11/30/2007 AT 01:15 PM EST
didn't only receive an official gold medal from New York City's Spanish Institute on Thursday, she also got an unofficial Presidential medal of approval.
All right, make that former
Presidential approval, as Bill Clinton and the actress were both honored at the institute's Gold Medal Gala for their contributions to Spanish-American relations.
"I was trying to figure out exactly why I would receive this award tonight," Clinton said after being presented with a medallion from Spain's Queen Sofía. "It may be because even though I'm not of Spanish descent, I've seen every one of Penélope Cruz's movies – and I liked them all."
For her part, Cruz, who was honored for her work in Spanish cinema, called the former commander-in-chief "one of my personal heroes."
During the evening, Clinton shared a table with Cruz, Queen Sofía, Vogue
editor Anna Wintour and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who presented Clinton with his award, introducing the honoree as "President Clinton, and the husband of the next President of the United States."