Despite the somber White House meeting ahead of him, Boehner opened with a joke, telling the audience, “I promise I will treat you the way Elizabeth Taylor treated her fifth husband, when she said, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t keep you long.’ ” He went on to praise the lobbyists in the room and all they do to promote business and “defend the American dream.” Boehner didn’t discuss the budget negotiations, though he reiterated his frequent refrain that the size of the national debt is “immoral.”
Senators Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl also attended. Kyl received the group’s public-sector award, bestowed upon an elected official that the foundation believes has demonstrated integrity and professionalism. During Lieberman’s introduction of Kyl, he managed to slip in jokes about the looming government shut-down, as well as . . . Viagra.
Lieberman told the gathered lobbyists that if they had noticed Hill staffers looking dazed lately, it was only because they were asking themselves, “Am I really essential?”—a reference to the fact that nonessential government employees won’t be able to work if the government shuts down. Lieberman also recalled speaking at an Alfalfa Club dinner at the same hotel during a period when campaign finance reform was a hot issue. During that speech, he said he joked that he had asked Pfizer if they could develop a version of Viagra that would turn soft money hard.
At least one room was laughing in Washington last night. Down the block at the White House, there likely weren’t many laughs as Boehner, Obama, and Reid failed to reach that compromise.
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