Thursday, March 16, 2006



Thank you very much:

It's great to be at the Gridiron dinner. Wow, What an extravaganza! Men in tails. Women in gowns. An orchestra playing, as folks reminisce about the good old days. Kind of like dinner at the Kerrys.

Nice to see you Mr. President and Mrs. Bush. I think it takes a great spirit for the President, who we all know is an early riser, to sit here until midnight and hear himself lampooned, when he could be back at the White House enjoying a quiet, peaceful night, watching TV and approving secret wiretaps.

I don't see the Secretary of State is here tonight. You know, the President promised a muscular foreign policy. And anyone who's seen the Condi Rice workout tapes knows he means business.

The truth is, I'm terrified to be here. Not because you're such a tough audience, but because they're serving drinks, I'm standing about 30 yards from the Vice President, and…Mr. Vice President this is too easy!

Mr. Vice President, I know you came here expecting to be a target, which, it turns out, may prove easier for you than shooting at one. But I do want to thank you: for years, we Democrats have succeeded in doing little more than shooting ourselves in the foot. You've taught us a valuable lesson: aim higher.

There's probably only one person more sick of these jokes than you… and that's your wife. It's an honor to share this stage with Lynne Cheney -- a great personage in her own right. Scholar. Author. A few years ago she wrote a book called, “Telling the Truth,” or as they call it in the Vice President's office, “Telling the Truth-24 hours later.”

The Vice President and I do have one thing in common, we both married up. I want to acknowledge my wife, Michelle, who is here tonight. This is a true story: a friend sent me a clip about a new study by a psychologist at the University of Scotland, who says sex before a public speaking engagement actually enhances your oratorical powers. I showed this clip to Michelle, before we arrived here tonight. She looked it over, handed it back and said, “Do the best you can!”

This appearance is really the capstone of an incredible 18 months. I've been very blessed. Keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention. The cover of Newsweek. My book made the best-seller list. I just won a Grammy for reading it on tape. And I've had the chance to speak not once but twice before the Gridiron Club. Really what else is there to do? Well, I guess…. I could pass a law, or something…

About that book, some folks thought it was a little presumptuous to write an autobiography at the age of 33, but people seemed to like it. So now I'm working on volume two-the Senate Months.

My Remarkable Journey from 99th in Seniority to 98th.

(With an introduction by Nelson Mandela.)

Believe me, when you're the last guy to ask questions at every committee hearing, you have plenty of time to collect your thoughts. Especially when Joe Biden's on the committee.

I'll tell you, that Grammy was a big surprise. I thought, for sure, Jack Abramoff would win for his rendition of “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

As I said, it's great to be here speaking opposite Lynne Cheney. As you may know, Mrs. Cheney was a late substitution for Senator John McCain. And speaking of Senator McCain.

This whole ethics thing has been an adventure. I was really excited when they asked me to be the lead Democratic spokesman. But I don't know. Turns out, it's a little like being given the Kryptonite concession at a Superman convention. I mean, how did I know it was a freshman hazing? It gets a little depressing. So as I sometimes do when I get a little down, I wrote a song. Maestro?

(To the tune of “If I Only Had a Brain”)

I'm aspiring to greatness, but somehow I feel weightless
A freshman's sad refrain
I could be a great uniter, making ethics rules much tighter
If I only had McCain

I could bring us all together, no storm we couldn't weather,
We'd feel each other's pain
Red and blue wouldn't matter, party differences would shatter
If I only had McCain

Oh why is it so hard, for honest men of good will to agree,
If we ever found a way to strike a deal, would we survive… politically?

When a wide-eyed young idealist, confronts a seasoned realist
There's bound to be some strain
With the game barely started, I'd be feeling less downhearted
If I only had McCain

Still I hope for the better, though I may rewrite my letter
Cause I gotta have McCain

Needless to say, my Grammy was in the spoken word category!

I should say that I really do get along well with Senator McCain. But as you know, not everyone in politics does. Because of his superstar status, his virtuous image, the kind of hero worship treatment he gets from all of you, some of my colleagues call John a prima donna. Me? I call him a role model. (Think of it as affirmative action. Why should the white guys be the only ones who are overhyped?)

By the way, before I forget, raise your hand if Karl Rove didn't tell you about Valerie Plame?

You know, The Gridiron Club is an aging institution with a long, proud history, known today primarily for providing a forum for jokes. To some, that may sound like the Democratic Party.

