The WH Correspondents Dinner is known for outrageous moments, when a headline comedian roasts the President, who must sit and smile through the jokes. But in 2004, President Bush turned the tables on Jay Leno, giving him a little assist in standing.
It was 2004 and Carl Cannon of National Journal was president of the White House Correspondents Association. National Journal Group Publisher John Fox Sullivan was seated on the dais, with a clear view of President and Laura Bush, and late night talk show host Jay Leno.
Sullivan said, “When it comes time for the president and the first lady to be seated, we all stand up, but Jay Leno was a little slow to rise from his seat. President Bush secretly reached over and goosed Leno, while making a funny sound to startle the comic.”
In a ballroom packed with 2000 reporters, a sitting president grabs an American icon — who is about to tell jokes at the president’s expense! This is what makes the White House Correspondents’ Dinner a must-attend event every year.
“The president looked at Leno with a wonderful jocular smile,” said Sullivan. “Leno burst into laughter. After the speeches people asked what happened. Some thought it looked like Leno tripped.” Sullivan told WHC Insider it was one of the most memorable moments in his 33 years of working in Washington.
Go to the Back Story to watch Leno’s 2004 roast of President Bush, after the president got closer than Leno ever expected.