President Obama’s and Joel McHale’s Remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner, 2014

Thank You. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Everyone, please have a seat. Have a seat.

Before I get started, can we get the new presidential set up out here?  It has worked before.  That is more like it.

It is great to be back. What a year, huh? I usually start these dinners with a few self-deprecating jokes. After my stellar 2013, what can I possibly talk about?

I admit it—-last year was rough. Sheesh.

At one point, things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize.

Of course, we rolled out That could have gone better.

In 2008, my slogan was “Yes, we can.” In 2013, my slogan was “Control, alt, delete.”

On the plus side, they did turn the launch of into one of the year’ s biggest movies. But rather than dwell on the past, I would like to pivot to this dinner.

Let’s welcome our headliner this evening, Joel McHale.  On “Community,” Joel plays a preening, self-obsessed narcissist, so this dinner must be a real change of pace for you.  I want to thank the White House Correspondents Association for hosting us here tonight. I am happy to be here, even though I am a little jet-lagged from my trip to Malaysia. The lengths we have to go to to get CNN coverage these days.

I think they are still searching for their tables.

MSNBC is here.  They are a little overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before.

Look, everyone is trying to keep up with this incredibly fast-changing media landscape. For example, I got a lot of grief on cable news for promoting Obamacare to young people on “Between Two Ferns.” But that’s what young people like to watch. And to be fair, I am not the first person on television between two potted plants.

Sometimes I do feel disrespected by you reporters. But that’s OK. Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman is here tonight, and he gave me some great tips on how to handle it. Jake Tapper, don’t you ever talk about me like that! I am the best president in the game! What do you think, Richard, was that good?  A little more feeling next time.

While we are talking sports, just last month, a wonderful story. An American won the Boston Marathon for the first time in 30 years.  Which was inspiring and only fair since a Kenyan has been president for the last six. We have to even things out.

We have some other athletes here tonight, including Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Jamie Anderson is here. We are proud of her. Incredibly talented young lady. Michelle and I watch the Olympics, we cannot believe what these folks do. Death-defying feats. We haven’t seen somebody pull a 180 that fast since Rand Paul disinvitied that disgruntled rancher from this dinner.

As a general rule, things don’t end well if the sentence starts, “Let me tell you something I know about the negro.” You don’t really need to hear the rest of it.  Just a tip for you. Don’ t start your sentence that way.

Speaking of Rand Paul— Colorado legalized marijuana this year. An interesting social experiment. I do hope it does not lead to a bunch of paranoid people who think the federal government is out to get them and listening to their phone calls.  That would be a problem.

And speaking of conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought a table here tonight. But they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News.   I’m just kidding. Let’s face it, Fox, you’ l miss me when I’ m gone.  It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.

A lot of us really are concerned about the way that money is influencing our politics. I remember when a super pack with me was buying Marlboro 100s instead of regulars.

Of course, now that it is 2014, Washington is obsessed on the midterms. Folks are saying that with my sagging poll numbers, my fellow democrats don’t really want me campaigning with them. I don’t think that is true, although I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker at career day and she invited Bill Clinton.  I was a little hurt by that.

Both sides are doing whatever it takes to win. The ruthless game. Republicans—this is a true story—Republicans actually brought in a group consultant to teach their candidates how to speak to women. This is true. I don’t know if it’ll work for women, but I understand America’s teenage boys are signing up to run for the Senate in droves.

Anyway, while you guys focus on the horse race, I’m going to do what I do. I will be focused on everyday Americans. Just yesterday I read a heartbreaking letter. I get letters from folks around the country every day. I get 10 that I read. This one got me. A Virginia man who’s been stuck in the same part-time job for years. No respect from his boss. There was no chance to get ahead. I really wish Eric Cantor would stop writing me. You can just pick up the phone, Eric.

I am feeling sorry, believe it and not, for the Speaker of the House. These days, the House Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than they give me. Which means orange really is the new black.

But I have not given up the idea of working with Congress. In fact, two weeks ago, Senator Ted Cruz and I, we got a bill done together and I have to say the signing ceremony was something special. We got a picture of it I think.

Look, I know. Washington seems more dysfunctional than ever. Gridlock has gotten so bad in this town, you have to wonder what did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?

One issue, for example, we haven’t been able to agree on is unemployment insurance. Republicans continue to refuse to extend it. You know what, I am beginning to think they have a point. If you don’t want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.

