FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove
President Barack Obama is back in Washington, D.C. today after a whirlwind visit to the Southland. President Obama wrapped up two days of events with a trip to Burbank to tape a guest appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” late yesterday.
This is the first time a U.S. President has sat down for a chat on the “Tonight Show.” However, Obama has been on the late night show twice before: December of 2006 and October of 2007. So the president was quite comfortable with the routine of trading quips with Leno in front of a studio audience.
The president joked about the tight security that goes with the highest office in the land, getting a dog for his daughters, and sports. Also, Obama admitted “it’s pretty cool” flying on Air Force One. Nevertheless, he did talk about serious concerns like the struggling economy and those controversial AIG bonuses: “… the immediate bonuses that went to AIG are a problem. But the larger problem is we’ve got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough, and people have a sense of responsibility and they understand that their actions are going to have an impact on everybody. And if we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we’re going to be okay.”
The president hit his mark on the important issues, however, he became a little too relaxed during the lighter moments and that resulted in a gaffe. It is well known that the Commander-in-Chief is better at shooting basketball hoops than bowling. While discussing his recent bowling efforts the president said: “…it was like Special Olympics or something.”
The president and the White House realized his misstep pretty quickly. On the flight back to Washington, DC last night, the president reportedly phoned Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, to apologize for the remark and explain he did not intend to disparage those with special needs.
In 1968, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, founded Special Olympics to benefit those with intellectual disabilities. Senator Kennedy is one of Obama’s strongest political supporters. The White House released a transcript of the “Tonight Show” interview of the president by Leno and its on the www.whitehouse.gov website.
Earlier in the day, the president stood before another enthusiastic crowd of more than a thousand people at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex near Downtown Los Angeles. Just like the day before in OC, during this town hall meeting the president fielded questions on a variety of subjects, most dealing with the weak economy, jobs, and his stimulus plan.
Thursday morning, President Obama went out to Pomona to visit the Edison Electric Vehicle Technical Center. Also, the president met with some Village Academy High School students who made a video about the painful effects the economic crisis has had on their families.