Return to Transcripts main page


Special Coverage: White House Correspondents' Dinner

Aired April 27, 2013 - 21:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I'm Don Lemon.

Headlining tonight's event, well, of course, President Barack Obama. Along with comedian and PBS late-night host Conan O'Brien, with an audience of journalists and celebs. Insiders jokingly refer to this event as the nerd prom.

We'll be carrying the president and Conan live. And you will not want to miss one minute of it. But before we get to all of that we have to remember that this year is a little different.

This is a live look at the memorial on Boston's Copley Square. It has been a difficult two weeks for too many Americans in Boston as well as in West, Texas. The president has been to both places in recent days, and we're going to see how those two tragic events are changing the tone tonight at the Washington Hilton.

That's where we find our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar and entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner.

Hollywood celebrities and political power players are gathering in the ballroom right behind you, guys.


LEMON: So I want to start with you first, Brianna. Tell us about the tone in D.C. tonight, will you?

KEILAR: I think -- I think, Don, this is something that really does affect what you're going to see here tonight. A lot of times this is an event that is very light. You have a lot of celebrities. It's this interesting collision with Washington. But when we were talking to a lot of people on the red carpet, they were very much aware of the fact that there was a terrorist attack a couple of weeks ago. And I think that's really on the minds of people.

I spoke with Tracy Morgan, the comedian.


KEILAR: And he said, you know, "My condolences go out to these families." And it was very much on his mind. And a lot of them I think are expecting for this to be talked about during some of the comments. TURNER: Yes.

KEILAR: And what's interesting is you also spoke, Nischelle, with Attorney General Eric Holder.

TURNER: Yes, I did. I talked to the attorney general, Don, just about -- and I asked him point blank, is it OK for us to laugh now?

LEMON: Right.

TURNER: Is it OK for us to laugh tonight and he said, yes, it is, but it's also important for us to keep in the back of our minds that we have been through a lot as a country in the past couple of weeks and to recognize that, but still to know that life does go on and life does move forward. So he felt like tonight was a good night to start that.


TURNER: And it's OK to have a little levity.

LEMON: Well --

TURNER: So this should be interesting. Yes.

LEMON: And I noticed, too, as we were talking earlier, Brianna, we asked, you know, the attorney general about a very serious subject, and he answered. And -- but people, quite honestly, on social media were saying, hey, Brianna Keilar looks lovely, what kind of dress is she wearing tonight?


I think -- no, but I think that people need a break a little bit. There's been so many serious things happening in the country. And we turn one eye towards that and we pay our respects, but also, we need to exhale for a minute, Nischelle. I mean, don't you agree with that?

TURNER: Yes. Yes, I do. And I also agree that Brianna Keilar does look lovely tonight.


KEILAR: As does Nischelle. She looks beautiful.

TURNER: She definitely does. When I first saw her, I walked up and said, wow.

KEILAR: Oh, guys.

TURNER: We see you outside the White House, but va-va-boom. But yes, I definitely think so, Don. And you know, the one thing that everyone here on the red carpet said tonight, I don't know if they said the same thing to you, but the celebrities here and the politicians that were here said that they do want to laugh tonight, they are ready for some levity and they do think that it's going to be a fun and exciting night. People were excited.


KEILAR: They were excited. And I did hear that as well, Don. Obviously, this is something that's been on the minds of all Americans and here in Washington in the reaction to it and the fact that now this is an investigation. Washington is very much involved in this. But we heard people saying, you know what, it's time for a little bit of a break and it's time to have -- you know, to enjoy ourselves.


TURNER: And they think the president is funny.

LEMON: Can I talk to you about this, guys? Because as I'm looking at the list that you guys sent over of the people who are there, Gaby Douglas. We saw Sharon Stone, you had Psy, Julia Louis- Dreyfus, Amy Poehler, Rebel Wilson, a bunch of -- Patricia Arquette, Michael J. FOX, on and on and on. Matthew Perry. They're out in force, Nischelle.

TURNER: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, this definitely is a night when Hollywood's A-list does come play with Washington's politicians. And they were calling it Hollywood East meets Hollywood West. And so a lot of people were saying this was their first time, which I was surprised at, Don, because people like Matthew Perry saying they had never been here before but then you have people like Sharon Stone who said oh, yes, I think this is my fourth or fifth time. But she came here with a purpose.

LEMON: Right.

TURNER: You know she's been fighting the good fight for AIDS research for so many years, and she said, I use this as an opportunity to keep pushing that agenda. And also she said she came here to say thank you because she felt like that a lot of progress had been made. So there's a lot of A-list celebrities here tonight.

