So a priest, a politician and his wife walk into a bar…

Newt and Callista Gingrich thought they were having a casual dinner with a small  group of friends — including a few priests — Sunday night when the driver gave a vague excuse and diverted the car to Georgetown. As they pulled up to Cafe Milano, the couple found 250 friends waiting outside of the restaurant for Newt’s surprise 70th birthday party.

Callista and Newt Gingrich dancing at his surprise 70th birthday party Sunday night at Café Milano. (Andrew Snow Photography)

As he got out of the car, the crowd shouted “Surprise!” — and it was: An emotional Gingrich teared up when he realized what was happening. How did organizers (longtime aides and friends) pull it off? By not telling Callista about the private party and swearing all the invitees to secrecy.

Inside, the walls were decorated with pictures of Gingrich through the years. A bagpipe player was on hand to honor his Scottish ancestry and the lavish buffet dinner included an open bar and a birthday cake in the shape of the U.S. Capitol. The guest list was personal: Gingrich’s daughters, grandchildren and sisters, Rep. Joe Barton and former House colleagues (Bob Livingston, Vin Weber, Bob Walker, Bob McEwen and Dan Lungren), and lots of staffers from his years as speaker and his presidential campaign.

The party was off-the record, but we’re told there were several live toasts and three videos: A serious tribute to his life, a comic riff with an Obama impersonator asking, “How old is Newt?” and a celebrity video with Piers Morgan, Donald Trump, Fred Thompson, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and other VIPs toasting and roasted the birthday boy, who officially turned 70 Monday.

Gingrich got up after all the toasts to thank the crowd and assure them that, yes, he and Callista were totally surprised: “If only our government could keep a secret as well as you all did.”

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