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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Presidential Humor on Display at White House Correspondents Dinner; Continuing Coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Aired May 1, 2010 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Let's put it this way, where else can you see the president of the United States, the first lady, Justin Bieber, Dennis Quaid, all of the biggest stars, any of them that you could name in one room? Right here on CNN and we're going to cover it until it's over. Don't forget about Jay Leno.

Our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner starts right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

LEMON: Hey, it's live television. That's how it happens, technical problems. Again, not our fault.

It's a pull (ph) situation, so apparently there is some trouble there. Not sure if it has anything to do with the weather. We'll check it out and we're going to get back to the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Mark Preston joins me here in Atlanta and he's going to help guide us through this. The president and the first lady just introduced just moments ago. We'll get back to that live, just as soon as we get that sorted out. Very special hour.

In the meantime, as I said, our very special hour of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It starts right now. Don't go anywhere.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON (voice-over): Strike up the band. A Capitol tradition rich in history and humor.

It's the one night of the year the president gets to stop the press that's covered his every move since taking office.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.

LEMON: From commander in chief -

OBAMA: Apologies to the Fox table.

LEMON: -- to comedian in chief.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm so desperate for attention I almost considered holding a news conference.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I always look forward to these dinners. How come I can't have dinner with the 36 percent of the people who like me?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You like me. You really like me!

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I've got a few things I want to say for a change.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, you're supposed to be funny.

OBAMA: Whassup?

LEMON: It's all straight ahead in our special coverage of the 2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Hello, everyone. Don Lemon live here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

You're looking at live pictures now from The Hilton, the ballroom, the Hinckley Hilton in Washington, D.C. This is our special edition of the CNN NEWSROOM, the live coverage of the 2010 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, plus a look back at past presidential appearances at this Washington tradition.

Dress, of course, is formal, but the night is festive. This is an event where the president gets to have some fun at the expense of his audience and really at the expense of the press corps most of the time. And this dinner has provided so many laughs and one-liners throughout the years.

And, for the next hour, as we await President Obama's remarks - we saw he - him and the first lady arrive just moments ago, we're going to hear from Ronald Reagan. We're going to hear Ronald Reagan needle the press, and -- the late Ronald Reagan, I should say, and George H.W. Bush talk about the tabloids.

And you'll hear from former president Bill Clinton open up about White House scandals, and George W. Bush, the former president as well, goes after liberals, the media and his own inability to say "nuclear" - nuclear, remember? That's how he said it. So you don't want to miss out on any of this.

I want to give you a little bit of a preview of the night, how the night will go. The red carpet arrivals have been going on now for a couple of hours, and just moments from now the President and Mrs. Obama will be introduced. They were just - they just came inside, but they'll be formally introduced so the first lady can give her presentation.

There's a scholarship ceremony going on. There's also the presentation of colors in the singing of the National Anthem, part of which is happening right now, and the Armed Forces Band is going to take over, then performing until dinner is served, and once that's over the First Lady will preside over that presentation of the scholarship.

And then, the president will take over, and then Jay Leno would - will take over. And guess what? You're going to get it all here on CNN live.

I keep looking to my left here because we have our political editor, Mark Preston. So don't think like (ph), who is Don talking to? He's going a little nuts tonight.

Mark is my anchor buddy, as we say here. So we can be - we can be like Wolf and Dennis Quaid. I love you, man! We have a little man date as we watch these pictures here and we talk about all of this.

So it's a - it's a really interesting gathering tonight in the ballroom.

Hey, Wes, can we show some of this? And Mark and I are going to - we're going to have some fun. We're going to get a little bit serious here. Let's see.

One of the tweets I saw said - let's see. It mentioned the president and the first lady and all of these government officials being there, really, when the south is being bombarded with oil, it says. So I'm trying to find that one tweet, but basically that's - that's the sentiment here about the president doing that, people laughing.

But here it is right here, "All of these people laughing it up at the White House Correspondents' Dinner while the Gulf Coast drowns in oil. I'm sure Obama will be so funny, too", and that - that has been the sentiment from many people who had been writing to us, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. You know, Don? In just the past few hours, we've seen the White House put out a response to some the criticism that says that they did not act quickly enough to deal with this oil explosion, this - this encroachment of oil to the Louisiana shore.