You know, it's interesting, though, because the one person that I was so, so excited to meet was the guys from "Duck Dynasty." And I know we're going to talk to them a little bit later.


I know. It's embarrassing. But I was so excited to meet the guys from "Duck Dynasty" and they did not disappoint.

LEMON: OK, ladies, so much to talk about. And I want to go. And as we look at -- we're looking at live pictures now inside the dinner. And you see a list -- there's a list of bold-faced names who are showing up at this -- at this dinner. But you know I want to go back a little bit because I have to say, I loved it when President Obama did the unexpected and pulled a fast one on the crowd last year. Remember when he pretended to be overheard in the bathroom?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Could someone back there please turn off the president's mike? I think -- the president's mike is hot. Please, please turn it off. Thank you. Thank you.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Great. I've got to get warmed up. I'm so in love -- god, I totally had that. Seriously, guys, what am I doing here? I'm the president of the United States, and I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel?



LEMON: Brianna Keilar, you're our White House correspondent. You've been to a few of these events. Take us behind the scenes as we look at these live pictures. Do you know what inspires the president for these moments, for these events?

KEILAR: Well, a lot of what inspires the president is his staffers. What they do at the White House is his speech writers put out what's essentially an all call to folks all around the White House. There may be people that you think you wouldn't know that they're funny people. I've been told by speech writers that one of president's former aides, David Axelrod, is one of the people who is their go-to for getting some good jokes from.

So they will get jokes from him. They'll run them by the president. But it's really his staffers who have such a role in coming up with some of these jokes.

And Don, this tonight is really President Obama's chance to get even. And keep this in mind, no one is safe.


KEILAR (voice-over): At the White House Correspondents' Dinner everyone is fair game. Even the president's own cabinet.

OBAMA: Four years later she won't stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.

KEILAR: Political foes, better watch out. In 2009 President Obama took this jab at then House minority leader John Boehner.

OBAMA: After all, we have a lot in common. He is a person of color. Although not a color that appears in the natural world.

KEILAR: Even pop stars make good targets.

OBAMA: 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.

KEILAR: But just how far can a president go? Jon Favreau is President Obama's former speechwriter.

JON FAVREAU, FORMER OBAMA CHIEF SPEECHWRITER: These are some of the hardest speeches to do because the really funny jokes you can't use. And then there's a whole bunch of jokes that just sound really cheesy, right, because they're like typical politician jokes. So we're trying to get somewhere in between with the jokes that we write.

KEILAR: It's generally safe for a president to take aim at himself.

OBAMA: The state of Hawaii released my official long-form birth certificate. Tonight for the first time I am releasing my official birth video.

FAVREAU: We came up with that. It had been right around the controversy over the birth certificate when it was flown in and Trump was making all these crazy accusations.

KEILAR: In preparation for the dinner there's an all-call for jokes at the White House.

FAVREAU: The speechwriters at the White House reach out to the funniest people we know outside the White House. And we ask everyone for jokes. And we try to come up with jokes ourselves. Usually, we just sit in the oval with him and he reads the jokes out loud. And as he's doing, that he makes edits, he throws in some lines himself, comes up with some jokes on his own.

KEILAR: In an election year this podium can be a political weapon.

OBAMA: It's great to be here this evening in the vast magnificent Hilton ballroom, or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper.

KEILAR: World events often intersect with the president's jokes. Take this one in 2011.

OBAMA: Tim Pawlenty. He seems all-American. But if you heard his real middle name, Tim Hosni Pawlenty? What a shame.

KEILAR: He was initially going to say Tim Osama Pawlenty, but right before the dinner he changed his mind.

FAVREAU: We walked in, and we go over the jokes of the president, and he looks at them all and he says, you know, these are great jokes, like them all, there's one punchline that I want to change. I think bin Laden's been played out and we don't need to talk about him.

KEILAR: Played out? Not exactly. He was about to become big news.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Bin laden is dead. The United States has the body. FAVREAU: I had no idea why until the next day, when I find out that the general that the president was talking to was -- he was giving the orders to give the go-ahead on the operation to pursue Osama bin Laden.


LEMON: Interesting.

KEILAR: So as you see, Don, the news definitely dictates the tone here to some degree, and I think we're definitely expecting that to happen tonight, about two weeks after the bombings in Boston. We expect President Obama will acknowledge that. He will say of course that the families -- that they have our condolences. And I think that you'll see him perhaps stay away from certain things in his jokes.

