- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

So how does a self-styled “roughneck” from the South get ready for a black-tie gala in the nation’s capital?

“With a lot of help from my wife,” sighed country singer Trace Adkins, who titled his 2007 book, “A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions From a Freethinking Roughneck.”

Along with actor Gary Sinise and comedian Lewis Black, Mr. Adkins brought some star power to Wednesday night’s USO Gala, where he was hard to miss with his scruffy beard, cowboy hat and towering frame at the predinner reception.

He may be “rough,” but he certainly proved a charming host as he warmly greeted guests (we heard lots of “Thank you, ma’ams”) and posed for snapshots.

We had a few minutes with the singer, best known for hits including “Ladies Love Country Boys” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” to dish about politics, although he volunteered that “I’ve never wanted to use the stage or my voice as a soapbox.”

When we asked the native Louisianian, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., about the Louisiana Senate race between incumbent Republican David Vitter and Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon, Mr. Adkins admitted he had not been following the race closely but did volunteer that Mr. Vitter “has completely damaged his reputation and his credibility,” referring to the senator’s telephone number being found on a client list of “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey in 2007.

If it’s any consolation, Mr. Vitter, Mr. Adkins is not too fond of your Democratic colleague Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, either.

In fact, it seems as if he’s just fed up with both parties.

“I lean hard to the right but don’t have much affinity for Republicans anymore, either,” he confided. “I think they’re a bunch of [wimps].”

With that shocker, we let him go back to the elegant cocktail reception’s receiving line.

The name of the pros

Across town at the National Museum of the American Indian, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, and former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican, were being honored for their roles in procuring federal funding and support for building the museum, which opened five years ago to educate the public about the historical legacy of American Indians.

During his remarks, Sen. Inouye admitted he had little knowledge of Indian culture until he began reading books about American Indian massacres, which prompted his concern for the well-being and sovereignty of tribes throughout his career.

After he spoke to the crowd, we asked the soft-spoken senator for his thoughts on the name Redskins — offensive to many American Indian groups — for our local gridiron heroes.

“It’s been part of our culture for a long time, hasn’t it?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t find it offensive after all these years.”

The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on this subject in the coming months.

“I’ve heard a lot about it,” Skins quarterback Jason Campbell told us when we bumped into him earlier in the week. “I heard it’s been taken to court. The Supreme Court is going to handle it the way they handle it. The players and the coaches just go out and do our job every Sunday.”

Asked what name he would suggest instead, Mr. Campbell paused and admitted, “I don’t know.”

Leave that to the lawyers and marketing people, Mr. C. You just do your thing.

Latin hearts afire

Speaking of cultural influences, we hear the White House will get some Latin flavor on Tuesday, when stars including Eva Longoria Parker join the president and first lady on the South Lawn for “In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina.” The Desperate Housewife will co-host the Tuesday concert with her fellow television stars George Lopez and Jimmy Smits.

The event, airing on PBS on Thursday at 8 p.m., also will include Marc Anthony, Pete Escovedo, Gloria Estefan, Jose Feliciano, Thalia, Tito “El Bambino”, the bachata music group Aventura and the Chicano rock band Los Lobos. Sheila E. will be the music director.

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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