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Things I Learned From the White House Correspondents Dinner

May 2, 2010

The guests of honor at the 2040 White House Correspondents Dinner. And yes, Joan Rivers will still be there to cover the Red Carpet.

At the annual White House Correspondents Dinner last night, as it now does once a year, Washington D.C. turned even more completely into Hollywood East. It’s become such a celebrity event that there’s actually a red carpet now, and it’s covered just like the Oscars. Even by “respectable” outlets such as the Washington Post, not just E! and Joan Rivers (who has been present at every WHC event since 1844, when John Tyler’s Texas annexation rib-ticklers left everybody in stitches).

It’s true that most media outlets already cover the political scene as though it were celebrity tabloid fodder, or perhaps professional wrestling, but they try to disguise their sensationalism under a patina of once-meaningful journalistic professionalism. So the WHC event is actually sort of refreshing in that regard—everyone goes ahead and shines the spotlight fully on the three-ring circus. The clowns are actually allowed to wear their makeup.

I knew all this going in, but I learned some new things from last night’s event and its coverage.

1. It’s now apparent that neither congressional legislation nor executive-branch regulations will be enough to ban Jay Leno from being on camera or in front of an audience ever again, despite his should-be-illegal levels of being unfunny. Here’s hoping there are at least five Team Coco justices on the Supreme Court. That’s right—it’s time for Leno to be SCOTUSed into oblivion once and for all.

2. A related observation: the banquet hall must have had a cricket problem, because I heard chirping several times during Leno’s routine. Check out the amazing stretch between the 10:00 and 13:00 mark in the video from last night, and weep when you remember that this dreadful hack makes millions of dollars a year from comedy. I love Michelle Obama’s response at the 13:50 remark, after the merciful end of the “Cash for Flunkers” bit. Four obligatory claps and a clenched-teeth smile are not the response a comedian wants at any event except a roast (from the person being roasted). But it works out well, because Leno’s clearly not a comedian.

3. Unless you’re ideologically incapable of giving Barack Obama credit for anything, you almost have to say that the president was funnier than Leno. Just as, last year, he was funnier than Wanda Sykes. The man has pretty solid comedic timing. I’ll offer no other commentary, just a link to the video.

4. And finally, the last thing I learned is that one day Justin Bieber is going to rule us all. Last night he hit on Kim Kardashian and drew more attention than anyone except maybe the President himself. Not bad for a 16-year-old kid. In fact, based on sheer popularity, I’m betting that Bieber could cross over into politics right now. I wouldn’t bet against him winning the California governor’s race if he jumped in as a 3rd-party candidate today (I’m also pretty sure that he could do no worse than the Golden State’s current options). Kinda like John Connor in Terminator 2, he could keep Schwarzenegger around as his muscle. But perhaps Bieber should hang back for a while, and bide his time until he can run for president. By the time he’s old enough, Bieber’s congressional loyalists will surely have disposed of that pesky native-born American citizen thing on behalf of their Canadian leader. I’m placing my bets now on a Justin Bieber – Suri Cruise ticket in 2040.

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