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Flooding in Memphis; Pres. Obama at White House Correspondents' Dinner

Aired May 1, 2010 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. We are live. It is a red carpet welcome. Welcome back to the black-tie event that we are covering in Washington. Hollywood's power elite rubbing elbows tonight in Washington, D.C.

It is truly a star-studded night in the nation's capital. The 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner in full swing. That's what we're talking about here. And we've been showing you the festivities here, live, all evening.

Larry had great programming, reminiscing about past White House Correspondents' Dinner. We're going to carry you through this one.

President Obama is going to speak in just a few minutes. As soon as he is finished, of course, Jay Leno will perform. We are going to bring all of that to you, live, right here on CNN. Don't go anywhere.

But, first, you know, we want to take care of some business, because there is some breaking news that includes the weather.

Deadly storm right now pounding the south. A deluge of rain in Tennessee has killed five people and put interstates under water. Just look at this video from our affiliate. They capture this incredible video in Nashville. It is of a school annex building, smashing apart after the water carried it down the interstate and into a tractor trailer. This gives you an idea of just how strong the current is.

On Interstate 24, the water was up to the roof tops of cars and trucks. Two people were killed, northwest of Nashville, when flood water swept them away after they climbed on to the roof of their SUV. Three more people were killed in counties around Nashville.

And Memphis is expecting more rain overnight after receiving up to ten inches during the day. Many streets in the city are impassable. Emergency officials in Shelby County are now trying to evacuate people threatened by high water. Two levee breaks have displaced around 2,000 people. The situation is so bad there that firefighters out on a rescue call had to be rescued after their truck was flipped on its side by those flood waters.

Severe flooding in Tennessee and tornadoes on the ground tonight in Arkansas. Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is here with the very latest.

Boy, Jacqui, what a mess? JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, a really extreme night, Don, with the flooding that could reach historic levels and a number of tornadoes. We've had six confirmed tornadoes at Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas today. Very little damage thankfully thus far. But there are still warnings tonight under a PDS watch, a particularly dangerous situation.

Here you can see warnings, which are moving from Arkansas over towards parts of Mississippi, as well as Tennessee. And then we are concerned about this warning just to the southwest of little rock. This is a Doppler-radar indicated tornado that's expected to move towards Benton and then eventually towards the Little Rock area. There has been nothing confirmed on the ground with this, but it could happen at any time.

Keep in mind it is dark outside right now, and these are what we call high precipitation tornadoes so they could be wrapped in rain, which makes it even more difficult to see.

Now the tornado threat will be ongoing into the overnight hours. And this is a very slow-moving system. And that's a lot of the reason why we've had such issues with the flooding. We've had as much as 14 inches of rainfall in parts of Tennessee just since this morning. Here are some unofficial totals so far from the hydrological center.

Look at that, Jackson, Tennessee, 12.16 inches. This storm will continue to be on the move overnight tonight, and into tomorrow, Don, the tornado threat is really serious.

LEMON: All right. Jacqui Jeras. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Jacqui is going to check on that. Jacqui is also monitoring the weather down in Louisiana. Of course, the president going there tomorrow.

We want to get you now to the White House Correspondents' Dinner, happening in Washington right now.

At the podium you will see Edward Chen. He is the president of the White House Correspondents' Association. He is introducing the president of the United States. He is toasting him, as a matter of fact.

Mark Preston is here. He is going to guide us through it. And we are going to listen in now to the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and the toast to the president of the United States.


EDWARD CHEN: I think we can all agree that he and his staff are working their hearts out. And also I would like to greet the president by also including Mrs. Obama in this toast, because she works so hard being our beautiful first lady.

So Mr. President and Mrs. Obama, thank you for being here. We are honored by your presence. May you have a healthy and long life.

AUDIENCE: Hear, hear!

CHEN: And without further ado, I give you the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.


Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you, please, please, have a seat. Thank you so much, Ed, and to all the other board members. To honored guests and to the lovely first lady --


Good evening. Ed is right. I work a lot. And so I wasn't sure that I should actually come tonight. Biden talked me into it.


He leaned over and he said, Mr. President, this is no ordinary dinner. This is a big (BLEEP) meal.



It's been quite a year since I've spoken here last. Lots of ups, lots of downs, except for my approval ratings which have just gone down.


But that's politics. It doesn't bother me. Besides, I happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.



So -- and then just the other day my dear friend, Hillary Clinton, pulled me aside and she gave me a pep talk. She said, despite the numbers, she said, don't worry, Barack, you are likable enough.


Which made me feel better. Of course, I may not have had the star power that I once had, but in my defense, neither do all of you.