And ultimately, though, I think we're going to have some really good laughs, too. Because even ahead of when he was going after Osama bin Laden we saw some pretty funny jokes as well. And it is a chance, I think, and politicians and the celebrities who are here, they think this is a chance to have a good laugh, and I think we'll see that.

LEMON: It's not just the jokes they tell, but it's also the ones they leave out that may be even more telling than the ones they tell.


TURNER: Exactly.

LEMON: Yes. So --

KEILAR: As he said, the funniest ones they can't even say.

LEMON: Stand by, ladies, because this year Conan O'Brien is headlining the correspondents' dinner. Last year it was Jimmy Kimmel's turn, and some said he went a little too far. We're going to let you decide. That's next.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: You know, President Obama wanted to move the dinner to the Kennedy Center this year, but the Republicans wanted to keep it here at the Hilton. So they compromised. And here we are at the Hilton.



LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to our live coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. We're going to take you live to the Hilton in Washington.

Nischelle Turner is there, entertainment correspondent, as well as our Brianna Keilar, who's our White House correspondent.

Nischelle, you caught up with Rebel Wilson, who says she was personally invited by the first lady. So what's the back story there?

TURNER: Yes, you know, she was nervous and excited at the same time. She said she got this wonderful letter from the first lady personally inviting her to the dinner tonight. And that's because she was supposed to be at the White House for another event a couple of weeks ago but she had to host the MTV movie awards, and I said, how do you send regrets to the White House? And if you do, don't you feel like you're never going to get invited again?

She did say yes, at first she was -- she was kind of shaken up about it, but then she was very excited to get that letter. Here's what she told me.


REBEL WILSON, ACTRESS AND COMEDIAN: Because Michelle Obama sent me a personal letter like inviting me. So I'm quite excited about it, yes.

TURNER: What did it say?

WILSON: It said -- because I was supposed to go to something at the White House a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't make it because I was doing the MTV movie awards. And she, you know, said, I hope to see you here this month. And yes, it was very nice. And I sent her a picture of our whole family in front of the White House, and she really appreciated that.


TURNER: Now, I said to her, you know, what do you expect to see tonight in and she said, well, her boss, Conan O'Brien -- because you know, she works with him -- is going to be the master of ceremonies. And -- so she was really excited to hear what he had to say, but she said, I'm not sure if he's going to go there because you can't really say some things, you know, you've got to keep them under wraps. I said well, you remember Wanda Sykes? She went there.

So who knows what Conan O'Brien is going to say? But I also caught up with Michael J. Fox and you talked about some of the Hollywood stars come here to the White House Correspondents' Dinner with agendas, and definitely Michael J. Fox has been on the fight for finding a cure for Parkinson's disease and he's a big proponent of stem cell research. So he said he was coming here tonight and he was going to talk to politicians about keeping that fight on the forefront. So listen to what he said.


MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: We've cleared past the things that weren't being done before. We're doing research on gene therapy, to regrow cells in the brain. And we're -- and we're finding ways to -- to measure Parkinson's progress before symptoms are in existence so that we can do research early on. I mean, a lot of breakthroughs that are kind of behind the scenes you have to do in order to take the next step. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TURNER: And again, this was Michael J. Fox's first time at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. You would think for someone that's been in the industry, Brianna, for so long like he has that he'd been here a time or two before. But no. Alex P. Keaton, it's his first time here.


KEILAR: That is very, very surprising.

LEMON: I'm glad you said it. I'm glad you said Alex P. Keaton because we all love "Family Ties," But you know what, I have to say --

TURNER: I know.

LEMON: -- I love him in "The Good Wife." His character in "The Good Wife" is amazing as well.

TURNER: Yes. And he's working on a new sitcom as well right now for NBC. So we should see him back on the screen again really soon.

LEMON: OK. Lots to talk about. Jimmy Kimmel was the star attraction at last year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's always a delicate task making fun of the president when he's sitting just a few feet away from you. And as we wait for Conan O'Brien to take the stage tonight, let's check out Kimmel's performance.


KIMMEL: But it's an honor to be here. You know, he told me when I was a kid that I would be sitting on the same dais with President Barack Obama, I would have said, the president's name is Barack Obama?

Mr. President, you remember -- you remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious. That was your best one yet. But honestly, it's a thrill for me to be here with the president, a man who has I think done his best to guide us through some very difficult times and paid a heavy price for it. You know, there's a term for guys like President Obama. Probably not two terms, but there is.

Even some of your fellow Democrats think you're a pushover, Mr. President. They would like to see you stick to your guns. And if you don't have any guns, they would like to see you ask Eric Holder to get some for you.

Jake Tapper wrote that.

