July 10, 2002 12:00 PM

It was a busy day for George W. Bush on Tuesday. In the morning the president declared war on American corporate malfeasance while speaking on Wall Street in New York. By evening, though, he was back in the White House in Washington, where he presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bill Cosby and 11 other leaders in arts, sports, entertainment, politics and journalism, reports the Associated Press. Cosby, who turns 65 on Friday, did not speak during the East Room ceremony, but he did clown around, shooting a stern but funny dirty look to the uniformed escort who accompanied him to the stage. He amusingly studied baseball home-run king Hank Aaron’s medal, says the AP, and, pretending to be distracted, called out “Present!” when his turn came to receive the award. He also pretended that the president had goosed him as they stood together, and, on his way back to his seat, playfully accused the sons of operatic tenor Placido Domingo with attempting to trip him. For his part, Bush, who turned 56 last Saturday, took Cosby’s ribbing in stride, though the chief executive did appear slightly ticked off when he couldn’t fasten the ribbon from Cosby’s medal around the comedian’s neck. “Bill Cosby is a gifted comedian who has used the power of laughter to heal wounds and to build bridges,” Bush said, according to the AP. “By focusing on our common humanity, Bill Cosby is helping to create a truly united America.”

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