Isaiah Washington's Presidential Run-In

12/16/2006 at 02:00 PM EST

Isaiah Washington's Presidential Run-In
Isaiah Washington
Phil McCarten/AP
Isaiah Washington may play a doctor on TV – but in real life, he's building his cred as a political activist, hobnobbing with President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush this week in Washington, D.C.

The Grey's Anatomy star met Bush for the first time on Thursday while emceeing the White House Summit on Malaria. Washington called the President "genuine" and tells PEOPLE the First Lady was "very warm... (the summit) is her baby."

The half-day event, organized by Laura Bush, brought together world leaders bent on eliminating malaria, a curable and preventable disease that still kills 1 million people a year, many of them African children. Last year, the U.S. launched a five-year, $1.2 billion plan ( aimed at cutting malaria deaths in half in hard-hit Africa.

Mrs. Bush's own staff pooled the $600 they would have spent on holiday gifts for each other – using it instead to buy 50 bed nets to protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes. "It goes to show you that the passion and compassion (for eradicating malaria) is indeed working," said Washington.

For Washington, the brief break from the Grey's Anatomy set wasn't all work and no play. Before jetting back to L.A., he went to Vice President Cheney's holiday party.

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