On Saturday night, President Obama stopped by the 128th Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, where he was tasked with entertaining a room full of Washington reporters. He did a good job (according to the transcript, there were 46 laugh breaks), even though he did insist on a joke about Marco Rubio drinking water. (After pausing for a drink, he said, "That, Marco Rubio, is how you take a sip of water.") Below is a roundup of most of Obama's better inside-the-beltway quips:
Awkward Sequester Joke: "I know some of you have noticed that I'm dressed a little differently from the other gentlemen. Because of sequester, they cut my tails. My joke writers have been placed on furlough … There is one thing in Washington that didn’t get cut: the length of this dinner. Yet more proof that the sequester makes no sense."
Self-Deprecating Teleprompter Joke: "I said, 'Favs, you can't leave.' And he answered with three simple words: 'Yes, I can.' Fortunately, he did not take the prompter on his way out." (Favs here refers to Obama's former lead speechwriter, Jon Favreau.)
Bob Woodward–Gene Sperling Joke: "I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively, but hey, can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward? What's the worst that could happen? ... [Also] who knew Gene could be so intimidating? Who knew anybody named Gene could be this intimidating?"
Pope Joe Biden, Anyone?: "It's no secret that my vice president is still ambitious. But let's face it, his age is an issue. Just the other day, I had to take Joe aside and say, 'Joe, you are way too young to be the pope.'"
Best Mixed Pop-Culture References: "After a very public mix-up last week, my communications team has provided me with an easy way to distinguish between Star Trek and Star Wars. Spock is what Maureen Dowd calls me. Darth Vader is what John Boehner calls me." And then there was the president's send-0ff: "And in the words of one of my favorite Star Trek characters — Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise — 'May the force be with you.'"
Hillary Clinton Pantsuits Joke: "Let’s face it. Hillary is a tough act to follow ... Frankly, though, I think it's time for [John Kerry] to stop showing up at work in pantsuits. It's a disturbing image. I don't know where he buys them. He's a tall guy."
Take That, Gallup: "Now I'm sure that you’ve noticed that there's somebody very special in my life who's missing tonight, somebody who's always got my back, stands with me no matter what and gives me hope no matter how dark things seem. So tonight I want to publicly thank my rock, my foundation. Thank you, Nate Silver."
And You Thought This Joke Was Going to Be About the Debt Ceiling: "As I was saying, we face major challenges. March in particular is going to be full of tough decisions. But I want to assure you, I have my top advisors working around the clock. After all, my March Madness bracket isn't going to fill itself out."
John McCain–Chuck Hagel Joke: "I'm also doing what I can to smooth things over with Republicans in Congress. In fact, these days John McCain and I are spending so much time together that he told me we were becoming friends. I said, 'John, stop. Chuck Hagel warned me how this ends up.'" (If this is too inside-the-Beltway for you, Obama's joking here about that time McCain reamed Hagel out in a Senate hearing.)
2008 Throwback Joke: "My administration recently put out a photo of me skeet shooting and even that wasn't enough for some people. Next week, we're releasing a photo of me clinging to religion."