People say to me, Mr. President, you helped revived the banking industry. You've saved GM and Chrysler, what about the news business? And I have to explain, hey, I'm just the president. I'm not a miracle worker here. Though, I am glad that the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year is here tonight. Great to see you, Jay. (APPLAUSE)


I'm also glad that I'm speaking first, because we've all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after Leno's.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good night, everyone.

OBAMA: By the way, all of the jokes here tonight are brought to you by our friends at Goldman Sachs. So you don't have to worry. They make money whether you laugh or not.


We do have a number of notable attendance guest in attendance here tonight. Obviously, I'm most pleased Michelle accompanied me. She doesn't always go to these things.


And there are a few things in life that are harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.


The Jonas Brothers are here. They're out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans but, boys, don't get any ideas. I have two words for you. Predator drones.


You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking. Speaking of twin heartthrobs, Scott Brown is here.


I admire Scott. Rare politician in Washington with nothing to hide.


Now, you should be aware that Scott Brown is not the only one with a salacious photo spread floating around. Recently, David Axelrod was offered a centrefold opportunity of his own. Now, I did not know that Krispy Kreme had a catalog, but it's true.

I saw Michael Steele backstage when we were taking pictures, A.K.A. Notorious GOP. Michael, who knows what truly plagues America today, taxation without representin'.


My brother.


I did a similar routine last year, but it always works. Odds are that the Salahis were here. There haven't been people that were more unwelcome at a party since Charlie Crist.


Unfortunately, John McCain couldn't make it. Recently he claimed that he never identified himself as a maverick. And we all know what happens in Arizona when you don't have I.D. Adios, amigos.


Look, I feel for John. You know, we were on the road together and obviously we had a hard-fought battle, and you learn, certainly at the national level, politics isn't easy. This year, I've experienced my share of disappointments. For example, I had my heart set on the Nobel Prize for physics. But, hey, you can't win them all.

Speaking of undeserved honors, a few weeks ago, I was able to throw out the first pitch at the national's game. And I don't know if you saw it, but I threw it a little high and a little outside. This is how Fox News covered it. Right here. "President panders to extreme left wing of batter box." On the other hand, MSNBC had a different take. "President pitches no-hitter." And then CNN went a different way altogether.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was just asking, how can you get a volcano in Iceland. Isn't it too -- when you think of a volcano, you think of Hawaii and long words like that. You don't think of Iceland. You think it's too cold to have a volcano there.



OBAMA: I guess that is why they are the most trusted name in news.


Now, look, I have a reputation for giving cable a hard time. So let's pick on Politico for a while.

You know, people attack Politico for putting a new focus on trivial issues, political fodder, gossip sheet. That is not fair. Politico has been doing this for centuries now. Just check out these headlines. Our researchers found these. "Japan Surrenders. Where's the Bounce?"

Then there's this one, "Lincoln Saves Union, But Can he Save House Majority?"

I don't know if you can see, there is a little portion there, he's lost the southern white vote. It is an astute analysis there. And my favorite, July 13, 1776, "Senior Wig Official, Talks Break Down. Independence Dead."

So this is nothing new. But even though the mainstream press gives me a hard time, I hear that I'm still pretty big on Twitter, Facebook or as Sarah Palin calls it, the socialized media.



Of course, that's not the only thing that we've been accused of socializing this year. You might have heard we passed a health care bill.


And -- was that Roger Ales applauding out there? Some Republicans have suggested that the bill contains a few secret provisions. That's ridiculous. There aren't a few secret provisions in the health care plan. There are like hundreds. Tonight in the interest of transparency, I'd like to share a couple.

Let's see. This provision is called the bay state of denial. It reads this bill shall cover short-term memory loss related to the passage of Massachusetts health care reform. So good news, Mitt, your condition is covered.


This next provision is called The Jersey shore up. It reads, the following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill. Sookie, Jay Wow, the Situation and House Minority Leader John Boehner.

This provision ought to put a common misconception to rest. It says right here, if you do not like the ruling of your death panel, you can appeal.

Now, look, obviously I have learned this year politics can be a tough business, but there are times where you just can't help but laugh. You know what really tickles me? Eric Massa.


Apparently, Massa claimed that Rahm came up to him in the House locker room, stark naked, started screaming obscenities at him, to which I say, welcome to my world. I feel you. It's a tense moment.

You know, even as we enjoy each other's company tonight, we're also mindful of the incredible struggles of our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast, both those leading the efforts to stem this crisis and those along the coast whose livelihoods are in jeopardy as a result of the spill.

Also in our thoughts and prayers tonight are the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk each and every day for our safety and freedom.


