WASHINGTON (AP) – It was theater of the practically absurd Saturday night as image-conscious Washington journalists traded their conservative clothes for outlandish costumes in an annual rite of song, dance and tongue-in-cheekness that is the Gridiron Club political dinner. Now in its 121st year, the Gridiron claims to “singe, but never burn.”

On the hot seat again was Vice President Dick Cheney, who was to watch the extravaganza from the audience. His accidental shooting of a lawyer friend on a hunting trip was a source of laughter during the show’s rehearsal.

“I’ve thought about repentin’ and giving up my gun, but there’s a lot of folks who’d like to do what I have done,” sang a reporter dressed in hunting garb with orange vest. “‘Cause I bagged myself a lawyer for my trophy shelf. If that annoys the press corps, you can go hunt yourself.”

Revealing previously unknown presidential ambitions, a pretend Lynne Cheney sang that she can handle Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “without thinking twice.”

“So if you want a Cheney, well there aren’t that many,” she sang. “Run me.”

Democrats didn’t have an easier time, as they were mocked for being in disarray over the party’s message and strategy, its position on the Iraq war and even whom to field for president in 2008.

“What do we stand for? We don’t know. What’s our platform? We ain’t sure. All we know is Dubya’s got it wrong,” reporters sang, using a nickname for President Bush.

The travails of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California also came in for a ribbing.

“This job is a zoo, I don’t have a clue,” a reporter sang. But then “Dubya messed up with the ports. I don’t know why, but thank you, Dubai.”

President Bush – the real one – was making his fifth appearance and speech at the white-tie dinner.

The real Lynne Cheney and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama represented the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively. It was the first time a vice president’s wife had done so.

“I want everyone here to note that I’m wearing pink for this occasion, pink, the color of soothing, softening and reconciliation,” Lynne Cheney said in prepared remarks. “Lately it’s become Dick’s favorite color – replacing his old favorite, terror-alert red.”

In his prepared remarks, Obama alluded to a recent spat with Sen. John McCain over ethics reform. Obama was the lead Democrat on the issue, which has been a signature cause of the Arizona senator.

“It’s a little like being given the Kryptonite concession at a Superman convention,” Obama said.

Reporters dressed as sick chickens for a bird flu skit, as the Incredible Hulk to poke fun at Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who likes to wear a Hulk tie while waging fights in the Senate, and as Cheney hidden behind a Darth Vader mask.

Founded in 1885, the invitation-only Gridiron Club is the oldest organization for Washington journalists. It exists only for the annual dinner.

On the Net:

Gridiron Club: http://www.gridironclub.org

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.