Posted: May 7, 2012


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

It took a fake newsman to set the record straight.

Ed Asner himself, famous as the editor known as Lou Grant on a couple of television shows, was the surprise guest star Saturday evening in Wilmington at the annual political roast known as the First State Gridiron Dinner & Show.

Asner was here because he is friends with Sharon Baker, who runs the Teleduction video company and moonlights as a Gridiron cast member.

Asner did a riff on his old character, except this was Lou Grant channeling Clint Eastwood with get-off-my-lawn ire.

Asner pretty much told Delaware to grow up and get a real scandal. This is not exactly a place where a governor would try to sell a Senate seat, the way the governor of Illinois did. Asner was particularly aggrieved about the tarring and feathering of the state Transportation Department -- "I think that's such a cute name, DelDOT" -- over its embarrassing cache of uncashed checks.

"No one, not a single person, was accused of ever taking one penny of this mismanaged money. If this was New Jersey . . . " Grant/Asner said.

"A lot of what you call corruption is good old human incompetence," he said.

Anybody got  a problem with that? "Well, you can kiss my California tanned ass."

With everything put in proper perspective, the show could go on. So the Gridiron players sang in the opening number to the tune of "One Day More" from "Les Miserables":

Here's a little tip

That you oughtta know

Some of you are going down

In this year's show

There was the usual fare, like the bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you acknowledgement of the evening's sponsors -- DuPont: We sponsor Gridiron just so you know we're still here -- and a mischievous video in which two rollerbladers doing a sexy dance to "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" were mocked up with the faces of Tony DeLuca, the state Senate's president pro tem, and Karen Peterson, the senator who tried to get him ousted.

It was all taken in by 470 people at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, the largest crowd ever, but still not large enough to include John Atkins, the state representative from Millsboro.

This was a shame. Anybody familiar with Gridiron could predict it would be all over Atkins' good-ole-boy escapades like a chaperon on the Secret Service, and sure enough, along came new lyrics to the old rock-and-roll anthem by The Doors:

I told you that it was untrue

And yet some thought I was a liar

So I have to say to you

I promise I did not conspire


I swear I didn't light that tire

I swear I didn't light that tire

I only saw a small brush fire

Alas, Atkins was at home in Sussex County so he could plant watermelon for the produce stand he owns. "I'm a good sport. I'm sorry I missed it," he said later.

Gridiron also took note of Tom Carper, the state's senior elected official as the  treasurer-turned-congressman-turned-governor-turned-senator. Actually, he got into the spirit of the evening and helped to spoof himself.

After his national role trying to deal with the crisis in the post office, Carper appeared in a video as a letter carrier. He delivered a case of Dogfish Head ale, some bottles suspiciously missing, to Mike Castle, only to be chased by a bulldog named Newt. Then Carper took a letter addressed "To My Sweetheart" to Martha, his wife, and charged into the house like a mailman on Viagra.

The only thing that could have been funnier was if it was not Martha inside, but Ruth Ann Minner.

Carper also took some ribbing in a video done jointly by Matt Denn, the lieutenant governor, and Beau Biden, the attorney general, offering remedies to people who were bored by Gridiron.

One way to pass the time would be to play a drinking game, imbibing at every mention of "Fisker" or "DelDot," or there was also another way.

"Pretend to watch the show while you're really thinking about how Tom Carper was the best governor the state ever had. Trust us, that's what he's doing now."

It would not be the Gridiron without a new takeoff of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from "Evita," the signature song of Lynda Maloney, the former first lady of Wilmington and the forever first lady of Gridiron. No surprise what the target was.

Please don't let it happen

You'll hear loud sobs

If you leave, then so will those jobs

I don't think there's more that Delaware can do

So much bad Karma

And a battery of problems to crack

I've only one question for you

What the hell is a "clawback"?


Don't cry for me -- Fisker

You have us dangling by a whisker

We're getting nervous, it isn't funny

But if you pull that plug

Send back our money


Have I said enough

I sure hope that it's a fight we'll win

Can you make a miracle

Secretary Alan Levin?

Gridiron also always has something to say about the governor, and so there was a video based on the beer commercial from Dos Equis about the most interesting man in the world. With a twist, it was all about Jack Markell.

"In his down time, he can be overheard saying, 'Ping pong, anyone?' . . . Next to him, Mike Castle seems animated . . . Jack Markell, the least interesting man in the world . . . Stay boring, my friends."

No wonder Markell was elected governor. This is the place Ed Asner found to be the most boring state in the world.