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Bush, stars sparkle at annual press event

Look-alike pokes fun at Cheney

WASHINGTON -- It was twice the fun for members of the White House Correspondents' Association and guests last night when President Bush invited a look-alike, sound-alike sidekick to poke fun at himself and fellow politicians.

''Ladies and gentleman, I feel chipper tonight. I survived the White House shake-up," the president said.

But impersonator Steve Bridges stole many of the best lines, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney and his hunting accident on a couple of occasions.

''Speaking of suspects, where is the great white hunter," Bridges said, later adding, ''He shot the only trial lawyer in the country who supports me."

Bush continued a tradition begun by President Calvin Coolidge in attending the correspondents' dinner. The featured entertainer was Stephen Colbert, whose Comedy Central show ''The Colbert Report" often lampoons the Washington establishment.

Yet it's the who's who of power and celebrity in the audience that draws much of the attention.

The guest list included former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA officer at the heart of a leak inquiry that has reached deep into the White House.

Award winners honored at the dinner were:

Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press and Terry Moran of ABC News, who received the Merriman Smith Awards, the top journalism award for White House reporting under deadline pressure.

Riechmann was recognized for breaking the news of Bush's choice of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. for the Supreme Court. Moran was cited for his broadcast coverage of Bush's first visit to areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Carl Cannon of the National Journal. Cannon received the Aldo Beckman Award for his profile of presidential adviser Michael Gerson. The award is given for repeated excellence in White House reporting.

Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer of the Copley News Service. The men received the Edgar A. Poe Award for a series of stories on Representative Randy ''Duke" Cunningham, who resigned in disgrace and pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes. The Poe award recognizes excellence in news of national and regional importance.

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