So in that spirit, I'd also like to pay a tribute to the journalists who play an extraordinary role in telling their stories. Earlier today, I gave the commencement address at Michigan, where I spoke to the graduates about what is required to keep our democracy thriving in the 21st century. And one of the points I made is that for all the changes and challenges facing your industry, this country absolutely needs a healthy, vibrant media. Probably needs it more than ever now.

Today's technology -- (APPLAUSE) today's technology has made it possible for us to get our news and information from a growing range of sources. We can pick and choose not only our preferred type of media, but also our preferred perspective. And while that exposes us to an unprecedented array of opinions, and analysis and points of view, it also makes it that much more important that we are all operating on a common baseline of facts. It makes it that much more important that journalists out there seek only the truth. And I don't have to tell you that.

Some of you are seasoned veterans who have been on the political beat for decades. Others here tonight began their careers as bloggers not long ago. But I think it is fair to say that every single reporter in this room believes deeply in the enterprise of journalism. Every one of you, even the most cynical among you, understands and cherishes the function of a free press in the preservation of our system of government and of our way of life. And I want you to know that for all the jokes and the occasional gripes, I cherish that work as well.

In fact, tonight, I wanted to present all of you with a bipartisan congressional resolution that honors all those wonderful contributions that journalists have made to our country and the world but, unfortunately, I couldn't break the filibuster.


Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.


LEMON: OK, ladies and gentlemen at home. You have just been listening to the president of the United States. Very funny comments there that we're going to go over and analyze in just a bit.

Jay Leno coming up in moments here on CNN. Jay Leno is going to address the crowd. As we have been telling you, Jay Leno is the paid entertainer. The president gave his remarks, a little bit shorter than last year. But, again, Jay Leno is coming up. And there he is, Jay Leno from "The Tonight Show."


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Thank you, Ed. Thank you very much. This is every comedian's dream, rich people eating. As you know, there was quite a security line to get in. I got stuck behind the Arizona Congressional Delegation. Luckily, all their papers were in order so it wasn't too much of a problem to get it.

And I have the distinct honor of being the only person on this panel not subpoenaed by Rod Blagojevich. So I think that's pretty impressive itself. I can see the White House Press Corps very excited tonight. This is about as close to a White House press conference as they have had in a year. So this is it. So enjoy it while it lasts.

I'm not looking over. Is he laughing?

Now some of you on the news have mentioned the president is getting a little gray since taking office. But he has had a share of stress. Tough economy, two wars, health care fight, Iran, North Korea, his mother-in-law moving in with him. I think that would break most men.

And sometimes the press can be one sided. As you mentioned all during the election, they would ask things like, is Obama black enough? Is Obama too black? It is never the other way around. Is John Boehner orange enough? Is he too orange? We never hear that.

And as you know the president and the first lady have a wonderful family. I'm sure you remember this heart warming photo. Take a look at this photo. We all went -- take a look here. Remember that. Isn't that wonderful.

I think it reminded us of a similar photo taken in a previous administration. Take a look.


Oh, yes. Hats off to Michelle Obama who has made childhood obesity one of her causes. Yes. Congratulations. She has started a more intense program. It's called leave no child with a bigger behind. And I think that is going to be a wonderful thing. But Mrs. Obama, with all the good works you have been doing, it's been undermined by others in your administration.

Here, take a look.


It's easy to say we need to eat healthy and exercise more. It is just as easy to say we'll start tomorrow, but our kids are running out of time. They are the first generation that might not live as long as their parents because of the health risks associated with being overweight. What can we do to help? Be the example they need. Make healthy choices and help them do the same. Let's move to raise a healthier generation of kids.



LENO: And there was a big setback for NASA this year. As you know, President Obama cutting the space program, sending more men to the moon. We are not going to be sending more men to the moon. Although, we can point to one major achievement during your time in office, Mr. President. We did get an astronaut on "Dancing with the Stars." And I think that's something, something we can all be proud of.

You know, I had the privilege of meeting President Obama number of times. And I'm surprised to hear that critics described the president as cold and aloof. I have never found him that way. He loves to socialize. Health care, car companies, things like that.


Hey, I want to congratulate President Obama. He has done more than anyone for the American car industry, except Toyota. Of course, Toyota. And as you may have heard there were more problems for Toyota today. Apparently, two of the crash test dummies refused to get in the car. Yes, so it's not -- things are not looking good. But one wonderful thing about President Obama, never lost his street creed. He knows how to deal with the average guy. Now here he is meeting a businessman on the campaign trail. Look how instantly he can relate to this man. Take a look.


LEMON: The president walking in here, just as we were about to go. The president, again, expecting to talk about small businesses and how he is going to help them in this economy. What he is going to do.


