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Inaugural Party Hopping: Californian Politicians Predicting Oscars Edition

Because we’re a serious political journal read by serious political people, when I had the chance to buttonhole California lawmakers who had gathered at the California State Society inauguration fashion show at the Washington Ritz Carlton on Saturday, what I really wanted to know was: What were their Oscar pics?

“You think that as a member of Congress from California, and having two close friends who are studio chiefs, I’m going to answer that question?” laughed Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). “You think I was born yesterday? You think I’m not a politician?” And so, being a politician who was born several decades ago, Garamendi did not answer that question. But he could recommend seeing ‘Lincoln,’ or ‘Les Miserables.’” “If you go see that one,” he said, “bring your hanky.”

John Lazar, mayor of Turlock in Central Valley, who was in town for the mayors’ convention, put his bets on “Lincoln.”

Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) really liked “the French one” (“L’Amour”), “but of the ones we’ve seen, I’m gonna say ‘Lincoln.’” He called over his wife Lynn to poll her. “Man,” she said. “There are some really good ones.” She thought about it for a few seconds. “But, yeah, I’m going to go with ‘Lincoln,’ I am,” she said, almost apologetically. “I mean, it’s the sentimental favorite, right?”

“I’ll tell you what, though,” Peters said. “He should win that award. He was unbelievable.” He was talking, of course, about Daniel Day Lewis, who played Abe.

“We actually loved ‘Lincoln,’” said Ami Bera (D-CA), who represents California’s wine country in Congress. “So let’s say ‘Lincoln’ for best picture and I think Daniel Day Lewis for best actor.”

Julia Brownley (D-CA), who introduced herself as “newly elected Congresswoman,” agreed. “I haven’t seen many movies,” she said, but the one movie I’ve seen is ‘Lincoln,’ so I’ll say ‘Lincoln.’” She clarified that she was picking “Lincoln” on its merits: “I loved it,” she said.

Jim Costa (D-CA), who represents Fresno: “Lewis in ‘Lincoln.’”

Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA): “I actually haven’t seen enough to make a good judgment, so I’ll qualify it in my response, but I actually hope that ‘Lincoln’ takes it.”

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA): “What are the five again? ‘Lincoln’ is one of them, right? I really like ‘Lincoln.’”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) stood out from the pack with “Zero Dark Thirty.” “I actually got chills watching it,” he said, recounting how he had been an intern on the Hill when the planes hit. “We were evacuated, we were running and scared, and then to see that movie and to see that we’re on offense and that our Seals are bravely going into the fire, it was, like, we’re not running away, we’re running into them.” He had been talking to Tim Sbaranti, the mayor of Dublin, California, which is in Swalwell’s district. “I’ll go with ‘Lincoln,’” Sbaranti said.

“‘Lincoln’!” exclaimed Rep. Alan Lowenthal, running in late. “‘Lincoln’!”

Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, had a hard time deciding. “I loved ‘Silver Lining,’” he said. “But I loved ‘Lincoln,’ too.”

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” was the clear winner this afternoon. Even Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who stayed just long enough to give her remarks and rush out through the kitchen with her security detail, couldn’t not mention it in her speech. “But think, if you know this nation’s history, if you’ve seen the movie ‘Lincoln,’” she said, “the distance this country has come. It is really time for us to be proud very, very proud of this great democracy.”