Sen. Chris Coons could soon seize the title as the funniest guy in Congress.
The freshman Delaware Senator stole the show at Wednesday night’s Washington Press Club Foundation dinner, held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest Washington. But while Coons had the audience cracking up, there were plenty of jabs taken at ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), who had suddenly resigned just a few hours earlier after what was perhaps the shortest scandal in Congressional history.
Coons was one of the featured speakers at the swanky dinner, alongside fellow frosh Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.). Coons told plenty of jokes about his diminutive stature — “I will be brief. I am always short,” he joked — and even a few about his lack of hair (although he did say he hoped to challenge Sen. Scott Brown (D-Mass.) for the title of sexiest Senator).
Coons wasn’t afraid to dis his own party for comedy’s sake, noting he had just returned from a Democratic gathering in Virginia. “I just drove up from Charlottesville, where the Democrats are in retreat,” he joked. “I”m sorry, at a retreat.”
Coons said he dabbled as a Republican during President Ronald Reagan’s early years in office — “I was young, everybody was doing it” — and recalled going to the State of the Union address with another Republican, Sen. John Boozman (Ark.). “Lots of awkward silences. Just like at my prom,” Coons joked.
Dinner emcee Jake Tapper, filling in at the last minute for ABC “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour, also had the audience in stitches. Tapper focused most of his jokes on Lee — HOH notes that while someone was heard shouting, “too soon,” several Members of Congress were spotted laughing at the expense of their former Congressional colleague.
While Coons clearly was the highlight of the evening, the other speakers had a few funny lines, although there were also a couple of awkward moments. Sewell made a joke about Rep. Mike Pence deciding not to run for president by asking, “Who will be the 10th-place winner in the Iowa caucus if not Mike Spence?” Oops.
Former “Real World” star Duffy screened a funny video spoof of the reality show called “Real House,” featuring Members of Congress taking jabs at each other. But his monologue wasn’t as well received — he made one remark directly to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), noting that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was about to be “out.” That drew lots of awkward sighs.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.