Perhaps President Obama may have had an inkling Thursday evening why he was the first sitting president to appear on a late night comedy show. Seeking to lighten the mood during a week plagued by economic turmoil and congressional in-fighting, the president appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" despite calls from some that he should instead focus on the economy.
Toward the end of Obama's interview with Leno, he joked about how he has improved his bowling score by practicing his form in the White House bowling alley.
"I bowled a 129 ... It's like the Special Olympics or something," Obama said to Leno with a laugh. The president quickly came to regret this foot-in-mouth moment, and apologized to the chairman of the Special Olympics before the interview even made it to air Thursday evening.
Maybe presidents should leave the joking to the comedians. But, while Obama is the first sitting president to take a stab at late-night comedy, he's certainly not the first to have his humor fall flat.
At a 2004 dinner for journalists, then-President George W. Bush was criticized for joking about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction during wartime. In an effort to show off his sense of humor at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television News Correspondents Association, Bush presented a slideshow to the media. The photographs revealed Bush in various poses in the Oval Office, pretending to search for WMD.
"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere," Bush said while showing a picture of him looking under a desk at the White House. "No, no weapons over there," he said as he continued revealing images to a laughing crowd of reporters.