The "greatest threat to America" are butts of jokes in a night filled with jibes about politics and celebrity — and hockey moms and pit bulls
Lindsay Lohan may have gotten more attention than any other guest before Saturday night's White House Correspondents Dinner, but Kim Kardashian was the celebrity who took the most hits from the dais during the annual event.
Host Jimmy Kimmel, for instance, remembered last year's dinner, which took place after President Obama had dispatched a team that would track down and kill Osama bin Laden."If you're looking for the greatest threat to America right now, she's right there," he said, pointing into the audience. "She's Kim Kardashian."
As the reality-TV star laughed, Kimmel scolded the president. "When you took office, the Kardashians had one reality show," he said. "Now they have four. This is not a good trend."
But Kimmel saved his best ammunition to mow through the Republican presidential candidates:
Mitt Romney: "When I think of Mitt Romney, I don't think of Etch-a-Sketch. I think of Twister: One foot on red, one on blue and both hands on green."
Rick Santorum: "I guess it wasn't Rick's year. Rick's year was 1954."
Ron Paul: "To me, Ron Paul looks like the guy who gets unhooded at the end of every 'Scooby Doo' episode."
Newt Gingrich: "It's great to see the Gingriches here tonight, because I guess that means the check cleared."
And on the GOP: "I think that Abraham Lincoln has a vision of what the Republican Party would become in 150 years," he said, "and he shot himself."
The jibes aimed at Kardashian — which also included Kimmel's suggestion that Obama had Navy Seal Team Six outside the Kardashian compound in Beverly Hills disguised as the Denver Nuggets "so they can sneak in undetected" — were among the spiciest in the comic's 20-minute monologue, which stuck mostly to politics and tweaked the president only slightly more often than it took aim at his Republican critics.
As for the guest of honor's own remarks, President Obama was perhaps not as biting as last year, when he went after guest Donald Trump for continually raising questions about Obama's birth certificate.
And he got perhaps his best laugh with a jibe at himself and a recently dredged-up confession from his "Dreams From My Father" autobiography that he ate dog meat as a child in Indonesia. "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?" he asked. "A pit bull is delicious."
This time around, the president — who has attended the annual dinner every year that he's been in office — used some of his sharpest lines in a pretaped opening bit, in which his voice was heard from "backstage" on a microphone that was purportedly left open.
And his targets included, yes, Kim Kardashian.
"Seriously, guys, what am I doing here?" said Obama's voice to an unseen aide. "I'm the President of the United States, and I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel? … Why am I telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian? What is she famous for, anyway?"
The crowd was typically varied for a WHCD, with guests including Lohan, Kardashian, George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey and cast members from "Glee" and "Modern Family," alongside a host of politicians and Washington insiders.
Or, as Kimmel said, "Here is one room we have members of the media, politicians, corporate executives, advertisers, celebrities … Everything that is wrong with America is here tonight."
For a host the dinner, held at the Washington Hilton, is a minefield of sorts. The event has been criticized for showcasing a too-chummy relationship between the White House and those who cover it. But it is also slammed when its emcee plays too rough, as some thought Stephen Colbert did in 2006 when his comments caused several Bush administration staffers to walk out.
The correspondent's association responded by booking the considerably creakier Rich Little the following year, the first time that comic impersonator had hosted the dinner since the Reagan administration. Since then the gig has gone to Craig Ferguson, Wanda Sykes, Jay Leno and Seth Meyers.
Kimmel continued the tradition of taking jabs at the Chief Executive as he sat only a few feet away, poking fun at Obama for the compromises he's made and the disappointment some supporters feel.
"He has guided us through some very difficult times and paid a heavy price for it," said Kimmel. "There's a term for guys like President Obama. Maybe not two terms, but one."
Later, pointing out that the dog who starred in "The Artist" was a guest, Kimmel added, "Uggie can roll over on command. He's a Democrat."
He also jabbed at conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh ("For the right wingers, here's the difference between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh: the people who watch Bill Maher know he's an asshole") and then skewered the GOP when he said he had a new theory that John Wilkes Booth did not, in fact, assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
In his own speech, President Obama took gentler shots at his rivals, beginning when he noted how many members of Congress were in attendance.
"I've tried to be civil and not take any cheap shots," he said, "and that's why I want to thank all the members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight."
After referring to the large Hilton ballroom — "or, as Mitt Romney would call it, a little fixer-upper" — he congratulated the Huffington Post on winning a Pulitzer Prize.
"You deserve it, Arianna," he said to founder Arianna Huffington. "There's no one else out there linking to the kind of hard-hitting journalism that the Huffington Post is linking to every day."
And the president also revealed that the conspiracy theorists who think he's ready to unleash a secret agenda if he wins a second term are right.
Among the items on that agenda, he said: "In my first term, I sang Al Green. In my second term, I'm going with Young Jeezy … In my first term, we repealed the policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' In my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as 'It's Raining Men.'"
At the end of their speeches, both Kimmel and Obama paid tribute to the press, with the president calling "a free press that isn't afraid to challenge and criticize" one of the traditions "that make us greater than the challenges we face."
Kimmel closed the night by suggesting, "If we truly want to overcome the problems that we face, we have to do it together. It doesn't matter if you're black, like President Obama, or white, like President Obama, or red, like President Obama's agenda."
Then he mentioned a grade-school teacher, Mr. Mills, who predicted that Kimmel would never amount to anything. "I'm about to high-five the President of the United States," he said. "Eat it, Mills."