It's kind of hard to be funny with the president of the United States sitting right next to you looking at you. And yet somehow day in, day out Joe Biden manages to do it. I wish he was here -- I wish he was here so he could sit behind me and fake clap like he does during the State of the Union address. Are you enjoying this? Is this fun for you?


KIMMEL: This is the first meal he's had in months. They say diplomacy is a matter of carrots and sticks. And since Mrs. Obama got to the White House, so is dinner.

You're very skinny. She doesn't let you eat. I felt weird about eating dessert. I left it untouched. I've never done that before.

This is how you know this country's in bad shape. Our president is starving. North Korea is sending him food aid.


LEMON: Very funny. So Conan O'Brien performed at this year's dinner in 1995. A lot of those jokes are still pretty funny. We'll dig up that tape next.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, CONAN: I wasn't aware that -- this is true, I hear. When you attend a function with the president, the Secret Service puts you through an extensive background check. Yes. It's a little embarrassing, actually. It turns out technically I'm still a virgin. But --



LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. There's the crowd inside the Washington Hilton. This is CNN's special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

I want to bring in our Nischelle Turner, who is our entertainment correspondent and our resident White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.

What's going on at the Hilton? You guys are there. Take us inside.

TURNER: Yes, we're home court.


KEILAR: And you know what's interesting here, and we've heard celebrities say this, we say what -- how is this different from other events, from Hollywood events, and they say the security here is significantly advance compared to what they're used to. And to that point --

TURNER: And Matthew Perry just found that out.

KEILAR: He sure did. Just a moment ago behind us. TURNER: Yes, absolutely. I think he was trying to go one way that he wasn't supposed to go that was blocked off and security --

LEMON: Who was it?

TURNER: Matthew Perry. Chandler Bing.

KEILAR: "Friends." Of "Friends" fame.

LEMON: Chandler Bing.

TURNER: Yes. And he got intercepted and was told very nicely, curtly, you can't go that way, sir. But he's like wait, wait, wait, what's going on? And so it almost became an issue. But it wasn't.


TURNER: And he went the right way.


KEILAR: With humor.

TURNER: But yes, security is right. Security is very tight. It was cute. It was funny.


LEMON: So listen, it's not just Hollywood. You're talking about Matthew Perry.


LEMON: But I mean, there are big names, there are even in sports.

Brianna, I understand that you spoke with Louisville Cardinal basketball player Kevin Ware.

KEILAR: That's right. He's actually a guest of CNN's here at this dinner. We're so glad to have him.

TURNER: It was cool.

KEILAR: And Don, we were able to interview a number of people, but for me personally I will tell you this was the highlight for me. Twenty-year-old Louisville sophomore was -- I mean, is a basketball phenom but really became a bit of an icon when we saw him just have that very tragic break of his leg last month during the game. Louisville against Duke. So I talked to him about what's ahead for him for -- as far as basketball goes, but also what is he going to say to President Obama, who is a big basketball fan? Here's what he told me.


KEILAR: Kevin Ware, how are feeling tonight?

KEVIN WARE, LOUISVILLE CARDINALS BASKETBALL PLAYER: Great. It's an honor to be here, honestly. And I know my situation sparked a lot of people. But this is definitely a privilege. And I really appreciate it.

KEILAR: What everyone wants to know, having watched your horrible injury during the Elite Eight, they want to know how you're feeling.

WARE: I'm good. I'm putting pressure on my leg already. Everything's really ahead of schedule. I'm four weeks in this Sunday, and I feel like I'll be fine in six months for sure. I'll be back playing next season like nothing happened, honestly. You know, I feel like this is -- this is just a wake-up call for me. God made this happen and he just wanted to show me something differently, wanted me to slow down a little bit, and that's all. But I'm fine.

KEILAR: You have amazing perspective. And you're here tonight, this is normally the nexus of Hollywood and Washington. You're sort of bringing the basketball, which I imagine President Obama is pretty happy about as a big basketball fan. What do you think?

WARE: I know Obama picked Indiana over us in the national championship. But like I said, this is definitely a privilege. I'm just really happy to be here.

KEILAR: Are you going to let him live that down, that he picked Indiana over you?

WARE: I've got to tell me. I have to tell him.


KEILAR: So you're going to give him some flak for it.

WARE: Yes. Definitely. I'm going to give him some flak now and I'm going to give him some flak when we come back to visit him at the White House.

KEILAR: That's right. You're going to have a couple of visits here.

WARE: Yes.

KEILAR: Do you think this will be an interesting experience, being here with all of these different characters?

