The hot topic seemed to be acid rain, but there were also the Super Bowl Shuffle, romance on the television soap "Dynasty" and the legs of congressional spouse Marty Davis as topics of discussion at the White House state dinner Tuesday night for visiting Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Mulroney and President Reagan had wrestled with the problem of acid rain--long a sore point in the countries' relations--during the day Tuesday and were saving most of their public comments for an announcement on Wednesday.
When they toasted each other after dinner, the leaders talked of defense, trade and a manned space project. Reagan made a reference to acid rain but Mulroney did not.
With the 115 guests spanning the worlds of fashion, athletics, politics, art, writing, business and the performing arts, the plan was for the conversation to be as varied as the menu: angel hair pasta with seafood, Romano cheese sauce; supreme of chicken Vol-au-Vent, fresh asparagus Polonaise, fennel and red leaf lettuce, chevre cheese, melba toast, pistachio marquise and petits fours.
On the way in, Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah), best known for his trip in a space shuttle, offered his own solution to acid rain: Utah coal.
"We have clean, low-sulfur coal," Garn said to reporters, who must have returned a look of puzzlement. "I'm serious," he added.
The acid rain situation "will work out," Garn said.
Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, the National Football League's all-time leading ground gainer, declared himself to be "star-struck" by his dinner companions, who included Prince Karim Aga Khan and Princess Salimah Aga Khan, Fiat chairman Giovanni Agnelli, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, Nobel prize-winning chemist Jerome Karle, fashion designers Norma Kamali and Mollie Parnis and "Dynasty" actress Catherine Oxenberg, to name a few.
Payton said he had not spent much time in Canada but had met many Canadians on a recent cruise he and his wife, Connie, had taken to celebrate the Super Bowl victory, which he hoped he would be able to discuss at the dinner.
Payton offered that his newest project is another Bears video, to be called "Super Bowl Shuffle II."
Oxenberg, the gorgeous blonde actress who sets viewers atwitter with the way she murmurs, "Oh, Ded-dy," to TV daddy John Forsythe, said she "hadn't a clue" why she was invited to the dinner. She also did not have a date, a development more mysterious than acid rain.
Oxenberg, an American citizen who is a descendant of Yugoslav royalty, had nothing in particular planned to tell the President, she said.
"There are so many people here tonight," she said. "And I'm the least important."
Someone asked if the coming addition of Ted McGinley to the "Dynasty" cast meant that she would be engaging in another on-tube romance, having just been dumped by her stepfather.
"It's about time I had an amusing relationship," she replied with a laugh, giving away nothing.
Photo in Bathing Suit
Speaking of amusing relationships, in walked Rep. Robert Davis (R-Mich.) and his wife Marty, who sent Washington eyebrows into convulsions when she sent a picture of herself in a bathing suit--bending over at the waist--to a magazine, expressing her belief that not all congressional wives are dowdy, boring old things.
The picture got picked up by the national wires, and she's been something of a celebrity ever since. She said that recently she had been considering several television jobs but that her only swimsuit posing had been done on the beach on vacation, "but nobody looked."
Her husband chimed in, as if to clarify, "I have better legs."
Mrs. Davis expressed the popular opinion of women over 30 that "there are too many 19-year-olds on the beach." Asked what she might say to the President, Mrs. Davis replied, "I haven't thought about it."
Her husband added, "Probably better not to think about it."
Among the California guests were Maureen Reagan, declaring that she had not read half-sister Patti Davis' controversial novel "Home Front," which contained an unflattering portrayal of a woman obviously based on Mrs. Reagan that reportedly hurt her feelings.
Also from California was retired real estate businessman William Lansdale from Huntington Harbour, who said that the United States and Canada "should be wonderful friends. We're cousins."
His wife, Marianthi, added, "We want their oil industry to get back on its feet."
Investment banker Albert Schwabacher from San Francisco said he has a special affection for Canada because he hunts and fishes there.
"I'm very happy they're handling (the acid rain problem)," he said. "We'll think of something."
Both Mrs. Reagan and Mila Mulroney wore sparkling long gowns, Mulroney's a purple color and Mrs. Reagan's a horizontally striped brown and gold.
Guest list released by White House
The President & Mrs. Reagan
The Right Honorable the Prime Minister of Canada and Mrs. Mulroney
The Ambassador of Canada & Mrs. Gotlieb
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Anderson (Marjorie), M. A. Hanna Company.
