Press Tries Political Humor At Gridiron Dinner

By: Lawrence L. Knutson, Associated Press Writer

(AP) The journalists of Washington’s Gridiron Club distilled political humor Saturday from a harrowing year of terrorism, anthrax, corporate bankruptcy, and war.

President Bush, the 20th president to be singed on the Gridiron since 1885, endured a white-tie evening of musical skits set in places ranging from Guantanamo Bay to Vice President Dick Cheney’s “undisclosed secure location.”

Cheney’s secret shelter is a place much like “Hernando’s Hideaway.”

“There is a dark, secluded place. A veep can sleep, without a trace. And no one ever sees his face — Dick Cheney’s hideaway!”

Delivering the annual dinner’s traditional lights-out “speech in the dark,” Gridiron president Marianne Means of Hearst Newspapers said, “A year ago we didn’t even know there was an axis of evil.

“Now we do: Enron, Arthur Andersen, and Global Crossing.”

Later, the “axis of evil” was redefined as the skating judges at the Winter Olympics.

Opening the evening, Gridiron members stripped away the black burka concealing a captured “terrorist,” revealing veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, said to have terrorized every president since John F. Kennedy.

Freed from the burka, Thomas serenaded the current president with a chorus of “Hell-ooo Dubya.”

The anthrax scare was recalled in a tribute to Cipro, the antibiotic tablet.

“Now when we go up to the Hill, we take precautions. This little pill. A patriotic antibiotic. We’re taking Cipro.”

Those seeking business advantage from the war got this serenade, to the tune of “What a Wonderful World”:

“I see stacks of green, tax breaks in sight, business is good, when soldiers fight. And I say to myself, what a lucrative war.”

The Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners being held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba were not forgotten as the band played the theme from “Cabaret”:

“We’ll feed you Fruit Loops and granola. Would you like a Coca-Cola? … Welcome to Gitmo Bay, old chum, welcome to Camp X-Ray.”

Attorney General John Ashcroft was found to have a few “Favorite Things.” They include: “Secret tribunals and racial profiling, intimate things that I find so beguiling, listening in when your telephone rings, these are a few of my favorite things.”

For one song, at least, reporters trained the cannons on themselves:

“Pompous pundits from the press, here to whine and second-guess. We dodged the war in ’68. Now we’re at war: The Fourth Estate.”

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