ABC News' Arlette Saenz reports:
President Obama showed off his comedy skills at the 2010 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel Saturday evening, cracking jokes about the media, politicos and recent gaffes of the administration.
“I work a lot, and so I wasn’t sure that I should actually come tonight,” he said to the 3,000 people packed in the ballroom. “[Vice President] Biden talked me into it. He leaned over and said, ‘Mr. President, this is no ordinary dinner. This is a big (BEEP) deal.’”
Mr. Obama left no hot button issue untouched, ranging from the immigration debate in Arizona –“John McCain couldn’t make it. Recently, he claimed that he had never identified himself as a maverick, and we all know what that means in Arizona. When you don’t have I.D., adios amigos.” – to the birthers questioning his citizenship — “I happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.”
The president poked fun at Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s centerfold spread, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s penchant for expletive language and Jay Leno, the comedian headlining the dinner.
“I am glad that the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight. Great to see you, Jay,” the president joked. “I’m also glad that I’m speaking first because we’ve all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after Leno.”
Aside from the jokes, Mr. Obama took a serious tone and recognized the efforts of those leading recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast, the people whose lives are in jeopardy due to the oil spill and the men and women in uniform defending the country.
While the president lauded the media’s quest for the truth and devotion to the enterprise of journalism, he also roasted the current state of the news industry.
“People say to me, ‘Mr. President, you helped revive the banking industry. You saved GM, Chrysler. What about the news business? I have to explain. ‘Hey I’m just the president. I’m not a miracle worker.’”
Among the celebrities attending the dinner were directors Kathryn Bigelow and Steven Spielberg; actors Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Chevy Chase and Dennis Quaid; and teen heartthrobs the Jonas brothers and Justin Bieber. The president also called out two infamous uninvited White House guests Michaele and Tareq Salahi.
“Odds are that the Salahis are here. There haven’t been people that were more unwelcomed to the party since Charlie Crist,” Obama said.
In addition to the comic relief provided by President Obama and comedian Jay Leno, the White House Correspondents’ Association honored five journalists for their work and presented scholarships to 18 students.
– Arlette Saenz