"This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photo-shopped out of a picture. Never happened before, will never happen again.” Barack Obama was referring, last evening at a fund-raiser at the actor's Hollywood home, to the famous Shephard Fairey image of Obama from 2008, one version of which originally featured the actor as well. It was one of several moments in which the two famously charm-deficient men (ha!) worked the crowd, by, essentially, talking about how ridiculously good-looking Clooney is. A certain not-insignificant portion of America seems to agree: The fund-raiser pulled in $15 million, about half of which came from small donations, in which people ponied up as little as $3 for the chance to attend and bask in Clooney's glow. And so does Obama: While he usually spends just an hour or so at these things, last night he stuck around for four hours.
Or maybe it wasn't just the star wattage from Clooney and others — Jack Black, Salma Hayek, Barbara Streisand, etc. — that kept Obama around, but the chance to capitalize on his recent, well-received decision to back gay marriage. Jeffrey Katzenberg highlighted the decision in his introduction, and Obama played it up as well. "And obviously yesterday we made some news,” the president said at one point, grabbing what the Times describes as "appreciative" applause. “But the truth is, it was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions.”