State of the Union Confidential

A look back at President Obama's bumpy tenure and history's wild presidential promises.
3:00 | 01/29/14

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Transcript for State of the Union Confidential
When the drafters of the constitution wrote that the president quote, shall from time to time give congress information on the state of the union, they had no way of knowing what a spectacle it would some day become. And tonight, we've got a look at the big speech as you've never seen it before. From the social media frenzy to the surprise guests from reality TV to history's strangest presidential promises. Here's ABC's Jim Avila. Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States! Reporter: Barack Obama's fifth state of the union address have all the weird trappings the American is used to. The long walk down the house center aisle to shake hands with congressmen and women who have been camped out for a full day to get that back slapping moment with the leader of the free world. Handing Manila envelopes containing the speech to the vice president and the speaker of the house that may never be opened since they can read the teleprompter from where they sit. The ups and downs in the audiences at applause line, a total of 40 standing O's on this night. It was all there. So what was new? Besides five years of more gray hair for president Obama? And one of the duck dynasty stars in the audience, snagged the attention of political satirist Brett urlich. The president should go duck hunting with Willie and then we can really start to end the partisan divide in America. Reporter: This was president Obama, the go it alone terminator, mindful he has only three years left. America did not stand still and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do. Not too much applause from the republicans on that line and evenless when Obama told congress he plans on signing nearly a dozen executive action from minimum wage to internet for virtually all of America's schools. The president basically said to congress, if you're not going to pass many I agenda, I'll do everything I can on my own. Why the new more combative president? He knows the presidency is on the downhill side and his power to persuade is shrinking with congress. This must be a very disappointing time for president Obama? It's a very isolating time and a lonely time I think for the president. Their ability to get anything done big is basically gone. He has three years left in his presidency and you basically have to face the fact do I have to sit in this office with little left to do? That's a very difficult time to be in. Reporter: On social media, the top suggests westbound minimum wage, equal pay and climate change. The president's favorite word -- jobs or jobs. He said it more than any other president. 186 times in his five state of the unions. For Obama, it must seem like he's said all of this before. We've certainly heard it before. Minimum wage, version 2013. Tonight, let's declare in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty. And raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. That didn't work, so this year he raised the stakes. In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10. Reporter: Immigration. He's been talking about this since 2008. Let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months and I will sign it right away and America will be better for it. Let's get immigration reform done this year. 2013 was supposed to be the year of the woman. Well, maybe it it was 2014. And I ask this congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their evidents and pass the fair paycheck act this year. Kit's time to do away with policies that belong in a madman episode. There was a sports guarantee that not only will the U.S. Team display America's diversity, it's going to win. Not quite as wild as Ronald Reagan's still unrealized dream of a three-hour flight to Tokyo. Or president George H.W. Bush's environmental vision. The money to plant a billion trees a year. Of course, writing a state of the union is high stakes stuff. The white house released this video of last minute preps today and pictures of his copy fuelled chief speech writer looking sleep deprived and taking flak from the president about his grooming. Ushd have trimmed that beard if you were going to be on TV. Little known state congresswoman Cathy Rodgers. The president made promises that sound good but won't actually solve the problems facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. Some call that chance to respond a curse. It dimmed the presidential hopes of Louisiana governor bobby jindhal. He didn't look presidential enough. Former Virginia governor bob Mcdonnell indicted last week on bribery charges, and of course, last year, remembered most for senator Marco Rubio's mid speech thirst. Nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the one the president laid out tonight. The choice isn't just between big government or big business. But on this night, president Obama ended his defiant ready to go it alone speech on an emotional note. Turning to a wounded warrior sitting in the gallery. Sergeant first class Cory Remsburg suffering from a roadside explosion suffered in Afghanistan. The room silent and suddenly emptied of partisanship as the president quoted the brave soldier. My recovery has not been easy, he says. Nothing in life that's worth anything is easy. Part inspiration, perhaps part warning that the state of the union in 2014remains a struggle. For "Nightline," I'm Jim Avila in Washington. And we have one other remarkable moment to show you from tonight. This one much less inspirational. It came when a reporter from the local cable news station new York 1 was interviewing Michael Grimm and asked him act recent investigations into the congressman's campaign finances. Take a listen. You're not man enough. You're not man enough. I will break you in half. A little tough hear that. But according to New York 1 the congressman threatened to throw the reporter over the balcony and said, quote, I will break you in half. The congressman has already issued a statement about it, pretty much unapologetic calling the reporter disrespectful. Expect to hear more about this in the coming day.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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