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President Cracks Special Olympics Bowling Joke On Leno

President Barack Obama might have rolled a gutter ball on NBC's "The Tonight Show."

Toward the end of the interview on Thursday, Obama told host Jay Leno he's been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129.

Leno complimented Obama on the score, but the president quipped, "It was like the Special Olympics or something," which prompted laughter from the audience.

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president's offhand remark was not meant to disparage the Special Olympics, only to poke some fun at the commander-in-chief's bowling skills.

"He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world," Burton told reporters flying back to Washington with Obama aboard Air Force One.

A call for comment to a Special Olympics spokesman was not returned late Thursday.

Despite making fun of his score, the president appears to be getting better the more he visits the White House lanes, which President Truman installed in 1947. During a campaign photo op a year ago at a bowling alley in Altoona, Pa., he rolled only a 37 in seven frames. The clip of the disastrous game was replayed on late night television shows such as Leno's — one of Obama's few campaign gaffes.

President Barack Obama told Leno he was stunned when he learned of the bonuses that bailed-out insurance giant AIG was paying its employees.

Obama told "The Tonight Show" host the payments raise moral and ethical problems -- and the administration's going to do everything it can to get them back.

But Obama added the bigger problem is the culture that allowed traders to claim them. He says that's got to change if the economy is to recover.

The president also says his embattled treasury chief, Timothy Geithner, is doing an "outstanding job." He told Leno that Geithner is a smart guy who's been handed an incredibly full plate, but he's handling it all with grace and good humor.

Listing the recession, the banking crisis and the need to coordinate with other countries, Obama acknowledged Geithner's "on the hot seat". But he says too many in Washington are trying to figure out who to blame for things -- when they should be focused on fixing them.


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