Mean girls: D.C. "Housewives" recap and fact-check (#5, Sept. 9)
Monday, September 13, 2010; 11:41 PM
UPDATED 9/13 Welcome back to "The Real Housewives of D.C.," and episode five -- we've crossed the halfway mark! The home stretch! It's the episode where Tareq and Michaele Salahi toss around a lot of vague but ominous accusations about Mary Amons's daughter that as best as we can tell are (1) misleading and (2) misdirected and (3) way overstated, and this edition of our weekly recap and fact-checking will attempt to make sense of it for you. These accusations hang over the rest of the episode, giving it a yucky aftertaste that nonetheless does not diminish its boringness. Hey, everyone psyched for season two? It opens where we left -- Stacie and Jason Turner and Mary lingering over a dinner at Oasis Winery, where they are the guests of Tareq and Michaele (who seem to have reached some tenuous legal ceasefire with his mother enabling them to be on the premises). The dinner was already tense, thanks to the topic of the Salahis apparently crashing and getting tossed out of the Congressional Black Caucus dinner. (True story.) Tareq apparently has a look on his face, so Mary nudges him to share (or maybe the producers have nudged her to nudge him), and then he unloads, in a rapid slur. "So I'm just going to say something. I don't know every detail about everything. There's been this dialogue about a car that you know we had, and unfortunately the car got taken." Oh, and also, adds Michaele, "all the United States team gear." Tareq goes on to implicate Mary's oldest daughter Lolly -- though he's careful to say that it's actually "this agency [that] came to us" and told them that Lolly had something up on Facebook "admitting" something about a "joy ride." And most damning, there were photos: "They" -- whoever they are -- "were all wearing my jacket, my jersey and my polo mallet!" Mary gets incredulous and then weepy, and the Turners jump in to say, basically, "whaaaa?" And Tareq continues, saying "the FBI has been investigating this.... There's a federal investigation and everybody's going to jail!" (Time to break in now. We, too, do not know every detail, but our reporting indicates that this was a relatively minor incident -- a year and a half old already by the time of this dinner - that did not involve the FBI, nor implicate Lolly. It goes back to May of 2008, when the Salahis' America's Polo Cup organization hosted a match at Lansdowne Resort in Northern Virginia. The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office confirm they received a report of missing clothes and polo gear, as well as a complaint about a car that had been moved from where the owners left it -- it was found, a short time later, in the same valet parking area. A "possible suspect" was identified more than a year later, after police received new information, and some of the items were returned. Though there are a couple of active warrants -- for larceny and unauthorized use of a car -- they apparently haven't taken a whole lot of precedence, because they still haven't been served. No one has been arrested. The full police reports are not available since the case remains open. But the sheriff's department confirmed that Lolly's name was not part of the investigation.) Mary calls this accusation "out of left field" and "the worst sucker punch." Jason is in disbelief that Tareq would accuse someone's daughter like that: "No. Stop. I am so uncomfortable with this line of conversation." (It's another moment when you sense that the Turners have pulled back the curtain for us and are expressing genuine shock that they've lent their names and lives to an increasingly sordid TV show.) Michaele insists that "the charity was hurt, the polo players were hurt." (Their charity has indeed been beset with problems, including a state investigation into its practices.) Mary tells the camera that Tareq "had a lot of wine to drink... He is an angry drunk." Michaele accuses her of condoning stealing. It's all very ugly. Mary walks off, a tissue to dab her eyes on one hand, a big glass of red wine in the other. Sullen limo ride home for Mary and the Turners. Mary can't figure out what the exact accusation is and wonders why Tareq would bring this up at the end of the evening, out of the blue. Jason suggests that "maybe it's all [bogus]." Next, we're at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon in Friendship Heights. Over foot massages, Catherine Ommanney and Stacie tell Lynda Erkiletian (absent from the winery trip and most of last episode) about the Salahi weirdness. Lynda, to the camera: "Even if that story were true, would you do that in public, at a dinner party you're hosting?" (She doesn't even need to invoke one of her Rules of Washington here.) At the salon, she bursts out