They argue that they were there right at the beginning, that they were working with BP, that they have the - the right officials in place to deal with this issue, and, clearly, they're doing so just a few hours before he does speak at the White House Correspondents' Dinner to try to curb any of that criticism.

LEMON: Yes. And I thought I - I don't think we have it, but we should probably try to get that for our viewers, because I think Joy Behar gave a very interesting assessment, you know, and she's a comedienne.

She says, you have to laugh a little. Life goes on. But we should be cognizant about what's going on there. It is a tragedy and we should work - have - do every effort to make - to correct things down there. But tonight the president is there. He's going to go in the morning. And many people have been saying that, you know, well, wondering, is this the Obama administration's Katrina? We have heard that.

Not - the situation, it's not apples to apples, you know? It's - you know, there are some nuances here, but there's some criticisms about how the administration responded, how the government responded as well.

PRESTON: Sure. And - and look, you know, critics can - can knock the administration for not moving quick enough, but - but let's be clear. Katrina, there was major loss of human life. We haven't seen that.

We did see some - some - some folks die on the oil rig, which is - which is very, very sad. But it's not on the same magnitude right now as Katrina.

It sounds good because it's Louisiana. I think we would have to wait several more days to figure out --

LEMON: Yes. But some people are saying this is quickly going to become - it quickly could become Exxon Valdez, similar to that.

So let's move on because we're going to continue to cover these stories. We'll have that for you tonight. We're going to cover the serious stories going on. But we're also going to cover the White House Correspondents' Dinner live here on CNN, so don't go anywhere.

As I said earlier, Mark, where else are you going to see the president, Kim Kardashian, all of these people in the same room/? You're going to see it right here on CNN, and you're going to get the news as well.

I want to turn now to our colleague, Jacqui Jeras, our meteorologist here. Jacqui, because there's a very situation - very serious situation happening with the weather, will you fill us in, please?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. This is in Nashville, Tennessee, Don, and the flooding is just incredible.

We've got interstates which are flooded. We've got people who have been rescued and rivers which are coming out of their banks very, very rapidly. The situation is unfolding and worsening as we speak.

This is along I-24 where these cars are submerged. There's at least a dozen of them, and people did have to be rescued. We are unclear at this time if there are still people in those cars at this time, but this is widespread.

Nashville Emergency Management is asking all Davidson County citizens to stay off the roads tonight. We've seen anywhere between 6 and 10 inches of rain in 12 hours this afternoon. So this is incredible.

The National Weather Service is confirming that Mill Creek, which is near Antioch, is at record flood stage as we speak. So the rain, unfortunately, continues to come down and will continue to do that. Look at that video, Don. Do you see that building right there?

LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

JERAS: We hear that's an annex or a building from a school that was actually floating down the river. So this lets you know how widespread this is in Nashville.

This very well will be historic flooding in this city, and a very dangerous situation that continues to evolve tonight.

LEMON: That is an amazing picture, Jacqui Jeras. It was from our affiliate WZTV, and this is in Nashville.

Look at that breaking news. Jacqui said that's an annex building?

JERAS: Yes.

LEMON: Look at those cars under water.

JERAS: Yes. It's - more than a dozen of them.

It looks like it extends far - farther than that, but that's what our sources are telling us right now, that at least that many vehicles have been stranded. Look at those semis, and with that annex moving like that you can just see how powerful that water is.

LEMON: Jacqui, thank you.

Jacqui, please standby because we want to update our viewers on that as well, Jacqui. And also, Jacqui, stand by and watch a little bit of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Jacqui is going to keep her eye on the weather and also one on the correspondents' dinner as well.

And we want you to stay here with us at CNN. We're going to cover the serious news but we're going to have a little fun tonight because the White House Correspondents' Dinner is going on. A little tongue in cheek with the president and also the paid entertainment tonight, Jay Leno.

I wonder if he will say anything about Conan O'Brien. You could see it live here on CNN. I'm just saying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN and our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I'm Don Lemon.