LENO: Another piece of cake?

Now, Mr. President, I have to admit, when you were elected, a little worry that the comedy well at the White House have dried up. So thank you for picking Joe Biden. We appreciate that.

Joe is a great pick because nobody is more media savvy than Joe Biden. Here he is with Andrea Mitchell. Now, the word he is looking for is "avatar." the word he is looking for is avatar. Let's take a look.


ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST, ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS: You've been a very busy man. Do you and Mrs. Biden never get to the movies? Academy award picks. Anything among the Oscar nominees.

JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a matter of fact, we do. And I think the -- one of the odds on favorite is this -- this -- this new program that I looked at it and wished I was seeing it in 3D. And you sit there and you watch this science fiction thing unfold in front of you. I think --

MITCHELL: "Avatar"?

BIDEN: "Avatar."


LENO: "Avatar," Joe. It is "Avatar" you are trying to say.

And as you know, a lot of Republicans could not be here tonight, because it is dollar drink night at the Bondage Club. So, unfortunately, yes, yes.

And Michael Steele is here. Where is Michael? There you are, Mike.

Michael, this has got to be pretty boring entertainment for you, isn't it? I know what you guys are used to. A couple of guys talking. Come on. That was my favorite story. Republicans and a lesbian bondage club. It's ironic. Republicans don't want lesbians getting married, but they do like to watch them tie the knot. So I thought that was interesting. I did think that was interesting.


See, Washington is a very scary place, between Republicans going to Bondage Club, the S.E.C. looking at porn. I can't wait to get back to Hollywood, someplace wholesome where people have values.

And I want to talk about White House security for a moment. Now it is supposed to be the most secure place in the world. Now here is President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the two most powerful men in the world. Watch the door behind them. How does this happen? Take a look.


OBAMA: Good evening, everybody.


OBAMA: Tonight after nearly 100 years of talk and frustration --


LENO: Who is that guy? How did he get in there? Who is that? What is he, on the tour? Did he wander off?

And according to the Pentagon, al Qaeda is in financial ruin. You know what broke them? Health insurance premiums. That's what -- do you know the monthly premium for a suicide bomber? Do you have any idea what it is?

You know, I was thinking about this. If you took all the money Republicans spent trying to stop health care, and all the money Democrats have spent trying to get health care, you know something, we could have had health care. We could have had it a couple of years ago.

Now supporters of this bill say that the American people will now get the same health benefits that members of Congress get. And, of course, that's great. How about some of the other perks. The free travel. Those envelopes with the cash in it? How about some of that? The get out of jail free cards. Why can't we get that?

But Mr. President, you did a great job in the passage of the health care bill. But you have to give a lot of credit to Nancy Pelosi for the way she sold it to the American people. Did you see -- the way she sold it, she went to the new media. She went to YouTube. Here, take a look.


NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: In order to have quality, affordable health care for all Americans, it is essential that everyone participate when they are well and not just join in when they are sick. So it is all better quality, lower cost, more access if everyone is mandated.



JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": You have to admit that President Obama's mood really changed once that health care bill passed. Because I watched the shows every day and I would see you come into the press room before the bill passed, you know, kind of slumped over, looking a little depressed, didn't have the spark. Here is the president the day after the health care bill was signed. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just beyond the door so he should step in here in just a second.

You all ready for this?



LENO: And as you know, the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, announced that the Pentagon will ease up on its enforcement of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. He said that the homosexual behavior will still be against the rules but nobody will be actively enforcing it. It is kind of like the ethics regulations in Congress. It's basically the same sort of deal.

Of course, David Axelrod is here.

Where is David?

He is one of the people who is most responsible for having to get President Obama elected. Without him, it might have been John McCain, and this would have been an early bird dinner. It would be at 4:30.


You'd be home watching "Wheel of Fortune" right now. And of course, David Axelrod was on my show a week ago, Friday actually. He was on with the star of the movie "Kick-Ass." And when I -- when I told him he was going to be on with "Kick-Ass," he said Rahm is here, what?


And of course, you know, as you mentioned Eric Massa claimed that Rahm confronted him in the congressional gym shower. And of course people were shocked. Congress has a gym? Anybody in Congress look like they work out, huh?


Did it take Barney Frank 30 years to get that body? Really getting him on everyday, huh?

What is Harry Reid bench press? Five pounds now?


And as you know the president has the most diverse staff in history. They represent every ward of Chicago. And I think that is fantastic, Mr. President. Fantastic.


We have a lot of movie stars. Michael Douglas is here.

Where is Michael?

Michael Douglas?