There is one thing that keeps Republicans busy. They have tried more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare. Despite that, 8 million people signed up for healthcare in the first open enrollment.  Which does lead one to ask, how well does Obamacare have to work before you don’t want to repeal it? What if everyone’s cholesterol drops to 120? What if your yearly checkup came with tickets to a Clippers’ game? Not the old Donald Sterling Clippers, the new Oprah Clippers. What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse? What is it going to take?

Anyway, this year I have promised to use more executive actions to get things done without Congress. My critics call this the imperial presidency. Truth is I just show up every day at my office and do my job. We have a picture of this, I think?

You would think they would appreciate a more assertive approach, considering that the new conservative darling is non other than Vladimir Putin. Last year, Pat Buchanan said Putin’s headed straight for the Nobel Peace Prize. He said this. Now I know it sounds crazy but to be fair they give those to just about anybody these days. It could happen.

But it’s not just Pat, Rudy Giuliani said, “Putin is what you would call a leader. Mike Huckabee and Shawn Hannity keep talking about his bare chest, which is kind of weird.   Look it up. They talk about it a lot.

It is strange to think that I have just two and a half years left in this office. Everywhere I look there are reminders that I only hold this job temporarily.  But, it is a long time between now and 2016. And anything can happen. You may have heard the other day that Hillary had to dodge a flying shoe at a press conference.

I love that picture.

Regardless of what happens, I’ve run my last campaign. I’m beginning to think about my legacy. Some of you know that Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that he’s naming a high school after me in Chicago. I was even more flattered to hear that Rick Perry, who is here tonight, is doing the same thing in Texas. Take a look.  Thank you, Rick. It means a lot to me.

I intend to enjoy all the free time that I will have. George W. Bush took up painting after he left office. It inspired me to take up own artistic side. I am sure we have a shot of this. Maybe not. The joke does not work without the slide.  Oh well. Assume that it was funny.  Does this happen to you Joel? It does, OK.

On a serious note, tonight reminds us that we are lucky to live in a country where reporters can give a head of state a hard time on a daily basis. And once a year give him or her the chance at least to return the favor. We also know that not every journalist or photographer or crew member is so fortunate. Even as we celebrate the free press tonight, our thoughts are with those in places around the globe like Ukraine and Afghanistan and Syria and Egypt. People who risk everything. In some cases even give their lives to report the news. And what tonight also reminds us is that the fight for full and fair access goes beyond the chance to ask a question.

As Steve mentioned, decades ago an African-American who wanted to cover his or her president might be barred from journalism school. Burdened by Jim Crow. And once in Washington banned from press conferences. After years of effort, black editors and publishers began meeting with FDR’s press secretary, Steve Irving. They met with the president himself, who declared that a black reporter would get a credential. Even when Harry McAlpin made history as the first African-American to attend a presidential news conference, he was not always welcomed by the other reporters. But he was welcomed by the president, who told him, “I’m glad to see you McAlpin.” I’m very happy to have you here.” Now that sentiment might have worn off once Harry asked him a question or two. And Harry’s battles continued, but he made history. We are so proud of Sherman and his family for being here tonight and the White House Correspondents Association for creating the scholarship in Harry’s name.

For over 100 years, even as the White House Correspondents Association has told the story of America’s progress, you’ve lived it too. Gradually allowing equal access to women, minorities, gays and Americans with disabilities. Yes, radio and television and Internet reporters as well. Through it all you’ve helped make sure that even as societies change, our fundamental commitment to the interaction between those who govern and those who ask questions doesn’t change. And as Jay will attest, it’s a legacy that you carry on enthusiastically every single day. Because this is the 100th anniversary of the Correspondents Association, I actually recorded an additional brief video thanking you for all your hard work. Can we run the video?

What is going on? I was told this would work. Does anybody know how to fix this? Thank you.  Do you have it?

Kathleen Sebelius: I got this. I see it all the time. There. That should work.

Congratulations to the White House Correspondents. Here is to 100 more years.

Thank you very much, everybody.. Bless you.


Alright everybody, here we go. I am the last person standing between you and your after-party. So in just one hour and 15 minutes you will be walking out of here, all right? I’m gonna break Jay Leno’s record tonight. Strap in. Here we go.

Good evening, Mr. President, or as Paul Ryan refers to you, yet another inner-city minority relying on the government to feed and house your family. I am a big fan of President Obama. I think he’s one of the all-time great presidents, definitely in the top 50. Please explain that to Jessica Simpson. You’re right, that was low.

