Watch Obama Skewer Republicans, Media, and Himself at White House Correspondents Dinner

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 4 2014 11:21 AM

Watch Obama Skewer Republicans, Media, and Himself at White House Correspondents Dinner

President Obama took on the role of stand-up comedian Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner, when Washington insiders get together with Hollywood celebrities for a night of drinking and backslapping. After a surprisingly unamusing video featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the real veep, Joe Biden, President Obama went up to speak and immediately turned the jokes on himself before moving on to other targets. One of the highlights came at the end of his 20-minute routine, when former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared on stage to try to help Obama “fix” a technical glitch he was having with a video. “I got this,” Sebelius said. “I see it all the time.”

Some of the president’s best jokes of the night (transcript of his remarks available here):

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On the challenges of last year: I admit it — last year was rough. Sheesh. At one point, things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize.  

On the troubled rollout of Healthcare.gov: In 2008, my slogan was “Yes, we can.” In 2013, my slogan was “Control, alt, delete.”

On CNN’s obsession: I am happy to be here, even though I am a little jet-lagged from my trip to Malaysia. The lengths we have to go to to get CNN coverage these days. I think they are still searching for their tables.

MSNBC: They are a little overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before.

Fox: Let’s face it, Fox, you'll miss me when I’ m gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.

On John Boehner’s tan: These days, the House Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than they give me. Which means orange really is the new black.

On marijuana and the NSA: Colorado legalized marijuana this year. An interesting social experiment. I do hope it does not lead to a bunch of paranoid people who think the federal government is out to get them and listening to their phone calls.

On Republicans and unemployment insurance: You know what, I am beginning to think they have a point. If you don’t want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.

Joel McHale of NBC’s Community followed Obama with a routine (transcript is here) that was heavy on the Chris Christie jabs and was met with some groans from the notoriously tough crowd. NBC says that even though McHale landed some zingers he also delivered "some low blows." McHale's routine included jokes on:

Obama and Guantanamo: My favorite bit of yours was when you said you would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. That was a classic. That was hilarious, hilarious.

The Kardashians: E! is also home to the Kardashians, who believe it or not, are Republicans. And I know that because they are always trying to screw black people. Now just the men!

Chris Christie: I promise that tonight will be both amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie’ s presidential bid.

CNN: CNN is desperately searching for something they’ve been missing for months—their dignity.

Oh, and some journalists were honored for their coverage of the presidency and national issues, including Glenn Thrush of Politico, Brianna Keilar of CNN, Peter Baker of the New York Times, and Peter Maer of CBS News, among others, reports the Associated Press.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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