March 20, 2009

White House backtracks on Special Olympics

U.S. President Barack Obama, during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, made a gaffe that required White House press office clarification.

Asked by Leno about his bowling, Obama said he recently bowled 129, adding it was like Special Olympics, or something.

The audience laughed but the White House apparently feared someone would take offense. Two hours before the show aired on the East Coast, White House spokesman Bill Burton handed out a statement on Air Force One:

The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.

While Obama spent much of his time on the NBC show talking about regulatory reform, he also joked with Leno about sports and talked about how his daughters, Sasha and Malia, are unimpressed by Marine One, the presidential helicopter.

So they're splitting up the Starbursts and we're flying over the Lincoln Memorial, the president said. So they got a whole 'nother level of cool.