WARE: Definitely. Because these people I've seen in movies, government, a lot of stuff like that. So seeing these people in person and really meeting -- and meeting great people like this is really a privilege.


LEMON: Oh, Mr. President. KEILAR: So he's going to give the president a piece of his mind.


TURNER: I love it.

KEILAR: Don't you love it?

LEMON: Absolutely.

TURNER: I absolutely love it. That takes some guts. Because I think most people would just be like, "Hello, Mr. President." But I believe him. I believe that he's going to do it.

KEILAR: He's going to do it. And he's going to do it twice because Louisville does come to the White House because they won the championship.

TURNER: Absolutely. And you know, Brianna, it's funny because we were talking about how there's a lot of celebrities here, there's a lot of politicians but like Kevin Ware, who has kind of become this pop culture icon, there's a lot of pop culture representatives here as well and --

LEMON: Here we go.

TURNER: Yes, I know. Yes, Don, I said it. I was excited to meet the "Duck Dynasty" family. I was excited to meet Willie Robertson. And we did meet him. But I wasn't the only one. My photographer Jay was excited to meet him, too. So I'm going to call him out on this as well. And here's what he told us about being a first-timer at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.


TURNER: And I love that you like party on top and business at the back.

WILLIE ROBERTSON, STAR, "DUCK DYNASTY": Yes, I'm kind of -- yes, I kind of mix and match. Put together things that fit. And whatever didn't and we just scrambled last minute and we're here. This is very humbling to be here. And I watched this on TV. And then to be here, it's just crazy. I'm just here mostly for the food, you know, that's what I'm looking for first.

TURNER: And the jokes.

ROBERTSON: No, you know, I'm always -- it's my first time here. So I'm not going to -- you know, I'm just here to listen and learn and see what this is all about.


TURNER: I did ask him, do you have some sort of political agenda that you want to talk to people about? He said heck, no, I'm just here for the food, I want to be invited back, I want to bring Uncle Sy with me. So no, I'm just going to hang out tonight and have a good time.

And, you know, I also talked to them because, you know, their season finale of "Duck Dynasty" gathered 9.3 million viewers.

LEMON: Goodness gracious.

TURNER: That is phenomenal.


TURNER: I mean, people really, really love this show. And he said, you know, it's just because we're just regular people and we're funny. And they are. So -- but I think like me there were a lot of people that were excited to see Willie.

KEILAR: I think so, too. It was the highlight.

LEMON: You think with all that -- you know we joke about the old mullet like '80s hairdo? It wasn't even business in the front, party in the back.


LEMON: It was party all over.

TURNER: That was from ZZ top. Yes, that was --


KEILAR: Party all over.


KEILAR: Just like tonight.

TURNER: Exactly.

LEMON: You guys are hilarious. This is -- this is great. Listen, it's getting close, guys. The president will start speaking soon.

TURNER: All right.

LEMON: We'll bring his remarks to you live. But first, let's not leave former President George W. Bush out of the fun. He had some memorable one-liners while he was in the White House.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I want to talk about some serious issues such as --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Here it comes. Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation.

BUSH: Nuclear proliferation. (END VIDEO CLIP)


LEMON: White House Correspondents' Dinner, our special coverage happening right now. You're looking inside the ballroom at the Washington Hilton.

And only a handful of people were invited to this event, but we have your ticket to Washington's most exclusive ballroom.

Again, this is CNN's special coverage of the White House correspondents' dinner. I'm Don Lemon.

Joining me are my buddies, who are there. Nischelle turner and also Brianna Keilar standing by at the event.

You know, 18 years later Team Coco is back in Washington. Conan O'Brien rocked the house when President Clinton was in office. He'll be back behind the mike in just a few minutes. But first it's not just comedians who bring the laughs. Presidents and first ladies are part of the fun, too.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And so the city slicker asked the old guy how to get to the nearest town and --

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Not that old joke -- not again.


LAURA BUSH: I've been attending these dinners for years.


LAURA BUSH: And just quietly sitting there.


LAURA BUSH: Well, I've got a few things I want to say for a change.


LAURA BUSH: George always says he's delighted to come to these press dinners. Baloney.


LAURA BUSH: He's usually in bed by now. I'm not kidding.


LAURA BUSH: I said to him the other day, George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later.

But George and I are complete opposites. I'm quiet. He's talkative. I'm introverted. He's extroverted. I can pronounce "nuclear."


CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER, COMEDIAN: I love that name, Condoleezza. It's so soulful. You know, she's very professional. But Condoleezza, come on. Right there. Condoleezza.

It's two people, though. You know the name is broken down into the Connie (ph). That's the person you see on television with, you know, the nice hair and very professional.