I'm joined this hour by CNN Political Editor Mark Preston. He's the big star in this room in Atlanta. But lots of big stars in that ballroom you see there at the Hilton in Washington, D.C.

Mark, President Obama will be delivering his remarks to the room full of Washington elite as we look at those live pictures there. And when he's finished, "The Tonight Show's" Jay Leno is going to take to the microphone. So you can see - we'll be able to see all of it live right here on CNN.

And we have a little time, Mark, before they start to speak here. So we're going to do this through this next hour, some past presidential performances we're going to talk about.

We're going to start with Ronald Reagan, all right? As former Hollywood actor, President Ronald Reagan was a natural in front of an audience. We know about that. The man can give a speech, right?

PRESTON: He was funny.

LEMON: He was, yes. What is it? What was it? The Gipper, they called him a Gipper, right?

In the spring of 1985, he was just starting his second term, and here's some of what he had to say during the dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REAGAN: I should start off by warning you, if you thought my jokes were bad at the Gridiron, you ain't seen nothing yet.

I'd like to begin each day by list - I - I like to. I begin by listening to Larry Speaks 9:15 briefing. That's where I got tonight's material.

Sitting in the front row of those briefings at the top network and wire service correspondents, that's $2 million worth of talent, and some of my best ideas come from their questions.

Just the other day, I heard Bob Novak down in the press room. Now, he's my favorite. A day without Novak is like a day without darkness.

And I know some of the things that you're all saying, and it may be true, that the White House is slightly more - has a slightly more Conservative voice now. I used to be able to read the West Wing's leaks in "The Washington Post", now I have to read them in human events.

Don Reagan wanted to cheer me up today. He said, "Tonight, you're going to address the group that accurately and competently reports on the Washington scene." I said - I thought that - that's funny, I thought I was addressing the White House correspondents.

But this is one night of the year when we can all put our differences aside. So I want to thank Lou Cannon for lending me this beautiful tux with the - with the target painted on the back.

Quite seriously, it is good to be here tonight. The president and the press have a unique relationship. It's my job to solve all the country's problems, and it's your job to make sure that no one finds out about it.

It's been a busy second term. Just last week I went to the circus, and when I was under the big top, all I heard was "Buy me popcorn. Buy me candy. Buy me a cone," and that's the last time I'm taking the cabinet to the circus.

I called up "The New York Times" the other day and said, fellows, can't you for once give me the benefit of the doubt? And the next day there was an editorial headlined "We Doubt He's of Any Benefit".

You know, it's true now that I'm wearing hearing aids, and it's made a big difference. I can actually hear the sound of the helicopter over Sam Donald's roaring.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Man, he could give a speech. I love to listen to President Reagan give a speech. He's a young buck back then. I wouldn't tell you how old I was, Mark.

So listen, after President Ronald Reagan came President George H.W. Bush, who may have been more at ease making international policy than telling jokes, as we see from the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Check out this one, back in 1991.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.W. BUSH: Talking to Barbara come - coming over, she said, "I wonder if this very day Saddam Hussein is appearing before the Baghdad Revolutionary Palace Press Corps and his wife is sitting at the limmie (ph) - limo saying, 'Try to be funny, sweetie.'"

I used to love to go to the supermarket, reading those tabloids as I stood in the checkout line. But it's not all bad. I can still read "The New York Times."

Whoops!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. So that's presidents past. So listen, I'm going to bring Mark Preston, our political editor here.

You know, it's funny, because I remember Ronald Reagan, he used to go - someone would ask him a question that he didn't agree with, and he'd go, "Well, there you go again." You know, and that was -that was his thing.

And then George H.W. Bush would say - well, I guess it was Dana Carvey. He sounded like Dana Carvey, didn't he? Where he would go, "I'm not going to do it. It wouldn't be prudent." Do you remember that?

PRESTON: It wouldn't be prudent.

LEMON: It wouldn't be - anyway, we digress. Having a little bit of fun here.

So listen, let me tell you - of course, this is the live coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. You're looking inside the ballroom right now. It is the Hilton ballroom, the Hinckley Hilton, as it is called there.