laughing. "I'm sorry, this must have been devastasting for Mary -- but he is a whackjob!" Cat wishes she had been there for Mary (she left early). Stacie regrets she went to Paris with them. "They're living a kind of farce." Back at Mary's McLean house (which -- breaking news! -- the Amonses just put on the market this week, after 16 years there). Family discussion about What the Salahis Said. Mary tells Lolly: "He dropped the name FBI, you, polo gear and a car being stolen." Says Lolly: "He's ker-RAZY!" Mary tells the camera that "she did post something on Facebook -- but this in no way implicates her in an FBI investigation." (Oh, come on, tell us more! I can't find Lolly's Facebook profile these days, but I'm sure it's been scrubbed and privatized. Which, you know, the smart thing to do.") Rich Amons gets the two best lines of the night: "He breaks all kinds of man-rules by attacking, one: my wife, two: my daughter." Then when Mary asks how they should deal with Tareq the next time they see him, Rich widens his eyes and shrugs: "Depends on how much alcohol I've had!" (hahaha) Lolly is unrattled by the accusations: "Are you worried someone's going to believe him? Someone's going to be, like, 'Tareq Salahi is such a credible source?' I don't think so." (Starting to wonder if there's more history between these families than we realized... or maybe Lolly was just a diligent Washington Post reader who had followed the early stories about Tareq's family feud and polo-circle squabbles.) Michaele heads into dinner with a dark-haired young woman in a sparkly top named Jen, described as her "assistant." They're at Palette, the restaurant at the Madison Hotel (which is just across the street from Washington Post! I highly recommend the pulled-duck hoagie). Michaele (seemingly still operating under the mistaken assumption that "isn't Cat Ommanney controversial?" is the driving plotline of "Real Housewives of D.C.") talks about how controversial that Cat Ommanney is, all balky and eye-rolling at the winery last week. "It's not being a Washingtonian," declares Michaele. "It's not being a Washingtonian lady."(As of Thursday night, Google found exactly five non-gibberish uses of the phrase "Washingtonian lady" in history, one of which comes from a 1902 novel, and two others referring to Seattlites. But you know, by tomorrow, we'll all be saying it around here.) She adds that, with Lynda, Cat and Mary, "it's like the Wicked Stepmother and Evil Stepsisters, and I feel like Cinderella." And then the producers really lay the smack down on Michaele, who is allowed to natter on vaguely about "Lolly's involvement," blaming Mary for opening that conversation at dinner, and agreeding with Jen that it was mighty dumb of Lolly, or anyone, to post incriminating stuff on Facebook. Says Michaele: "If you're out there doing crazy things, it's going to come back." (Mwah-WAHH! We here at the Washington Post have been given a lot of credit -- and deservedly so! -- for breaking the story of the uninvited guests at the White House state dinner... but let's remember too that the Salahis kind of gave away the game by posting on Facebook all those now-iconic photos of themselves cozying up to Biden and Rahm at the dinner.) Back to Mary's house. Rich, over a glass of wine, says he's searched the records, but "I couldn't find anything with Lolly's name in any police jurisdiction in 100 miles." Mary tells the camera that "Michaele and Tareq make [stuff] up because they want to deflect their own [stuff]." Lynda, at home in Georgetown, is talking to Stacie on speaker phone (the only way you're allowed to talk to each other on reality TV, though you can also do it by holding a tiny cellphone in the upraised palm of your hand, like you're about to blow a kiss off of it). Remember how Lynda has been househunting? (She sold her Ritz-Carlton condo for beaucoup bucks.) Well, now she's getting advice from her new Realtor friend, Stacie. Stacie is glad to help (though it all seems beside the point, since Lynda divulges she's already signed off on a counteroffer). Stacie, though, gamely turns this into a minor bit of faux-drama character development: "McLean is beautiful, but it's Virginia!" she tells the camera. "She lives in Georgetown, on the water. Buying in McLean is a good investment -- however, I don't see Lynda as a suburban girl." At the tea room of the Mayflower, Cat clinks champagne glasses with our old friend Edwina Rogers. (Remember, Edwina was an early candidate last year for a major "Housewives" role. In some ways she seemed perfect for it, what with her controversial yet charming habit of giftwrapping presents in uncut dollar bills. But she did not ultimately sign on.) Cat announces to the camera that "Edwina's one of the most powerful lobbyists in D.C." (With all due respect to Rogers, who has a