WASHINGTON, DC—The 85th Annual White House Bachelor Auction closed Monday night with an impressive $9,310 raised for leukemia research. By a clear margin, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) received the highest bid, netting an impressive $825.
"This isn't a competition, really," a blushing Frist said. "I'm just happy to do my part for such a worthwhile charity."
Dates with 18 different government officials were sold during the black-tie event, which was emceed by Secretary Of State Colin Powell.
"We look forward to these every year," Powell said. "The guys love to ham it up onstage, and the gals in the audience have such a fun time bidding against each other. Things get pretty heated."
Despite Powell's suggestion that Beltway females in attendance "get out those checkbooks," the evening began slowly. The first bachelor, White House Chief Of Staff Andrew Card, brought in a mere $168.
Bids for Frist also began low, stalling at a $275 bid by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Just as the auctioneer was about to close the bidding, however, Frist began to swagger comically and removed his tie, throwing it to U.S. Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN), who caught it with a scream.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor quickly searched through her purse, raised her bidder paddle, and shouted "I'll give you $400 for that man!"
Not to be outdone, Rice upped her bid to $425. This ignited a tough two-minute bidding war between O'Connor and Rice, with prices rising in $25 increments. Encouraged by a table of tipsy girlfriends, O'Connor emerged as the victor.
"You won!" said Ruth Bader Ginsburg, O'Connor's friend and fellow Supreme Court justice. "I can't believe you did it! Woo!"
Rice, who witnesses said was "more than a little mad" after losing the auction, snapped up a bargain-priced U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) later in the evening for $125.
The price for Frist marks the highest bid for a bachelor since former White House Press Secretary George Stephanopoulos brought in a staggering $950.75 for multiple sclerosis in the 1993 auction.
Frist's high price tag came as no surprise to those who know the handsome statesman. The senator was a practicing surgeon before his 1994 election to office and has saved at least two lives since then. A proponent of AIDS research and traditional marriage, Frist is widely considered among beltway insiders to be a good catch—a fact not lost on his wife Karyn, who lent him out for the event.
"I know it seems odd to auction off a married man, but everyone knows it's all in good fun," Karyn Frist said. "Married or single, my Bill is the hottest piece on the auction block."
As the winner, O'Connor will receive an evening with Frist that includes dinner for two at Chadwick's, a popular D.C.-area restaurant, followed by front-row seats to a touring production of Mamma Mia at the National Theatre.
Following Powell's announcement that Frist was "sold to the Supreme Court justice," O'Connor ran to the dais, looped her sash around Frist's neck, and said, "You're all mine, big boy," while winking at her tablemates.
Following the frenzied Frist sale, Powell sought to ride the wave of enthusiasm by putting twice-passed-over Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson up for auction a third time.
"Come on! We're talking about a top member of the president's cabinet!" said Powell, as Thompson gamely flexed and posed for the assembled bidders. "This is Tommy Thompson, the original ladies' man. Don't you remember his calming presence during the anthrax scare, or the SARS outbreaks? Can I get $50? How about $30? Come on, ladies, this is for charity."