The 2012 primaries, the 2008 primaries, the General Services Administration scandal, even the Secret Service and Donald Trump were targets for President Barack Obama’s scattershot humor at Saturday night’s celebrity studded White House Correspondents Dinner, reports The Huff Post.
To all the Congress “members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight,” the president said. “Let’s give them a big round of applause.”
According to Reuters, the black-tie dinner, informally billed as the “nerd prom,” is the biggest social event of the year for Washington media and gives presidents a chance to show a lighter side.
“I have the nuclear codes,” Obama asked off stage. “Why am I telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian? Why is she famous anyway?”
The president began his speech by reflecting briefly on last year’s gala; an evening when, unbeknownst to the public, the commander in chief had just given the order to put down “one of the world’s most notorious individuals,” tells ABC News. Not Osama bin Laden, but Donald Trump.
Four years ago, the president recalled, he was locked in a tough primary fight with Hillary Clinton, now his secretary of state.
“She can’t stop drunk texting me from Cartagena,” Obama said, referring to their recent trip to the Summit of the Americas in Columbia.
The president joked that the luxurious ballroom in the Washington Hilton hotel where the dinner was held was “what Mitt Romney calls a fixer-upper,” a dig at Romney’s sometimes clumsy references to his wealth.
Admitting it was going to be a tough campaign in the fall, the president digressed that he actually had a lot in common with the Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
“We both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show, to a alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree,” he said.
“We both have degrees from Harvard. I have one, he has two. What a snob.”
That drew a thumbs up from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who was in the audience.
Barack Obama also took a shot at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has announced he would quit the Republican primary race.
“Newt, there’s still time man,” he said to Gingrich, who was in the audience with his wife, Callista.
But Obama touched on serious themes as well. He thanked the assembled journalists for their work and recognizing the sacrifices of reporters Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin, who died “to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time.”
The president told the correspondents he never forgets the dependence of freedom on an open press.
Then he returned to the lighter side: “I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”
Then late-night TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who was the featured entertainer, wondered “Who’ll it be this year?” and joked, “You know there’s a term for guys like President Obama, um, probably not two terms.”
Kimmel picked up on the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Columbia, saying he told the Secret Service that for $800 he wouldn’t joke about them, “but they only offered 30.”
“If this had happened on President Clinton’s watch, you can damn well bet those Secret Service agents would have been disciplined with a very serious high five,” Kimmel said.
Several journalists were presented awards for their coverage of the executive branch. A team from Politico was recognized for their analysis of the negotiations to raise the U.S. debt ceiling; and Associated Press journalists for their series on the New York Police Department’s surveillance program of minority communities under CIA guidance.
The AP has also won a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation.
Among the eclectic crowd attending Saturday night’s dinner were former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the cast of the hit TV show “Modern Family,” actress Lindsey Lohan, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., actor George Clooney and director Steven Spielberg.
Among guests were also Sigourney Weaver, Claire Danes and Kevin Spacey, Eva Longoria, Goldie Hawn and Reese Witherspoon, and singer John Legend.