Photo: Capital, Washington, DC
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March 2005

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, on a rooftop patio, downtown DC at dusk, the Capitol Dome is ringed in spotlights, glowing white in borrowed luminescence against the orange and purple of sunset. It is backdrop for an NSAI function, a barbecue and open bar, celebrating the passage of some bill which shifts some tax burden onto someone else's shoulders, food, spirits, and song for the faithful foot soldiers.

I'm wearing a T-shirt that has “Leaders Only Follow” written above a waving Old Glory, a series of corporate logos replacing her stars, at a party held for Republican lobbyists. It's a little chilly though, so I'm wearing it under a long sleeved shirt. Under a jacket. I'm sweating a little at load in, but not nearly as much as I would be without the jacket. I'm thinking this might not be the best place to play “Steal the Cow”. Unlikely anyway, since I'm at this function solely to help lug sound equipment.

Two Nashville boys trade country songs on a makeshift stage, to the general indifference of a crowd of young power brokers, movers and shakers in the larval stage, flappers in training for the 110th Congress. The men are razor cut and power tied, the women, God! the women are all but sculpted, they are ab-crunched and thigh master toned, poured into wool skirts and jacked up onto three-inch heels.

The Nashville guys start cranking, backing up each other, “Forever and Ever Amen”, “Ain't Nothin 'Bout You”, “She Thinks my Tractor's Sexy”, and I ask the sound guy why they would sing cover songs at an NSAI event.

“Those aren't covers,” he tells me. “These guys wrote those songs.”

Rivers Rutherford & Paul Overstreet flew in on their own dime for this show, and when Randy Travis and Brooks & Dunn cover your songs, you've got some dimes to cover the fare. They came to honor the co-sponsors of this bill, one of them Katherine Harris. Harris walks in late, a trail of larval flappers in her wake, taking the time to shake every hand in the room, including mine.

Up close, the woman who gave Florida to Bush in 2000 is charming. Also sculpted, crunched, toned, poured and jacked squared, a stone fox.

I imagine her in a “Leaders Only Follow” T-shirt. It helps.