Dozens of Hollywood’s stars may have been in attendance Saturday night at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. But in a surprising, sharp switch from years past the biggest targets of President Barack Obama and host Joel McHale’s jokes were media and politics, rather than Hollywood.
A hilarious video featuring Vice President Joe Biden picking up another vice president in a yellow sports car– Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer from HBO’s “Veep”– provided lots of laughs and an intro for Obama. But it was CNN’s continuing coverage of a missing Malaysian flight and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge scandal that turned out to be the most oft-cited punchlines from both Obama and McHale.
“I am happy to be here, even though I am a little jet lagged from my trip to Malaysia,” said Obama. “The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days.”
McHale suggested that CNN was desperately searching for something they lost all right. “Their dignity,” he said.
“Have you watched the news, I mean not CNN –the real news,” he asked at another point.
Noting the Correspondents Association was celebrating its 100th anniversary, he compared today’s media with that of the past.
“Years ago, CNN was only searching for the Wright Brothers,” McHale said.
Obama offered one Hollywood comparison. He said the launch of Obamacare was going to be made into a Hollywood movie, as a shot of Disney’s “Frozen” flashed on the monitors in the room.
Obama’s biggest laughs came from two lines that had nothing to do with Hollywood.
“Just last month in a wonderful story an American won the Boston marathon for the first time in 30 years… which was inspiring and fair since a Kenyan has been president the last six,” said Obama at one point.
At another point Obama referred to House Speaker John Boehner’s difficulty in pleasing fellow Republicans.
“I’m feeling sorry for the Speaker of the House. These days the House Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than they give me,” he said. “Which means orange really is the new black.”
Obama also targeted Fox News.
“You will miss me when I’m gone. It is going to be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was brought up in Kenya,” he said.
The president also targeted both Christie and House Republicans in talking about the dysfunction in Washington.
“Washington seems more dysfunctional than ever. Gridlock has gotten so bad in this town you have to wonder what did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad,” Obama joked.
“One issue we haven’t been able to agree on is unemployment insurance. Republicans refuse to extend it. I am beginning to think they have a point. If you want to get paid for not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everyone else,” he added.
McHale, made a number of jokes about Christie, who was present at the dinner and dipped into the ribald several times in comments likely to draw criticism.
“Every year the White House doctor checks the President’s colon for polyps and George Clooney‘s head,” he said at one point.
He also suggested that because the CEO of Twitter Dick Costolo was present, politicians could cut out the middle man by simply showing him their penises– a reference to nude pictures posted by former congressman Anthony Weiner.
He offered some funnier lines about politics.
“Thanks to Obamacare, or Me care as you call it,” he said to Obama, “Millions of young Americans can visit a doctor’s office and see what a print magazine looks like.”
At another point he talked about the benefits of a Hillary Clinton candidacy.
“Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her as a candidate. She has experience. She’s a natural leader. And as our first female president we could pay her 30 percent less,” he said.
He also said that the upcoming birth of Chelsea Clinton offered Hollywood the opportunity to do a “Bad Grandpa” sequel.
McHale offered one slap at the film industry.
“This event brings together Washington and Hollywood. The relationship between Washington and Hollywood has been a long and fruitful one. You give us tax credits for film and television production. In return we bring much needed jobs to hard working American cities like Vancouver and Toronto and Vancouver again,” he said.
“Hollywood helps America by projecting a heroic image to the rest of the world. We have just released Captain America, or as he is known in China, Captain who owes us $1.1 trillion,” he added.
Among this year’s Hollywood contingent were Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lupita Nyong’o, Sofia Vergara, Julianna Marguiles, Katharine McPhee, Bellamy Young, Anna Clumsky, Eric Stonestreet, Jeff Goldblum, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Patrick Stewart, Rose McGowan, Tony Goldwyn, Dax Shephard, Kristen Bell, Jessica Simpson and Taylor Schilling.
Saturday’s dinner is part of a weekend of social events in Washington.
This year’s Correspondents’ Association dinner kicked off with an eight-minute movie about the history of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Produced by the History Channel and narrated by Diane Sawyer, it featured presidents, former White House press secretaries and reporters detailing the association’s formation and growth.