2006 ANNUAL WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' DINNER
WHCA 2006 Annual Award Dinner
by Blathnaid Healy, Medill News Service
WASHINGTON– One name was on the tip of everyone's tongue at the White House Correspondent's Association's annual dinner –George.
President Bush, the impersonator he brought along for laughs and actor George Clooney were the stars of this year's dinner and talkfest held at the Washington Hilton.
In front of journalists, celebrities, foreign dignitaries and members of his administration Bush and his gregarious impersonator, Steve Bridges, entertained.
Standing side by side on two matching podiums, both with the presidential seal, Bush and his slightly taller alter ego delivered a joint speech with timing that rivaled the best of comedians.
“Here I am at another one of these press dinners,” Bridges said. “I could be home asleep with little Barney at my feet, but no, I have to pretend I like being here.”
The real Bush: “I'm absolutely delighted to be here, as is Laura.”
With a wry smile the president added that he always looks forward to attending the annual dinner. At a time when the president's approval rating is at an all-time low Bush remarked that it's important to laugh.
And laugh the 2,600 guests did with Steven Colbert's performance.
In a special edition of the Comedy Central's “Colbert Report,” he poked fun at the audience of journalists, politicians and celebrities.
“I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America , with the exception of Fox News” Colbert said. “Fox News gives you both sides of the story -- the president's side and the vice president's side.”
He commiserated with Bush on the president's 32 percent approval rating, telling him to see his glass as half full rather than empty.
Colbert declared the president a man who sticks to his convictions.
“He believes the same thing on Wednesday that he believed on Monday no matter what happened Tuesday,” Colbert said.
Blathnaid Healy can be reached at email@example.com
At the annual dinner, former White House Correspondents' Association president Mark Smith served as master of ceremonies. Ken Walsh presented youth scholarships and Ann Compton presented awards to colleagues for their work during the previous year. Incoming WHCA president Steve Scully presented C-SPAN video clips of presidential humor from President Kennedy through the current president.
President Bush's humorous after-dinner presentation included an impersonator, Steve Bridges, who stood beside him and “interpreted” the president's remarks. Following the president, comedian Stephen Colbert made humorous remarks about various current events and the relationship between the press and the White House. He also presented a video of a mock press conference which ended in a chase scene featuring long-time White House correspondent Helen Thomas.
Scholarship winners and President Bush at the 2006 WHCA dinner. Visit the SCHOLARSHIP ARCHIVE page of our web site for more information on previous scholarship recipients.