In theory, the media is supposed to keep any given administration, even that of hope and change, "honest", and to report its flaws, failings, criminality and hypocrisy. In practice, this never happens, since the bulk of US, and global, media outlets are owned by a handful of corporations which in turn do everything in their power to preserve the lucrative arrangement in which the administration pretends to administer, and the media pretends to do its job.
With this kind of informational near-monopoly, corporations - and the media - are far more interested in perpetuating the crony-capitalist status quo, which in conjunction with Wall Street's bribery funding of the three branches of US government, has come to symbolize just how broken US governance has become.
For 364 days of the year, the theater that the press and the administration are on the opposite sides of the table, continues without a glitch. However, one day a year, during the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, the facade falls and Obama, together with his fawning press corps, have a night of laughs in an Oscar-inspired night of self-congratularoty excess. Which, just like every other night in Washington, is at the taxpayers' expense.
Among the over 2000 "guests" enjoying the jokes were Jessica Simpson, Patrick Stewart, Matthew Morrison, Anna Chlumsky, Lindsey Vonn, Katharine McPhee, Jeremy Irvine, Lupita Nyong'o, Julianna Margulies, Sofia Vergara, Brad Paisley, Kevin Hart, Cynthia Nixon, Tim Tebow, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, J.C. Chasez, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Olivia Munn, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Fred Armisen, Richard Sherman and Harvey Weinstein.
The good news: the humor - written by others, of course - was good. Here are the highlights from last night's festivities.
First, Obama's punchlines reported by Reuters:
"In 2008 my slogan was, 'Yes we can.' In 2013, it was control-alt-delete," Obama joked to an audience also studded with film and television stars.
"At one point, things got so bad the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize," he said, referring to 2012 presidential campaign scandal in which the Republican candidate was secretly taped saying that 47 percent of Americans have become reliant on government handouts.
The president highlighted some of the low points of his administration's last year, dwelling on the disastrous rollout of the website for his landmark health insurance reform legislation.
"Of course we rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better," he deadpanned.
Later he turned on Republican opponents in Congress who are clamoring to repeal the legislation despite higher than expected enrollment figures in the government health care exchanges: "How well does Obamacare have to work before you stop trying to repeal it?"
At the end of his speech, Obama turned the audience's attention to a video monitor, which failed to work. Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary who announced her resignation this month after overseeing the botched rollout of Obamacare, stepped to the podium to try to fix the technical glitch.
Obama also took a swipe at Republicans for blocking his bid to raise the minimum wage. "If you want to get paid for not working you should run for Congress just like everyone else," he said.
In a self-deprecating crack at his own low popularity ratings, the president referred to his fellow Democrats not wanting to campaign with him for November congressional elections in a wistful joke involving one of his daughters: "I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker for career day and she invited Bill Clinton."
"Let's face the facts, you'll miss me when I'm gone," Obama directed to the Fox News table. "It will be harder for you to convince Americans that Hillary was born in Kenya."
Some more from USA Today:
When McHale took over duties, he aimed straight at Obamacare's launch.
"It was so bad!" he said from the stage. "I don't even have an analogy, because the website is now an analogy that people use to describe other bad things. 'Boy that latest Johnny Depp movie really healthcare.gov'd at the box office.' "
A few of McHale's other best lines:
- On Chris Christie: "I promise that tonight will be amusing and over quickly. Just like Chris Christie's presidential bid."
- On Rob Ford: "Between Rob Ford, Justin Bieber and Ted Cruz, you just want to tell Canada, 'Hey, hey, relax. We already have a Florida.' "
- On Hillary running for office: Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her as a candidate. She has experience, she's a natural leader. And as our first female president, we could pay her 30% less! That's a saving this country could use. Who's with me??"
- On Chelsea Clinton's pregnancy: "In nine months we will officially have a sequel to Bad Grandpa."
Finally, the video clips: