The Reliable Source

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 27, 2008; 12:00 PM

Reliable Source columnists Amy Argetsinger was online from the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at Noon ET to talk about the stars descending in a big way as party gridlock sets in and some soirees suffer via natural selection. (Sorry, Jakob Dylan!) A child's guide to Hillary Clinton. Michelle mania. Kanye watch! Roxanne Roberts was in Washington but next wee she will be in St. Paul, Minnesota for the Republicans.

In recent columns: Meet the Bidens! Sugarland invokes the ghost of John Edwards at Dave Matthews show. Biodegradeable hotel key cards? Daryl Hannah and Luke Russert at the convention. Martin O'Malley bares his arms and hits the stage again. Benji Madden makes peace with punk legend. How to date Michael Saylor.

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A transcript follows.


Amy Argetsinger: Good morning everyone! Sorry to be late here -- it's only 10 a.m. in Denver, which is like The Middle of the Night. Looking forward to your questions about the convention, or about other stuff.


St. Paul is Minnesota's state capitol: Since you grew up in Minneapolis, Rox, you've probably never been to St. Paul, so as a long-time former St. Paulite, here's a few recommended places for you to hang out while you're covering the convention: Cosetta's Pizza (just down West Seventh from the Excel Center) is as good as anything you'll get in Minneapolis, a concept that's hard for Minneopolitans to comprehend; O'Gara's, an old fashioned piano bar on the corner of Selby and Snelling (Charles Schulz spent part of his childhood living in the apartment upstairs); and Tiffany's, a classic working class bar on Ford Parkway, just across the street from the Ford plant (and it's also just a few blocks from the Mississippi, so if St. Paul starts to overwhelm your high-fallutin' Minneapolis sensibilities, you can always flee across the bridge).

Roxanne Roberts: You know, it's that kind of divisiveness that prevents us from all coming together as proud Minnesotians. Of course I've been to St. Paul----not often, true, but I've been. And I'm bringing my GPS, so don't worry. Oh, and I think it's very sweet you think I'll have time to hang out anywhere.


Beautiful Silver Spring, Md.: I was surprised to see a less-than-total command of the Kanye oeuvre in the Reliable Source this morning. Though the "Gold Digger" joke was priceless, the Kanye song that corresponds to the third committee cited is called "Stronger," although it samples Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" (very prominently, I might add). And placing "The College Dropout," an album title, in among two song titles seems a bit apples-to-oranges; you could have instead cited "School Spirit" (mutha-etc.]s!!!).

May I suggest:

"Touch the Sky": House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality

"Diamonds from Sierra Leone": House Subcommittee on Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade

"Through the Wire": House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit/House Subcommittee on Health (dual jurisdiction)

Also, for those of us who missed why Ashley Taylor is Washington's "It Girl," could you provide a brief primer? (I know, I know, I should be reading your column more closely.)

Amy Argetsinger: Hey there! Yeah, I knew the song is officially called "Stronger," but I decided to fudge it with the entire chorus so that our slower readers would get the joke. Same with the College Dropout reference. Sometimes you have to stretch to make a joke work.

I like your suggestions. What can we do with "Jesus Walks"? I was trying to figure out which committee deals with faith-based initiatives...

Not enough room to go into the whole Ashley Taylor story, but we've written about her a lot -- her grandparents are DC social titans, and she's this gorgeous sometimes-model who was until recently engaged to a handsome millionaire 30 years her senior. You may have read us describe them as Washington's favorite May-December couple -- although no more...


The Burbs, Md.: Hillary is looking rested and refreshed in today's (dead tree subscription!) Post. Has she had a good vacation, lost a little weight, or ahem, had a little something done?

If it's the latter, well, good on her for getting something subtle done. It would be hard to resist the temptation after seeing one's face all over the media universe for a year.

Roxanne Roberts: I was discussing this very topic with a friend this morning, who pointed out Hillary's hasn't had time to recover from any nip/tuck but that she's has had a chance to catch up on sleep and always looks better when a makeup professional prepares her for a big speech. I thought she looked fabulous.


