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First lady keeps joking after successful stand-up routine

WASHINGTON—Now her husband calls her Laura "Leno" Bush.

With Washington, and the rest of the nation, still buzzing over her hilarious stand-up routine Saturday night at the White House Correspondents' annual dinner, first lady Laura Bush dropped more witticisms Monday during a Rose Garden ceremony commemorating National Preservation Month.

She said May is a wonderful time to see some of America's cultural treasures on a family vacation, a school field trip or "even a romantic getaway"—a seemingly whimsical aside that drew laughter.

"A couple of funny lines one evening and she gets carried away," President Bush responded, mindful that she'd mockingly described him Saturday night as an early-to-bed "Mr. Excitement."

"Laura Leno Bush," the president gibed, referring to NBC "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno.

The first lady couldn't resist getting in another dig at her husband when he flubbed a description of a historic site.

"The restoration of the 18th Bolduc House has attracted visitors from around the country," he said.

"Eighteenth century," she corrected.

"You've become a comedian and an editor," he replied.

Monday's barbs were gentle compared with the wry—and sometimes ribald—lines she unleashed Saturday night. In one gibe, she observed that she and her husband were opposites in some ways—including that she knows how to pronounce "nu-cle-ar." Bush's critics for years have twitted his version: "nu-cu-lar."

Her monologue was written by Landon Parvin, who has written humor for every Republican president since Ronald Reagan.

The first lady, who returned from a three-day West Coast trip Thursday night, rehearsed in the White House theater Friday and again before Saturday's dinner.

Her performance left the crowd of some 3,000 journalists, movers, shakers and celebrities howling. It even impressed Cedric the Entertainer, the professional comedian who headlined the event.

"I say the first lady rocked that party," Cedric told C-Span afterward. "She paced herself. She didn't rush any of her jokes. She let `em land. When the punch lines landed, she would do a look down to her husband to let him know ... `How do you like that one?'"

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTOS (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): BUSH

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