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Very funny, Mr President

Obama zings journalists, politicians at annual dinner

US President Barack Obama broke the usually tense relationship with the media in Washington on Saturday evening.

He poked fun at himself when the political and media elites gathered at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

"In 2008, my slogan was, 'Yes we can'. In 2013, it was 'control-alt-delete'," Mr Obama joked to an audience also studded with film and TV stars. It was a reference to his health-care website, which has been plagued by glitches.

He also joked: ""I admit it, last year was rough.... At one point, things got so bad the 47 per cent called Mitt Romney to apologise."

The figure referred to the 2012 presidential campaign scandal in which the Republican candidate was secretly taped saying that 47 per cent of Americans have become reliant on government handouts.

More than 2,000 guests packed the ballroom of the Washington Hilton, where the capital's political and media worlds meet every year in lubricated goodwill punctuated by glamour on loan from Hollywood. The association marked its 100th year this year.

The President highlighted some of the low points of his administration's last year, dwelling on the disastrous roll-out 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 clamouring to repeal the legislation despite higher than expected enrolment figures in the government health-care exchanges: "How well does Obamacare have to work before you stop trying to repeal it?"

Hollywood celebrities who were there included Lupita Nyong'o, the Oscar-winning actress in 12 Years A Slave, along with its director, Steve McQueen. Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron was a guest, as was actress Diane Lane.

TV stars included Olivia Munn of The Newsroom and Juliana Margulies ofThe Good Wife.Julia Louis-Dreyfus was there with her cast from hit comedy Veep, parodying a dysfunctional vice-president's office.

IN CHARACTER

A video played earlier in the evening showed Louis-Dreyfus in character, asking a real-life Joe Biden: "Are you going to the Snorespondents' dinner tonight?"

The video skit included health-conscious first lady Michelle Obama sneaking some ice cream in the White House kitchen, House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi getting a tattoo and House Speaker John Boehner skipping the dinner to watch a panda video in his office.

The skit ended with a joke on the Hollywood-Washington romance, as Louis-Dreyfus said slowly to Biden: "I'm not really a V.P., but you are. I'm an actress from Hollywood." - Reuters.


At one point, things got so bad the 47 per cent called Mitt Romney to apologise.

- Mr Barack Obama, joking about how bad 2013 was, and alluding to the 2012 presidential campaign scandal. Mr Romney was secretly taped saying that 47 per cent of Americans have become reliant on government handouts

Presidential gags

Needling CNN on its extensive reporting on missing flight MH370:

"I am a little jet-lagged from my trip to Malaysia. The lengths we have to go to to get CNN coverage these days. "

Poking fun at news station MSNBC for its lower ratings with US viewers:

"MSNBC is here - they're a little overwhelmed. They've never seen an audience this big before."

Making a reference to the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programme:

"Colorado legalised marijuana this year. I hope it doesn't lead to a bunch of paranoid people who think the government is out to get them, and listening to their phone calls."

On his adversarial relationship with Fox News:

"Let's face it, Fox, you'll miss me when I'm gone. It'll be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya."

On Republicans 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."

On Donald Trump's campaign against Mr Obama, alleging that the US President isn't American:

"An American won the Boston Marathon for the first time in 40 years, which was inspiring and only fair since a Kenyan has been President for the past six."

Exiting the stage

At the end of Mr Obama's speech, he introduced a video clip that stalled and failed, a wink at the roll-out problems Healthcare.gov encountered. Former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared to save the day.