Then there's the Leezza. She the one with her hair wrapped up on the phone with her girlfriend watching BET, talking about --


CEDRIC: -- "Girl, ain't that Usher fine?" Connie's the one, you know, being very diplomatic in the meetings, you know -- well, that's good. It's great, we're all on the same pattern because at the end of the day, you know, freedom is what we all want.

Daleezza come out and be like, North Korea say what? OK. All right. All right. Hold my purse, Mr. President. Hold my purse.


STEVE BRIDGES, BUSH IMPERSONATOR: As you know, I always look forward to these dinners. It's just a bunch of media types. Hollywood liberals, Democrats like Joe Biden. How come I can't have dinner with the 36 percent of the people who like me?

GEORGE W. BUSH: If I want to talk about some serious issues such as --

BRIDGES: OK. Here it comes. Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Nukear proliberation.

RICH LITTLE, COMEDIAN (singing): Sing a little song all about the throng in Washington. Tell a little joke and we're going to poke a lot of fun, poke a lot of fun at Washington.

CRAIG FERGUSON, COMEDIAN: I used to be tough. I'm not tough anymore, of course. I live in Los Angeles. I'm all lactose intolerant and into the Kabbalah and everything. I travel the world adopting babies. I solve international crisis with my celebrity. Stop war.

The beautiful infidel is right. Let us put down our weapons. What were we thinking? Let us moisturize and text each other.

WYNDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: The first black president. I know you're biracial, but the first black president.

I mean, you're proud to be able to say that. You know, the first black president. You know, well, that's unless you screw up.


SYKES: And then it's going to be what's up with the half-white guy, huh?


SYKES: The first lady, beautiful as always. You look very nice. And you know -- and how dare you people give her grief about baring her arms? The country is broke. All right? Sleeves cost money.


SYKES: But you do need to keep your arms to yourself sometime, you know? Yes. You know, you went over to London, touching the queen. You can't do that. You over there patting the queen on the back like she just slid into home plate. Way to go, queen!


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As some of you heard, the state of Hawaii released my official long-form birth certificate.


OBAMA: But just in case there are any lingering questions, tonight I'm prepared to go a step further. Tonight for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video. Let's take a look.


SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: These are my birth certificate jokes. So thank you for the timing on that, Mr. President. Now unusable. We were working on these jokes for months.

One of my guys said, are you worried we're a little heavy on birth certificate jokes? What if he releases it before the dinner? And I was like, why would he do that?


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: I also want to thank Mr. Mills, my tenth grade high school history teacher, who said I'd never amount to anything if I kept screwing around in class. Mr. Mills, I'm about to high-five the president of the United States. Is that OK?


KIMMEL: Eat it, Mills. Thank you, everybody.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Very good stuff. You know, President Obama going to take to the podium very soon there in Washington, the chance to have some fun at the expense of his political opponents. Coming up, some of Mr. Obama's best moments from last year's dinner as our special coverage continues. Don't go anywhere.


OBAMA: Much has changed during my time in office. Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won't stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.



LEMON: Well, he must have been a hit back in 1995 because Conan O'Brien is headlining the White House Correspondents' Dinner tonight for a second time. The host of "Conan" on TBS was a boyish -- look at him -- a 32-year-old when he first performed there 18 years ago.

Well, he'll take the stage again soon. So let's hear some of his routine with then-President Bill Clinton looking on.


CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: I wasn't aware that -- this is true, I here. When you attend a function with the president, the Secret Service puts you through an extensive background check. Yes.

It's a little embarrassing, actually. It turns out technically I'm still a virgin. But --


I went to the Jefferson Memorial. And I was very inspired because carved in the beautiful marble on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial are some really inspiring sayings. Listen to this.

First one at the top, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." And then just below that, "I know but one code of morality for men, whether acting singly or collectively." And then way down at the bottom carved in marble, it says, "P.S., if there's ever a movie about me, please don't cast Nick Nolte."


Some people say the president is going to have a tough race in '96. Some say it's not going to be easy, it's going to be an uphill struggle. Well, I speak for the 30 and under generation. And, Mr. President, I want you to know, you don't have to worry about us because we don't vote.


Finally, I have an announcement for those of you watching tonight's event live on C-Span: for God's sake, it's Saturday night.



LEMON: That was pretty funny.

So -- and as we mentioned, Conan takes the mike soon at the White House correspondents' dinner. He will top Jimmy Kimmel -- will he top Jimmy Kimmel from last year? We'll see.

But let's bring in our ladies. This is the better looking of the group. There they are.

