The talk-show host marks the historic presidential inauguration with a star-studded show at the Kennedy Center

By Susan Mandel
Updated January 19, 2009 05:00 PM
Chris Pizzello/AP

Oprah Winfrey wasn’t just busy getting social in Washington, D.C. In the city for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the media mogul hosted a star-studded edition of her talk show Monday from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“God bless America,” Winfrey, 54, said at the top of her show, which was one of the hottest tickets in town. “On this very special Martin Luther King Jr. holiday I can’t think of any place in the world I’d rather be than right here,” Winfrey said before introducing an impressive slate of guests, including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Usher and Vice President-elect Joe Biden and wife Jill.

During their chat, Jill Biden slipped and revealed that her husband had originally been offered the choice of becoming vice president or Secretary of State.

“I said, ‘Joe, if you re Secretary of State you ll be away. I’ll never see you. But if you re vice president the whole family can be involved,’ ” she said.

Biden said he wasn t sure at first whether to accept the vice presidency. But he listened to his wife’s advice. “Jill said, you know, I think this is good for the family. And besides, we have public housing now,” referring to the vice presidential residence.

Talking About Change

With just one day before Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, talk naturally turned to the nation’s changing political climate.

“To me [Obama’s election] means there is a different level of consciousness,” Oprah told her first guests, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

Responded Moore: “I just feel so much gratitude for my children to be experiencing this.”

The actress also revealed that she and her husband hit the road to campaign for Obama in Iowa. “We got in a mini-van. We drove 500 miles and hit I don’t know how many colleges,” she said. “Standing up and speaking is one of my greatest fears . . . but I felt like if I didn’t go and participate to do something . . . then I wouldn’t feel that I had done enough.”

Musical Inspirations

Monday’s show also featured the world premiere of “America’s Song,” by composer David Foster, who played the piano as, Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige and Seal debuted it live – with some help from U2 lead singer Bono, who pre-taped his part. (“America’s Song” is available for free download on for 24 hours.)

Oprah was still teary-eyed when she joined them on stage after their performance.

“Oh, that was so good!” she told the audience during the commercial break. “I was just trying not to do an ugly cry because Gayle [King] goes, ‘Every time I see you on TV, you’re crying.’ ”