WASHINGTON – Introducing himself as "Laura Bush's straight man," President Bush (search) thanked photographers covering the White House for the work they do but spent most of his time at their awards dinner Saturday narrating a series of joke photos he brought along.
"I know you think you are documenting the Bush presidency, but you have nothing on my mother," he said at the start of a series of photos showing former first lady Barbara Bush (search) taking snapshots.
Many of Bush's photos were of White House (search) photographers assuming various odd positions to get just the right angle — including one lying on the grass for what appeared to be an up-close-and-personal view of dog Barney's rear.
Many show Bush himself in awkward situations — trying on a suit coat for a fitting while wearing shorts, as well as a series of the president taking a tumble from his mountain bike after, as he told it, exclaiming "John McCain said what?"
One showed White House political guru Karl Rove holding up a sign offering "Free Kittens." The president said that was his new plan to sell Social Security reform.
Closing on a serious note, Bush said, "Although we've been kidding around this evening about photography, I know what you do is really important.
"When people think of historic events, they don't usually remember the words that were written. They remember the images. One photo may not tell us the entire truth, but it gives us a piece of the truth.
"One photo may not provide a complete history, but it gives us a glimpse of history and that's important work."
Before Bush's remarks at the awards dinner of the White House News Photographers' Association, a lifetime achievement award was presented to Chick Harrity, whose 48-year career included 35 years in Washington with The Associated Press and U.S. News and World Report.
In a poignant surprise to Harrity, his award was presented by young woman whose image he captured in a famous "Baby In The Box" photograph when she was an orphaned infant in Vietnam. She subsequently was adopted by an American woman.
Photographer of the year honors went to Andrea Bruce Woodall of The Washington Post.
The award winners were announced in February.
Associated Press photographer Susan Walsh, president of the White House News Photographers' Association, introduced the president.