As you know, he won an Oscar for the portrayal of an evil, greedy Wall Street broker who is willing to manipulate the market for his own personal gain.

Where does Hollywood come up with these crazy ideas?


Bill Maher. Where is Bill Maher?

Bill, are you here?

Bill Maher, one of my favorite comedians. Bill is the reason we had no opening prayer. They were afraid he would boo. So we couldn't do that. So I'm sorry.

And speaking of that, you know, everybody complains about the lack of civility on both sides. You see it in sports. You see it in politics. I think we have the answer. Take a look.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you tired of people saying what is on their mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone's got an opinion. And they are all compelled to share it with others.

Well, those annoying comments can go away. With this. Duct tape. Just a few inches of this gray, sticky fabric solves it all. Duct tape. The all-American solution to everything.



LENO: And of course, Osama bin Laden now releasing tapes blaming the United States for global warming. You know, I think he's run out of ideas. Even the United States blames the United States for global warming. I think he wants to quit al Qaeda and join Al Gore, basically I think.


And as you know, President Obama has been promoting alternative energy. Texas State University has now developed exercise equipment that operates electricity when you exercise. They hope that one day people would be able to generate enough power from their home exercising, huh.

Well, you thought Americans were hiring a lot of illegal aliens before, huh?

Manuel, keep pedaling.

And last month, you mentioned that President Obama threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals game against the Philadelphia Phillies. But he didn't tell you that Biden got kicked out for cursing at the umpire. You didn't bring that up, Mr. President.

Did you see the pitch? It was not -- it was not a good pitch. But to be fair, he's just come from an interview on MSNBC and I think you are used to softball. So, I think that's -


Oh, I'm going to get fired again.


Well, you know, I'll tell you something. A lot of critics felt that President Bush did a better job at getting the ball over the plate. That's what they said. But on the other hand, President Obama can talk. So I think it balances.


As you know, President Obama and the first lady very much committed to education. In fact, here is their latest program.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Barack Obama says that good education is everything to a child's future. But what do you do with a child that can't learn? Or worse, a child that won't learn?

Well, thanks to a bold new government program you can trade them in. It's "Cash for Flunkers." Bring in that simpleton you call your son and get up to $4,500 toward the purchase of a new or select used child.

That's right. Up to $4,500 for that wannabe gangster. Or that morbid Daft Punk (ph).

So don't be stuck with that disobedient tramp you gave birth to. Get a kid you can be proud of. Get "Cash for Flunkers" today. All children taken in will be outsourced by sweatshops in Malaysia.



LENO: You know, I read that -- I read that book "Game Change" about the 2008 election. You know what I learned from that book?

If reporters hold back all the good stories in the newspapers, they can get really rich.


And nice to see Chris Matthews. Chris is here.

Chris, where you are?

Chris has been on "The Tonight Show" a number of times. Always a great guest. He comes out, sits down, talks straight through for 10 minutes. Then I ask him a question.


LENO: And he talks another 20 minutes.

Let's talk about the press room, and I want you to watch how different networks cover the same story. Now, remember that story a while back about President Obama, somebody had a jacket and had a big poster in Times Square and, of course, the president is not supposed to be endorsing. Well, here is how CBS covered it. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And President Obama no longer has a commanding presence in another New York location. Remember this huge billboard with his likeness. It was removed yesterday from Times Square. Mr. Obama's picture is not supposed to be used for commercial purposes.


LENO: OK. Now, look how FOX News carried the exact same story.




LENO: But, but to be fair, it is a two way-street and I think the White House likes to play games with FOX News. And I'm going to show you some tape. Now this tape has not been altered in any way. We didn't change anything or do anything. I'm going to show you some reporters outside the White House. Now, notice how quiet it is when the MSNBC reporter is reporting and then watch what happens with FOX. Again, we haven't changed it in anyway. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does make a couple of problems go away.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Press briefing by Secretary Robert Gibbs.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A emergence of this side of the party isn't necessarily a good thing and John Boehner said --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Call made in the past few minutes and it involved more than just congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It is a special congressional race, Upstate New York, Republicans have held it since the --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It may be the kind of sausage-making you don't want to look too closely at, but --


LENO: Coincidence? You be the judge.

And you mentioned the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. There is talk now that this oil slick could end up being bigger than that huge disaster they had up in Alaska.

Really? Bigger than Sarah Palin? That is unbelievable.


And Wolf Blitzer is here. I saw him -- hey, hello, Wolf.

Doesn't that sound like the name of Sarah Palin's hunting helicopter? The Wolf Blitzer. Doesn't it sound like that?

Wolf, the answer is stay off "Celebrity Jeopardy." That is the answer.