All right, how about the president’s performance tonight, everyone? Sir, it’s amazing that you can still bring it with fresh, hilarious material. My favorite bit of yours was when you said you would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. That was a classic. That was hilarious, hilarious. Still going.

I would like to take a moment to recognize the first lady. Mrs. Obama, you have been very kind to me and my family, especially when you showed us all how to tear a phone book in half with your bare hands. It was incredible.

I would also like to thank the White House Correspondents’ Association for having me and for not being able to book Jimmy Fallon. That’s true.

All right, look, I know it’s been a long night, but I promise that tonight will be both amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie’ s presidential bid. I got a lot of these tonight, so buckle up, Governor Christie. Excuse me, extender buckle up.

I deserve that. I agree on that one. You’re right on.

Now allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Joel McHale. I am on an NBC show called “Community.” That is exactly what I thought. I also host a show called “The Soup,” which is on the E! network, thank you. To Republicans in attendance, E! is the channel that your deeply closeted gay son likes to watch. Democrats, it’s the same channel that your happy, openly gay son likes to watch. E! is also home to the Kardashians, who believe it or not, are Republicans. And I know that because they are always trying to screw black people.

Now just the men!

It’s an honor to be here tonight at the Washington Hilton. I am tingling with excitement—or maybe that’s just the bedbugs. I hope you all enjoyed your dinner. The filet tonight was grass-fed beef, freshly dragged off the Cliven Bundy ranch. The steaks are very tasty once you pull off the tiny white hoods.

Oh see, you like Cliven Bundy? Okay I get it, all right great, all right let it be known, let the record show, all right.

Tonight’s show is being broadcast on C-SPAN. C-SPAN is like one of those “Paranormal Activity” movies. It’s just grainy shots of empty rooms interrupted by images of people you’re pretty sure died a few years ago. Yeah. Oh, and stay tuned, after the Correspondents’ Dinner for an all-new episode of C-SPAN’s hit show, “So You Think You Can Remain Conscious.” It’s very competitive.

This is the 100th year of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Yes, 100 years ago CNN was only searching for the Wright brothers’ plane. It’s true.

And the Correspondents’ Dinner itself is a tradition dating back to 1920. Back then, this event was only for men. It’s true. And there is a plaque in the lobby commemorating this as the location of the very first ever total sausage fest.

Hashtag total sausage fest.

But that’s all changed, now America is truly a land of diversity. Only here would you find a black president, a soon-to-be Hispanic majority, and all 19 nationalities contained within Arianna Huffington’s accent.

That was low.

It is a genuine thrill to be here in Washington, D.C., the city that started the whole crack-smoking mayor craze. You guys were the first. I hope he’s not here tonight.

People say that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is a clumsy mess. But he can’t help it, he’s a big guy, he’s like a bull in a crack pipe shop.

Between Rob Ford, Justin Bieber and Ted Cruz, you just want to tell Canada, “Hey, hey, relax – we already have a Florida.”

Ted Cruz proposed a government shutdown to protest the Affordable Care Act. And everyone else in Congress decided to go along with it simply to get some time away from Ted Cruz. The Tea Party is anti-socialism and anti-immigration, so it makes sense that their hero is a Cuban from Canada. Poignant, that one was poignant.

The vice president isn’t here tonight, not for security reasons, he just thought this event was being held at the Dulles Airport Applebee’s. Yes, right now Joe is elbow-deep in jalapeno poppers and talking to a construction cone that he thinks is John Boehner. Also true.

It’s crazy to think that Joe Biden is only one heartbeat away from no one taking him seriously as president. Sorry for that one.

Biden will likely be running for president in 2016 saying, and I quote, “There’s no obvious reason not to.” He talks about his motivation for a presidential run as if he’s deciding to finish a meatball hoagie. “Hey, it’s there, isn’t it? All I’m saying is if the bread is toasty and the cheese is warm, I’m going to finish that thing. Jill, bring me my hoagie bib. No, not that one. The fancy one.”

Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her as a candidate: She has experience, she’s a natural leader. As our first female president, we could pay her 30 percent less. That is a savings this country could use. Who’s with me?

Hillary’s daughter Chelsea is pregnant which means in nine months we will officially have a sequel to “Bad Grandpa.” It also raises the question, when the baby is born do you give Bill Clinton a cigar?

You guys sound like you’re on a roller coaster right now.

There’s a heated race on the Republican side, they’re all battling to see who will win over the GOP base–and more importantly, who gets to apply turtle wax to Sheldon Adelson’s Rascal Scooter.

