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Scene in D.C.: Bob McDonnell, Mark Warner, Karen Akers

Washington Performing Arts Society Gala
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell talks to Arne Sorenson, the chairman and CEO of Marriott International. Photographer: Brian J. Silver/DC Hot Spots

Brushing off speculation that he’s at the top of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential short list, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said he just wants to “help Mitt win.”

The Washington Performing Arts Society Annual Gala and Auction Saturday night was held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International Inc./DE, chatted with McDonnell “about travel, of course.” Sorenson’s wife, Ruth, is on the society’s board.

New York Broadway star Karen Akers, a guest of philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, wore a Harriet Kassman emerald dress that accentuated her signature auburn bob.

During dinner, a spirited pledge drive inspired Reginald Van Lee, Booz Allen Hamilton executive vice president, to donate $30,000 to the society. Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, active on Twitter while he socialized, said, “I have 75,000 followers.”

Other diplomats present included Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, the honorary diplomatic chairman of the gala. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore a mandarin-style jacket to honor Japan’s patronage of the event, which raised almost $1 million.

Broadway singer Brian Stokes Mitchell entertained the 600 guests with “One Enchanted Evening” and other favorites. McDonnell said his musical tastes include “a little bit of everything”, especially country and rock ‘n’ roll from the “‘60s and ‘70s.”

Corcoran Ball

He wasn’t the only Virginian who crossed the Potomac for art over the weekend. Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat, was present for the 57th annual Corcoran Ball Friday night at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

“He’s the real muckety-muck here,” Warner said, pointing at Russell Sullivan, the Democratic staff director for the Senate Committee on Finance, as the two caught up at the top of the Corcoran’s imposing white staircase.

The first floor of the gallery was frosted in pink to resemble Marie Antoinette’s salon. Each gallery room had tables set with exquisite china and floral centerpieces.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano stood with her predecessor, Michael Chertoff, who now runs the Chertoff Group, in front of a work by Nancy Spero. Timothy Ring, the chairman of C.R. Bard Inc., admired a sculpture by Lee Bontecou.

White House social secretary Jeremy Bernard called the ambience “absolutely beautiful,” adding that he was relieved to be entertained rather than doing the entertaining.

Francois Delattre, the French Ambassador to the U.S. and honorary patron of the gala, gallantly kissed the hand of every woman introduced to him. He said he was calling it an early night because of the French presidential election Sunday.

After dinner, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator sashayed through the crowd and planted a flaming-red-lipstick memento on the cheek of Arthur Jackson, the president of One on One Basketball Inc.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Today’s Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and John Mariani on wine.

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