Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) debuted a new set of jokes on Saturday, whining about his love handles and quoting the NASCAR spoof movie "Talladega Nights."

Pawlenty hopes to challenge President Obama in 2012 presidential election, and the speech, before a crowd of GOP heavyweights in Des Moines, Iowa, was viewed as his chance to impress important, early-caucus-voting Iowans. But you wouldn't have guessed that from his punch lines.

After entering the room to the sounds of Creedance Clearwater Revival's anti-elitist anthem Fortunate Son, the governor told a story about standing in the bathroom with his wife, Mary, and looking at himself in the mirror. "I mean look at me!" he told her, "my hairline is receding, I'm flabby, and I've got these love handles hanging over my belt." He pleaded with her, "is there anything you could tell me that could make me feel better about this?"

"Yes, she said, "There's nothing wrong with your eyesight." (ouch!)

Later in the speech, Pawlenty compared himself to Ricky Bobby, the coarse, clumsy NASCAR driver payed by Will Farrell in the comedy Talladega Nights. In one scene, Bobby prays to God for Doritos and Taco Bell before thanking the Lord for his "red hot smoking wife."

"I'm like the Talladega guy," said Pawlenty. "because I want to thank the Lord for my smoking hot wife."

Pawlenty also joked that he's a "shoot and release" hunter (on account of his bad aim), and that the deficit will get bigger than "Chris Matthews' man crush on Obama."