"At every dramatic turning point of our long national nightmare known as Watergate, Roll Carl was there," said political satirist Mark Russell last night. "Sid Yudain reported the Watergate break-in a full three days before Nixon's resignation."
Russell's unkind cut was aimed at the man credited with discovering him: Sid Yudain, founder, publisher, editor and on occasion, delivery boy of Capitol Hill's weekly newspaper, which for the past 25 years has reported the legislative battles as well as the staff shuffles and personal notes of the Hill people.
Political jokes, lewd double entendres, religious jokes, Nixon jokes, mother-in-law jokes and plain old insults were hurled through the Shoreham's Regency Ballroom last night as a crowd of 800 lobbyists and Hill staffers gathered for roast chicken and a roast of Yudain. l
Yudain took the podium last and fired back a couple of shots in the direction of his detractors. Referring to Tip O'Neill's advocacy of televised House proceedings, he commented, "Now, he doesn't know what to call it: 'Wild Kingdom' or 'Fantasy Island.'" And of his reputation as Mark Russell's earliest PR man, he said, "It's one of those things I have to put up with."
Others roasting Yudian were author Larry King; Liz Carpenter, assistant secretary of ecucation; House Speaker Tip O'Neill; Diana McLellan, author of The Washington Star's "Ear" column; and Rep. Morris Udall (D-Ariz.).
Many of the insults were aimed squarely at Yudain and his newspaper which was criticized for taking a placid view of politics. "Sid's kind of like the panda bears at the zoo," said Carpenter. "He's here but he's not really involved in the combat."
Yudain waxed emotional toward the end: "My children have bounced on the knees of congressmen and wetted on the knees of their aides," he said. "After 25 years that glistening dome is still stunning and I don't mind saying, still inspiring to me.
Circulating at the dinner was a special 25-year anniversary edition of Roll Call which included a full-page letter from Prsident Carter, who began his laudatory remarks, "I wanted to say something really nice, that you taught me everything I know about Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, some people might try to hold it against you."