Video: Wanda Sykes draws criticism for remarks

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/11/2009 5:07:44 PM ET 2009-05-11T21:07:44

The White House is keeping its distance from an entertainer's joke comparing conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh to a terrorist.

On Monday, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked for President Barack Obama's reaction to Wanda Sykes' comedic performance Saturday at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

"I don’t know how guests get booked," said Gibbs. "That’s a White House Correspondents' Association thing."

He said he hadn't spoken to the president about Sykes, but added, "I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy. I think there’s no doubt that 9/11 is part of that."

Sykes, who served as mistress of ceremonies, jabbed at Limbaugh for suggesting that he wants Obama to fail.

"So you’re saying, 'I hope America fails.' You’re like, 'I don’t care about people losing their homes, their jobs or our soldiers in Iraq.' He just wants our country to fail."

"To me, that’s treason," she added. "He’s not saying anything differently than Osama bin Laden is saying. You know you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight."

Responding to the crowd's reaction, Sykes asked, "Too much?"

But she quickly added, "You’re laughing inside — I know you’re laughing."

She didn't stop there. "Rush Limbaugh: 'I hope the country fails.' I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? He needs a waterboarding, that’s what he needs."

Limbaugh wasn't the only Republican roasted at the dinner — former Vice President Dick Cheney was also a monologue target.

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"Dick Cheney, oh my God, he's a scary man, scares me to death. I tell my kids, I says, 'Look, if two cars pull up, and one has a stranger, and the other car has Dick Cheney, you get in the car with the stranger.'"

Sykes also had former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in her cross hairs. The Alaska governor canceled her dinner appearance after severe flooding hit her state.

She sent her husband, Todd, instead, but that didn't prevent a few jokes about her teenage daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

Still, some Democrats were also comedically targeted.

"I think you hang out too much," said Sykes of Obama. "What was that, you and Joe Biden out getting a hamburger? The two of you can’t hang out together. I mean, whose idea was that, Nancy Pelosi's? 'Hey, Why don’t you boys go out and get a bite?'"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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