The Conservative Political Action Conference is in full swing. The ACU has upped sticks and thrown its annual shindig in Orlando rather than its usual home in National Harbor, Maryland. Former president Donald Trump is to give his first speech since leaving office tomorrow and the leading lights of the Republican party — Ron DeSantis, Kristi Noem, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo — have been making their cases to be 2024 nominee (or Trump’s VP) on the main stage.
But you know all that. You’ve seen it on Twitter. That’s not what you read Cockburn for. You want to hear about the cocktails, the ruckus, the maskless flirting, all the unbridled diesel-strength freedom the great state of Florida has to offer. You want to listen in as Cockburn negotiates the safari that is CPAC 2021, wildly oscillating between drunk and hungover. Well get in loser, we’re killing grandma.
The wretched pandemic means that access to the main arena was hard to come by. Cockburn found himself in a separate room with a large television screen watching the speakers. This is no way to experience a political convention. Instead Cockburn worked from the pool, which proved to be the daytime social hub for the conference. All conventions should have a pool with WiFi, especially when the reception is better than the media filing center. Cockburn found favor with the well-sculpted homosexuals of the Log Cabin Republicans and worked on his base tan while streaming the speeches on his MacBook. Spotted at the pool: a fully dressed former White House spox Hogan Gidley with three attractive ladies and Fox News’s Pete Hegseth with his troupe of vets.
The evening’s events unfolded at various bars close to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The Heritage Foundation hosted a Happy Hour at the Pub, a venue whose appropriation of British culture would horrify Cockburn’s Anglo ancestors. The bartenders and serving staff were very friendly — but they cannot pour a pint of ale. Cockburn drank with the Federalist’s David Marcus, who was fresh from accosting CNN’s Jim Acosta about the network’s coverage of Andrew Cuomo.
Cockburn then made his way to the Project Veritas party at Capitol Grille — of course he covertly filmed the whole event. Sen. Mike Lee was spotted eating with his staff at the restaurant, while Judge Jeanine posed for several selfies with fans. In the function room, Veritas threw a rager which felt like a frat party with top-shelf liquor.
The highlight of the conference so far was listening to Bo Snerdley, Rush Limbaugh’s producer, eulogizing his late boss at the Veritas bash. ‘None of us knew it was his last show — he was in so much pain,’ Snerdley intoned. He held the room’s rapt attention — Cockburn wonders whether Snerdley might step up to fill Limbaugh’s shoes. This somber moment was offset when Snerdley was immediately followed by a middle-aged man who proposed to a woman 17 years his junior. She said yes!
Afterwards Cockburn headed to Ice Bar with some other hacks and watched James O’Keefe grinding with some unfortunate woman. Also hitting the dancefloor was freewheeling congressman Madison Cawthorn, who seemed visibly unperturbed by the #MeTooing BuzzFeed had meted out on Friday, as you can see here.
Nowhere to be seen: Mike Pence. Perhaps he’s worried about getting sunburnt.