Whitewater, Wisc.: Do you miss not having George Clooney at the convention? What are the odds that Clooney runs for something someday soon?

Amy Argetsinger: Hey, good point -- where IS Clooney? Probably the biggest star thus far was Charlize Theron (even taller than you expect, and you expect her to be tall, you know?); and I've decided that her C-listy boyfriend Stuart Townsend is, actually, Cute Enough To Be With Her.

Clooney will never run for anything. I mean, he's got a pretty sweet life right now, doesn't he? Why give that up?


Reading, Pa.: Hi Amy, When you travel for the Post is it first class all the way? I'd like to think you're in a five star hotel with plenty of mini bar treats and massages, etc., but that's because I often have to live the good life vicariously through you.

Amy Argetsinger: Excellent question. It's coach-class all the way. (In fact, our new soon-to-be executive editor was on the same flight as me, and I couldn't help but notice that he, too, was in coach, which I appreciated.)

I'm at a Marriott with a stupendously comfortable bed but occasionally cold showers; speedy room service but no food anywhere on the premises (not even vending machines!) after midnight. Also: a 20 minute drive to downtown.


Derwood, Md.: At the beginning of the John McCain where the voiceover says "Washington is broken", you see a shot of Congress, hear a gavel pound, and then a woman in the front does a little victory jig pumping her arms. Since she's on the floor of what I think is the House, the question is...who is she? And what was she celebrating?

Amy Argetsinger: Hey, can anyone send us the YouTube or whatever link to this? And then we'll all take a look?


Lewisburg, Pa. : Several different places I saw passing mention of John McCain's children by his FIRST wife. Did he have any children with first wife? If so, where are they, and does/did he ever spend time with them? And who are they?

Roxanne Roberts: McCain family tree is hard to keep track of, yes? Last week we had the Cindy McCain flap about her half-sisters. Sen. McCain has three grown children from his marriage to first wife Carol---he adopted her two children, and they had a daughter, Sidney. He has four children with Cindy.

_______________________ Photo Gallery: Eye on Entertainment (Pitt and Clooney)

_______________________ Sibling Revelation: An Overlooked Branch of Cindy McCain's Family Tree ( Post, Aug. 20)


Denver, Colo.: I live here and work downtown and have been taking long walks during my lunch break to people watch and see what's going on. What's my best shot at spotting a VIP eating lunch?

Amy Argetsinger: I don't know -- how about you tell me? It's so crazy busy here, and so logistically complicated to get in and out of the secure perimeter that I'm barely finding any lunch myself (yesterday: day-old crusty brownies that had been left out overnight). However, next to our press tent, CNN has set up this "CNN Grill," which is sort of like their VIP HQ/canteen. Yesterday, I saw Charles Barkley there (looks exactly like he did on TV hours earlier).

Also saw Anderson Cooper posing with a fan for a photo. "You're a celebrity!" she said, and he replied, "Oh, no, I'm just on basic cable." It's annoyingly hard not to like him.


Reston, Va.: So is there a giant vat of Obama Kool-Aid there?

I imagine a Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-like scene where they made Sen. Clinton drink the stuff.

Amy Argetsinger: They don't need a vat of Kool-Aid, it's just in the air.


Falls Church, Va.: Hello Amy and Rox. I hope you two are having fun while working. I've been away for a few weeks and just caught up on columns and chats.

Cute Cop and I are doing well, thanks to the poster who asked a couple of weeks ago. One of the weeks away was spent with him (and my dog) at an inn in northeast Vermont. We had a great time kayaking and hiking.

We're in early talks of maybe renting out my house and dog and I move across the street. Wish us luck!

Roxanne Roberts: That's so great! We expect to be personally invited to the housewarming party, the wedding, and baby showers.

Amy Argetsinger: wow, this is great. thanks for keeping us in touch!


Clooney...: Is in Venice. Looking AMAZING as usual and hanging out with nutball new daddy Brad.


Roxanne Roberts: George always looks amazing, which isn't fair because he's looking BETTER as he ages. The only time he doesn't look fab is when he bulks up for a movie role, which doesn't count.


