It was definitely the A-list of the A-list, as evidenced by the number of big names who crowded into the elegant ball room of Four Seasons to see and be seen -- as well as the number who bullied people at the door wishing they were invited to Newsweek's Monday bash hosted by Washington Post Co. chairman Don Graham and his sister, Newsweek and Post writer Lally Weymouth.

There was Henry Kissinger, unable to budge from the doorway as multitudes came by to stare and pay homage. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York Gov. George E. Pataki, surrounded by large security men, created the biggest buzz as the convention officially got under way in their home state.

There was also actor Ron Silver, the new darling of the right, plus 9/11 commission members Bob Kerrey, James R. Thompson and Fred F. Fielding. Barbara Walters, Tina Brown, William Kristol and countless other media names also attended the cocktail party.

"Excuse me, can I ask you a question," politely inquired Michael Isikoff, a Newsweek investigative reporter, of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. It was a question that would send a chill down the spine of any public official. Chao smiled and her body stiffened.

"Sure," she said.

"Did you go to Syosset high school?" asked Isikoff benignly, as Chao palpably relaxed. Turns out the two were just a year apart at the Long Island school.

Jokester and Democratic commentator Al Franken unabashedly crashed the party, which didn't slow him down one bit. He stalked guests with a cameraman and wouldn't engage in any chit-chat without the camera rolling. The high point of his evening was doing his Henry Kissinger imitations for . . . none other than Henry Kissinger. The former secretary of state roared.