Perils of Leno Appearance and First Fan Bracketology

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 19, 2009 2:23pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: The President’s bracket selection with Andy Katz made for good TV Wednesday night and his appearance on Jay Leno could make for good TV Thursday, but Republicans have a different perspective.  Some members of the GOP are seizing on the president’s much anticipated appearance on Leno – and the ire of Duke’s Coach K at not being picked in the president’s picks for the Final Four – to say Obama should focus on the economy and not basketball and television. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., in a scathing moment at a Capitol Hill press conference said the president ought to fly back from Los Angeles, Calif. ASAP. "We’ve got a crisis on our hands, the president is correct about that," said Kyl.  "He flies out to Los Angeles tonight to be on the Jay Leno show." "My suggestion is that he come back since he’s taken the full responsibility to get his people together and say alright I want to know exactly what happened," said Kyl. "Who did what when. How are we going to prevent this from ever happening in the future and how are we going to manage these taxpayer assets in order to solve the banking and financial institution crisis facing this country.  Let’s get this resolved or the American people are not going to have any confidence in this administration." Republicans have suggested that when Democrats from the Treasury Department and the Senate included language capping executive pay for TARP recipients in the stimulus bill last month, in reality they were creating a nefarious loop hole to allow bankers to get bonuses. It’s unclear if Democrats were trying to create the loophole, but, Kyl said there should be hearings on how the executive compensation language was changed and by whom before lawmakers consider any law to try and claw back the bonuses. Buttressing Kyl’s point about Obama’s appearance on Leno with his own point about the president filling out an NCAA bracket, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., praised the president for his ability to multi-task, but said instead, he should be focusing on the economy. "(Obama) even found time to fill out his NCAA basketball brackets, which is a healthy thing to do in my opinion. But, he picked North Carolina and it caused the Duke coach, our Olympic coach, Coach K, to say, respectfully, you might be spending less time on the brackets, Mr. President, and more time on the economy. I that’s what we’d like to say, with respect. This country has one big problem. It’s the economy. There’s one person that can fix the banks and get the credit flowing again, that’s the President. It’s also notable that the president gave the cold shoulder in his bracket to the Pac 10 even as he headed to the South land, prompting L.A. Times Sports writer Diane Pucin to pen the story, "The Pac 10 Doesn’t Get the President’s vote." "Let’s see," she wrote. "President Obama’s NCAA tournament bracket predicts UCLA, USC, California, Arizona and Arizona State will all be first-round losers. Pacific 10 Conference champion Washington? Gone in the second round, upset loser to Purdue. What’s up with that?" UPDATE: ABC’s White House Correspondent Jake Tapper has this to add: As a UNC fan not particularly inclined to defend Coach K, I am nonetheless forced to say his remarks — which may seem petulant and immature — appear to be taken a bit out of context. Coach K’s full quote, said while smiling: "Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s Final Four, and as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets. Why would I care about that? I love the guy, and I think he’s gonna be great."

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