Clinton cracks jokes with media elite

WASHINGTON (AP) — If the adage that every joke carries an element of truth is accurate, then President Clinton is in trouble.
Appearing before 3,000 journalists, politicians and celebrities at a gala dinner Saturday night, Clinton read an ersatz White House memo detailing how donors who give $10,000 can have the privilege of meeting with Al Gore to discuss reinventing government.
“And for $20,000 you don’t have to go,” Clinton punch-lined.
And all those coffees the president held with potential donors? Clinton addresses that one in a memo from Harold Ickes, former deputy chief of staff, to his then-boss Leon Panetta: “Leon, FYI, Maxwell House coffee’s on sale this week for $3.49 a pound.”
The black-tie crowd at the 83rd annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner loved Clinton’s shtick. The event assembles Washington’s media elite, who then try to impress each other by bringing along sensational guests.
Gracing the salmon and beef filet dinner was Alec Baldwin and wife Kim Basinger, George Clooney, Robert DeNiro and Ellen DeGeneres, who caused a stir as she walked in holding hands with a female date. The star of ABC’s “Ellen” recently made headlines by announcing that both she and her television character are lesbians.
And of course there were also the usual Washington crew: first lady Hillary Clinton; Vice President Al and Tipper Gore; Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his wife, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell; and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
While comedian Jon Stewart provided the formal entertainment, Clinton’s jokes at the expense of his administration and Congress elicited plenty of chuckles.
Not even 17-year-old daughter Chelsea could escape her father’s high jinks.
“The bad news is our only child is going off to college,” Clinton said mournfully. Then, perkily: “The good news is, it opens up another bedroom.”
Terence Hunt, chief White House correspondent of The Associated Press, emceed the event as retiring president of the correspondents’ association.
Receiving journalism awards were the AP’s Ron Fournier, National Public Radio’s Mara Liasson, Todd Purdum of The New York Times and Byron Acohido of The Seattle Times.