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Lynn Sweet: Bobby Jindal a hit; Obama teaches thirsty Marco Rubio a lesson at Gridiron Dinner

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Updated: April 12, 2013 6:32AM



WASHINGTON — Proving once again that there are second acts in politics, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — a potential 2016 contender — was a big hit Saturday night at the 128th annual Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, more than making up for his disastrous 2009 State of the Union speech.

Which of course he used as fodder, because the best political humor is self-deprecating — and Jindal had an abundance of material for the turn-around job.

The white-tie and gown affair hosted by the journalism group (disclosure: I’m a member) featured Jindal, speaking for Republicans; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) representing Democrats, and President Barack Obama.

Obama executed a suave put-down of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose 2013 State of the Union rebuttal is remembered by his lurching for a plastic bottle of water. Obama very unobtrusively took a drink from a glass during his remarks, pausing to let the sight gag sink in.

“That, Marco Rubio,” said Obama, “is how you take a sip of water.”

The long evening featured skits satirizing Republicans and Democrats performed by costumed club members interspersed with the speeches.

Jindal did nothing to douse 2016 talk.

Noting that some people ask him whether he intends to run for president, Jindal said, “My answer is I have no plans to run. I have made that clear over and over again. In Iowa. In New Hampshire and in South Carolina,” he said, naming the states with the first caucus and primaries.

After all, he said with faux modesty, “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion and a funny name have to get elected president of the United States.”

On a roll, Jindal compared himself with Obama.

He said earnestly that Obama and he had the “exact same campaign slogan years ago but unfortunately UPS sued both of us and made us stop using it. You remember our slogan, ‘What can Brown do for you?’ ”

Jindal was not afraid to stray into the bawdy lane.

Referring to former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford — who quit because of his Argentine mistress — and is now running for a House seat — Jindal said he was “so committed to outsourcing, he even shifted his wife’s job overseas,” a jab that drew groans from the audience.

Obama recently played golf with Tiger Woods — who had his own extramarital problems. “Tiger reportedly said that the president has, and I quote, ‘amazing touch.’ The last time Tiger said that he lost millions in endorsements and a hot Swedish wife,” Jindal said.

Klobuchar took to the podium with a “just asking” approach. “I don’t want to be judgmental, right from the start, but did anyone else notice that Bobby Jindal lip-synced his entire remarks?

The sequester — those automatic spending cuts that took effect because Congress and the White House could not agree on a spending and revenue deal — was grist for Obama.

“Because of sequester, they cut my tails. My joke writers have been placed on furlough,” Obama said.

Durbin: Running again in 2014

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will run for another term in 2014, I’m told, and is ramping up for a campaign with five fund-raisers here in the next two weeks.

Durbin is in no rush to make any official announcement.

He has held more than 20 fund-raisers since November, and as of Dec. 31, he had $2,590,707 cash-on-hand in his campaign fund.

Starting in early April, Durbin will step up his political travel, I’m told, speaking around the country for other Democrats and for himself.

Durbin, 68, the Senate’s assistant majority leader, was elected to the Senate in 1996 after serving in the House from 1982 to 1996.

Durbin has no opponent on the horizon.

Lisa Madigan’s big fund-raiser

Lisa Madigan, I’m told, now is very close to deciding to run for governor. She has a major fund-raiser set for March 18 at Wildfire, 159 W. Erie, with the price tiers running from $1,000 to $5,000. The theme is to mark her 10 years as Illinois’ attorney general — and all her accomplishments. In Washington recently, Madigan met with the League of Conservation Voters and her political chief, Gina Natale, huddled with Emily’s List.



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