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Thanks for the Memories

Of all the roasts given to former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) at his farewell tribute dinner Tuesday night, one stood out.

Daschle and his wife, Linda Daschle, were said to be “so pleased” by the performance of Dave Nelson, a member of Daschle’s former security detail, who sang his own version of Bob Hope’s “Thanks for the Memories.” [IMGCAP(1)]

As Daschle’s longtime friend and national finance chairman Kappy McGarr put it, Nelson is “a lot like

‘American Idol,’ but with talent and a semi-automatic weapon.” Nelson has performed at several Congressional ceremonies and funerals, including that of the recently deceased Rep. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.), where Nelson sang “God Bless America.”

McGarr, the master of ceremonies for the Daschle dinner at the National Building Museum, explained why Nelson wouldn’t be singing that particular song on this night. “Not because Democrats don’t believe in God,” McGarr said. “In fact, if you carefully read the Bible and assume God was an American — and why shouldn’t we? — she would have been a Democrat.”

The Texas Democrat got even bigger laughs out of the assembled Democrats when he said: “I’m living proof that politicos from Texas can speak in full sentences.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) brought down the house when he recalled a conversation he had with Daschle during the South Dakotan’s brutal campaign last year: “I told Tom I’d do anything to help him. He smiled and he hugged me and said, ‘Thanks Ted — just stay a million miles away from South Dakota.’”

Drive On. Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) is unapologetic for his recent attack on “tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed” liberals who, he said, would be executed if they lived in Iraq or Afghanistan and who he suggested should be deployed as “human shields” in Iraq.

Gibbons issued a statement Wednesday defending, rather than apologizing for or clarifying, remarks he made at a Lincoln Day dinner in Elko, Nev. He said that as a Vietnam veteran who knows what it’s like to be ostracized by his own people, he was simply trying to defend and support U.S. troops “while the new generation of Jane Fondas — people like Michael Moore — deride their efforts.”

Last Friday in Elko, Gibbons delivered a passionate diatribe against Hollywood, liberal elites and others who might not meet his standard of patriotism. “We are here tonight not because of Rosie O’Donnell, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Jane Fonda or Phil Donahue — they never sacrificed their lives for us or for liberty,” Gibbons said, adding, “I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and whine somewhere else.”

Those hippies would be “put to death at the hands of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden,” he said. Gibbons said for those who wanted to go to Iraq and become human shields for the enemy, “I say it’s just too damn bad we didn’t buy them a ticket.”

It was all said for the soldiers, Gibbons said in Wednesday’s statement. “I support our troops, and I don’t apologize for that,” he said.

Skunk ’n’ Crowley. It’s not your typically sexy USO show, but it should be pretty cool, and pretty funny. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, former lead guitarist of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, will perform with Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) at 8:30 p.m. Friday night at the Hard Rock Café in Washington.

It isn’t every day that Crowley gets to play with an avid Republican like Baxter, who is a self-avowed missile-defense and foreign-policy hawk. The USO show’s sponsor, the Large Public Power Council, is also hopeful that funnyman Dan Aykroyd will join the event.

“The USO and our servicemen and women are a cause I feel strongly about supporting,” Crowley told HOH. “We plan on raising money for international phone cards and care packages in addition to launching a card and letter drive for soldiers. It also isn’t every day that I have a chance to play with a classic musician like Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter.”

No. 8. An HOH spy wondered why freshman Rep. Melissa Bean’s (D-Ill.) car was parked across the street from the Republican Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday. The car had an official Member’s license plate, this one from Illinois and sporting the lone number 8, referring to her district.

“We thought, what is Melissa Bean doing here?” one source who was at the Capitol Hill Club told HOH. The source soon realized the car wasn’t Bean’s — it belonged to the man Bean defeated in November, former Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.), who, not coincidentally, was spotted having lunch at the club.

A subsequent call to Bean’s office confirmed that, indeed, it was not her car parked across from the Republican hangout. She doesn’t have an official Member’s license plate. Or a car for that matter. “That’s not a perk that’s a priority for her,” her spokesman, Brian Herman, told HOH.

Repeating an oft-invoked campaign dig at Crane, Herman noted that Bean, unlike Crane, “spends all of her time in the district. She doesn’t live [in Washington], so she doesn’t need a car here.”

Bean used Crane’s Virginia residency and his sparse time back home as a weapon against him in the campaign. Republicans like to point out, however, that Bean doesn’t live in the district she represents. Her home is just outside the lines of Illinois’ 8th district.

HOH was unable to reach Crane to find out when he plans to switch back to a “civilian” license plate.

Cedric and Desperate Housewives. Invitations went in the mail Wednesday for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, scheduled for April 30. The big — really big — headline entertainer this year is actor and comedian Cedric the Entertainer.

Ron Hutcheson, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said Cedric’s manager promised “lots of good stuff on Clinton.” To which Hutcheson said, “Don’t let Bush completely off the hook!”

We hear the sideline entertainment at ABC’s table could be as big a hit as Cedric. Sources say longtime ABC White House correspondent Ann Compton is angling to get the stars of “Desperate Housewives” to come as the network’s guests.

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