Late-night comic Craig Ferguson had to hold his tongue about the Bush administration during his performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2008.
In his new memoir, American On Purpose, Ferguson reveals how surreal that night was for him, from bonding with Bush over their struggles with alcoholism to catching Cheney ogling the breasts of Ferguson's wife.
On meeting the Cheneys, Ferguson recounts that his wife discussed art with Mrs. Cheney, who proudly described the Picasso sketches she owned. When Megan [Ferguson's wife] asked Cheney where she hung the artwork, Cheney's response stunned them:
"Oh we don't," replied Mrs. C. They're nudes, and we have grandchildren. We don't want them to see them when they come over."
"But they're Picassos," protested Megan.
"But they're nudes," smiled Mrs. Cheney dangerously.
I put a hand on Megan's elbow. I didn't want trouble. You don't want to be on the Cheney shit list... Once they were gone, I told Megan that Dick Cheney had been ogling her breasts.
When Ferguson met the president, Bush was standing on his own in the corner:
He smiled that big goofy smile of his and walked over, a moment in my life so surreal it's matched only by the time I was pursued by what I imagined to be killer ducks during a bad acid trip...
For months before the event, I had fantasized about what I would say to the president if I did have a private conversation with him. Would I take him to task for everything he had done that I so profoundly disagreed with, berate him for his foreign policy, his strategy in the Middle East, his disregard for the Kyoto Protocol and the Geneva Conventions?... I was unable to resist the opportunity to voice my dissent, and throwing caution to the wind, I charged him with a biting... "Hello, sir, nice to meet you"...
He disarmed and surprised me because he wasn't what I expected. I'd watched way too much MSNBC and was prepared to meet a drooling moron...
We had been talking about Scotland; he had visited for a while when he was younger and expressed a sort of puzzled awe at the amount of drinking that was done there, hinting that he had taken part in a fairly major way. We talked a little about the dangers of booze.
Here is Ferguson's performance at the dinner: