I was standing with Money Bags Pearson - one of the greatest lobbyists of our time - at the Capitol Hill Club bar, a Republican hangout, watching Newt Gingrich give his 100 days speech.
When Newt finished, I turned to Money Bags for a reaction.He was steaming. "Newt didn't mention the role the lobbyists played in making the 100 days a success."
"I didn't know that you played a role."
"If it hadn't been for the lobbyists, there wouldn't have been a `Contract With America.' We worked day and night with Newt's people to make sure that the contract had everything the American people wanted. We slept in congressmen's offices, we paid for the pizza the staff ate, we even let them use our cellular phones, and now Newt is pretending that the Republicans did it without us."
"Newt had 30 minutes - maybe he didn't have time in his speech to acknowledge what you did."
"Lobbyists aren't chicken liver. We need love and affection, too. Do you think that the Republicans would have worked out all the tax cuts without lobbyists holding their hands?"
"So that's who those people were."
"Do you believe that this Congress would have repealed the assault weapons ban without the NRA supplying money for congressmen's political action committees?"
I said, "The money must have convinced many of Newt's legislators who were sitting on the fence."
"I didn't expect the speaker to devote his entire speech to what the lobbyists had achieved, but at least he could have rolled a credit at the end like TV programs give to airlines. It could have said, `Free advice and campaign contributions for the "Contract With America" were provided by the thousands of dedicated lobbyists in this country.' "
By this time Rep. Richard Gephardt came on to give the Democrats' side of the first 100 days. "Hey, look," I said, "the Democrats are giving lobbyists full credit for the `Contract With America.' "
Money Bags replied, "It's not the same thing."