Ferguson to Newsers: “You Cranky, Magnificent Bastards”

By Chris Ariens 

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Laura Bush, ABC News president David Westin, President Bush, ABC’s Ann Compton, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Vice President Cheney at far right.

It may have been George W. Bush‘s final White House Correspondents’ Association dinner as president, but Craig Ferguson stole the show. 3,000 people packed the ballroom at the Washington Hilton last night for the annual dinner, where Hollywood met Washington, with a stopover in Glasgow.

Unlike some past entertainers, the crowd warmed to Ferguson’s performance. The Scottish-born comic took the requisite shots: Vice President Cheney “is already moving out of his residence. It takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon;” about the “feud” between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann: “What I see is sexual tension;” and at The New York Times who stayed away from this year’s dinner: “They felt that this event undercuts the credibility of the press. It’s funny, you see, I thought that Jayson Blair and Judy Miller took care of that…Shut the hell up, New York Times, you sanctimonious whining jerks!”

Ferguson ended poignantly. Rolling up his speech and jamming it in his breast pocket, he spoke of the pride of becoming a U.S. citizen in February and what he loves most about Americans. “Please, never, ever, ever agree with each other. Never stop arguing, never stop fighting. You cranky, magnificent bastards.”

Yes, Ben and Jen were there. We crossed paths with Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross (more like bumped into, as we both got out of the way for the military flag corps). We spotted Pamela Anderson, Lauren Conrad, Martha Stewart, Donna Shalala, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and a whole lot of stars at the ABC pre-party, in the form of four-star Generals.

Foxies Julie Banderas and Megyn Kelly.

More pictures after the jump, plus where Katie Couric was headed before the dinner…

• We chatted briefly with new CNN analyst Tony Snow who had a health scare last week. “I’m fine. It’s good” Snow told us.

• We spotted CBS News super producer Rick Kaplan with Katie Couric in tow. They were heading to a pre-dinner conversation with President Bush.

• A CNN insider joking with us: “Didn’t you hear? Katie’s joining us.”

• Although we didn’t see him, we were told Perez Hilton was holding court at the Hilton.

The dinner was more than just a who’s who. It was also a night honor White House correspondents and support future White House reporters. Along with the AP’s Deb Reichmann, CNN’s Ed Henry won the Merriman Smith Award for White House reporting under deadline pressure. The WHCA donated $132,000 in scholarships this year, up from $26,000 last year. At one point, as the scholarship winners were announced, Pres. Bush stood up on a chair as he got his picture taken with a rather tall award winner.

Laura Bush, ABC News president David Westin, President Bush and ABC’s Ann Compton.

President Bush during his slide show, including a snap shot of two future presidents in the bath tub.

Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross.

The Late, Late Show host Craig Ferguson, featured entertainer at the dinner.

CNN analyst Tony Snow and Fox & Friends EP David Brown.

MSNBC senior producer John Nichols and NBC White House Correspondent Jeannie Ohm.

CNN’s Elaine Quijano and John King.

ABC News SVP of communications Jeffrey Schneider with his CNN counterpart, SVP of public relations Christa Robinson.

Rita Cosby and FL Gov. Charlie Crist.

The terrace at the ABC party, BusinessWeek was next door.

Talk Soup’s Joel McHale at the ABC News party.

ABC World News Now senior producer Jake Whitman and CBS Evening News producer Tony Maciulis.