Well, I have just been to the belly of the beast of the Washington schmoozacracy. Tonight CNN -- or maybe it was AOLTimeWarner? -- threw a coming out bash for the new Crossfire starring Jim Carville, Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak. The party was held at Carville's restaurant West Twentyfour, which as you can see actually has its own website. I know this because there were little Crossfire goody-bags for guests as they left and somehow in my then-state of semi-drunkenness it occurred to me that it was somehow a terribly good idea to take two goody-bags instead of just one. So now I have two Crossfire mugs, two Crossfire baseball hats, two CNN pens, two one-week memberships to some health club and two postcards for Carville's restaurant which have the restaurant's website.
Normally I wouldn't mention this or feel particularly guilty. But Walter Isaacson, the head of CNN, was there. And the parent company just reported today that it lost $54.2 billion last quarter so probably he didn't want to spend any more on the goody-bags than he absolutely needed to. And I don't want him to get called on the carpet by the bigs at AOL or anything. I mean, Isaacson's got enough to worry about getting slapped around by the likes of Tom DeLay and Trent Lott up on the Hill to have to worry about this sort of thing.
Anyway, what surprised me is that you'd at least think there would be some sort of bizarre cajun food served given the owner and so forth. But no dice! No crawdads, no spicy, slimy things in big bowls, no po'boys, nuthin! It was garden variety seemingly-catered lunch meats, so-so cheeses, and bottles of Budweiser, among other things.
Anyway, I tried to chat up Lloyd Grove, the gossip columnist for the Washington Post, to see if he'd give me any insights on how to write up this sort of event. But he was clearly keeping all the professional secrets pretty close to the vest. So that wasn't much help.
I also spent quality time people watching with my talk radio host friend Victoria Jones who somehow got left out in the cold in a recent schedule reshuffle by those idiots at WMAL radio in DC. And that was a lot of fun.
McCain was there, Chris Shays, John Dingell of all people, Walter Isaacson, a few White House folks, more than a few Clinton folks, a slew of other people and an array of late twenty- and early-thirty-something Washington types hitting on each other and chatting each other up. Your standard coven of press secretaries and TV producers.
The people who were most eager to talk to me were the ones trying to get me to spill the beans on who my sources were for the article on Al Gore that I wrote in Salon a couple weeks back. Just a note to my treasured sources: needless to say I did not rat you out, even in the face of various blandishments.
What was striking was how many Gore 2000 veterans there tonight told me the piece was right on the mark, which is telling on many levels.
(On the other hand, take a look at this new Zogby poll which shows that Gore's recent round of speeches and appearances has pushed him back into a commanding lead over his 2004 Dem rivals. This is both a sign of Gore's strength and the inherent slipperiness of these numbers at such an early point in the cycle.)
Beside that it's all a blur of cheap red wine, Budweiser and prosciutto.