If there’s a single instance in the recent history that encapsulates what the White House Correspondents’ Dinner has become in staid, old Washington, it would have to be the “Ozzy moment.” The year was 2002 and the unified spirit that enveloped Washington in the wake of the 9/11 attacks still lingered as the elite masses gathered at the Washington Hilton hotel for the annual dinner. President Bush was on hand, riding a wave of political popularity. Cabinet members like Colin Powell were also present, as well as the upper echelons of official Washington.
Comedian Drew Carey was the featured entertainment (after the president, of course), and the requisite celebrities were on hand as well – Harrison Ford, Christie Brinkley, etc. But it was heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne (invited by Fox News host Greta Van Susteren) everyone was clamoring to see. His MTV reality show “The Osbournes” had become a cultural phenomenon and the muttering poster boy of rock ‘n roll excess was more famous than he had ever been in his head-banging heyday. Even the president couldn’t resist the pull of America’s sudden and most unlikely celebrity. “The thing about Ozzy is he’s made a lot of big hit recordings,” Bush said as he gave the singer a shout-out during his remarks. “’Party With Animals,’ ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,’ ‘Face in Hell,’ ‘Black Skies’ and ‘Bloodbath in Paradise’ … Ozzy, mom loves your stuff.” Osbourne responded by standing on his chair, arms raised and shouting as the audience howled and applauded.