Jeb Bush says he’s thinking about running. Wow, another Bush might be in the White House. Is it already time for our every 10 years surprise party for Iraq? As it stands right now, the Republican presidential nominee will either be Jeb Bush, Rand Paul or a bag of flour with Ronald Reagan’s face drawn on it. Bag of flour! All right.

People are asking, will Donald Trump run again? And the answer is: Does that thing on his head crap in the woods? I actually don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know if that thing on his head has a digestive system.

Speaking of digestive systems, Chris Christie is here. He is actually here, tonight. Wow, sir, you are a glutton … for punishment. So, here we go. Chris Christie, his administration canceled the train tunnel to Manhattan, they’re closing the Pulaski Skyway and they blocked the George Washington Bridge. Finally, a politician willing to stand up to America’s commuters.

Governor, do you want bridge jokes or size jokes? ’Cause I’ve got a bunch of both. I could go half and half. I know you like a combo platter.

Now, I know, I get that. I am sorry for that joke, Governor Christie. I did not know I was going to tell it, but I take full responsibility for it. Whoever wrote it will be fired. But the buck stops here. So I will be a man and own up to it just as soon as I get to the bottom of how it happened because I was unaware it happened until just now. I am appointing a blue-ribbon commission of me to investigate the joke I just told. And if I find any wrongdoing on my part, I assure you I will be dealt with. I just looked into it. It turns out I am not responsible for it. Justice has been served.

He is going to kill me.

Mr. President, you are no stranger to criticism. Ted Nugent called you a subhuman mongrel. And it’s comments like that which really makes me question whether we can take a guy who wrote “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” seriously anymore.

Your approval rating has slipped and even worse–you’ve only got two stars on Yelp.

Mitch McConnell said his number one priority was to get the president out of office. So Mitch, congrats on being just two years away from realizing your goal. You did it! Kind of.

Mr. President, your harshest critics have compared you to Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and even Satan. And I just have to say those comparisons are outrageous. You look way older than those guys. Just because—look, Morgan Freeman has played a president a few times? That’s doesn’t mean you have to look exactly like him, all right?

But you are healthy, which is great. Every year the White House doctor checks the president’s colon for polyps and George Clooney’ s head. Yeah.

It is good to see that White House press secretary and boy detective Jay Carney is here. It’s a big night for Jay. I haven’t seen him this nervous since the president told him, “Look, just go out there and tell them the Web site’s broken. They’ll understand.” That actually probably was a moment.

Mr. President, you have to admit, and you already have, the launch of was a disaster. It was bad. It was bad. I don’t even have an analogy because the Web site is now the thing people use to describe other bad things. They say stuff like “Ugh, I shouldn’t have eaten that sushi, I was up all night” “Boy, that latest Johnny Depp movie really health at the box office.” “Look, my new rug! Did the dog on it? You can’t get out of shag.”

Thanks to Obamacare, or as the president refers to it, “me-care,” millions of newly insured young Americans can visit the doctor’s office and see what a print magazine actually looks like. That’s awesome. Now, over 8 million people have signed up for Obamacare, which sounds impressive until you realize Ashley Tisdale has 12 million Twitter followers, so – it’s pretty good.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. There’s a mad man who’s had plastic surgery running around, annexing small countries in Eastern Europe. And all I keep thinking is, “What the hell is Bruce Jenner doing in Crimea?” Do they even get that show there?

Sir, I do think you’re making a big mistake with Putin. You have to show a guy like that that you are just as crazy as he is. He invades Crimea, you invade Cancun. Russia takes back the Ukraine, America takes back Texas. Something to think about.

Julia Pierson, the new director of the Secret Service is here tonight. Under her leadership, Secret Service agents no longer consort with prostitutes, thanks to their new “too drunk to make it to the brothel” program.

I am sure she loves that.

The director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is here. Finally, I can put a face to the mysterious voice clearing its throat on the other end of the phone. It was weird.

To prepare for tonight, I have been watching a lot of cable news. I am a big fan of that lesbian on MSNBC-–Chris Hayes, he’s great.

Yeah, I agree. MSNBC is a confusing place! I mean, Al Sharpton is their skinny guy.

And CNN is desperately searching for something they’ve been missing for months – their dignity. Totally.

That was just that table.

At this point, CNN is like the RadioShack in a strip mall. You don’t know how it stayed in business this long, you don’t know anyone who shops there, and they just fired Piers Morgan.