Well, you know, the big rumor is Sarah Palin may run for president in 2012. As you know, she is a former beauty queen. If she wins, it would make history. Because it would mark the first time a beauty queen could actually bring about world peace. They all talked about it. But she could make it happen.

You see her campaigning last month with John McCain. I would like to call them beauty and the deceased. Didn't that what it look like?


And my favorite Democrat of the past is Senator John Edwards. While a personal injury attorney who turned out to be a sleaze ball. Who could have seen that coming?

I was stunned, stunned by that revelation. Well, now there is talk of a John Edwards sex tape. Woo! That is something people have never seen before. A lawyer screwing people. Wow. How unusual is that.


And of course the first lady of television Betty White is here.

Where is Betty White?

We love Betty White. Hi, sweetheart.


Betty has a long history in this town. As you know, her first stage performance here was interrupted by John Wilkes Booth and that was a sad day, but --


You know, the last time I was here was 2004 and at that time, back then, Hillary Clinton's campaign had $20 million in it. Now, of course, Mark Penn has it, but hey that is something else. Little inside baseball. Yes. Oh, the rich guys get it. Yes.


Well, you know, "Newsweek" is reporting that Hillary Clinton has been talking to friends about stepping down as secretary of state. But, you know, I think I picked up a clue in a recent interview of what she plans to do. It's a little subtle. But take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Never is a long time so I want to ask you again. You'll never going to run for president again? HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I have absolutely no interest in it. None. None. I mean, I know that's hard for some people to believe.


LENO: And Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is here.

Bob, where are you?

I heard him say when he heard the president is going to be here. He said, what, Jefferson Davis is coming, I couldn't believe it.


This is a tough room. All right.

My good friend Joy Behar from "The View."

Where is Joy?

Joy is here. You know, I give the ladies of "The View" a lot of credit. I have seen President Obama in tough negotiations with the Russian. I've seen him getting a showdown with Kim Jong-il. I've seen get tough on the president of Iran, what's his name, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Is that how you say it, Mr. President? Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad? But the only time I have seen him look nervous and fidgety is on "The View." Now, we did not alter this tape in any way, but count how many times he fidgets here. Take a look.


OBAMA: I am surrounded by women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're no surprise.

OBAMA: I am surrounded by women. Well, no. You guys always surprise me. You always surprise me. You always have something up your sleeve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I just want to say that over the weekend, I re-read "Dreams from my Father."



LENO: All right. Let's wind this baby up.

My favorite moment of the past year, though, was seeing all five living presidents together in the Oval Office, and then something spontaneous happened. And I thought it was just fantastic. Take a look.



LENO: Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a honor and a privilege. This is the greatest job I have ever had. For the president of the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama. Thank you very much everybody. Have a great evening. Bye-bye.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, everyone. And there you have it. Jay Leno having to follow the president. That is no easy task. Especially the president, I'm sure, has some very good writers writing for him. And he is a funny guy as well. Jay Leno doing his deal. We're going to talk about that a little bit.

Hey, Mark Preston is here. Let's bring Mark in. Mark is our political editor. Mark has been watching.

I got to tell you. You know, like I said, it is a tough job to follow the president. But he had me cracking up, the president did. I thought he was funnier than Jay Leno. I'm just saying.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. And I think you are right. I think that our Twitter followers, the people who are doing the social networking during the speech, agree.

LEMON: Yes. And if you want to look at some of it. I mean, and these are just some people, let's just take West's camera here.

He says Leno is flat-lining. Whatever.

And then people just go on, oh, Jay, not funny right now.

Just on and on and on.

So, you know, Leno is funny not so much. That is what people are saying. The social media, whatever.

But again, as I said, it is tough to follow the president.

Very funny jokes. Very interesting moments. So, you see the president and the first lady there are about to leave the dais there and head back, we presume, to the White House. They may do a little bit more handshaking and picture-taking, but most of that came before this event.

Hey, I want to show you something. Talk to us about our friend Ed Henry who is up on the dais as well.

PRESTON: Sure. Of course, Ed Henry, who is the CNN White House -- senior White House correspondent really made history tonight, if you can imagine that, Don. He got the first lady, Michelle Obama, to send out her first official tweet. And let's take a quick look at that.

"Here at dinner. This is officially my first tweet. I am looking forward to some good laughs from the POTUS and Jay."

So, if you can imagine, a little history made here tonight.

LEMON: Yes. So, again, that's from the first lady of the United States, from the first lady. And again, that is from our White House correspondent Ed Henry. You saw him sitting there.

So, anyway, we are going to analyze the jokes. We are going to talk about the jokes. I think one of the funniest ones of the night, just for me, was the Eric Massa one.

