Tell us, Mr. President, how have things changed since the last broadcasters’ dinner?
“A year ago my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my vice president had shot someone,” President Bush said Wednesday night during the annual gathering.
“Ah,” he said, “those were the good ol’ days.”
In keeping with the lighthearted traditions of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner, Bush poked fun at himself and a few others in remarks that drew laughter and applause at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
Bush thanked the organization for providing dinner, “and I’d like to thank Senator Webb for providing security.”
Virginia’s Democratic senator, Jim Webb, had to explain this week why an aide was carrying a loaded handgun as he tried to enter a Capitol complex building.
Noting that Vice President Dick Cheney was not in attendance, Bush said: “He’s had a rough few weeks. To be honest, his feelings were kind of hurt. He said he was going on vacation to Afghanistan where people like him.”
Cheney’s recent trip to Afghanistan was marked by a bombing near where he was meeting with officials.
On the controversy over the Justice Department’s firing of eight federal prosecutors, Bush said: “I have to admit we really blew the way we let those attorneys go. You know you’ve botched it when people sympathize with lawyers.”
Acknowledging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the head table, Bush said some had wondered how he’d get along with her. “Some say she’s bossy, she’s opinionated, she’s not to be crossed,” he said. “Hey, I get along with my mother.”
Looking ahead to life after leaving the White House, Bush said he might follow President Clinton’s lead and produce a memoir.
“I’m thinking of something really fun and creative for mine,” he said. “You know, maybe a pop-up book.”
Possible titles: “How W. Got His Groove Back,” “Who Moved My Presidency?” and “Tuesday with Cheney.”
But seriously, folks, Bush noted that another person missing from the audience of broadcast journalists was Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat running for president.
“Not enough press,” the president cracked.
Comics from the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” provided the professional humor. Among other things, they persuaded Bush political adviser Karl Rove to participate in an improvised rap song.
The black-tie dinner, the group’s 63rd annual gathering of journalists, politicians and their guests, features political and topical humor.