You guys are getting so much love. I don't know if you can check your social media feeds, but everyone's like the one in the black -- I'm like they're both wearing black. And they're like yes, that's right. Both of them.



LEMON: You can't really tell on television. But they think you both look great.

So take us behind the scenes. And is this something -- Nischelle, you're from Hollywood. Brianna, you're in Washington. Do people get all, for lack of a better word, gussied up and wear designer gowns like they're going to some big awards show?

KEILAR: Oh, yes. First off we should say -- and this is widely known, so I don't think I'm hurting anyone's feelings. But Washington is in jest in sort of affectionately called Hollywood for ugly people.

That is what people in Washington call it. It's true. And I spoke to a celebrity tonight who say said you know what they call Hollywood? I'm quoting Daniel Dae Kim. He said, they call it Washington for dumb people.

I said you're just being funny. But, you know, yes, I mean, this is -- they call this the nerd prom tonight, Don. And this is a huge night. This is probably the biggest night in terms of when you're talking about events for D.C. It's gigantic. People are wondering what are you wearing, you know?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I was asking that, which I thought was kind of odd that I would be asking in Washington close to Capitol Hill, close to the White House. People, what are you wearing? But I was.

And listen, Olivia Munn had on Marquesa. It was like an Oscar dress.

LEMON: Nischelle.

TURNER: Marina Backer (ph) in J. Mandel. I mean, these are big time designers here.

LEMON: Nischelle, you are based in Hollywood. You're the entertainment reporter. It's not what are you wearing. It's who --

TURNER: Who are you wearing? You're right. You're right. You're right. Sorry.

LEMON: So all of my friends who are in Washington who are at this event, who are asking me where I am -- I'm not there. I'm in Atlanta. I am anchoring the coverage. You guys are there.

TURNER: By the way, can I tell you something, Don? I just thought of this. Andy Cohen, who of course we all love and know from --

LEMON: I just spoke to him two weeks ago. And we hung out here in Atlanta.

TURNER: He was here tonight, and he said in honor of the first lady he was wearing J. Crew. So it was high-end and low-end tonight on all fronts. Yes.

LEMON: All right. Well, stand by.

Lots more to talk about. The president, Conan O'Brien getting ready to take the stage at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, live in Washington. We're going to have that for you. Don't go anywhere.

See you, ladies, on the other side of the break.



LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Let's get you there live now because Brianna and Nischelle are back with you.

Brianna, you were working that red carpet and that you're giving Nischelle for her money and you caught up with the "Modern Family" stars.

KEILAR: That's right. I talked to Sofia Vergara. And it was interesting, because, of course, she was looking forward, Don, to this event and to seeing, you know, whether the president might be funnier than Conan.

But she was also really interested, as many of the celebrities we spoke with, about what's going on in Washington. Especially, as a Latina, she was interested in immigration reform. I talked to her about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOFIA VERGARA, ACTRESS, "MODERN FAMILY": I think it's a very interesting night. I came last year. And this year when they invited me I immediately said yes, because -- well, first of all, to be part of an event where the president of the United States is going it's very important. For me, you know, as an immigrant I'm very honored to be here. And it's a lot of fun.

Last year, I loved Jimmy Kimmel. Let's see how Conan does tonight.

KEILAR: Is there anything going on in Washington that you're taking particular interest in right now?

VERGARA: There's many things. I think Latinos we're becoming more and more important for the votes. So I think that's pretty important happening now.

KEILAR: If you see President Obama, what are you going to say to him?

VERGARA: I am going to say, hello, Mr. President.



TURNER: I love it.

KEILAR: And that is so funny. Hello, Mr. President. And so many of them said, I don't know, I'd say hi.

LEMON: I mean, she is drop-dead gorgeous. Like on an old Hollywood, like a Sophia Loren model, you know?

TURNER: Absolutely.

KEILAR: Definitely, that's a very good comparison. So many of I would say the male partygoers here this evening who I told that I interviewed Sofia Vergara were very jealous of me.

LEMON: All right, guys. We want to get to the dinner because they're making an introduction. We'll talk to you soon. Let's get to the dinner live. Listen.

ED HENRY, PRES., WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSN.: -- serving tonight, but who we are serving tomorrow. We should be serving the public and the next generation of journalists. And that's something I've thought a lot about since becoming president. And to be fair I didn't have a lot of time.

Few people know what it's like to have this much power for just about a year. Other than Conan --


But we didn't just talk about change, we took action, starting when we decided to trademark our name. That was helpful when someone used our name to start a gifting suite. We knocked it down last week because that might be the norm at an Oscars party, but our dinner has to be about scholarships, not swag.