Washington, D.C.: Caroline Kennedy's kids are supposed to be in Denver. Any sightings or what they're up to?

Amy Argetsinger: Uh, no, not that I know of. Probably making the rounds of super-secret VIP-only private parties. She's kind of kept them under wraps -- and good for her for doing so -- so I think most people would have a hard time recognizing them.

BUT! Someone asked me on the street the other night if I was a Kennedy!


Venice Beach, Calif.: Clooney would rather be in Venice with Brad Pitt instead of in Denver with you? The cad!

Amy Argetsinger: Denver's pretty great, but I lived in Venice for a year, and frankly, I'd vote the same as Clooney. Don't blame him at all.

_______________________ in Venice at the Film Festival. Of course, he's raising money for Darfur, because he's George Clooney. And looking amazing with his perfect tan while riding in a water taxi.

I think I need a moment...

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, wrong Venice. I didn't live in THAT Venice, but I did spend a week there a decade ago, and again, I'd definitely side with Clooney in this pick of priorities.


Chicago, Ill.: We all know Bill Clinton is supposed to be a brilliant intellect. My questions is what grade level is his emotional intelligence at? Pre-school, 1st, 3rd?

Amy Argetsinger: Excellent question! Is there a Web site that lets you test your emotional IQ? Because I'd like to take that test. And then we can make Bill take it.


Bridgeport, Conn.: What do you ladies think about the feuding at MSNBC?

Roxanne Roberts: No sleep plus big egos equal crankiness. Kinda like small dogs fighting for a to watch, nothing to worry about.


Convention Fashion: Is anyone running around the convention in fitness pants with "Obama" written across the tushy? Someone should be selling them, don't you think?

Amy Argetsinger: Brilliant idea. You've got two days to get some of those printed up and get yourself out here to set up a stand on the Speer Boulevard fringe of the perimeter. You'll make a fortune.


Better with age: Same with Brad, too, actually. That photo of him in Venice in the white suit is to die for. Whooohee. He and Clooney together in person would be too much to handle. Throw in Christian Bale, and I would implode.

Roxanne Roberts: Imagine if they were in Denver. Stampede.


Adelphi, Md.: We need to note here that a longtime D.C. resident who moved to New Orleans in 2004 spoke on Monday, August 25, 2008, at the Democratic National Convention -- and she is not a politician, officeholder, delegate or member of a celebrity political family! She is Margie Perez, who worked as a travel agent and a singer with local D.C. bands (including the Oxymorons) in the D.C. area for many years and now sings with rock and funk bands in New Orleans. She met the Obama campaign last year, they remembered her, they asked her to speak, and she did speak for three minutes on Monday night, about her experiences after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She did a great job, and she even got to introduce a short film about Jimmy Carter's visit to New Orleans, right after her speech. Let's all congratulate a hometown hero for her great work on a great speech at the Democratic National Convention! YouTube: Margie Perez Speaking at the Democratic Convention 08

Amy Argetsinger: Thanks! Will check this out.


Bridgeport, Conn.: Will you ladies be going to St. Paul also?

Amy Argetsinger: We switch places next week -- I'll be back in D.C. (as Rox is now), and she'll go to Minnesota.


Wheaton, Md.: Sorry to revisit the Cindy McCain-sibling thing, but I couldn't participate last week.

My take on this is she is simply dumb. D-U-M dumb. Why state in an international publication that you're an only child WHEN YOUR HUSBAND IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! Somebody is going to do a l'il fact checkin'. Dumb or foolishly arrogant, I dunno. I guess that's what you get when you go for the trophy wife.

Roxanne Roberts: I think it's fair to say she thinks of herself as an only child, and she was raised with very little contact with her half-sisters. That being said, it's easy enough to mention in passing that your parents were married to other people before and had children.


Washington, D.C.: I saw that Chelsea Clinton wasn't sitting with her father last night -- and I don't really recall the last time they were together. Do they have a strained relationship at this point? It seems The President may end up closer to a version of his father than he might like to admit.

