President Bush headlined the annual Gridiron Club political press roast Saturday night, but Vice President Dick Cheney was the main target of the humor.
Cheney’s well-publicized Texas hunting accident last month drew ridicule from the press corps and all the speakers, including the president.
Bush pointed out that the vice president’s full name is Richard B. Cheney.
“B. stands for bulls eye,” Bush said to laughter from the hundreds of reporters and officials from the administration and Congress. The press, Bush joked, blew the matter way out of proportion: “Good Lord, you’d thought he shot somebody or something.”
Cheney, who sat at the head table, laughed along with most of the jokes.
Bush said that while pundits speculate about whether Cheney or White House political adviser Karl Rove run the government, it’s another person who actually pulls the strings. Cheney, Bush said, tells him what to do but Cheney’s wife, Lynne, tells the vice president what to do.
“Lynne, I think you’re doing a heck of a job. Although I have to say you dropped the ball big time on that Dubai deal,” he said, in a joke about the controversial ports deal.
Lynne Cheney was the Republican speaker and opened by saying that because she came late in the program “the hunting jokes have been used.”
The Democratic speaker was Illinois Sen. Barack Obama who sang a parody, “If I Only Had McCain.”
His song alluded to a recent spat with Sen. John McCain over ethics reform. Obama was the lead Democrat on the issue, which has been a signature cause of the Arizona Republican.
‘What’s our platform? We ain’t sure.’
Democrats didn’t have an easier time than the Republicans and were mocked for being in disarray over their party’s message and strategy, its position on the Iraq war and even whom to field for president in 2008.
“What do we stand for? We don’t know. What’s our platform? We ain’t sure. All we know is Dubya’s got it wrong,” reporters sang, using a nickname for Bush.
The travails of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California also came in for a ribbing.
“This job is a zoo, I don’t have a clue,” a reporter sang. But then “Dubya messed up with the ports. I don’t know why, but thank you, Dubai.”
Bush made his fifth appearance and speech at the white-tie dinner.
Reporters dressed as sick chickens for a bird flu skit, as the Incredible Hulk to poke fun at Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who likes to wear a Hulk tie while waging fights in the Senate, and as Cheney hidden behind a Darth Vader mask.
Founded in 1885, the invitation-only Gridiron Club is the oldest organization for Washington journalists. It exists only for the annual dinner.
Now in its 121st year, the Gridiron claims to “singe, but never burn.”