Monday, June 27, 2005

Country air

One knows he’s escaped the political suffocation of Washington when the topic of conversation centers on compatible astrological signs instead of how President Bush is going to get our troops out of Iraq.

It’s feeling like August out there, which means Washingtonians are already heading west to escape the Beltway blues.

Photographers outnumbered familiar faces Saturday night at the Oasis Winery in Hume, Va., where DC Style magazine and California winemaker Robert Mondavi co-hosted a “Sunset at the Oasis” celebration of the Supreme Court’s reversal of a long-standing law prohibiting wineries from shipping directly to out-of-state consumers.

The court’s decision was no better demonstrated to several hundred partygoers, dressed in “wine country elegant” attire, when three UPS delivery men (they remained clad in their brown uniforms) suddenly appeared and handed Oasis owner Tareq Salahi, who was in the middle of his toast, several cases of Blue Rock wine shipped from California.

Mr. Salahi said the Supreme Court ruling is a “tremendous boon” to wineries nationwide, which “band together like family.” Wine has been produced in Virginia for nearly 400 years, so the state and its winemakers took the lead in arguing for high-court intervention.

In addition to the free-flowing Oasis wine and champagne, the highlight of the evening was a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played by Neil Schone, founder of Journey.

Meanwhile, that same evening at the Ragged Rock Ridge Regnery Family Farm in Madison, Va., American Spectator publishers Bob Tyrrell and Al Regnery hosted their magazine’s first American Spectator Pig Roast and Bluegrass Festival.

“Spouses, friends, children, dogs, and any other hangers-on who need an afternoon in the country are welcome,” read the invitation, which offered “swimming in the pond, fishing, walks in the woods, horseback riding, hayrides, square dancing, and country air.”

Mr. Regnery, as adept at farming as he is at publishing, led a hayride around the 50-acre property. (American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene chose to steer an ATV, with an unnamed reporter hanging on in the back for dear life.)

Among those feasting on the 75-pound pig: Judge Ray Randolph, of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Military response

We’d written in our previous column about an offensive sign out in front of Casa Furniture in Alexandria, which we suspected might lure undocumented aliens to the store to buy a new sofa or mattress.

“Credito Sin Papele sde Gringos,” the misspelled sign read.

Translation: “Credit Without Gringos’ Papers.”

Several hours after our item appeared, Air Force Capt. Peter Sheeran drove past the store and noted that the sign’s message had been removed.

“But it’s good they changed it,” he says. “I was seriously contemplating going in there in full uniform and raising a stink with the manager, or whoever else was there.”

Going co-ed

Certainly, George Washington University is happy that CNN is staying on campus, despite the recent demise of “Crossfire.”

The network’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, will be joined by a live GW studio audience in Washington when an expanded version of “On the Story” — launched in 2003 as a forum for the network’s female correspondents to compare notes on the major stories they cover each week — moves to 7 p.m. Saturdays, starting July 9.

Now, CNN’s Edie Emery tells us, the one-hour program will include male correspondents. The network is also promising “never-before-seen raw footage” from the front lines of the Iraq war and other global hot spots, to go along with reporters’ diaries and questions from viewers and the studio audience at GW.

That said, the final episode of “The Capital Gang” aired this past Saturday night after an impressive 16-year run.

Watching grass grow

While everybody else was relaxing in the countryside Saturday, Christopher Cooper of the Wall Street Journal was stuck with White House duty, which was anything but thrilling as we read in his subsequent White House pool report:

“Departed 9:30 for Patuxent [for President Bush‘s bike ride] with trucks and bikes. Sat at gate. Back at White House at 11:25. Never saw the man.

“Watched crew dig up dead tree in north lawn. Saw new tree sitting on stakebed truck.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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