You see, we're saying comedians in chief, because we're showing not only the president live tonight, President Barack Obama, but we're giving you some of the past presidents and what they're saying as well. You're not going to miss any of it.

And, you know, I've said this once, I'll say it again, this is a very interesting mix of people, Mark, that you're going to see live here on CNN. Starting at the top, the president of the United States, the first lady, other diplomats, Madeleine Albright, Justin Bieber - I keep saying Justin Bieber. He's so funny. I can't believe he's - that kid is there.

Kim Kardashian, you know, as well as other politicos that you're going to see there, among stars as well. So it's a very interesting mix that we're going to be looking at.

PRESTON: You know, Don, we're looking at more than 2,500 people who are at this dinner tonight, and that they had to turn people away. So many people want to go and, you know, this really didn't become such a big deal until 1987 - until 1987, when Oliver North's secretary was brought there by the late Michael Kelly. Do you remember that?

LEMON: And what was the secretary's name?

PRESTON: We will let the viewers try to chew on that one.

LEMON: OK. I think I know who that is. We wouldn't say. And there was -

Anyway, we'll let the viewers chew on that and then we'll tweet it, but we know. That's a good way to tease, right?

Do you guys want to move on or go to break or you want to continue the banter a little bit? OK.

So, listen, chew on that. Why don't you tweet us about that?

PRESTON: Tell us who you think it is.

LEMON: And then the next year was a very interesting guest as well that was brought there and it made it - it made it even more interesting and more popular.

So listen, let me tell you this, being a heartbeat away from the presidency makes them, really, an easy subject for presidential punch lines. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CLINTON: For $10,000, you can have a private meeting with Vice President Gore to discuss reinventing government, and for $20,000 you don't have to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And guess what? Vice presidents aren't the only ones who are on the receiving end. Would you believe, "Yo' Mama" jokes? Are they playing the dozens there?

Our live coverage of the 2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner continues after the break. Don't fawn (ph) over that answer that you're going to send to us by Twitter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Live coverage right here on CNN, special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner happening right now in Washington tonight - Washington. You're going to hear from the president of the United States.

There, you see him right there at the stage, along with Robert Gibbs, his Communications Secretary, right there on the stage, on the dais, as they say, is that right? The podium?

Mark Preston, our political editor joins us as well. We're going to talk - as you can see, dinner is being served there at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Meantime, we have to take care of business here and give you some news because there's a lot happening in the world.

You see the president there, but the president will travel to the Gulf Coast tomorrow to get a firsthand look at the massive oil spill now threatening Louisiana. The slick is growing by about 200,000 gallons per day with no end in sight.

The Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, has been appointed the lead government official to deal with the disaster.

Let's turn now to Jacqui Jeras. She's not only watching the winds and the water down in the Gulf Coast, she's watching a very, very serious weather situation happening now, Nashville, Tennessee, that area.

JERAS: Yes. We're getting some new information now about that flooding that I was telling you about - about on I-24. Let's just go ahead and let that video roll.

There are actually 70 cars now which were submerged in this water. The interstate remains shut down, as well as parts of I-40.

There you can see what looks like a mobile home, but it's to my understanding that that's part of a school annex. And, if we let this video roll, you'll see that that roof gets crumbled, so you can really see the power of the water here. All the people that were in those 70 cars, emergency officials tell us, are safe and OK.

However, our affiliate, WSMV-TV, is reporting that there is one fatality due to the flooding, not necessarily this incident. Nashville Emergency Management folks are asking people in Davidson County to stay off the roads tonight. There's been anywhere between 6 and 10 inches of rain that has fallen here just in the last 12 hours.

So this is an increasingly dangerous situation that will be ongoing tonight. It's dark. You can't see how deep that water is. Make sure you don't drive in it.

We also have some information out of the Memphis, Tennessee area, where we have extensive flooding going on here now. You've got a little lull in the thunderstorms.

However, 2,000 people are displaced in Millington, which is just outside of Memphis. There are also two levees which have been breached in this area, one of which was near an apartment complex. We'll continue to follow this story as we get more information.

