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Have you ever stopped and wondered what the arrival of the citizens from the Lone Star state really means for staid old Washington? Do you still shudder at the memory of the Peanut balloon at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural parade? Are you longing for the days when BIG was better? If you are counting on a good ol’ time with the good ol’ boys, then you won’t be disappointed. Tonight, the bipartisan Texas State Society is hosting what they are boasting will be the largest state shindig to celebrate Dubya’s victory — the quadrennial Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball. For starters, don’t plan on eating like a bird. If you’re one of the 7,500 lucky ticket holders — it’s sold out — you’ll be feasting on 7,000 pounds of Texas brisket of beef, 6,000 pounds of smoked ham, 60,000 jumbo shrimp, and 1,200 pounds of peach cobbler. While Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, and Lyle Lovett belt out their tunes at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, you can rub shoulders with Texan luminaries like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. If you get thirsty, you can belly up to the bar at the Muleshoe Martini and Cigar Bar, knock back a shot of tequila at the Cotulla Cantina (named for a city in Texas), or a Shiner Bock at the Lone Star Sports Bar. When your dogs get tired from dancing, you can pose in the cockpit of a fighter jet or with a 2,500 pound Brahmin Bull and take home a picture to preserve the memory. And, while there won’t be indoor fireworks like years past, there will be a raffle for a “Texas Cadillac,” which insiders know is a Chevy Suburban. All this good, clean fun didn’t come cheap, neither. Corporate giants like BP Amoco, Raytheon, Verizon, and Nokia ponied up $50,000 to become “Lone Star Partners.” The generous $25,000 “Silver Spur” sponsors include the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Texaco, the Texas law firm Baker Botts, and hefty Republican Party donor Vinson & Elkins. And speaking of party, the party animals at the National Rifle Association, Microsoft, and Quinn Gillespie & Associates each chipped in $10,000 for the bash. And how about those Wyomingites, you might ask. Well, those folks have a more modest to-do planned that same night in the International Hall of Flags at the Headquarters Building of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Wyoming State Society is honoring Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, at an invitation-only inaugural reception. Hank Williams Jr. is the designated crooner and they’ll be serving smoked trout p�t� and Buffalo cookies, which are not to be confused with cow pies. All in all, it seems like this is going to be a heck of a night. And who can blame them? They waited eight long years for this party. Just one final thought: Dubya, if you’re thinking about posing for that cockpit Polaroid, just remember Michael Dukakis. Elisabeth Frater, Legal Time’s “Wine Counsel” columnist, is the co-author of a wine-inspired online novel, A Red With Legs , at http://www.darkwoman.com/.

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