White House adviser Karl Rove boogied, backed by NBC's David Gregory, Brian Wiliams burped the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the President cracked wise, all to the general delight, and occasional gales of laughter, of journalists gathered for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association dinner in Washington.
Rove was a better sport than a dancer, tapped by the surprise entertainment--Whose Line is It Anyway's Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood--for an improv rap number featuring "MC Rove," with Gregory as one of his backup dancers, and based on information supplied by Rove that, among other things, he collected stamps and liked to "tear the tops" off of small animals.
Rove got into the spirit of the bit, though when President Bush was asked to supply a rap nickname for Rove, his response was "Your Fired!" Sherwood then suggested Rove had offered his resume to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of a host of legislators in attendance at the annual dinner at the Washington Hilton.
In another skit, NBC anchor Brian Williams played the "sound effects" game, supplying everything from the sound of a bullwhip and a beer being opened--at which he was particularly skilled--to a telephone ringing and a coffee machine dispensing coffee.
But Rove arguably got the biggest laughs with his rap dance number, which essentially required him to gyrate and repeat his rap name when called upon. He got a standing ovation from a crowd not used to applauding the administration.
The President also got good reviews for self-deprecating humor that occasionally drew some groans.
Some paraphrased and quoted highlights ensue (Please supply your own badabum-bish [drum plus cymbal riff] when you see an asterisk):
The President thanked RTCA, then added his thanks to Virgina Senator Jim Webb for providing security.* (Webb's aid was arrested for bringing a gun Webb had given him into the Capitol)
The president said he had noted a lot of drinking in the crowd, and clarified that in the State of the Union speech he had said to increase the use of ethanol.*
The President said that a year ago, his approval rating was in the 30s, his Supreme Court nominee had been withdrawn, and "my vice president had just shot somebody. Ah, those were the good old days" *
He also said he would not be a lame duck president, "unless of course [Vice President Dick] Cheney accidentally shoots me in the leg."*
"To be honest," he said, "his [Cheney's] feelings were kind of hurt," said the President. "He said he's going on vacation to Afghanistan, where people like him."
"We really blew the way we let those attorneys go," said the president to a suddenly quieter audience. "You know you've botched it when people sympathize with lawyers. Speaking of supbpoenas, it's good to see Speaker Pelosi tonight."*
The President said it had reached the point where "I sometimes call on Helen Thomas just to hear a friendly voice."* (Thomas is famous for grilling the president, whoever it may be).
With 664 days Left in the White House, the President said, he guessed that made him "technically a temporary guest worker."*
Noting that President Clinton had written a memoir of some 10,000 pages, President Bush suggested his might instead be a "pop-up book." He offered some possible titles: How W Got His Groove Back, or Tuesdays with Cheney.*
Noting Barack Obama was not at the dinner, the President said the reason must have been: "Not enough press."*
Warming up the crowd for the political schtick was a brief video from JibJab.com sending up the tabloidization of TV news, starting with the dominance of black-and-white era uberanchors like Cronkite and Brinkley and morphing into the cable news-cycle driven focus on Anna Nicole, Britany, and the Rosie O'Donald Trump story.