Just as the hottest TV hit “Scandal” ended its season, and the Obama administration deals with a trifecta of scandals, the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Hotel revealed its Scandal Package May 17.
The package includes a luxurious room for two with full breakfast; a copy of “Good Self, Bad Self” by Judy Smith, role model for the Olivia Pope character on “Scandal”; Olivia Pope’s favorite treat, popcorn and red wine; and concierge assistance booking Washington’s scandal tours, a cottage industry.
Gross National Product’s Scandal Tours is 25 years old, but so fresh. The comedy group has already added bits about the IRS, AP, and Benghazi. Impersonators give “highlights of Washington, D.C.’s lowlifes” back to “our fondling fathers”.
The Secrets and Scandals Walking Tour explores the sordid side of the Presidency, like duels, curses, bigamy, and other affairs. Who really saved George Washington’s portrait when the British burned the White House? (Hint: was it Dolley Madison or their slave?) Which First Lady was a bigamist? The tours are free or pay what you wish, but reservations are required.
The American Scandal Tour is an audio tour about the capital’s long history of missteps, indiscretions, and vengeance, from the horrifying to the hilarious. Which U.S. Congressman held a press conference in an exotic dancing club with his stripper lover? (Hint: think of the ways and means of Fanne Foxe, or was it Fannie Mae, or Fannie May?) What U.S. Congressman shot his wife’s lover and was acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity? (Hint: one famous lawyer and one infamous lawyer are key to the case.) This free tour is rated “R for Ridiculous”.
Just so you don’t have to wait until you get to Washington, here’s a smattering of other scandals:
- Which Republican candidate for President was born illegitimate?
John Fremont, whose campaign slogan was “Free Soil, Free Speech, Fremont”. Democrats retorted “Free love”, according to “Presidential Campaign Posters: Two Hundred Years of Election Art” (Library of Congress/Quirk Books). The Dems’ successful candidate, James Buchanan (1857-1861), may have experienced free love, but not married love — the only Prez who never wed.
- Which Democratic candidate had to deal with illegitimate birth, as in the Republicans’ slur, “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?”
Grover Cleveland, who admitted he had fathered an illegitimate child. The bachelor candidate’s honesty was the best, and winningest, policy in 1884. Victorious Democrats chanted in reply, “Gone to the White House, Ha! Ha! Ha!” Cleveland (1885-1889).
- What newlywed Prez was accused of wife-beating? And was dubbed “the Beast of Buffalo”?
Again, Grover Cleveland (1893-1897), the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later, and the only President to wed in the White House. The tabloid rumor of beating his wife, who happened to be less than half his age, died out after 21-year-old Frances Folsom Cleveland refuted it as a “foolish campaign story without a shadow of foundation.”
- How many Presidents were accused of adultery? A dozen, including the aloof, austere appearing Woodrow Wilson, whose handshake was once compared to “a ten-cent pickled mackerel in brown paper,” according to “Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents” (Random House; Quirk Books) by Cormac O’Brien.
Back to the present and future. When in Washington explore current controversies, if not scandals, regarding the IRS’ targeting conservative groups; the Justice Department’s sweeping subpoena of Associated Press’ phone records; the U.S. military’s sex abuse; handling of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi…
It’s always open season for scandal in the nation’s capital.
For more info: Fairmont Washington, D.C., www.fairmont.com/washington, 2401 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 202-429-2400 or 1-800-441-1414. The Scandal Package is available through Dec. 31, 2013. Rates start at $249 per night, based on double occupancy and availability, and require a three-day advance purchase. Scandal quiz sources include “Presidential Campaign Posters: Two Hundred Years of Election Art” (Library of Congress/Quirk Books). “Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents” by Cormac O’Brien (Random House; Quirk Books). “The Complete Book of Presidential Trivia” by J. Stephen Lang, (Pelican Publishing Company). The White House, www.whitehouse.gov.