President Obama mixed self-deprecation with some sharp lines against Republicans at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington, D.C. [READ OBAMA'S REMARKS]
But he drew one of his biggest laughs with a reference to supposed tensions between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Biden as the 2016 presidential race looms.
Obama mentioned Clinton having to dodge a shoe thrown at her during a recent speech, while video screens showed a photo of Biden holding a sneaker, apparently ready to aim and fire.
“At one point, things got so bad the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize,” he said to laughs.
Obama returned to the Affordable Care Act theme to close his speech, when he presented a video, which had an apparent technical hitch. Answering his call for help, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made a surprise appearance to right things.
The dinner, which has drawn some criticism for its show of coziness between journalists and the politicians they cover, helps raise funds for scholarships for aspiring journalists. Celebrities and politicians mingled among the crowd of more than 2,000 people in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel.
Among the famous faces were those of actresses Sofia Vergara, Lupita Nyong’o and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as sports stars, including the NFL’s Richard Sherman and Tim Tebow.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) came in for sympathy, of a kind, from Obama. The president suggested that House Republicans sometimes treat the Speaker just as unkindly as they treat him, “which means orange really is the new black.”
Other Republicans did not get off so lightly, however. In reference to the George Washington Bridge scandal that has affected New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Obama said that “gridlock” in Washington has become so bad that he had to wonder, “What did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?”
In another joke based around the same lack of action in Washington, and to Republican opposition to extending unemployment insurance, Obama said that, perhaps “if you want to get paid for not working, you should have to run for Congress like everyone else.”
And, in an extended riff about what kind of ObamaCare benefits would persuade Republicans to abandon efforts to try to repeal it, he suggested, “What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse?”
Obama’s “orange is the new black” line was not the only moment at which the president’s jokes made allusions to race. During the opening passages of his speech, he mentioned controversial rancher Cliven Bundy. Citing Bundy's remark that, "I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," a smiling Obama said people "don't really need to hear the rest" from anyone who started a sentence with those words.
The media were also in the firing line. Obama mocked MSNBC for, he said, having "never seen an audience this big before." CNN's apparent obsession with missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 also caught the president's attention. "I think they're still searching for their table," he said.
Immediately preceding Obama’s speech, Louis-Dreyfus reprised her role as Vice President Selina Meyer in HBO’s “Veep” in a prerecorded video. The video also featured Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The skit revolved around Biden and Dreyfus, or Meyer, indulging in various hijinks around Washington.
At one point, the duo were discovered eating ice cream in the White House kitchens by a disapproving Mrs. Obama. At another, they chanced upon Pelosi getting a tattoo and cracking a joke at the expense of conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.
Speaker Boehner, for his part, was seen saying that he would not attend the dinner because there were "important things going on here in the Capitol" — and then turning to watch a panda video.