fine career, she has not typically been considered in the stratosphere of this intensely competitive field.) Says Edwina: "Cheers! Welcome to the United States! I hope you're being treated well!" And then later, "I understand you're working on a book... What a fun profession!" (Bless her heart, Edwina is just a little stilted with the cameras. You wonder if she was still in the mix at the time of this taping; the producers mess so much with the chronology it's impossible to tell when this champagne tea occurs.) And then: "Did I tell you I'm working on health care reform?" Cat snarks a "good luck with that," and that it seems like an "oxymoron" for a Republican to be working on health care, and "would you like to pay my medical bills?" which she then begins to enumerate. Edwina giggles politely, then stares as Cat natters on about how terrible the U.S. health care system is. "Is that a cucumber sandwich?" asks Edwina. How did she vote? Edwina says she's a Republican, voted a straight ticket. "What about Sarah Palin?" asks Cat. Edwina kinds of stares at her. "She was on the ticket. You can't split the vote... [but] I think she would have been fine." Cat is all eye-rolly as usual. Then Edwina, gamely sticking to the notes, explains, "the reason I brought up health care is I'm going to have a party for Washington insiders, Republicans and Democrats." (Oh, help us. No one talks this way, not about their own parties or their own friends, unless maybe they're reading off the same "Rules of Washington" cue cards prepared for Mary and Lynda most weeks. So anyway, we'll have that insiders' party to look forward to.) Back at the Madison, this time the hotel bar, where Lynda and her boyfriend Ebong are meeting Jason and Stacie. When the Turners arrive, Lynda says, "We just started having a cocktail, you know how that is - I said, it is Washington and it is raining!" (No, I actually don't know what that means. There are no rules of Washington and rain and cocktails. That I know of. But I find nothing in her cocktail-directed logic to object to.) Topic of conversation #1: Lynda defending her decision to move to Virginia. Just "for a few years... I love my city! I love it here!" Stacie confides more concerns to the camera: "It's somewhat surprising to me that Lynda would move out of D.C. now. D.C. is so much hipper and cooler and cutting edge." (And now, a word from McLean-dwelling Roxanne Roberts: "Do I suddenly live in the sticks and no one told me? Drama for people who don't know Washington. Fact: Five minutes from McLean to D.C. over Chain Bridge, 15 to Georgetown.") Lynda declares that "I will come back." Topic of conversation #2: Stacie's search for her birth parents. As established last week, she now knows that her birth mother is white, her father from Nigeria -- which is where Ebong is from. "He is my brother!" Stacie cheers, and wonders whether he can help her find her father. She talks more about her mother's reluctance to get to know her. Lynda calls it "heartwrenching" and expresses sympathy for the mother: "What if she spent her whole life wanting you... She had to make these decisions because of ignorance." Stacie's not buying it, but appreciates the sentiment. Which leads us into the D.C. Housewives' perennial topic of conversation #3: Race relations. Lynda declares that growing up in the south, "I experienced reverse racism. I wasn't waited on because I was white!" Says Stacie, coolly: "That is interesting." (On her Bravo blog this week, Lynda hearkens back to her teenage experience as a backup singer for RBstar Candi Staton, and honestly, I wish we were seeing a reality show about that.) Some flirtatious banter about how we're all alike in the dark, and about Ebong's nappy chest hair, and the scene ends cordially. Back at Mary's house. So many of these kids -- Mary's, Lynda's, Cat's -- just blend together, but now and then one stands out. And of course, once again, it's 14-year-old Megan, still feeling her oats after her scene-stealing cameo a couple weeks ago. "What are these wrappers all over your floor?" Mary asks. "Did you eat HoHos up here?" Says Megan, winsomely: "I kind of fell asleep on a HoHo." (It doesn't really make sense, but Megan bats her eyelashes at the camera and waits for the Disney Channel to discover her.) Lynda shows off her new home to Ebong and her kids (and maybe some of their plus-ones; hard to tell, but it seems like a big crowd, and I'm pretty sure they're not all hers). She loves the kitchen, frets about the safety of the pool. (So you know, she paid $2 million for it.) Stacie once again looms into the scene, telling the camera with concern: "It will be interesting to see how she fits in." (Spoiler alert: Lynda's going to be fine, okay? She's just moving across the river, all right? Really!) Cut back and forth between Stacie