'Frasier' Takes Washington's Pulse

03/04/2003 at 01:00 PM EST

The talk in Washington these days may be about Iraq -- but political heavyweights and celebrities still found time to attend a weekend gala in the nation's capital.

Performers such as LeAnn Rimes and comedian George Lopez entertained a crowd that included President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the 35th annual Ford's Theatre Gala, a benefit to raise money for the historic theater that was hosted by Kelsey Grammer.

And while the discussion of weighty topics was kept to a minimum, the "Frasier" star, 48, conceded that his audience was "a little preoccupied."

As Grammer told PEOPLE: "No matter what the story is, there's something going on in D.C. that can distract them. They have a little less time for people of my ilk."

As a result, he noted, "It takes them a while to warm up. I just play up to the audience and hope they catch up in time."

Lopez, whose eponymous ABC show was just renewed for a second season, also noticed that the crowd of politicos required a little coddling.

"It doesn't get stiffer than this crowd," he told PEOPLE. "You've got Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. Neither has a sense of humor. You put them both in the same room and the comedy goes right out the window."

Still, Lopez, 39, did manage to elicit a few laughs out of President Bush when he joked about renovating the commander-in-chief's residence.

"I envision a Washington with a Latino in the White House one day," Lopez quipped. "We'd still leave it white, but with blue trim."

Having met the president before the show, Rimes, 20, said: "He's a very sweet man ... I met him a while back before he was president because we're both from Texas. I performed in front of him, I think, when I was 10."

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