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ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel may not have gotten the loudest laughs of recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner hosts, but he did leave the stage at the Washington Hilton with the satisfaction of knowing he didn’t bomb.
Kimmel’s half-hour speech was received with consistent, if not uproarious, laughter — likely a result of his playing it relatively safe. By Correspondents’ Dinner standards, and certainly compared to Seth Meyers‘ 2011 skewering of Donald Trump, Kimmel really wasn’t that mean.
He did give extra attention to a few targets, though, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and trailing Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich received the bulk of Kimmel’s cutting remarks. The audience seemed most responsive to his take-down of Christie, which focused on cracks about the governor’s weight.
“You might be misunderstanding the New Jersey state slogan,” said Kimmel. “It’s not the ‘Olive’ Garden State.”
Gingrich’s refusal to drop out of the presidential campaign, and his apparent resemblance to the gay lovechild of the Michelin Man and Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, took the heaviest hit among Republican targets — not that Kimmel didn’t have words for presumed presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“We would absolutely elect a Mormon president,” he said of the hopeful’s critics, “just not Mitt Romney.”
President Barack Obama also received the obligatory mocking, though he took it all with an unwavering grin — even when Kimmel took aim at his large ears and suggested a second term wasn’t in the cards.
“Hey Mr. President, do you remember when the country rallied around you in hopes for a better tomorrow?” he asked. “That was hilarious.”
The low point of the speech, at least for the audience, seemed to be Kimmel’s crack at the members of the print media in attendance.
“What’s black and white and read all over?” he asked. “Nothing anymore.”
As for the non-political figures in attendance, Kimmel did pay some attention to obvious target Lindsay Lohan: “Sully Sullenberger, can you take Lindsay Lohan home” he asked the pilot who famously landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. “And make sure you don’t run into a goose… a Grey Goose!”
Before leaving the stage on a relatively sincere note, and giving the president a high five, Kimmel did get in one last joke that seemed to go over especially well with the crowd: “Look under your seats. Under each one of your seats is a copy of Keith Olbermann‘s resume.”
One person who didn’t play it safe during the program was President Obama. Aside from the stray, stone-faced members of the conservative media in the ballroom, his entire speech seemed to go over well — with one notable exception.
“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?” he asked, recalling Sarah Palin‘s 2008 Republican National Convention Speech. “A pitbull is delicious.”
Immediate confusion from the crowd and an eye-roll from First Lady Michelle Obama seemed to indicate that not all are keeping tabs with the “Obama eats dogs” meme that’s taken hold of the Internet since a Romney staffer recently reminded the media that Obama’s memoirs include an anecdote about being served dog meat while in Indonesia.
“What?” he said, to further silence and few groans. “A little soy sauce?”
Obama did much better with the crowd when he called out Arianna Huffington for the lack of actual journalism and paychecks at her website: “There’s no one else linking to hard-hitting journalism like The Huffington Post links to today.”
Watch the videos below.
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