Once a year, California politics’ finest gather to tell dirty jokes for a good cause.
They met again Tuesday night at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown Sacramento for the California Center for Civic Participation’s 33rd annual charity roast, where three current and former Assembly speakers were among those to put Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León on the hot seat.
Organizers estimated about 550 lawmakers, lobbyists and friends were in attendance, raising a quarter of a million dollars for Capitol Focus and other civic education programs run by the center. The California Teachers Association, PG&E and Sempra Energy bought tables front and center.
Popular topics included de León’s renowned verbosity; his lifelong friendship with former Speaker Fabian Núñez, who emceed; and the DUI arrest of Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego.
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Laughs far outnumbered groans, though not everyone seemed to enjoy the jokes at their expense, including Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who flipped the bird, then blew a kiss, after one about her love life.
Some of the best lines of the night (that were clean enough to print):
▪ “What kind of crappy things can I say about Kevin de León that every Republican candidate for president has not already said about every other Mexican?” - California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte
▪ “We promised we’d be finished on time. It seems every night, no later than 11:30 p.m., Kevin has to return to Tom Steyer’s hip pocket.” - Brulte
▪ “Recently our Pro Tem made news with a package of gun control bills – or as Leland Yee would likely refer to them: job killers.” - Brulte
▪ “Fabian is Kevin’s best friend, which is great, because now none of the rest of us have to do that job.” - Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
▪ “Fabian now works for a company called Mercury, like the planet, which makes sense, because of the last eight speakers, he’s the smallest, most obscure and has been the target of multiple probes.” - Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara
▪ “Kevin has overcome so many obstacles in his life: economic hardship, political adversity, words longer than two syllables.” - Jackson
▪ “Little do most people know that he actually buys carbon credits to offset the carbon footprint created when he blow dries his hair.” - Jackson
▪ “(Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller) used to be a school superintendent. Then she realized she could do far more damage to the morale of public school teachers as a Republican legislator.” - de León
▪ “I wanted (Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom) to be here tonight, but he said this event wasn’t worth his time since it’s not being aired on Bravo.” - de León
▪ “I’ve learned a lot from the Assembly. Did you know that WSPA stands for Western States Petroleum Association? And all this time I thought it meant We Specialize in Purchasing Assemblymembers.” - de León