PRESTON: Yes. Certainly good laughs.

LEMON: Yes, tickling. He tickles me to death for whatever he said. So listen. Don't go away. Much, much more to come. We are going to be live there in Washington. We're going to be live here in Atlanta on the anchor desk. You are going to hear a little bit more of some of the jokes tonight not only from the president but from Jay Leno. Don't go away. Much, much more of our coverage. Special edition on CNN of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. More to come.


LEMON: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon here, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We are covering the -- live coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington.

Mark Preston joins me here. He is our political editor.

Mark, as we look at the crowd here sort of milling about. Probably time for more drinks there in Washington at this dinner now. People are going to go and enjoy themselves. I would imagine that they have to wait to leave the room until the first lady and the president have cleared the premises and they say it could be all clear to go.

Listen, before we get to the jokes, let's talk about the seriousness. Because I have my glasses on. I was going to read some of the jokes here.

The president, as you and I both anticipated, spoke about the horrific situation going on down on the Gulf Coast. Let's take a listen and then Mark and I are going to talk about it.


OBAMA: Even as we enjoy each other's company tonight, we're also mindful of the incredible struggles of our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast. Both those leading the efforts to stem this crisis and those along the Coast whose livelihoods are in jeopardy as a result of the spill.


LEMON: So, Mark, a very funny routine, we should say, and that's what most people agree who are commenting, but also that and sort of did it in a way that you and I and I'm sure everyone expected.

PRESTON: Yes, sure. And he certainly had to address. This is a major catastrophe that we are having to deal with right now. He also mentioned the men and women who are serving in our military overseas and that got him a round of applause.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, listen, some very funny stuff here. He mentioned he came, he mentioned the lovely first lady, got applause. Joe Biden talked him into going tonight. This is a big blanking deal. And then they beeped it. That was really funny.

He said he has had lots of ups here unlike his poll numbers. His numbers in Africa, in his country Africa were still up. But also, it was really funny when he said, my ratings fell more than his -- here tonight, great to see you, Jay, ratings fell more than his. The person -- that person was right here tonight. He was talking about Jay Leno.

The Jonas Brothers. He said he was going to use drones if he tried to come after Sasha and Malia, the daughters there.

And he said, speaking of twin heartthrobs, Scott Brown is here, which I thought was very funny.

But the one that killed me, I think as I said and I wrote out on Twitter, was the Eric Massa joke. I'm trying to find it. He said something about tickling or cracking him up or something, and he said, and he was referring to Eric Massa. "You know what really tickles me? He goes, Eric Massa."

It was really funny.

So, anyway, what do you make of it?

PRESTON: You know, a lot of inside stuff, but, you know, this was the couple of hours that the reporters in Washington take a step back. They let the president have his say, let the president take a few pokes at them. But guess what? Back to business, Don.

LEMON: Yes. Back to business. Hey, listen, a lot of us got shout- outs tonight. Wolf Blitzer got a shout-out. Very inside baseball. I'm not going to repeat the joke because I love Wolf.

Wolf, I love you so I'm not going to repeat that joke.

Rick Sanchez. It was a very funny joke about Rick Sanchez. They played a clip there. There was my voice. I was up here covering -- I think I was filling in for Ali or something one day and we were just about to go to break and the president came out. We're going to carry his speech, and I said, don't go to break. They sort of shuffled back and say here comes the president speaking at some business. I forgot what it was about. Maybe about health care or something or about the economy.

And so that was my voice. But a lot of journalists got, you know, in there. And it was very funny including these guys who are there tonight. There's our very own Tom Foreman. You see Paul Steinhauser and they are flanking Michael Douglas. So, hanging out. And, you know, we're just having a little fun tonight. We are not star-struck. At least none of that.

PRESTON: No, of course not.

LEMON: This is a night -- this is a night to talk about all of this. So listen, much, much more to come. We have some very serious things to tell you about. We're going to check in on the situation in the Gulf Coast. We're going to check in on some very serious weather including some deaths and then we'll have more of the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington tonight.

Look at that that radar. Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is watching it all for you after the break.


LEMON: Breaking news. We have told you that people have died because of this weather. Jacqui Jeras has an update for us.


JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We've got a number of tornadoes, one of which is on the ground right now, Don. It's this cell right here. Here is the Memphis area. This is just northwest of there in Arkansas. Train spotters reported a touchdown in Truman. And we are getting multiple reports now of touchdowns within this area. You need to seek shelter right now. This is moving towards Keiser and Lake City as well.

