- - Sunday, April 29, 2012

This weekend marked not only the 98th annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which brings nearly 3,000 journalists, politicos and Hollywood stars together for a night of revelry in Washington, to benefit awards and scholarships for current and aspiring journalists.

“Last year at this time, in fact on this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals,” President Obama said to open his speech at the dinner, seizing the opportunity to boast about the killing of Osama bin Laden to a crowd scattered with potential donors in an election year.

But the crowd laughed, for it was not bin Laden appearing on the screens in the Washington Hilton’s packed ballroom, but Donald Trump, whom Mr. Obama and comedian Seth Meyers lambasted at last year’s dinner for his birther rhetoric. The crowd would continue to chuckle through Mr. Obama’s speech and comedian headliner Jimmy Kimmel’s act, both of whom joked about election-year politics and, of course, the recent Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia.

Since 1920, the dinner has allowed members of the Washington press corps to let their hair down and enjoy laughs with their sources, or, at recent dinners, random celebrities. As Mr. Obama joked offstage on a pretend hot mic before his speech: “I have the nuclear codes. Why am I telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian?” (Miss Kardashian attended the dinner with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.)

On the red carpet, the paparazzi snapped major star power such as actor Kevin Spacey, who recently portrayed fallen Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack,” posing with J.R. Martinez, the former “All My Children” actor and U.S. Army soldier. CBS News’ Bob Schieffer escorted actress Claire Danes (“Homeland”), and Eliot Spitzer arrived soon after.

President Obama high-fives late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel as Caren Bohan, a Reuters journalist and president of the White House Correspondents' Association, watches during the group's annual dinner on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari) ** FILE **
President Obama high-fives late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel as Caren Bohan, a Reuters ... more >

Meanwhile, Hollywood starlets brought high fashion to Washington, such as Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games”) in a blood-orange Antonio Berardi gown with a trendy peplum, and Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”) in an elegant, long-sleeved, black lace Emilio Pucci gown.

“Modern Family’s” Sofia Vergara was popular, but the most sought-after celebrity was Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who starred in “The Artist” and was a guest of The Washington Times. After walking the red carpet in a Beverly Hills Mutt Club tuxedo, the pooch visited The Times’ pre-dinner reception with owner Omar Von Muller and Mr. Von Muller’s wife, Mercy.

“He loves to make all kinds of appearances, and this is a big one for him, so he’s very excited about it,” Mr. Von Muller told The Times. Uggie, who was visiting Washington for the first time, also told The Times that his memoir, ” Uggie: My Story,” will be published in October.

Ed Kelley, editor of The Washington Times, was pleased with the reception and the publication’s guest list.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Mr. Kelley, who was attending his first White House Correspondents’ Association dinner after joining the paper in July 2011. “But we have a good group here tonight at our reception, and we’re looking forward to a lot of fun at the dinner.”

The Times’ guests looked forward to the high-powered mingling and the humorous speeches.

“It’s always good to see the combination of leadership and the media and the glitterati relaxing and enjoying themselves,” said Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the reception.

Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who traveled from Harrisburg for the event, said he was looking forward to the humor.

Other guests of The Times included former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican; Moroccan Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal; Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo; Sam Sebastian, Google’s director of sales; and Paxton K. Baker, executive vice president and general manager of Centric, a BET Network, who said he thought it was a great night in Washington because he’s “a big fan of bipartisanship.”

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