08/29/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT
Who says Republicans are conservative? Put 'em in the right setting and they become party animals. During their six days in New Orleans they held more than 500 receptions, brunches and blowouts. Of course, the fact that journalists outnumbered the 4,500 delegates nearly three to one may have contributed to the bibulous atmosphere in the city below sea level. "Is there an election going on?" asked John Chancellor, at the opening night party that featured Dixieland music, Mardi Gras floats, mimes, clowns and dancers. "Welcome to New Orleans, the last temptation of Jimmy Swaggart," offered PBS political humorist Mark Russell. "I love parties like this," said one magazine editor at a very liquid Sunday night shindig. "Everyone is enjoying themselves. And everyone is superbly inaudible."