The other warning down here in the Memphis area. Memphis is under a tornado warning. This is a Doppler radar-indicated tornado, but we could see one touchdown at anytime. This should be arriving within the Memphis metro area within the next 15 minutes or so. You need to get to the lowest level of your home, away from doors and windows.

Now we did have a tornado warning on this cell moving through Little Rock. Right now, we're just looking at wind being the primary threat but you need to stay indoors and be seeking shelter. This is a very dangerous storm and could also be producing some big-time hail associated with this.

We've got watches that will continue into the overnight hours. These are both what we call PDS watches, which means it's a particularly dangerous situation and the storm prediction center has issued a high risk for these tornadoes. They can cause extensive damage tonight.

And we've got a secondary area here across eastern parts of Tennessee. This is a slow-moving storm system that will continue to threaten us through the weekend with not just tornadoes but flash flooding. Those deaths that you mentioned, Don, were all in Tennessee. They were flood victims, people who were in their cars who decided to drive through the flood waters and risked it. Unfortunately, didn't work out for them. And that is why we tell you, don't ever risk it, you don't know how deep that water is.

We've got a number of road closures. We've got bridges that have been washed out. We've got levees which have been breached in the Memphis area. Thousands of people displaced from their homes. All of this bright green that you see in this area here are actual warnings that are taking place. That means the flooding is already occurring. And we've seen over a foot of rain in some parts here of Tennessee.

Here are a couple of preliminary numbers for you just to put in perspective. And Jackson, Tennessee, takes the cake at over a foot. In fact, our storm spotter just gave us an update of over 13 inches in that area.

As head into tomorrow, the storm system does move eastward. The risk of severe weather still out there, but lesser than what we had today. Damaging wind and hail and maybe just a couple of isolated tornadoes within that area. Looking for Upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio and then also parts of the Deep South here.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: All right. Jacqui Jeras, thank you very much. And listen, we are going to continue to follow this flooding and the situation that is going on. Flooding in Nashville. You saw that school annex floating down the street. A deluge of rain in Tennessee has killed five people and put interstates really under water.

Our affiliate in Nashville captured this incredible video of a school annex building smashing apart after the water carried it down the interstate and into a tractor trailer. This gives you an idea of just how strong that current is. On Interstate 24, the water was up to the rooftops of cars and trucks. Two people were killed northwest of Nashville when flood waters swept them away after they climbed to the roof of their SUV. Three more people were killed in counties around Nashville.

Listen. We have some very interesting stuff going on here. We've been following the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Let's take you through some of the funny moments here as we talk with our Mark Preston, who is our political editor.

Hey, Mark, what are the funnier things that we saw? How much time do we have here?

This was the president when he was talking about -- he said, I'm most pleased that the first lady accompanied him. She doesn't go with me all the time. There are a few things in life more important to keep in love, like a birth certificate."

Talking about the situation in Arizona. Very funny.

And also, the president tonight really talking about -- you remember the Joe Biden moment after the health care thing? This is a really big bleeping deal. Take a listen.


OBAMA: I wasn't sure that I should actually come tonight. Biden talked me into it.


He leaned over and he said, Mr. President, this is no ordinary dinner. This is a big (BLEEP) meal.



LEMON: So he actually said it was a big blanking meal.

My Twitter board is stuck. I think the battery is out. I can't really show what I want to show, Mark.

So listen, everyone thought, hey, how is the president going to address the situation happening down? Is he going to be funny? Is he going to -- what is he going to do?

And I think he danced around it pretty well. I shouldn't say danced around it. He actually talked about it. People have been saying, comparing this, and a lot of viewers are upset by this comparison saying, oh, it shouldn't be compared to Katrina. We talked about that. That is the comparison in the press. We are just reporting what critics are saying. And this is not just one critic or two. There are news organizations, credible news organizations saying that as well.

PRESTON: Yes, and, Don, of course, he'll be heading to Louisiana tomorrow. He touched opponent tonight at this dinner. I think you and I, we will be back here tomorrow talking about it.

LEMON: You think so?

PRESTON: I think so.

LEMON: What was your -- what was your favorite moment tonight?

PRESTON: You know, I think the fact that he went after everybody including Joe Biden and Jay Leno and Scott Brown and Michael Steele and John McCain, even himself.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, I'm going to leave you guys, everyone tonight including you, with a very funny e-mail I got from our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence. He says, "Kim Kardashian just walked by in a black dress in a room full of celebrities and powerful Washington politico folks. Every, and that's in all caps, every head turned to see her. I turned, too."

So, there you go. The president in the same room as Kim Kardashian, a whole bunch of celebrities. I'm Don Lemon. See you back here tomorrow night. Thanks for watching. Good night.