Stars of the Senate were out in droves Wednesday night toasting two of their greats — Sens. Bob Dole and Howard Baker as part of the Bipartisan Policy Center's "A Century of Service" gala.
Being senators, there were lots of speeches. Vice President Joe Biden spoke, as did both current Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Former senators Trent Lott, Tom Daschle and Bill Frist had something to say, as did current senators Lamar Alexander and Pat Roberts.
But in the end, it was the honorees' turn, and boy did they win the evening. "One thing that was said tonight was true," said Dole, now 88, seated with a microphone in front of him. "Once you leave politics your approval rating goes straight up and people write you letters saying, 'I never liked you, you so-and-so, while you were in the Senate, but now, I think you're a pretty good guy. Please send me an autographed picture... of Elizabeth,'" he said, to huge laughs.
Baker, 86, also had a little fun. "To spare you the details of these remarks, having enjoyed all of them so far, in the best traditions of the Senate... I ask unanimous consent that my remarks be included in the record," he said grinning, crumpling up the pages he had prepared.
A few of the other senators had good cracks, too. For example, Daschle — even though the event was supposed to be in the spirit of bipartisanship — started out the evening with this: "Tonight we are here to honor two distinct, different Republicans and no I'm not talking about Mitt Romney," Daschle said.
And then there was Roberts from Dole's home state of Kansas. He had, by far, the most creative way to pay tribute — to the tune of "Sweet Caroline."
"Now I know the song, you know the song, and I'm going to need a little help from the audience here, I'm going to need a lot of help from the audience here, with apologies to Neil Diamond," Roberts said, before bursting out: "Sweet Robert Dole — Bob, Bob, Bob — Good times never seemed so good — So good, so good, so good." And the audience chimed in.