White House correspondents dinner: Obama takes jabs at Republicans

Correspondents dinner host Cecily Strong to Obama: 'Your hair is so white now it can talk back to police'

The final years of the Obama administration provided the backdrop for laughs at the annual White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner, as the president flashed a little anger and poked fun at Republicans while entertainer Cecily Strong took some pointed jabs at the commander in chief.

"'Saturday Night Live' got criticized this year for making fun of ISIS," Strong, a cast member of the NBC comedy show, said. "Now I think that's unfair. I mean, if anyone is guilty of taking ISIS too lightly it's ... umm, you know," she continued, while exaggeratedly nodding in the president's direction.

The dinner has evolved over the years into one of Washington's most high-profile events, bringing together power players and journalists as well as some of Hollywood's biggest names for some laughs at the city's expense.

Obama, in particular, has enjoyed using what his aides call the "State of the Union of jokes" to tweak the media and his GOP foes.

"A few weeks ago, Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime. Which is interesting, because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime," Obama said.

"Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now that’s a legacy!" he added. "Lincoln, Washington -- they didn’t do that."

Obama and Strong also poked fun at the large cast of Republican candidates making presidential runs, and the dominant front-runner status of Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.

"Feels right to have a woman follow President Obama, doesn't it?" Strong said at the start of her routine, which came after Obama's.

The president had some fun with Democrats not named Hillary Clinton who are considering presidential runs, joking about former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's anonymity and the long-shot bid by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

"Apparently some folks really want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House," he said. "We could get a third Obama term after all!"

Strong seemed unfazed by the pressure of having to follow a capable performer in Obama, and unintimidated by the setting.

After joking about recent Secret Service woes, she urged the audience to give the agency the benefit of the doubt. "They're the only law enforcement agency in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot," she said. Later, Strong noted Obama's approval rating was now at 48%, but his gray hair at 85%. "Your hair is so white now it can talk back to the police," she said, a joke the president seemed to enjoy far more than the former.

Teasing the president while discussing their shared Chicago roots, Strong joked that the two used to go shoot hoops together. "I'd lace up a pair of Jordans, he'd slip on a pair of my mom's jeans. We would just miss 3-pointers until sundown when, of course, we'd have to stop and pray to Mecca," she said.

The standout moment, though, came at the end of the president's act, when he brought out Keegan-Michael Key of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele" to play the role of his "anger translator."

After coolly delivering some lines that Key quickly embellished, Obama grew more heated himself while discussing climate change and the GOP's unwillingness to address it.

"Miami floods on a sunny day, and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate!" Obama said, his voice rising.

Key interjected: "OK, Mr. President. OK, I think they've got it bro." But Obama continued: "It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, shortsighted, irresponsible bull --"

"All due respect, sir, you don’t need an anger translator," Key interrupted. "You need counseling."

For more White House coverage, follow @mikememoli on Twitter.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

10:21 a.m.: This article has been updated throughout to add additional details about the White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner.

The first version of this article was published at 7:27 a.m.

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