You hear this constant refrain from our critics that Democrats don't stand for anything. That's really unfair. We DO stand for anything.

Some folks say the answer for the Democratic Party is to stop being so calculating, and start standing up for principle. In fact, Harry Reid's appointed a task force to study this option.

But really, they say our party doesn't have ideas? We have ideas.

Take John Edwards. He's leading a new war on poverty… from his Chapel Hill estate. And he's educating us. I had no idea there was so much poverty in New Hampshire!

Speaking of New Hampshire, a lot of speculation that that 2008 campaign could come down to Senator McCain and Hillary Clinton. The thing I don't think people realize is how much John and Hillary have in common: They're both very smart. Both very hardworking. And they're both hated by the Republicans!

A lot of folks want to be President, but, I mean, wow, it really has been a rough period for you, Mr. President. I missed the Oscars, so when I picked up the paper the next morning and saw “Crash” in the headlines, I just assumed it was another Bush poll story.

And how about that ports deal? I feel for you, sir. It's tough getting trapped in a storm, when no one comes up to help!

And then there's the flap about global warming. You know, the Bush Administration's been a little skeptical about the whole concept of global warming. It's actually not the warming part they question. It's the globe.

The President was so excited about Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat. As soon as he saw the title, he said, “You see, I was right!”

But when people say the administration is hostile to science, that's really a bad rap. Just last week they asked for a hundred million dollars for the NIH to fund new research into leech therapy.

I was told that this dinner is off-the record… no taping or recording of this event, unless, of course, secretly authorized by the President.

I completely trust the President with that authority, by the way. But just out of an abundance of caution, and not implying anything, I've asked my staff to conduct all phone conversations in the Kenyan dialect of Luo.

Truth is, this domestic spying has all kinds of useful applications for Homeland Security. And I have a suggestion, in this regard, Mr. President: You can spy on the Weatherchannel, and find out when big storms are coming.

You all watch the winter Olympics? Mrs. Bush was there, representing our country, and that was great. I'm sure a lot of us in politics were following that figure skating, because we can identify with performers who spin wildly and sometimes fall on their butts.

And the curling. Wasn't that something? I hear Andy Stern from the SEIU loved the curling so much he's trying to organize the sweepers.

I also enjoyed that biathlon, where they ski and shoot at the same time. Probably not your sport, Mr. Vice President.

Hey, it's been great fun to be a part of this tonight. But before I go, I want to say a few words about the work you do.

For a democracy to succeed and flourish, people must have full and free access to information about what's going on in their world and, yes, in their government.

The framers of the Constitution understood that, which is why the very first amendment deals with the indispensable freedoms of speech and press. Those rights, those freedoms, the access to information citizens absolutely require in a democratic society are no less important today.

Pursuing that information is not always easy. Sometimes you meet resistance from powerful institutions that would sooner operate in secrecy. And sometimes, as in Iraq, you literally risk your lives to keep the American people informed.

Tonight, even as we laugh together, I want to thank you for that important and often courageous work and extend my prayers to those journalists and their families who have made and continue to make great sacrifices to fulfill this essential mission.

And most of all, I want to thank you for all the generous advance coverage you've given me in anticipation of a successful career. When I actually do something, we'll let you know.

Thanks for having me!


Blogger XTCfan said...

And how about that ports deal? I feel for you, sir. It's tough getting trapped in a storm, when no one comes up to help!

Wow. I would have loved to have been there, just to watch Bush as he listened to this. He had to be pissed, no matter how he presented himself.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Lance Mannion said...

Damn. He's too funny to be President. Good presidents are witty. This speech is a Letterman monologue! Being this too funny is almost as bad as being too smart.

That's why Hillary's inevitable. She's not funny.

Neither is McCain.

George Allen is a joke, but that's another thing.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

God, don't get me started on George Allen!

Al! I thought *this* was a joke when I read it -- I can't get over it was fo-real--

I woulda loved to have heard him, too.

But, when you think about it, isn't it just *so special* how jokey-jokey they can all be together.


4:14 PM  
Blogger isabelita said...

I'm wary of Obama, for the very thing you mentioned, blue girl: He's way too joker joe-y with this lot of psychotic fuckwads in power.
He'll get corrupted, sooner or later.
He spoke out here in Seattle, right in the 'hood, at Garfield High School. From the sound of it, his address was serious, earnest, convincing. But he was courting Black voters.
I want to think there can be a person with the potential to be a good leader out there, but the money involved pollutes the enterprise from the get-go.

1:30 PM  

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