you're so clearly in the tank for?

"Yes, but it's a good challenge."

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