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President Obama makes a Special Olympics joke - staffer apologizes

By Jimmy Orr / March 19, 2009

Members of the White House Press Corps watch from a holding room inside NBC Studios while President Barack Obama appears on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in Burbank, Calif.



There was plenty of talk about the risks of President Obama appearing on the Tonight Show. One simple mistake could dominate the conversation the next morning.

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The last thing President Obama needed was a gaffe.

He made one.

Special Olympics

In a lighthearted conversation, President Obama told Jay Leno that he recently bowled a 129 at the White House bowling alley.

"Very good," Leno said sarcastically.

“It was like Special Olympics or something,” Obama replied.

Realizing the potential magnitude of the mistake, the White House addressed the president's remark to reporters aboard Air Force One.

"The President made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters. "He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world."

To read more about Obama's appearance on the Tonight Show, click here.


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