Comedians lampoon Bush at White House Correspondents' Dinner

Saturday, April 29, 2006

On Saturday, April, 29, 2006, US President George Bush appeared alongside impersonator Steve Bridges to deliver a self-lampooning comedy act at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. The annual event is well known for its evening lineup of fun-filled theatrics, attended by politicians and people from the media and entertainment industries. In his double-act with Bridges, Bush sent up his reputation for delivering nonsense lines and making verbal gaffes (for which the word 'Bushism' has been coined).

Bush talked about spreading his agenda "globally and around the world, as well as internationally", whilst Bridges, who delivered many of the more cutting lines, said, "How come I can't have dinner with the 36 percent of the people who like me?" The President's pronunciation of the word "nuclear" and Dick Cheney's hunting accident were also mocked.

The primary source for edgy political humor that Saturday night, however, occurred when rising star of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, assumed the helm as critic. With the President sitting visibly within several feet, Colbert warmed up the act by sarcastically admiring the president for thinking "with his gut, and not the head".

Colbert's character, which shares his name, is a based on right-wing news channel personalities. "Fox News gives you both sides of the story — the president's side and the vice president's side," he said. Colbert's jabs at the president and his administration, usually made from the Comedy Central studio in Manhattan, garnered nervous laughter from the Washington D.C. audience. Although visibly red-faced, Bush sat quietly as Colbert continued to dig deeper into what bloggers and pundits are now considering to be the unfriendliest presidential roast in WHCA history.

Colbert didn't spare the White House correspondents, either:

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

– Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Since the event, which was held at the Washington Hilton on Saturday night, the full 25 minute video and transcript have been circulating extensively via the Internet.