It is an annual tradition dating back to a couple years ago: go to the White House Correspondents Dinner and then shit all over it the following Monday. But this year, everyone had fun!

What is it that changed, exactly? It is still a crappy party in a terrible town that glorifies unprofessional friendships between journalists and sources and attracts really questionable celebs. What could possibly have changed this year? Oh, right, that dumb white guy is gone.

In May of 2006, Chris Lehmann wrote a truly wonderful, inspiring piece in the New York Observer that was all about just how much he hated the entire event, top to bottom, brunch to afterparty to following brunch.

High-toned D.C. gatherings such as this one are unfailingly unctuous, one of the many coyly winking moments in political life when every partisan, satrap and commentator on hand is asked to lighten up and affirm the ultimate shared agenda, of merely gaming the system to one's own best short-term advantage.

This year, Lehmann raved about how much fun he had, for The Awl. He has a heart-warming story about Andrew Sullivan's husband! He is amused rather than disgusted by the presence of famous people like Ed Westwick! It is a new day for America!

Could it be that, in the age of Obama the DC-Hollywood glitzeratti –described by Ann Curry, without a note of irony, in a fundraising appeal at the Tammy Haddad brunch that kicks off the weekend's frenetic networking, as "the most powerful people on the planet"-just aren't taking themselves all that seriously? That they're having actual, you know, fun?

Yes, this year it was fine for everyone to just have fun. After Colbert died at the dais in 2006, Rich Little appeared from his cave to bomb in '07, and 2008's Craig Ferguson dinner just seemed to disappear along with the Bush administration and everyone's hatred for the Bush administration, this year's event was basically just a Good Time.

Rachel Sklar had a blast and even defends the "partying with sources" aspect of the evening! And the "charity" part of it, because the dinner is actually a fundraiser to send kids to journalism school, because apparently the White House Correspondents' Association hates kids.

Instead of lengthy screed against DC and everyone in it, this year's Observer recap just makes the night sound like the sort of goofy, nerdy, good time it should be, if you don't have too much invested in it. And: the Bloomberg/Vanity Fair joint party maybe actually sounds like it was, for once, worth it?

Katty Kay grudgingly enjoyed herself! And Jim Newell apparently died!

So, yes, Prom Weekend was the lame, overhyped marathon session of unglamorous people in unglamorous settings that it always is, but this year everyone just realized that you can't complain too much about 48 hours of nonstop open bars.

[Photo: Getty]