We're also watching the threat of tornadoes, Don. Look at all of this firing up in Southern Arkansas at this time. There are numerous tornado warnings in effect, nothing officially on the ground, but if you hear those sirens go off -

This is a particularly high-risk night, Don. We will likely see those large, long-track tornadoes which will stay on the ground tonight.

LEMON: Jacqui, thank you very much.

Hey, Jacqui, standby. I'm going to read this as we thank Jacqui here. Look at this. This is from Twitter. Someone says - it says "Was that annex building moving from the current in the water? If so, that's amazing. I wish everyone luck in Nashville."

We certainly do. Yes, it was from the current. Our Jacqui Jeras reported just a little bit.

Jacqui's going to stand by. She's going to update us on the weather situation, coming up in just a bit.

Meantime, we're going to continue with our coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. We're live here on CNN. We're having a lot of fun, as a matter of fact.

Sometimes standup comedy just can't hold up at these dinners. Time to go Hollywood - presidential style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I wish I could be here more, but I really think Bill has everything under control.

B. CLINTON: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Wait, you forgot your lunch!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's very funny. So cue the president, his comedian - his comedic close-up. That was really funny. And, still ahead, when our live coverage of the 2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner - Dinner continues. There you see the president about to have dinner, and you're going to hear from him and you're going to hear Jay Leno tonight here on CNN.

We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, to our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I'm joined tonight by our political editor, Mr. Mark Preston who's going to help guide us through.

Hey, listen, I get to hang out with Mark Preston. That guy gets to hang out with the president, so I think I'm just as lucky.

PRESTON: I think you're the winner.

LEMON: You think I'm the winner? I don't know about that.

Hey, let's - before we go to the next thing, let's answer - answer to our trivia question here that Mark asked before the break. Who was at the 1987 Correspondents' Dinner, the guest there, Mark? Tell us what you asked before.

PRESTON: Who did - why is this dinner such a big Hollywood elite gathering? It was all brought on in 1987, when the late Michael Kelly, a reporter for "The Baltimore Sun" brought this woman to the dinner.

LEMON: And this is what Jason Reizen wrote. He said Fawn Hall. It's right there on Twitter. Take Wes' camera. There you go.

Jason, thank you very much. And then T.S. Barnes says the same thing -- Fawn Hall. So, thank you very much for writing in.

Mark Preston and I are going to guide you through the night.

You know, as - as a two-term president, President Bill Clinton had lots of chances to entertain in this - at this black-tie audience. And, as we all know, he had plenty of material to talk about, of course.

Sometimes a one-liner just doesn't do it, especially when you're nearing the end of your term, and especially when you're in a room full the Hollywood elite. The answer - well, make a movie of your own.

For Best Actor in a Documentary, President Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, THEN FIRST LADY: I wish I could be here more, but I really think Bill has everything under control.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wait, wait, wait, wait! Wait! You forgot your lunch!

ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think his legacy is going to be the natural environment, improving the green spaces of our country. I've urged him to spend more time on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president's schedule is just as busy as ever. He's just doing different things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel really bad for him. I wish there was something that would cheer him up.

CLINTON: Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was very funny stuff. Hey, listen, we've got much, much more of that. Before we get to it, though, our Mark Preston, our political editor, joins us now. Mark, you were there last year. You're there a lot. And you get to hang out with me. I should say you are the winner because you're in Atlanta, hanging out with Don Lemon, @donlemoncnn on Twitter. That's not bad, buddy.

PRESTON: Much better than the correspondents...

LEMON: Count your blessings, I'd say. So listen, we're getting lots of fun tweets here. Thank you so much. Someone says -- look -- look at what Cricket (ph) says -- Always fun to share an evening with @donlemon and his crew. Someone said Fawn Hall. Obama and Reagan, very similar. Again, Fawn Hall.

This is Randy Johnson (ph), LA, says, And give me credit for being the first with Fawn Hall. R.J. Johnson, Los Angeles, California. You weren't the first, but I put you on there because you tweet me a lot, good or bad. Sometimes you're very critical, but I appreciate it. I like that.

