President Obama’s humor goes to the ‘dogs’ during annual dinner
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The humor at the 98th annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner went to the dogs.
President Barack Obama poked fun Saturday at everything, from the Secret Service scandal to the lavish spending by the Government Services Administration, to the upcoming general election.
However, it was a spoof about Mitt Romney and his dog Seamus that highlighted the president’s monologue.
The joke recalled a political ad released by the Newt Gingrich campaign that took aim at Romney for admitting he once put his family dog in a cage and perched it on the top of his car.
“I know everybody is predicting a nasty election, and thankfully, we’ve all agreed that families are off-limits,” the president said. “Dogs, however, are apparently fair game.”
The president’s punch line: An ad by a phony Super PAC that featured Romney on Air Force One with a dog cage on top of the aircraft and promoted dog freedoms, while warning of Obama’s policy of dog socialism.
“Under his leadership, man’s best friend has been forced into automobiles. Imagine the European-style socialism that he has planned for the next four years,” the spoof ad said.
The president even poked fun at himself over recent criticism by the Romney campaign about revelations in his book, “Dreams From My Father,” where he revealed he was fed dog meat as a boy in Indonesia.
“That’s pretty rough. But I can take it, because my stepfather always told me, it’s a boy-eat-dog world out there,” Obama said.
The president referred to former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s recent guest hosting on “Today,” saying it “reminds me of an old saying — What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.”
The dinner was Obama’s fourth as president. It has been a ritual in Washington since 1920, when it was first held to boost communication between the press and the president.
Journalists and news organizations were well-represented at the affair, and they brought famous faces in tow.
Among those in attendance Saturday were Claire Danes, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Sigourney Weaver, Eva Longoria, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Rachel Zoe, Goldie Hawn and Josh Hutcherson.
The annual gala, also known as the “Nerd Prom,” raises money for journalism scholarships.
While the dinner is notorious for its sometimes bawdy political humor, the president took a serious moment to recall the deaths of Anthony Shadid of The New York Times and Marie Colvin of the Times of London, “who made the ultimate sacrifice as they sought to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time.”
Shadid and Colvin died in February while covering the conflict in Syria.
Overall, Obama stayed true to the theme of the night — humorous barbs. He joked about business tycoon Donald Trump, whom the president kidded at last year’s dinner about pushing the president to release his long-form birth certificate.
“We gather during a historic anniversary. This weekend last year, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals,” Obama said to a packed ballroom at the Washington Hilton.
A photo of Trump was shown, rather than that of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Obama then went back even further in time.
“Four years ago, I was in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton,” Obama said. “Four years later, she won’t stop drunk texting me from Cartagena,” a reference to the city where Secret Service agents allegedly consorted with prostitutes.
The president also took aim at the scandal, itself: “I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”
Obama, speaking before comedian Jimmy Kimmel, made light of a General Services Adminstration conference in Las Vegas that cost more than $800,000.
“Look at this party. We have men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment. I was relieved to hear it was not a GSA conference,” Obama quipped.
He even chided Kimmel, star of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“Jimmy got his start on the ‘Man Show.’ In Washington, that is what we call a congressional hearing on contraception.”
Kimmel, who took the stage following the president’s monologue, hit back.
“Remember when the country rallied around you in the hopes of a better tomorrow?” Kimmel asked. “That was hilarious.”
Kimmel said there was a term for “guys like the president,” and it wasn’t two terms.
He said he told the Secret Service that for $800, he would stay away from jokes about the scandal.
“But they only offered $30,” he said.
Nobody in the room was safe from Kimmel’s barbs, which he fired at politicians, journalists, celebrities and corporate executives in attendance.
Kimmel praised Michelle Obama’s work to combat obesity with her health initiative. The comedian then pointed out rotund New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the first lady.
“Look, it’s Chris Christie. Get him,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel then took aim at Gingrich’s weight. But Kimmel’s fat jokes fell, well, flat with the former House speaker.
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