WASHINGTON, D.C. - Forgoing the largely self-deprecating front he's donned the past several years, President Obama during his prepared roast Saturday to the White House Correspondents' Association dinner instead opted to go after some members of the Washington, D.C., cast who've complicated his five-and-a-half-year tenure in the Oval Office.
"These days, House Republicans are giving [Speaker John Boehner] a harder time than they give me - which means orange really is the new black," the president told the crowd, poking fun at the Ohio Republican's famously tanned skin.
The gathering's namesake White House Correspondents' Association celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and its annual to-do awash with the incongruous blend of political elite and Hollywood celebrities is often dubbed by those within the Washington beltway, "nerd prom."
Basking in the liberation of never again facing reelection, Mr. Obama aimed squarely at several likely 2016 prospects.
Simultaneously ribbing the New Jersey governor's ill-famed scandal on the George Washington Bridge and the bumper-to-bumper partisanship that's locked down Washington, D.C., since 2010, the president joked that gridlock "has gotten so bad in this town - you've got to wonder, 'What did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?'" He also took stabs at tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and the early Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.
"Let's face it, Fox, you will miss me when I'm gone," he said. "It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya." Chiming in one more dig to the cable network, he added: ''The Koch brothers bought a table here tonight, but as usual they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News!''
In general, Mr. Obama said, he sometimes does "feel disrespected by you reporters," adding with a double shoutout to Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the audience and ABC News: "Jake Tapper, don't you ever talk about me like that; I'm the best president in the game!"
Fresh off a trip from Malaysia, he also skewered CNN's round-the-clock coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: "The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days!" Mr. Obama said to laughs. "I think they're still searching for their table."
"MSNBC is here - they're a little overwhelmed," he continued. "They've never seen an audience this big before."
But the president didn't remove himself entirely from the hot seat. A number of his punch lines focused on the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, noting that it "could've gone better," while also jesting that the plan turned out to be one of the year's biggest cinematic blockbusters, "Frozen."
''In 2008 my slogan was 'Yes we can,'" he said. "In 2013 my slogan was 'Control-alt-delete.'''
At the conclusion of his 20-minute talk, Kathleen Sebelius - who stepped down from her post as Health and Human Services Secretary in the wake of the website debacle - joined the president to help him fix a technical bug: "I got this," she said. "I see it all the time."
Following the roast, headlining comedian Joel McHale shared a couple of punching bags with the president, joking that his own remarks would be "short and sweet - just like Chris Christie's presidential bid." And with his own spin on the House speaker's skin tone, he teased, "Joe Biden is elbow-deep in jalapeno peppers and talking to a construction cone he thinks is John Boehner.
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