May 4, 2014 — -- It may not have been President Obama's best performance at a White House Correspondents' Dinner, but he drew his share of laughs Saturday night with jokes about race and Republicans.
He noted that House GOP lawmakers were giving the famously tanned speaker of the House, John Boehner, a harder time than they're giving himself, proving "orange really is the new black," Obama said, in what was probably his best joke of the evening.
At another point, he asked how well would Obamacare would have to work before Republicans would stop wanting to repeal it. For instance, he wondered, "What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse?"
Referencing Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose standoff with the federal government and subsequent racist remarks drew national media attention, Obama said that when someone begins a sentence with, "'Let me tell you something I know about the negro,' we don't need to hear the rest of it. ... Just a tip for you. Don't start your sentence that way."
At the end of his remarks, former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared to help the president with a technical glitch, in a weird moment of healthcare.gov parody.
Obama and emcee Joel McHale, star of "Community" and host of "Talk Soup," spoke to a black-tie crowd of White House reporters, top media executives, advertisers and Hollywood stars for the annual dinner at the Washington Hilton.
The weird intersection of D.C. clubbiness and true celebrity were on full display. First lady Michelle Obama laughed and made small talk with host McHale, seated next to her at the head table. MSNBC personality Van Jones snapped photos with Questlove, Rick Perry and Tim Tebow. Susan Rice perhaps best encapsulated the spirit when she appeared to receive an autograph from "Duck Dynasty's" Willie Robertson.
McHale drew a good reaction from the crowd, even as his speech seemed to range from hilarious to somewhat offensive to inducing cricket sounds.
He joked about the NSA -- and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as the mysterious voice clearing its throat on the other end of his phone calls. He joked about the Kardashians' preference for black men, to audience groans.
He joked about Hillary Clinton and gender-based pay disparity: "As the first female president, we could pay her 30 percent less. That's a savings this country could use."
He joked about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's weight, to more groans. Then, parodying of Christie's Bridgegate self-investigation, apologized for the joke, said whoever was responsible would be fired, but eventually declared himself exonerated.