First lady Laura Bush stole the show with a surprise comedy routine that ripped President Bush and brought an audience that included much of official Washington and a dash of Hollywood to a standing ovation at a dinner honoring award-winning journalists.
The president began a speech late Saturday at the 91st annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, but was quickly “interrupted” by his wife in an obviously planned ploy.
“Not that old joke, not again,” she said to the delight of the audience. “I’ve been attending these dinners for years and just quietly sitting there. I’ve got a few things I want to say for a change.”
The president sat down and she proceeded to note that he is “usually in bed by now” and said she told him recently, “If you really want to end tyranny in the world, you’re going to have to stay up later.”
She outlined a typical evening: “Nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I’m watching ‘Desperate Housewives’.” Comedic pause. “With Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife.”
The line earned particularly rambunctious applause from the area of the Hilton Washington hotel ballroom where actor James Denton from the hit ABC show sat.
Laura Bush added that she and her husband obviously were destined to be together as a couple because “I was the librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library and yet somehow I met George.”
The guest professional comedian, Cedric the Entertainer, next came to the microphone to deliver one-liners, but not before conceding the first lady was a hard act to follow.
Joining the Bushes were Vice President Dick Cheney and wife, Lynne. News organizations hosted show business and sports stars such as Goldie Hawn, Richard Gere, Jane Fonda, Mary Tyler Moore, tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams and a few supermodels.
Award winners announced earlier this month:
- Ron Fournier of The Associated Press, the Merriman Smith Award for presidential coverage under deadline pressure for his stories on Bush’s victory over John Kerry.
- Susan Page of USA Today, the Aldo Beckman Award for her stories on the presidency and the presidential campaign.
- Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Edgar A. Poe Award for a series of stories on athletes’ steroid use.
Presidents since Calvin Coolidge have attended the dinner hosted by the association, which was established in 1914 as a bridge between the press corps and the White House.