WASHINGTON — 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