The satire show put on by the 109-year-old Gridiron Club of Washington may once again have boosted a public figure's career. A young John F. Kennedy caught national attention with his show of wit. Nancy Reagan one year did wonders for her image by appearing in rags and singing ``Second-hand Rose.'' This year Vice President Gore scored big, very big.
Everyone has heard what a crashing bore Al Gore is. Well, you aren't going to hear that much any more, maybe not at all.
He was so funny the other night that one can't recreate it in words. To say that he was wheeled on the stage on a dolly, stiff as a wax dummy, and then propped up behind the podium doesn't portray the zaniness of his performance. The ``dull'' Al Gore is history - certainly for the major imagemakers of top politicians, Washington's leading journalists, most of whom witnessed and applauded the transformation.
The president didn't hurt his image either. By now people across the country have seen the video he showed the audience - with the Clintons in the starring roles as they spoofed the ``Harry and Louise'' health-care commercials. It went over so well that the president ``leased'' the video to the TV networks the next day, thus in a rather harmless way breaking the rule that barred cameras from recording the show.
The Clintons appeared to be enjoying everything as they viewed the skits put on by the Gridiron members. Mrs. Clinton seemed particularly tickled when Helen Thomas, playing the part of the First Lady, sang to the tune of ``Bill'':
``I always used to fantasize
``He'd be one of those Reagan kind of guys
``With a mind that's bright and a will that's strong,
``But I can't complain,
``It's easy to explain
``Why he's my fan,
``He loves me because ... the truth is
``That I made Bill First Man.''
The president either enjoyed it or played the part of someone enjoying it. He smiled a bit, nodding his head to the music.
Sitting next to me was someone named Ed Rollins, who was said to have ended his career as a political consultant by ``admitting'' at a Monitor breakfast he had been active in ``suppressing'' the black vote in a New Jersey election. Rollins later recanted. But the Gridironers evidently took him at his first word as they conducted an ``Ed Rollins Sing Along'' to the tune of ``Matilda'':
Soloist: In New Jersey election day
Republicans told me stay away
Ed Rollins, he pay me money to hold down the
Chorus : Ed Rollins
Soloist: Sing a little louder!
Chorus : Ed Rollins
Soloist: Let me hear you holler!
Chorus : Ed Rollins, he pay me money to hold down the
On the next verse the audience was asked to join in, and I noticed that Rollins was singing too. But Rollins barely lost out on what might be called ``Good sport of the evening'' award to House GOP leader Bob Michel who surprised everyone by coming out of the audience to the stage to play himself with this parody on ``How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?''
``Maybe I wasn't known for my charisma.
``Maybe I never had a crop of hair.
``Maybe I'm stiff when posing for the camera.
``But I've never been a partisan doctrinaire.
``Many a thing I'd like to tell Newt Gingrich.
``If I could interrupt him graciously.
``I'd teach him how to act,
``Be civil and show tact,
``And stop his endless posing for TV.
``Then we would solve the problem of Newt Gingrich.
``He'd be a dull Republican like me!''
There were two standing ovations for Michel. It was that kind of a night.