Washington Goes Glam: Celebrities, Journalists and Politicians Come Together at Annual Dinner

President Obama pokes fun at his ratings, Republican leaders.

May 1, 2010, 10:14 PM

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2010 — -- Glitz and glamor were on full display today in the nation's capital as celebrities rubbed elbows with politicians and journalists at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

It is an annual event -- dubbed the "nerd prom" by some -- that gives Washington heavyweights the opportunity to walk the red carpet alongside A-list Hollywood stars.

This year, the dinner featured 3,000 attendees, from "Golden Girls" star Betty White to teen sensations Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers to administration officials such as White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod.

President Obama showed off his comedy skills and poked some good-natured fun at himself and his critics.

"I am glad the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight. Great to see you Jay," Obama said, referring to the night's headliner, "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno.

Leno didn't let the president slide either.

He's not cold and aloof, as some say, the comedian joked. "He loves to socialize -- health care, car companies things, like that," Leno said. "I want to congratulate President Obama. He has done more than anyone for the American car industry, except Toyota."

Massachusetts' Republican Sen. Scott Brown told ABC News before the dinner he was looking forward to meeting Obama, whom he'd never met before.

"[I'm] excited to see Jay [Leno] and obviously meet the president potentially for the first time," Brown told ABC News' Rick Klein and GQ's Ana Marie Cox. "I've met the vice president quite a few times and haven't met the president yet."

The president may not yet have met Brown, but that didn't stop Obama from taking a stab at him.

"Speaking of tween heartthrobs, Scott Brown is here. I admire Scott. ... Politician in Washington with nothing to hide," Obama joked, referring to the senator's nude centerfold in Cosmo magazine in 1982.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele predicted to ABC News he would likely be the butt of some of the president's jokes tonight.

"I can almost guarantee it," Steele said laughing, when asked before the event if he would be a part of the president's routine. "I anticipate a full round."

Indeed, the president didn't leave out Steele from his routine.

"Michael knows what truly plagues America today, taxation without representing," the president joked.

Steele and RNC didn't escape Leno either. The comedian poked fun at the recent scandal involving an RNC-sponsored outing of donors at Hollywood strip club, Voyeur.

"A lot of Republicans couldn't be here tonight. It's dollar drink night at the bondage club," Leno said. "Michael, this has got to be pretty boring entertainment for you, isn't it? I know what you guys are used to."

Correspondents' Dinner Is All Play

The dinner was all play as politicians let loose on their night out. And is there any business at such events?

"Fix the derivatives portion of the financial reform bill tonight? Probably not," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., when posed the question by Klein.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told ABC News he was hoping to have some fun and a few laughs, but was in awe at the size and glamour of the event.

"This is the strangest, most bizarre thing I've ever been involved with," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs joked in an interview with Klein and Cox. "I can say that bar none."

"This is pretty interesting. Not our day-to-day routine, let me tell you," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

TV actress Dana Delaney said the star-studded event is not far from Hollywood.

"It's very similar," Delaney said. "It's no different than going to the Hilton in Beverly Hills."

ABC News' Devin Dwyer, Cullen Dirner and Gregory Simmons contributed to this report.

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