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'Goddess' Jolie turns the heat on

Washington, March 11: In a perfect world, a gorgeous Hollywood actor donates time and money for her humanitarian work, is honoured for said work and uses her celebrity to raise consciousness and hope. This being an imperfect world, the presence of Angelina Jolie at any event turns collected sophisticates (especially men) into lovesick adolescents.

Such is the life of a benevolent sex goddess.

Jolie, along with former secretary of state Colin Powell, was honoured on Wednesday night at the Kuwait embassy for her work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The black-tie dinner, hosted by ambassador Salem Sabah and his wife, Rima, raised more than $1 million to help Iraqi women and children return to their country.

The 100 guests, including White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and emcee Paula Zahn, nibbled on lobster, listened to Marvin Hamlisch and sneaked furtive glances at Jolie.

The face that launched a thousand fantasies was demure, hair pulled back, with Jolie in a conservative black jacket, shell and fishtail shirt. She was gracious, self-effacing and knowledgeable. And beautiful, in that extravagant way that eclipses everything else.

'I feel like a little kid,' she said before accepting her award. 'I'm just in awe how everyone's speaking from the heart and how everyone really cares.'

The 29-year-old actor was in Washington this week as goodwill ambassador for the UNHCR on a trip that included an interview on Nightline, an appearance at the National Press Club and the dinner.

'She is serious about what she does,' Powell said. 'They couldn't have a better goodwill ambassador.'

Or a hotter one, celebrity-wise. (She was just voted 'Sexiest Woman in Hollywood') When Jolie spoke at the press club, camera shutters constantly clicked while she answered questions about international affairs and refugee policies.

'I'm always so nervous answering these questions because I feel I come from a place from my heart and my gut,' she told the audience. But Jolie is careful not to speak beyond her experience, or preach and deflects the spotlight to the reason she is there.

'She really cares about the plight of refugees,' said Rima Sabah.

Her expressed interest in refugees initially was greeted with raised eyebrows. Her first exposure to the subject came in 2001 while filming in Cambodia, where she adopted her son, Maddox. 'It was very clear to me there was a lot about this world that I didn't know,' she said. 'I felt really ashamed and ignorant. . . . It just changed my life.'

'Celebrity is ..... a weird thing,' she said 'and it can feel very empty at the end of the night.... So, when you're doing something good, and you can bring attention to that, then it feels like you have some sense in your life.'

Dinner over, everyone went home feeling charitable and noble. knowing the first question they'd hear is, 'What did Jolie look like' She looked like every sex goddess goodwill ambassador should.

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