Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg was the guest of honor –make that target — at the 28th Annual California Roast, but he wasn’t the only politician to come under fire in a raucous, ribald evening at the Radisson that left some in the audience wondering why the state’s political leaders weren’t this funny in the Capitol.
On stage were Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his chief of staff Susan Kennedy, Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, Senate GOP Leader Dennis Hollingsworth Assembly Speaker John Perez and master of ceremonies Sheila Kuehl, a former state senator. Kennedy, Perez and Kuehl are gay, and many of the put-downs were aimed their way.
The tart-tongued Kuehl introduced Schwarzenegger by reciting a litany of his failed ballot initiatives, and the governor responded with his fond memories of former Senate Leader John Burton. “John and I dated a lot of women, just like Sheila and Susan.” He noted that Perez, who is hefty, “is so big even his bathtub has stretch marks.”
It went downhill from there.
There were jokes about the replica of bull’s balls that Schwarzenegger gave Steinberg as a gift, jokes from the cigar-smoking Kennedy about her reputation for “smoking, drinking and chasing women,” and her take on budget negotiations between Steinberg and Schwarzenegger: “It’s like Abbot and Costello doing ‘Who’s on First?’ in German with Yiddish subtitles.”
One politico quipped about the diversity on stage: “Add a construction worker and a guy in an Indian head-dress, and we’ve got the Village People.”
Hollingsworth told the audience of several hundred guests that he didn’t believe it when heard that Perez, an East L.A. labor organizer, was gay.
“Next, you’ll be telling me that there are gay Republicans from Bakersfield,” he said.