Thank you. Fox News is the highest-rated network in cable news. Yeah, I can’t believe your table’s pushed off that far. And it’s all thanks to their key demographic, the corpses of old people who tuned into Fox News and haven’t yet been discovered.

Former “Inside Edition” host Bill O’Reilly is not here. He did host that. Bill’s got another book coming out soon, so he’s making his ghost writers work around the clock. Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity are the Mount Rushmore of keeping old people angry.

This event brings together both Washington and Hollywood. The relationship between Washington and Hollywood has been a long and fruitful one. You give us tax credits for film and television production. And in return, we bring much-needed jobs to hard-working American cities, like Vancouver. Toronto. And Vancouver again.

Hollywood helps America by projecting a heroic image to the rest of the world. We have just released another movie about Captain America. Or as he’s known in China, Captain who owes us $1.1 trillion.

There’s a lot of celebrities here tonight; they’re the ones that don’t look like ghouls. Look around. The cast of “Veep” is here. That’s the series about what would happen if a “Seinfeld” star actually landed on another good show. I like “New Adventures of Old Christine,” I swear.

The folks from “Duck Dynasty” had a very challenging year. The grandfather on that show made homophobic and racist comments. But people are overlooking another issue. He really hates ducks.

“House of Cards” has had a huge impact on Washington. What a great show. I haven’t seen a Southern senator give a tour de force performance like that since Lindsey Graham played Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” And Lindsey, if you’re here now, you can drop character any time, man.

And I am not going to spoil that shocking twist on “House of Cards.” But just know that it was so surprising, Nancy Pelosi’s face almost changed expression. Did you like that one, Nancy? I can’t tell.

I would like to congratulate Jared Leto, who was here tonight, on his Oscar. And to the Republican senator who asked to be introduced to, quote, “That hot chick from ‘Dallas Buyers Club’” – you are in for a very interesting evening.

Richard Sherman has already had an impact on tonight’s event. He’s intercepted all three of Tim Tebow’s attempts to pass the dinner rolls. Oh, and Russell Wilson is also here from my Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Peyton Manning, he wanted to be here tonight, but he can only move four yards at a time.

You’re right, he’s not here to defend himself.

Legendary actor Robert De Niro is here tonight, everyone. Now, I don’t do a De Niro impression, but I do an impression of Robert De Niro’s agent. Ready? Here it is. “Ring ring–-he’ll do it!” Mr. De Niro, I was in “Spy Kids 4” so clearly I am beyond reproach. So I will see you on the set of “Spy Kids 5,” I’m sure.

Biz Stone, the founder of Twitter, is here. So if any of you congressmen want to cut out the middleman, just show him your penis.

Not now! You nuts?

Okay, those are my warm-up jokes. I am kidding. I’m kidding. I want to leave you tonight with a bit of a pep talk. America has seen her share of challenges, but as my agents told me when I booked an NBC sitcom, “Hey, things could be worse.”

Now have you watched the news? Not CNN, I mean, like, the real news. It’s pretty bad in other places. By comparison, America is doing great. I mean, this year, after months of heated debate and controversy, we achieved something that will impact the health of millions: We brought back Twinkies. And we’re no longer the fattest country in the world; now, Mexico is. But don’t worry, we’ll be number one again as soon as they all come over here.

And what’s our biggest concern as Americans? TV show spoilers. In other countries, a spoiler consists of, “Hey, I haven’t been back to the village yet, so don’t tell me who survived the drone strike. No spoilers!” Sorry about that one.

America still has amazing technological innovations. Google Glass has hit the market. Now, just by walking down the street, we’ll know exactly who to punch in the face. In America, we see gluten and peanuts as threats to our kids. In other countries, gluten and peanuts are the nicknames of warlords who have child armies, so we’re better.

America is doing just fine, guys. How do I know that? Because we are making a fourth movie about trucks that turn into giant robots. And why are they making a “Transformers 4”? Because there is still so much story left to tell. So chin up everyone, this country is still number one in the all-important categories of cream-filled pastries, face computers and robot trucks. Education, the economy and the environment? Hey, we’ll get them next time.

And here’s why America is the best country in the world: A guy like me can stand before the president, the press and Patrick Duffy, and tell jokes without severe repercussions. And instead of being shipped off to a gulag, I am going to the Vanity Fair after-party. That’s right, this is America, where everyone can be a Pussy Riot.

This is one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me ever in my entire life. Thank you, Mr. President; thank you, Mrs. Obama; thank you, White House Correspondents’ Dinner; and thank you, C-SPAN viewer. Good night, everybody. Thank you.

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