Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama made fun of Special Olympics on Leno


Barack Obama's historic visit to Jay Leno and The Tonight Show was overshadowed a bit by the Special Olympics. Obama tried to joke around in his first talk show appearance as President, but a reference to the Special Olympics was the main talking point of the interview. Obama joked about his 129 bowling score being "like the Special Olympics or something." Even before The Tonight Show episode aired, the White House moved fast to make sure the Special Olympics were not offended.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton read a quick statement of apology to reporters before Obama was seen on The Tonight Show with Leno. Obama even sent a personal phone call of apology to Special Olympics President Timothy Shriver, which was discussed with Shriver on Good Morning America today.

The Special Olympics comment about Obama's bowling score was a very brief part of the Tonight Show interview. But it was the main talking point afterwards, even as Obama talked about the economy, AIG, and the road ahead for the administration.

Obama also discussed the restrictions placed on him by the Secret Service, the search for the new family dog, and got to compare Washington to American Idol and Simon Cowell.


The choice of Leno and The Tonight Show to host the first interview with a sitting President was a little bit surprising. David Letterman has made the most news interviewing politicians lately, and The Daily Show and Colbert Report have interviewed every politician except for a sitting President.

Leno got this coup as another sign that he is leaving The Tonight Show on a high note, as his final show is just weeks away. Since Leno will be carrying much of NBC primetime on his shoulders once he goes to the 10 p.m. slot, he needs a lot of momentum going forward. Being able to speak to President Obama certainly can't hurt.

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Obama has already used late night and other traditionally un-Presidential outlets like the Internet to get much of his message across. It wouldn't be surprising if Obama makes another late night appearance in office someday, despite his little gaff about the Special Olympics.

The President has been a multi-tasker lately, able to fill out an NCAA tournament bracket and talk to Jay Leno, while dealing with AIG outrage and the rest of the economy.