Roxanne Roberts: I wouldn't jump to any conclusions. Chelsea has always been close to both parents, and we've heard nothing to alter that view. I suspect she didn't sit with him because she introduced her mother and probably watched the speech from the side or back of the stage.

_______________________ Emotional Intelligence Test


Kensington, Md.: Hey, RS'ers. How are you fairing with the altitude? Last time I was in Denver and had a couple of glasses of wine I felt totally snocked because of the combo. Holding up okay out there?

Amy Argetsinger: The altitude thing is tricky. Especially when I went out to Red Rocks the other night, which had to have taken us up another thousand feet or so. Absolutely dazzling scenery, gorgeous night sky... But then I had a beer, and then we were running around trying to find my parking spot, and we were all out of breath, and by the time we got back to Denver, I think my wingman and I were both hallucinating, and I thought he was going to burst into tears trying to comprehend the map to the Blue Dog party, which we subsesquently missed... Suffice it to say, I now appreciate how hard it is to climb Everest.


Emotional Intelligence Test: There are indeed a number of emotional intelligence tests online. However, as a health behavior professional, I feel obligated to point out that the validity and reliability of these tests is unknown to me and therefore I cannot suggest one over another or indeed any of them as being truly useful. Having said that I'm betting BC has serious arrested development issues.

Amy Argetsinger: We appreciate your professional judgement on this matter.


New York, N.Y.: I've seen some of the convention on TV and there seems to be a definite lack of large silly hats this time around. Also someone needs to tell Chris Matthews that his hair is blond on top and white on the sides...

Roxanne Roberts: Obama doesn't strike me as a silly hat kinda guy, which probably accounts for the lack of trickle-down headgear. I'M not telling Chris.


Washington, D.C.: Denver is such great city and so much fun, although off the beaten path for the rich and famous. What is the reaction to Denver from the jet-set?

Amy Argetsinger: Everyone loves Denver. It's a cool, laid-back city with a lot of interesting places to hang out downtown, and then these staggering mountain views and big-sky sunsets.


Chicago, Ill.: Why is the Bill Clinton camp leak so many stories about being disgruntled? The latest has it that Bill thinks Barack doesn't like him. Poor Baby. Should the media be a conveyor belt for his quibbles or should they demand his people go on the record?

Amy Argetsinger: Good questions. Still, you can't deny that he's a fascinating character to watch; what a drama.


Washington, D.C.: Is Luke Russert as adorable in person as he is on TV? And what fun parties have you been to?

Amy Argetsinger: He looks exactly the same in person as he comes across on TV. Big blustery happy-looking kid.


Brad in Venice: So the Daily Mail is quoting him as saying they'll have two more kids by next year.

Uh. Okay. Is it time to call social services on Brangelina??

Amy Argetsinger: Hey, why not. They can afford as many kids as they want.


So exactly how many kids are we talking total?: So if McCain takes Romney as his running mate will they have to add some guest rooms on to the White House?

Roxanne Roberts: McCain has seven kids total, Romney famously has five sons. (Getting ahead of yourself, or know something we don't?) Add in wives and grand kids and they'll have to put trailers on the South Lawn. Not FEMA trailers, I hope.


Leonardo and Ben: So my CEO stopped by my office and said he saw Leonardo DiCaprio at the Ritz Carlton lobby and Ben Afleck at dinner in downtown Denver last night. We are a Colorado-based business. FYI-15th and Platte St. (very close to Pepsi Center) is the location of My Brothers Bar (an old beat generation hang out) that serves yummy bar food until 1:30 a.m. They also have great beers on tap and play classical music.

Amy Argetsinger: Thank you. One of these days I'm hoping to go to an actual real restaurant/bar and have a real meal/drink, as opposed to all this party stuff (which, don't get me wrong, is fairly entertaining).


Washington, D.C.: For the person who asked about Chelsea, and said she hadn't been seen with her father much lately, I think I remember that she was on his trip to Africa this July. I just think in general Chelsea's pretty press-shy, so you won't see much of her in public (other than when she was campaigning for her mother, although she still refused to actually engage with the press at that point).