Listen, I'm in LA. I'm OK with the dinner. None of those people will actually do the work that is needed. They're talking down in New Orleans. But again, on and on, thank you so much for your tweets. We're really having a good time here, and we're keeping our eye on some very serious news.

We showed you the former president, former president Bill Clinton earlier, and then there's George W. Bush, sometimes funny when he wasn't even trying to be funny. So how about when he was trying?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Which brings me to Dick.

(LAUGHTER) BUSH: For eight years as vice president, Dick has ridden shotgun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Mark, I could see that on "The Daily Show," -- "which brings me to Dick," and then it's just kind of isolated, which would be very funny there. Anyway, he's talking about Dick Cheney.

And you haven't even heard the jokes that he tells about himself, but you will when our coverage -- our live coverage of the 2010 White House Correspondents dinner -- continues. We're just gearing -- getting geared up here. I wonder what they will say. What's Jay Leno talking to the first lady about? What do you think -- And then, you know, Conan got mad, and I don't know, so I tell you -- anyway, That was my Jay Leno. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the White House Correspondents' dinner. But first, some breaking news when it concerns the weather. Our meteorologist, Jacqui Jeras, here with the latest -- Jacqui.

JERAS: Wow, we've got a number of tornado warnings going on right now as we speak, Don. This is in Arkansas -- 33 out of the 75 counties are under tornado warnings as we speak. We just got a report of a tornado on the ground. This is in Faulkner County. Vilonia is the name of the town. This is the cell that we're talking about right here. So this is a confirmed tornado -- possible damage. We're also getting unconfirmed reports of a possible touchdown which was in the Holland area.

There are a number of watches which remain in effect tonight. This is what we call a PDS watch, or a particularly dangerous situation. This is the night you'll want to sleep in your basement. That's what I'm talking about. And the SPC is now saying they're going to extend this watch eastward, and that's going to include you in Memphis tonight. And we know that you're already dealing with major flooding in Memphis and Nashville, both -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Jacqui Jeras. Thank you, Jacqui. We'll keep an eye on that. And we're keeping an eye on this, as well as the situation happening down on the gulf coast.

I'm joined by our political editor, Mark Preston, to take us through the White House Correspondents dinner. Mark, we heard from former president Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan earlier, George H.W. Bush earlier. And now we're going to hear from George W. Bush. He was -- he had a big sense of humor -- as we look at the live pictures from the White House Correspondents dinner.

PRESTON: Yes, he really did. You know, for somebody who took a lot of heat from us, the media, certainly took a lot of heat from the comedians, he was able to poke fun at himself.

LEMON: All right, so listen, Mark. Listen to this. Whether it was deliberate or by accident, George W. Bush -- he was always good for laughs. As we said, he had a great sense of humor, especially at these dinners like the one you're looking at live tonight. We had eight years and a lot of funny moments to choose from, including the year 2006, when there were two, that's right, two President George W. Bushes. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Members of the White House Correspondents Association, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here I am.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here I am at another one of these dang press dinners. Could be home asleep, Little Barney curled up at my feet. But no, I got to pretend I like being here.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media really ticks me off, the way they try to embarrass me by not editing what I say.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: I'm continuing to spread our agenda globally and around the world, as well as internationally.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of my critics in the international community call me arrogant. I will not even honor that with a response. Screw 'em.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Mark, that was really funny. I enjoyed that. He was always, as I said, very funny. Here you go, shake my hand. Remember this moment in Haiti? That was a funny moment by the president. It wasn't the White House Correspondents dinner. But let's move on, shall we, as we look at -- you see the live pictures there from the ballroom in Washington at the White House corers -- corr -- Correspondents dinner. New lips. First day with these lips.

Of course, there are those stories that presidents -- that they don't really want to share, and that's why they have their wives. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: But I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse.

(LAUGHTER) BUSH: What's worse, it was a male horse.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Very classy lady there, Laura Bush, and by the way, who has a new book coming out. And we're going to find out everything that's in there. So that's nothing. Just wait until she goes off on her mother-in-law.

