We've got a trillion-dollar debt and we wish it would go away . . . --From the song by John Bigbee
"This is a high-class affair," said House Majority Leader James C. Wright Jr., wearing his black Justin boots and emanating Texas charm.
"Mr. Speaker, it's just about as classy as most of those country clubs you play golf in."
The barb was aimed at House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill, one of more than 300 guests at the Majority Congressional Committee's $500-a-plate fund-raiser last night at the Shoreham Hotel. When the cheers and guffaws subsided, the bushy-browed Wright welcomed Texas Democrat colleagues, labor leaders, corporate representatives and friends to the roast beef dinner.
They responded to his words almost as enthusiastically as they did to the entertainment.
"Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble, But I'm doing the best that I can."
--From a song sung by Rep. Marvin Leath (D-Tex.)
The reception, in the Diplomatic Room, was held against a backdrop of an American flag the size of one huge wall.
"I think the tide is in our direction," Wright predicted of the year ahead in Congress, in between his handshakes with supporters. "But you can't count the collection until the plate is passed."
No one seemed to know exactly how much was raised, except that it was little compared with the spirit of the foot-stompin', knee-slapping crowd.
Reps. Leath, Ron Flippo of Alabama and Charles Whitley and W.G. (Bill) Hefner, both of North Carolina, played along with the Whiskey River Band, following a Johnny Carson-style monologue by Arizona Rep. Morris Udall. The crowd sang and swayed along to "Amazing Grace," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America the Beautiful."
"It was one helluva fund-raiser," said Tip O'Neill before leaving, "wasn't it?"