Comedian Craig Ferguson greets President George W. Bush after performing at the White House Correspondents� Association Dinner.
WASHINGTON – President Bush poked fun at his potential successors, expressing surprise that none of them attended the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner Saturday night.
Bush referred to scandals that have dogged the campaigns of the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in explaining their absence: “Hillary Clinton couldn’t get in because of sniper fire and Senator Obama’s at church.”
During the campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Clinton mistakenly claimed to have landed under sniper fire in Bosnia as first lady, while Obama’s longtime Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has been criticized for his negative comments about America.
Bush had begun his speech by explaining the absence of GOP nominee-in-waiting John McCain. “He probably wanted to distance himself from me a little bit. You know, he’s not alone. Jenna’s moving out too.”
Bush was followed by Craig Ferguson, host of CBS’ “Late Late Show.”
Scottish-born Ferguson, who became a U.S. citizen in February, suggested Bush could “look for a job with more vacation time,” referring to criticism the president has drawn for the amount of time he has spent away from the White House.
Ferguson added that vice president Dick Cheney “is already moving out of his residence. It takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon.”
Craig Ferguson: The Scot who conquered America… Craig Ferguson has been quietly establishing a reputation in the US for 14 years. Then he took centre stage – in front of George Bush and the toughest audience of all
Ferguson performing during the White House Correspondents’ Association in Washington on Saturday evening
By Andrew Gumbel
Craig Ferguson has made something of an art of lowering expectations about himself and then sneaking up on his audiences, almost unawares, and worming his way into their heart. He’s been unknown for so long – or, rather, out on the very margins of show business celebrity – that his obscurity has, in some ways, turned into his greatest asset.
Who am I talking about? The need to ask the question addresses the point all by itself. Ferguson is a 45-year-old Scottish-born comedian, screenwriter, author, actor, reformed alcoholic and all-round bundle of creative energy who barely took the time to raise his profile in Britain before heading to the other side of the Atlantic 14 years ago.
Watch Craig Ferguson’s full speech
President Bush conducts the U.S. Marine Corps Band during the annual White House correspondents’ dinner Saturday.
Celebs Descend on Annual Correspondents’ Dinner
‘Desperate Housewives’ star Marcia Cross talks to a TV crew from the red carpet. (Liz Kelly for washingtonpost.com)
I’m not sure what the attraction is for celebs who attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and after-parties. D.C. isn’t exactly L.A. or Cannes and the Washington Hilton isn’t exactly the Roosevelt Hotel. But perhaps attendance at the annual press do lends a certain gravitas to the walking airbrushed who attend. (Here I thought Ashlee Simpson was a lip-synching airhead until she walked the red carpet, proving that she at least knows how to catch a plane to the nation’s capital. Well done, Ashlee. You’re one step ahead of Miss South Carolina. You probably have a map.)
Although I didn’t see Pam Anderson, I’m told her table — shared with "Hills" star Lauren Conrad, among others — was a hub of activity during the actual dinner and Pammy even merited a shout-out from President Bush, who joked that her proximity to Mitt Romney was surely a sign of the apocalypse. And who can blame Washington’s assembled big deals for going ga-ga over an actual celebrity? Sorry, CIA director Michael Hayden, but your uniform kind of pales in comparison to Pammy’s cleavage-baring get-up.
I did catch up with many other Celebritology mainstays who made the pilgrimage from their glitzy world all the way to the basement of the Dupont Circle Hilton to rub shoulders with the likes of Newt Gingrich, Henry Kissinger, John McLaughlin, Ben Bradlee, Andrea Mitchell and a bumper crop of D.C. media types.
Watch the video below for a peek at red carpet arrivals and my mini-interviews with celebs — including Pete Wentz (whose slicked-down hair defies natural laws of motion), Kal Penn (riding his "Harold and Kumar 2" opening weekend high), Aaron Eckhart (who is surprisingly centered and forthcoming despite some off-camera heckling from one of my post.com colleagues) and jarringly energetic exercise guru Denise Austen, who had earlier dropped to the red carpet for some impromptu push-ups.
Some other interesting moments, not captured on tape:
– Celeb-blogger Perez Hilton getting the biggest reaction from the crush of fans cordoned off to the left of the red carpet.
– Madeleine Albright talking up Andrea Mitchell as Morgan Fairchild, awash in turquoise dress and eyeshadow, swishes by.
– Martha Stewart’s date, Charles Simonyi, standing idly by as the assembled press mobbed Martha for pix.
© Copyright 2008 Associated Press