News: Ali was one of 14 luminaries to receive the award Wednesday. On stage, he sat next to actress Carol Burnett. Other winners included golfer Jack Nicklaus, baseball great Frank Robinson, singer Aretha Franklin and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Calling Ali 'a fierce fighter and a man of peace,' Bush said Ali's fighting style would be studied for years but defy imitation.
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'The real mystery, I guess, is how he stayed so pretty,' Bush said. Mugging for the crowd, Ali lifted his eyebrows and ran his hands over his face. The audience of dignitaries, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and White House adviser Karl Rove, laughed. Bush added: 'It probably had to do with his beautiful soul.'
Standing together on the East Room dais, Bush and Ali made a historically curious pair. During the Vietnam War, their politics couldn't have been further apart: Bush supported the war, spending his eligible years in Texas and Alabama with the Air National Guard.
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