Roxanne Roberts: Better not get into that or I'll be accused of hatin' on poor, put upon Chelsea again.


About Charlize...: What is this I'm hearing about one of her staffers going after people with cameras? Somebody was snapping pics of Anderson Cooper in some parking lot or something, and one of Charlize's people lost her &-!#, thinking that some wannabe-papparazzo was going after Ms. Theron...I figured you two would know what happened...

Amy Argetsinger: I just found this. A blogger wrote that he/she tried to take a photo of Stuart and Charlize while they were at the CNN Grill, and her handler was all, cut it out. Frankly, not a very noteworthy encounter -- this is kind of typical. I don't really blame a celebrity for getting annoyed when some stranger comes up and takes a photo -- you'd hate it too, right? -- and I think her handlers could reasonably argue that they were in a quasi-private area, and I also think the blogger could reasonably argue that, no, you're not.


The EQ question: I'd say the opposite: Bill Clinton has a very HIGH Emotional Quotient, ability to connect with people, ability to communicate with people, ability to speak to people. He's CHARISMATIC. That is what charisma is, the ability to really connect with people emotionally. Sure, he has dysfunctional family issues, even more than the average bear, but EQ? High.

Amy Argetsinger: Good point, thanks.


Ames, Iowa: Oh that silly Madonna comparing John McCain to Hitler! Doesn't she know McCain is much shorter ?

Roxanne Roberts: Silly because she's so obvious. Jeesh, didn't she used to be a little smarter about drawing attention to herself? This one is over the top to be lame.


Fox and MSNBC on the Stadium Set: Both Fox and MSNBC got the Republican talking points that the set at Invesco field resembles a Greek or Roman god-like coliseum backdrop.

Have you seen/heard about this?

Roxanne Roberts: Nope. Who are they throwing to the lions?


Denver, Colo.: Ladies, welcome to our cowtown. I moved here from D.C. a few years back, and I miss it. But, Denver has the mountains. Know of any good parties that I can crash?

Amy Argetsinger: There's a free show with a bunch of bands tonight, including Silversun Picksup, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Nada Surf. It's sponsored by Gavin Newsom and at the Manifest Hope Art Gallery, whatever that is. Othewise.. you probably don't have a shot of getting into tonight's Kanye West ONE/RIAA party, nor tomorrow's Google/Vanity Fair hot-ticket soiree. Sorry!


Gallery Place, Washington, D.C.: Chelsea Clinton looked really good last night...Dare I say, almost hot. I remember when SNL made fun of her looks when Bill Clinton was first elected. I remember feeling so badly for her back then, but she seems to have grown into a lovely young woman.

Amy Argetsinger: She looked great last night.


BC: Amy wrote: "Good questions. Still, you can't deny that he's a fascinating character to watch; what a drama."

I'm assuming you left out the "queen" in deference to our friends at the Onion and their brilliant cover story about BC putting his inaugural ballgown back in the closet.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, I have to look that up...


Tampa, Fla.: I am a big Obama supporter, but you know one other reason I would really like him to win? To hear what music they would pick to play at the inagural balls. After eons of stuffy music, how 'bout he and Michelle walking out to dance to the strains of Kanye, or Alicia Keys, or maybe some old school Motown. That would be the JOINT!

Roxanne Roberts: If Obama wins, the inaugural balls might have a real chance of not sucking. But don't get your hopes up----somehow, regardless of who wins the election, they screw up the balls. Mark my words---I've been going since 1989.


Bruce and Bon Jovi: What happened to the rumors that they were going to play before Obama's speech yesterday? I heard it was debunked, but what's the story? Was it ever a possibility or was it all a rumor the entire time?

Amy Argetsinger: The rumor that Springsteen would play was so rampant that some news organizations were putting it out there as fact. But no one ever confirmed, and yesterday some sources in The Boss's camp told our very own J. Freedom du Lac that it ain't happening.

Conspiracy theory: That he actually IS going to play, but they had to dampen speculation so as to make it a surprise.


Feuding at MSNBC?: Did I miss something? Do tell, I need something to make my day interesting now that Congress is on a seemingly neverending recess. Any "on air" fights? Those are the best!

