Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
"See, this dinner here tonight is actually a cover," announced political prankster Dick Tuck, who was 54 Wednesday. "It's actually my birthday party and any minute now they'll announce it."
It also happened to be the Washington Press Club's "Salute to Congress" dinner at the Sheraton Park Hotel for about 1,200 media and political heavies.
They never did announce Dick Tuck's birthday. About the only announcement anybody paid attention to was Press Secretary Jody Powell's pronouncement that president Carter wouldn't show up. "He came last year; Fritz came tonight." And then a promise from the press secretary: "He'll be here again before the end of the first term."
The administration did have a sizeable turnout for the press. Besides Powell and Mondale, Chief Domestic Adviser Stu Eizenstat, Trade Commissioner Robert Strauss, National Security Council Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, TV adviser Barry Jagodan and Special Assistant to the President Midge Constanza were there with their one liners for the press.
Powell had a ready-made excuse for presidential adviser Hamilton Jordan's notable absence. He glanced at Barbara Walters who was sitting next to him and said, "I don't know where Hamilton is, but I, personally, have not looked at Miss Walters' bodice once all evening."
Brzezinski, who sat on the other side of Walters during dinner, was enjoying the affair. "This is wonderful," enthused Brzezinski. "Here I am sitting next to Barbara Walters - who was my first kiss of the New Year, followed by Rose Carter and the Shahbanou. It changed our whole foreign policy. Our national security has been in jeopardy ever since."
When waitress Mary Hunter, who had been waiting on tables at the Shearton Park for 24 years, was satisfied that the people at her table had been dined and wined sufficiently she signaled that the show go on.
The show, a spoof entitled "A Spaced Out Odyssey" performed by 10 members of the Washington Press Club, was a throwback to songs from World War I like "Over There," and "Give My Regards to Broadway." People who have been to these dinners could have filled in their own lyrics.
To "Over There" it became "To the Hill, to the Hill, Give a speech, even preach for our bill."
The performance was borrowed from everywhere - "Maria," "Stout-Hearted Men," "The Old Gray Mare" - and one would think that people who use words for a living would have taken the time to come up with words that entertain.
Udall and a few of the congressmen and senators who either wrote their own stuff or had their staff do it may have saved the evening for those who waited beyond the scheduled time.
The politicians talked about Congress in the year 2078.
Udall felt loose and gave off lines like, "Califano dropped into a night club the other night and was happy to see the patrons were not smoking. All the kids were sharing the same cigarette."
Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) looked at Udall and said "First of all, Mo, if you had been shooting a little speed during the elections you might be president now."