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Obama slings one-liners at WH correspondents' dinner

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX1AA0W

REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he's bringing a new attitude to the final quarter of his presidency: Bucket!

"After the midterm elections, my advisers asked me, 'Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?" he told those attending the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association. "And I said, well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list ..."

"Take executive action on immigration? Bucket! New regulations? Bucket!"

The correspondents' association dinner, nearly a century old, has become a night when the president does stand-up comedy for the cause of raising money for scholarships for young journalists - and tongue-in-cheek payback for those already on the job as well as political opponents. A few of the presidential zingers tossed out Saturday night:

  • "Just this week Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now, that's a legacy."
  • "A have one friend ... just a few weeks ago she was making millions of dollars a year, and she's now living out of a van in Iowa."
  • Noting that "Saturday Night Live" cast member Cicily Straw impersonates CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, Obama said that's surprising. "Usually the only people impersonating journalists on CNN are journalists on CNN."
  • On the TV series "Black-ish," Obama said he had to give ABC fair warning. "Being black-ish only makes you popular for so long. Trust me, there's a shelf life to that thing."
  • "The polar vortex caused so many record lows they renamed it MSNBC."
  • "Donald Trump is here - still."

The mix of Washington journalists and Hollywood stars - showcased live on C-SPAN, the political nerd's favorite cable channel - delivered hours of interesting images for hardy viewers. (Yes, that was Oscar-winner Jane Fonda on the arm of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.)

Few of the politicians who may want to succeed Obama showed up for the dinner. One on hand was former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat pondering a 2016 bid, and reality TV star Trump, who again has been teasing Republicans about running for national office.

Most of the prospective and declared Republican candidates stayed away. Many chose to meet potential supporters and donors at conservative gatherings in Las Vegas and Des Moines, Iowa.

The dinner helps fund scholarships and awards that recognize journalists. This year's award winners include:

-Josh Lederman of The Associated Press and Jim Avila of ABC News, the Merriman Smith Award for presidential coverage under deadline pressure.

-Peter Baker of The New York Times, the Aldo Beckman Award for repeated excellence in White House coverage.

-The Edgar A. Poe Award, recognizing coverage of news of national or regional significance, to The Washington Post's Carol A. Leonnig and The Wall Street Journal team of Gary Fields, John R. Emshwiller, Rob Barry and Coulter Jones.

Scott Horsley of National Public Radio received a special mention in the Beckman Award category for his coverage of White House policies and politics.