Roxanne Roberts: Check out clips of "Morning Joe" yesterday. Joe and Shuster got into it.


Stuart and Charlize : Why are they at the convention in the first place? There are 15,000 media/press there for gosh sakes. You want to be left alone? Don't come to Denver during the convention. Jeez!

Amy Argetsinger: I suspect there are certain unspoken and perhaps ill-defined understandings, prevalent in Hollywood, about where celebrities are considered fair game and where they aren't. But I sure as heck don't understand these rules, and a blogger visiting Denver wouldn't necessarily either.


Denver: Just wanted to say thanks for saying what a cool place my hometown is -- and for not perpetuating the media image that we are still a cow-town!! Welcome!!

Amy Argetsinger: Thank you. The pleasure is all mine.


More thoughts on BC's EQ: Having a high EQ/ability to connect with people could influence why he's so crabby these days. He's got no adoring audience, which he thrives on.

Amy Argetsinger: This is a good point. Maybe he's got such a high EQ that he's operating in a completely different dimension than the rest of us, and therefore we perceive him as having a low one. Maybe having a high EQ isn't necessarily a good thing!

_______________________ Shuster and Scarborough Argue ( MSNBC, The Political Fancier)


Clooney will never run for anything. I mean, he's got a pretty sweet life right now, doesn't he? Why give that up? : Don't you think he might get bored of the same old, same old perfectness after a while?

Amy Argetsinger: But Clooney at least keeps it fresh by venturing into directing, and into advocacy stuff. And in those realms, as well as the business of being a movie star, he's got way more power than he would as one of 100 senators, for example, or as, I don't know, mayor of Malibu.


Big blustery happy-looking kid. : Tommy Boy?

Amy Argetsinger: But more pulled together, you know?


Charlize and Stuart: Is she naturalized? Is he? I thought she was South African and he was British? Nice to know that they are taking an interest in our elections.

Amy Argetsinger: Let's see... she became a U.S. citizen last year (thanks, Google!). He's Irish, and looks like he's staying that way.


Washington: Oh see Roxanne you're just a newbie -- Ike and Mamie knew how to throw a party!

Roxanne Roberts: Bet they had decent drinks.


I'm not psychiatrist: (or even bother to spell it right). But I always thought Emotional Quotient wasn't the same thing as emotional health, balance. EQ is how you test on emotional SKILLS, not emotional health. You can be totally mixed up inside, but able to communicate, get along with people, understand social cues, etc.

Amy Argetsinger: You actually did spell it right -- and added another layer of nuance to this very interesting discussion. (Note that I'm really listening to you, and taking the time to praise you as well -- hope that boosts my score.)


Long Beach: You're so (far) right about Madonna being lame and lazy by using the Big "A", when a photo coupling of McCain and Hermann Goering would have been much more appropriate, a war hero pilot with multiple houses and hunting lodges!

Roxanne Roberts: Someone been studying their German history!


Colorado Springs, Colo.: Yes Denver is no longer a cow town. We have all the cows now and they all face north to south -- odd but true.

Amy Argetsinger: Seriously? That is weird. Do they know something we don't?


Charlize and Stuart at the Convention: They're not even American citizens, are they? She's from South African and he's from....wherever.

Roxanne Roberts: Boyfriendistan.


Re Tommy Boy: More put together? Well that's nice to hear. He's all over the media these days, PTI (where of course he interned), on the news, etc. Only really a matter of time before he challenges Howard Stern for the king of all media throne. Bout time too.

Amy Argetsinger: Too much too soon?


Chris Matthew's two-toned hair: Chris' hair looked awful last night. Blond and white hair. He needs to pick ONE color.

Roxanne Roberts: Could it have been the lighting? Frankly, I've been more distracted by the train and the outdoor peanut gallery shouting and booing.


Roxanne Roberts: Okay----one more week of political bread and circuses, then we're back to the pressing issues of celebrity monkey business. Everyone keep your eyes open for any funny/silly/interesting bits from the conventions and write us at Remember--no white shoes after Monday!


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