Incredibly, I was not invited to the forthcoming inauguration. But I did attend the last one, and wrote an authoritative report, which appears in the "extended entry" section below, assuming we can get the "extended entry" thing to work.
Published in the Miami Herald Sunday, January 21, 2001
BY DAVE BARRY, Herald Columnist
WASHINGTON -- Every four years, this stodgy city kicks off its wingtip shoes. Then it puts on shoes that are even less comfortable, and celebrates the inauguration of a president.
And so the federal government - as only the federal government knows how - has gone into Festivity Implementation and Facilitation Mode. Unfortunately, the weather was awful. But the rain, freezing temperatures and occasional death from exposure have not put a damper on the inauguration and its upbeat theme: ``We're Cold, And We're Wet.''
No, seriously, the official theme, as far as I can tell, is: ``We're Texans, And By God We're From Texas!'' This place is infested with Texans, who simply cannot get over how Texan they are. Many of them are wearing cowboy hats, though I suspect they're mainly business people who have never personally interacted with a cow that was not in the form of prime rib.
So the new administration will definitely have a ``Texas style,'' as opposed to the old administration, which had an ``Arkansas style.'' The Washington news media have made a big deal out of this changeover, although in fact there is no discernible difference between the two styles, both of which basically consist of people going: ``Whooo-EEE!''
Speaking of Arkansas style: Bill Clinton had a very classy final full day in office, didn't he? Mr. Legacy signed a deal with the special prosecutor in which he finally came clean and admitted, in no uncertain terms, that he - to quote from his statement - ``may or may not have said things under oath that may or may not have been less than totally truthful, or possibly not, depending on how you define `not.' '' Mr. Clinton also admitted to ``a possible involvement'' in four convenience-store robberies. Of course, these blemishes on his record must be weighed against the many accomplishments of his administration, which, according to the estimated 450 farewell speeches given by Mr. Clinton, include peace, prosperity, gravity, pasteurization, the plow and Handel's Messiah.
But the focus now is on our new president, George W. Bush III Jr., who, along with his gracious wife, Mrs. George W. Bush III Jr., has been attending numerous inaugural balls, which are real Washington-style fun-a-paloozas.
I attended a hot-ticket ball hosted by The Texas State Society for 9,000 paying guests and several head of actual cattle. I am searching for a way to tell you how much fun this ball was. OK, try this: Imagine that you're at a major airport on a Friday night, and all the flights have been canceled, so that thousands of travelers are jammed together in long, jostling, increasingly hostile lines for food, drink, bathrooms, escalators, everything. Now imagine that everybody is wearing formal clothes, and the atmosphere is 97 percent hairspray fumes, and every few seconds somebody, who always seems to be right next to your ear, shouts ``Whooo-EEE!''
That's the kind of fun we were having. This ball was so crowded that it took me -- a trained professional journalist with vast experience in this area -- 45 minutes to get a beer. I am fervently hoping that the highest domestic priority of the new administration will be: more bartenders.
In between balls, they held the actual inauguration ceremony, featuring music by rap star Eminem.
No, seriously, it featured traditional patriotic tunes, played by the traditional band of military people armed with tubas. The ceremony was very dignified, except when Al Gore, understandably, lost control, and Barbara Bush had to cold-cock him with the Bush family Bible. After that, George W. took the oath of office; he did this flawlessly, except for ending with the words ``so help me, Rhonda.'' Then he read a nice speech in which he pointed out - correctly, in my view - that the future lies ahead. Then it was . . . back to the balls!
Call me corny, but seeing this in person -- this orderly transfer of the greatest power on Earth -- made me feel something that I have never felt before. I think it might be frostbite.