Our live coverage of the White House Correspondents dinner from Washington. We're here in Atlanta, but they're in Washington. There you see the president chatting at some folks in the crowd there. Much, much more coming up on CNN. Don't go anywhere. We're having a great time here. You want to join us for this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: You know what? It's getting very close to the time that the president is going to speak, and Jay Leno, at this White House Correspondents dinner happening -- hey, there's our president of the -- of CNN. Did you see that? That was Jon Klein in the background right there, our president and the president of the United States. There you go. And a lot of Hollywood stars and big politicos in Washington. And we're live.

Hey, listen, it's -- very soon, you're going to hear from the president and Jay Leno. Jay Leno -- or I should say Conan O'Brien was very critical of Jay Leno in a big "60 Minutes'" interview. I wonder if he's -- if he's going to say something tonight. We shall see. That's why you don't want to go anywhere.

PRESTON: No, and you can see it live here, CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM, our coverage, special coverage of the White House Correspondents dinner. Our political editor, Mr. Mark Preston, is here to help guide us through. He's supposed to be at this dinner, but guess what? He came to Atlanta so that he could hang out with us right here. You're a lucky man.

Mark, we're waiting on President Obama and Jay Leno to take this stage. It should happen very shortly. And this hour, we have been watching past presidents. You've seen it. They try to hand -- tried their hand, I should say, at stand-up comedy. Not an easy thing do, really not an easy thing to do.

But five years ago, however, a first lady stole the spotlight. Laura Bush surprised everyone and took over for President George W. Bush. Now I want to show you some of the highlights from 2005, first lady Laura Bush. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, I am a "Desperate Housewife."

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: I mean, if those women on that show think they're desperate, they ought to be with George.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: One night...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH: One night, after George went to bed, Lynne Cheney, Condi Rice, Karen Hughes and I went to Chippendale's.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: I wouldn't even mention it, except Ruth Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor saw us there.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: I won't tell you what happened, but Lynne's Secret Service code name is now "Dollar Bill."

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: But George and I are complete opposites. I'm quiet, he's talkative. I'm introverted, he's extroverted. I can pronounce nuclear.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The amazing thing, however, is that George and I were just meant to be. I was a librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library. Yet somehow, I met George.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: We met and married, and I became one of the regulars up at Kennebunkport. All the Bushes love Kennebunkport, which is like Crawford but without the nightlife.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: People ask me what it's like to be up there with the whole Bush clan. Let me put it this way. First prize, three-day vacation with the Bush family. Second prize, 10 days.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE

BUSH: Speaking of prizes brings me to my mother-in-law. So many mothers today are just not involved in their children's lives. Not a problem with Barbara Bush.

(LAUGHTER) BUSH: People often wonder what my mother-in-law's really like. People think she's a sweet, grandmotherly Aunt Bee type. She's actually more like, oh, Don Corleone.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was back in 2005. Mark, she was really funny!

PRESTON: Yes, she was good.

LEMON: She was very funny.

PRESTON: She was really good.

LEMON: And you know, to see a woman speaking -- obviously, we haven't had a woman president yet, but women weren't allowed at this dinner. And guess who broke the mold? We got a picture right -- the person who broke the mold, Mark. Tell us who it is.

PRESTON: Yes, our very own Helen Thomas, right there, as you see, Don, back in 1962. She put up such a stink. Women could be part of the association, but they were not allowed to attend the dinner. Look, who do we have on tonight? Our own Kate Bolduan on the red carpet. You saw Laura Bush right there, of course, speaking at a previous dinner. Joy Behar was there. Not until 1962 were women allowed to attend.

LEMON: Come a long way, baby. And that's good. That's good. Helen Thomas, a very controversial figure, but also one -- an American icon, an American icon...

PRESTON: No question.

LEMON: ... and an iconic journalist right here in this country. OK, so we're going to move on here. We heard from former first lady Laura Bush, and I want to tell you that when the president is at the podium, he isn't above a dig at an adversary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michael Steele is in the house tonight. Or as he would say, in the heezie.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Whassup?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Whassup? I wonder what (INAUDIBLE) that's what I would have asked Michael Steele about earlier. I think Kate did ask him about that. But President Obama aspires to his top performances at last year's dinner. He's hoping to top that one. Our live coverage of the 2010 White House Correspondents dinner continues. Can he top that? We'll see. You're going to see it live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to CNN's special coverage of the White House Correspondents dinner. Our political editor, Mark Preston, is here. Mark's having a good time. I am, as well. Hope you're having a good time at home.