Mr. & Mrs. Jonathan Deitcher (Dianne), Dominion Securities Pitfield, Montreal
Mr. & Mrs. Moses Deitcher (Phyllis), Montreal
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Desmarais (Jacqueline), Power Corp. of Canada
Mr. & Mrs. F. Ross Johnson (Laurie), President, R. J. Reynolds Industries
Mr. & Mrs. Robert Shea (Gertrude), Shea Financial Group
Their Royal Highnesses Prince Karim Aga Khan & Princess Salimah Aga Khan
Their Highnesses Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan & Princess Catherine Aga Khan
Dr. Giovanni Agnelli & Donna Marella Agnelli, chairman, Fiat
Dr. & Mrs. John M. Albertine (Mona), Vice Chairman, Farley Industries (former president, American Business Conf. Inc.)
Mr. & Mrs. Nelson Benton (Mildred), Washington, D.C.
Hon. & Mrs. Winton M. Blount Jr. (Carolyn), chairman, Blount Inc. (former Postmaster General)
The Secretary of Health & Human Services & Mrs. Bowen (Rose)
Mr. & Mrs. William F. Buckley Jr. (Patricia), editor-in-chief, the National Review
Hon. L. Keith Bulen & Sandra M. Donovan, International Joint Commission for the U.S. & Canada
The Chief Justice & Mrs. Burger (Elvera)
Hon. (Amb.) & Mrs. Richard R. Burt (Gahl), U.S. ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
The Vice President & Mrs. Bush (Barbara)
Hon. & Mrs. James M. Collins (Dee), Dallas (former congressman)
Hon. (Rep.) & Mrs. Robert W. Davis (Marty), R/Michigan
Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Earl Dove (Margaret), chairman, American Trucking Assn.
Mr. Arthur Erickson, Architect (new Canadian Embassy)
Mr. & Mrs. Raymond F. Farley (Mary), president, S. C. Johnson & Sons, Inc.
Mr. & Mrs. Rafael Franchi (Mercedes), chairman, Republican National Hispanic Assembly for Virginia
Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Gage (Joan), Author--"Eleni"
Hon. (Sen.) & Mrs. Jake Garn (Kathleen), R-Utah
Mr. & Mrs. Frank Gifford (Astrid), sports announcer
Miss Cynthia Gregory & Mr. Hilary Miller, ballerina
Mr. Michael Huffington, Houston
Mr. & Mrs. R. L. Ireland III (Jacqueline), Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Miss Norma Kamali & Mr. Crist L. Zois, fashion designer
Dr. & Mrs. Jerome Karle (Isabella), 1985 Nobel Prize for Chemistry
Mr. & Mrs. William Lansdale (Marianthi), Huntington Harbour, California
Hon. (Rep.) & Mrs. Romano L. Mazzoli (Helen), D-Kentucky
Hon. (Sen.) Mitch McConnell & Miss Pam Schultz, R-Kentucky
Mr. & Mrs. Larry Mizel (Carol), Mountain Financial Services
Mr. & Mrs. Allen E. Murray (Patricia), president & chairman, Mobil Corp.
Miss Kate Nelligan, actress
Hon. (Amb.) & Mrs. Thomas M. T. Niles (Carroll), U.S. ambassador to Canada
Mr. & Mrs. Burl Osborne (Betty), President/Editor, Dallas Morning News
Miss Catherine Oxenberg, actress--"Dynasty"
Miss Mollie Parnis, Fashion Designer
Mr. & Mrs. Walter Payton (Connie), running back, Chicago Bears
Mr. & Mrs. Ronald O. Perelman (Claudia), chairman, Revlon Inc. & MacAndrews & Forbes Group Inc.
Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Plummer (Elaine), actor
Hon. (Adm.) & Mrs. John M. Poindexter (Linda), assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Mr. & Mrs. Edmund T. Pratt Jr. (Jeanette), chairman, Pfizer Inc.
Ms. Maureen Reagan & Mr. Dennis Revell
Hon. & Mrs. Donald T. Regan (Ann), chief of staff to the President
Hon. Rozanne L. Ridgway & Capt. Theodore Deming, USCG, assistant secretary for European & Canadian Affairs, State
The Chief of Protocol & Mr. Archibald B. Roosevelt Jr.
Hon. (Rep.) & Mrs. Toby Roth (Barbara), R-Wis.
Mr. & Mrs. Albert E. Schwabacher (Cynthia), San Francisco
The Secretary of State & Mrs. Shultz (Obie)
Miss Arianna Stassinopoulos, author
Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Stern (Joanne), director, N.Y. Film Festival/Mrs: Pres., International Council, Museum of Modern Art
Miss Rosalyn Tureck & Mrs. Diana Kitch, concert pianist (performing)
Hon. (Adm.) James D. Watkins, USN & Mrs. Watkins (Sheila), chief of naval operations
Prof. & Mrs. Thomas Wendel (Charlotte), professor of history/chairman, Beethoven Society