and Jason at home, and Cat at home, all dressing for Edwina Rogers's lobbying event. "We're Democrats, but we're open minded," says Stacie. Cat decides to dress "inappropriately," and goofs around with flouncy minis, feather boas, etc. Stacie frets about encountering the Salahis again but vows "to rise above the drama." The party is at The Madison -- again! (In fact, in the same room where Bravo hosted the "Housewives" premiere party last month... is everybody even now?) The chyron describes it as "Edwina's healthcare party" (which -- oh, just make up your own joke). It's a fairly empty looking party, actually. (Were guests afraid they'd be asked to turn their head and cough? Never mind, I'm letting you all make up your own jokes.) Michaele, in a hot-pink dress, declares that she wants to get to know Edwina's friends, and starts introducing herself around. Cordial hugs when the Turners arrive. But Jason tells the camera: "I felt a change in the temperature with them. Not from them, but from us." And now, here's our weekly installment (in no way prompted by producers, we're sure) of Lynda Erkiletian's Rules of Washington. Says Lynda: "Washington, D.C. has a special etiquette: You can think what you want, but you can't say it to their face." (Unfortunately this runs directly counter to the Rules of Real Housewives, as explicated by New Jersey's Teresa Giudice -- oh, go click it and then come back.) Hey, look! It's a real celebrity: D.C. Councilmember-at-large David Catania! He tells Michaele he likes her hot-pink dress. Stacie is pleasantly surprised to see him, though she knows he "has headed the health care initiative for years." (Chaired the health committee, that is.) He talks with Stacie about how insurance companies need to be able to "provide a product people can afford," and she seems impressed. (Don't think this is the last you'll see of Catania on "Housewives"; he welcomed the cast and crew into his office last December when the council passed the same-sex marriage bill. Catania was, at one point, one of the most prominent openly gay Republican officials; however, he's now an independent.) Oh, and then Cat walks in dressed up as Sarah Palin. Brunette wig and all. Heads turn, but everyone seems to figure out it's her in about a second. Charles Ommanney (her now-estranged husband) is there as well. Cat tells the camera, "Charles is not a fan of Sarah Palin's, so we have a lot of fun getting me to look like her." (This is a pretty damaging thing to say about a journalist who has a reputation for objectivity and neutrality; she did a similar thing in episode one, nattering on about Bush vs. Obama.) There is some bitchiness in the room -- Michaele and Jen laughing that people might like Cat better if she goes undercover more often, Cat snarking about Michaele's "artificial dress, artificial personality." Then, drama! An ambulance crew takes someone out of the hotel on a stretcher. We're told it's Edwina, suddenly taken ill. Vertigo is mentioned in passing. (We contacted Edwina Rogers about this incident, will update with what we learn. UPDATED: Edwina got back to us and filled us in about her flu-like ailment. What happened to Edwina? Follow the link.) Then a super-weird exchange -- fraught but nonsensical -- between Cat, Michaele and Jen (who at the winery stepped out of obscurity to tell Cat she was being "bitchy," and suddenly the cameras focused on her like she'd just descended from heaven -- well played, Jen!). Cat's all, "you said I was bitchy," and Jen's all "you're taking it way too seriously." And then Michaele turns on Cat and says, "Did you just have a brunette wig on?" And Cat says, "Yeah, did you just have a shocking-pink dress on?" And Michaele says, "I'm still in it -- where's your wig?" (And does any of this make any sense? It's so fifth grade!) Michaele tells the camera that Cat "likes to give it out but she can't take it." Cat tells the camera that Michaele "is so superficial... you're so full of [expletive] Michaele." The scene, and episode, ends with Michaele bantering flirtatiously with another guest, a short, older man identified as "Robert Foster, President and CEO of Global Consulting." (Yeah, no luck Googling him; he also appears to have kept his company out of The Washington Post. Seems like a nice guy, though. Maybe he gave the camera guy a fake name. If you know him, email us. UPDATED: We're told he's a former longtime Capitol Hill staffer.) "In this city, honey, your credibility is everything," Foster tells her, "and once it goes..." "It gone," says Michaele. "It gone," he echoes. Who wins this round? No one. Everyone loses. Read more: Episode Four (8/26): Time-travel, crashing 101, and old news Episode Three (8/19): This looks a little bit staged Episode Two (8/12): Whose house is that? Episode One (8/5): Who are these women?