- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

Has grizzly, bearded Wolf Blitzer become the Paris Hilton of Washington? “Maybe she’s the Wolf Blizter of Hollywood,” the CNN anchor said with a hearty laugh Wednesday night while greeting fans at the 2005 Service to America Awards honoring federal workers.

It’s all Wolf, all the time. He’s been featured in all the new Washington luxury magazines and is apparently unafraid of overexposure as he promotes his new show, “The Situation Room.” “I love being a reporter,” he said. “I get paid to have fun.” On a more serious note, he said the black-tie dinner, which he emceed at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, was a unique opportunity to honor the achievements of the award winners — all dressed in tuxedos and gowns for the occasion, with nary a laminated ID card or lanyard in sight.

“Government workers get a bad rap,” Mr. Blitzer noted. “It’s important to recognize them and what they do.” Nine were singled out for the award (accompanied by checks ranging from $3,000 to $10,000), which encompassed a wide range of career achievements, including space exploration, anti-terrorism, organizing elections in Iraq, cancer research and the implementation of online tax filing.

Atlantic Media Co., the event sponsor, is the publisher of Government Executive, the Atlantic and National Journal.

There was a taped message from President Bush, which received tepid applause. Sen. Chuck Hagel did a drop-by to present the Homeland Security Medal to Stephen Bice, director of emergency operations at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for implementing the stockpiling of medicines in case of a bioterrorist attack.

Hurrying out the door, on his way to present another award across town to Sen. John McCain, Mr. Hagel was asked about the news that Rep. Tom DeLay had been indicted and had stepped down as House majority leader.

“Nobody’s happy with this,” he said.

John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, presented an award to 29-year-old foreign service officer Tobin Bradley, who lived in a tent in the Dhi Qar province of southern Iraq and organized 15 local elections, including one that brought the first woman candidate to public office in the south.

As Mr. Negroponte had nothing to say about Mr. DeLay, we took a harmless approach and asked him what he was currently reading. “The Great Influenza Epidemic,” he said. “It’s fascinating and it mirrors the avian flu situation.” (You were expecting Danielle Steele’s latest?) Later, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff presented the Cal to Service medal to Customs and Border Protection’s anti-terrorism head Kevin McAleenan, who has steered seven orange-level alerts since 2001.

Guests dining on Cobb salad, beef tenderloin and warm apple croustade included Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. David Dreier and Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Stephanie Mansfield

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