Next year actually will be the 100th year of the Correspondents Association. There's a lot of history. And if you have any mementos out there, you got some photos of previous dinners, I want you to contact Steve Thomma, a wonderful vice president.


You can go to our web site. There's a place to submit some of those memories, but also remember Steve Thomma will be president next year. So, if you want tickets, start calling him already.

So, very quickly I want to run through -- over the last year, I've had a lot of people say so what do you guys do? So, I'm going to run through three priorities we have. The first is we stand up for access.

And, Mr. President, I know you know I've been agitating for more access to your White House and to your golf games. And I want to let you know I'm an equal opportunity agitator. Last summer, a few months before the election, the Romney campaign had agreed to our request and started press pool, but they would not open their fundraisers to the press. The president's were largely open. So, we demanded privately the same of Romney. We kept pushing. They kept saying no.

One day late September, I got an e-mail from a Romney aide. He said, starting tomorrow cameras are going to be allowed into all the governor's fundraisers. I said, wow, I really made an impact. Until a few minutes later, Kristen Welker of NBC News came up to me, we were in Columbus, Ohio, with you. She said, did you hear about this hidden camera in a Romney fundraiser?


Forty-seven percent, she said it's a game changer. And I realize that's why the Romney folks wanted to open the fundraisers. They wanted to look more transparent. And the point to me is that elected officials in both parties want more access when more access is in their interests.

It's our duty to push for more access all the time, whether it's a Democrat or Republican in power, because it's in the public's interests.


It's also easier to get that information that way instead of having to bug Senator McConnell's office.


Now, the second thing we do is we stand up for our members. Earlier this year, several of our journalists became new moms. They had a hard time finding a place to pump breast milk at the White House. The press room has bathrooms that are pretty disgusting.

This was not just a moral obligation, this was a legal obligation. You see the president's health care law, you might have heard of Obamacare?

LEMON: All right. That is the president of the White House Correspondents' Association talking about what the evening means.

And then just moments ago when introducing what he's talking about now is a very funny video with Kevin Spacey. Let's look.


HENRY: Everyone gets to sit. I really need you to release some of these tables.

KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: Well, you know my motto, Ed. You scratch my back, I won't lacerate yours.

HENRY: I have integrity, sir. I'm not going to cut a deal.

SPACEY: I've seen your work, Ed. Let's not kid ourselves. This is the part where you leave.

VALERIE JARRETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: What on earth happened, Frank? You know I was supposed to sit next to Conan.

SPACEY: It's for the greater good, Valerie.

JARRETT: Greater good? Please don't tell me it has anything to do with North Korea, same-sex marriage, cabinet appointments.


JARRETT: I'm not done, Frank.

SPACEY: All right. Go ahead.

JARRETT: Taxes, gun control, the Middle East, cyber warfare, the fiscal cliff, pipelines, education, Social Security, Iraq --

SPACEY: Look, Valerie, it is not going to happen.

JARRETT: Then I'm curious. If not me, then who?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He's the one that got fired "The Tonight Show", right?

SPACEY: Yes, then he moved over to TBS.

MCCAIN: Is that a real network?

SPACEY: No, but neither is NBC.

MCCAIN: Look, can't we do better than Conan? Like Jimmy Kimmel? We're trying to rebrand. Appeal to the youngsters. SPACEY: Look, I'm sorry, but Conan is the best we can do.

MCCAIN: Fine. As long as you don't put Pelosi at our table. She keeps trying to friend me on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman, we don't focus on the masses. We focus exclusively on an elite audition. That said, we'd like Kim Kardashian at our table.

SPACEY: Then I need Mike to start wearing pants to the White House briefings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I refuse to wear pants until the president gives us more access.

SPACEY: Just do as I say and "Politico" gets a Kardashian. Oh, and, Mike, what is your home address?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you ask?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, to send you the tickets, of course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody knows where he lives, Congressman. We mail his paychecks to a P.O. box.

SPACEY: Oh, Mike, there's no reason to be nervous. What's your home --

Is Valerie bad-mouthing me to the president?


SPACEY: Is she out for revenge?

CARNEY: Ask again later.

SPACEY: Look, I need you to --

CARNEY: Look, Frank, you want to talk about immigration, we can talk about immigration. We can talk about the budget. I'll even talk to you about Jay-Z and Beyonce in Cuba. But there are two things I don't talk about, covert operations, and Valerie's magical powers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, he is my best friend.

SPACEY: So, what's the problem? You two play basketball every Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nerf ball, Frank, Nerf ball.