Welcome to the Smart Set. Every morning we bring you the gossip coverage, filtered. Today: Tucker Carlson big, emotional book party for Jack Abramoff, President Obama finds Australian slang delightful, and the Justin Bieber paternity suit has been quietly dropped.
- Tucker Carlson hosted a book party last night for disgraced, but on-the-rebound lobbyist Jack Abramoff at his home in Northwest D.C., a week after Abramoff's Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist arrived in stores. As for Carlson's involvement, the Daily Caller editor-in-chief says he knew Abramoff socially, but the two haven't been close friends in some time. So why throw a a party and invite reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Times, The Hill, Roll Call, Talking Points Memo, and Politico into your home, where you keep your fancy olives? Carlson explained:
"I’m doing it for two reasons, both of which are totally heartfelt, both of which are totally heartfelt. And the first is that I think Jack is a genuinely nice person, whatever you have read or seen, and I think the book will give evidence of this. There is a decency that emanates from him, despite all of the accounts. I have experienced it personally and I think it’s real and I’m willing to vouch for that. So I’m impressed with anybody in Washington who exudes that level of kindness to other people."
For the sake of argument, we'll buy that, although the various Indian tribes Abramoff and his associates overcharged by $85 million might think otherwise. Carlson continues:
“And the other reason, as a matter of personal philosophy, I don’t trust anyone who hasn’t been humiliated in public, and I say that as someone who’s been on Dancing With the Stars*. [*For one week.] But more that that, I say that as someone who’s philosophically committed to the truth that, unless you fail, and I don’t mean in a minor, ‘I didn’t live up to my personal expectations today’ kind of way, but in a real way, where your neighbors avert their gaze, when you pull into your driveway at night, when people think you’re a loser.... People who have been through that, and Jack has, understand something about the world that those who haven’t do not, and I respect that and I want to honor that, especially in a city that is given to quick and phony judgments of other people, whose underlining point is, ‘I’m better than him.’ I raise a middle finger to those people and I raise a glass to Jack Abramoff and I’m proud to do so."
Abramoff was moved, thanking his publicist Janet Fallon and wife Pam, in that order, for sticking with him. After blowing the doors off of K Street (or at least rattling some cages), Abramoff told revelers he's happy to have made so many left-leaning new friends since getting out of prison. "I used to be a right-wing guy who sort of disdained the New York Times, 60 Minutes and Michael Moore," he explained. "Now, I’m happy to be on 60 Minutes, I love the pieces in the New York Times and Michael Moore is my new best friend."
- President Barack Obama touched down in Canberra today to discuss strengthening military ties between the U.S. and Australia. Technically, because the local time is just past 1 a.m. Thursday, Obama travelled a day ahead in time to meet with the Aussies, just like in The Time Traveler's Wife. During his brief dinner remarks on future Wednesday night (our future, Australia's past), the president certainly seemed to be enjoying himself and the local slang. By our count, he managed to use "give it a burl, "chinwag," "earbashing," "sticky wickets, "no worries, she'll be right," "spot-on," "crackerjack" and "in top nick" during the speech [Pool reports]
- Mariah Yeater has dropped her paternity suit against Justin Bieber. According to TMZ, it all happened sometime late last week, with Bieber about to make his return to the U.S., when he was scheduled to take a paternity test. What's more, Yeater's two lawyers have also withdrawn from the case. These are the results you get when you're legal team announces plans to "vigorously pursue all available legal remedies to protect" a client, and then does so, as opposed to feeding him to Bob Costas on two-minute's notice. [TMZ]
- Character-actress-of-a-certain age Ellen Barkin is romancing Sam Levinson, the 26-year-old son of director Barry Levinson. The same Barry Levinson who gave Barkin her start in 1982 in the greatest of all movies, Diner. (Do not argue with us on this point.) Apparently, Levinson and his wife were "initially wary" of their wide-eyed son being taught the ways of the world by Ellen Barkin for some reason, but they've apparently warmed up to her over time, which used to be a specialty of Ellen Barkin characters. Presumably, she's still going to have to pass the Colts test before the family signs off on the marriage. [Page Six]
- Chelsea Handler might not be able to stop making money, but at least she's finding thoughtful, cash-only ways to spread the wealth to her staff. According to a source, when Handler inked a new 2-year deal with E! worth $25 million she gave "138 of her staffers $1,000 each, in cash, as a thank you." Hopefully everyone also received the proper forms for declaring that on their taxes. Or they grabbed the money and ran. [Page Six]