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Obama plays comedian-in-chief

world Updated: May 10, 2009 23:01 IST
Obama plays comedian-in-chief

US President Barack Obama played comedian-in-chief late Saturday, torching his political team, foes and even himself in a string of stinging one-liners at a star-studded dinner.

Obama, with tongue firmly in cheek, jabbed his former political rival Hillary Clinton, joked beaten-down Republicans were not eligible for a "bailout" and ribbed reporters accused of giving him an easy ride.

"Most of you covered me, all of you voted for me," Obama told reporters among more than 2,000 guests at the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association, including a clutch of A-list Hollywood celebrities.

"In the next 100 days, I will learn to get off the prompter and Joe Biden will learn to get on the prompter," the president continued, referring to his vice president, who often gets in trouble due to a runaway tongue.

Obama, referring to complaints that he is too reliant on a telepromter, joked that he wanted to speak "off the cuff" — then brought the house down as two of the devices appeared by his side. "I must confess, I didn't really want to be here tonight," Obama joked, but added "but I knew I had to come, that's one more problem that I inherited from George W. Bush."

Obama mainly let his unpopular Republican predecessor off the hook, but did not spare the former vice president.
“Dick Cheney was supposed to be here, but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled ‘How to shoot friends and interrogate people.’”

The president also made a comic swipe at his former Democratic primary rival Clinton — who now serves as his secretary of state, in an aside playing off the swine flu epidemic centered in Mexico. “In fact, the second she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and gave me a big kiss -- told me I better get down there myself.”

The dinner was a rare chance for big political beasts from the stuffy US capital to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty.
A pre-party cocktail held by CNN, Time magazine, Fortune magazine and CNN included a red carpet's worth of Hollywood royalty, including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Eva Longoria, Scottish celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and film director Steven Spielberg.

Also spotted at the big night were "Fatal Attraction" star Glenn Close and the father of "Star Wars" George Lucas, as well as Tom Cruise and wife Katie Holmes.