Mark, President Obama will be speaking in just a little while, and when he is finished, the "Tonight" show's Jay Leno will take to the microphone. Here are some of the highlights from President Obama's first appearance. That was last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: All this change hasn't been easy. Change never is. So I've cut the tension by bringing a new friend to the White House. He's warm, he's cuddly, loyal, enthusiastic. You just have to keep him on a tight leash. Every once in a while, he goes charging off in the wrong direction and gets himself into trouble. But enough about Joe Biden.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I'd like to talk a little bit about what my administration plans to achieve in the next hundred days. During the second hundred days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first hundred days.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: It's going to be big, folks. In the next hundred days, I will learn to go off the prompter and Joe Biden will learn to stay on the prompter.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: In the next hundred days, our bipartisan outreach will be so successful that even John Boehner will consider becoming a Democrat. After all, we have a lot in common. He is a person of color...

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: ... although not a color that appears in the natural world.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: In the next hundred days, I will strongly consider losing my cool.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Finally, I believe that my next hundred days will be so successful, I'll be able to complete them in 72 days. (LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: And on the 73rd day, I will rest.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Oh! That is very funny. Mark, President Barack Obama waiting in the wings. We'll get the live coverage there, and perhaps somewhere in there, Vice President Joe Biden is hoping to go on as his understudy. But as he said, he's got to keep him, you know, with the teleprompter.

Our Chris Lawrence, who is -- Chris is our Pentagon correspondent. I just want to tell you, he says, This is my observations. Jessica Alba is taller in person than I expected, and Jessica Simpson is so short and petite, almost didn't recognize them. Both are hot, though. That's what he said!

PRESTON: I'm glad our Pentagon correspondent's on top of these things.

LEMON: Our live coverage continues. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The music is so serious, but you know, it is a serious event. Look at that. It's serious, yet fun at the same time. Our live pictures there in Washington inside the ballroom, the White House Correspondents dinner. I believe that's Ed Chen. He's the president of WHCA sitting next to the president there, and they're having a little conversation. Mark Preston, our political editor, down here in Atlanta -- Atlanta, Georgia, y'all -- helping us out with the White House Correspondents dinner.

Hey, Mark -- Mark is getting some very interesting pictures. We're going to talk about them. And I'm getting some interesting tweets. I'm going to read -- you guys, Kathleen Sebelius and...

PRESTON: Alec Baldwin.

LEMON: Yes. And that shows you sort of the dichotomy of folks there, right?

PRESTON: Yes. It's shows the crashing of Hollywood and Washington in one night.

LEMON: Yes?. What else do we have? Oh, there he is. That's Mr. Jay Leno right there. Jay Leno is the paid entertainment. And there was -- someone sent a really funny tweet about Jay Leno earlier. I can't find it. Oh -- no, it was really funny, about what Jay Leno said -- was saying to the first lady as he was speaking there. Someone -- there's Justin Bieber waving to the president of the United States -- Justin Bieber...

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: I saw Justin Bieber talking to the president at Christmas.

LEMON: Oh, really? Hey, listen, you know, someone said, Get to the important stuff. What are they eating? Do you know what they're eating? I don't know. Food.

PRESTON: I don't. I assume chicken.

LEMON: Good and healthy stuff. I wish Conan would just pop up during Jay's act. Priceless. It's over to your left (INAUDIBLE) here. Someone says on Twitter -- oh, here it is. Jay was telling the first lady, Oh, Conan is like that giant oil slick in my life. He doesn't go away. So this -- people saying funny stuff about what's going on there. And that is folks who are tweeting.

Listen, we've got it all for you. We have some serious news we're covering for you, the situation down in Louisiana and also the weather situation. The president will speak very shortly here on CNN, and also Jay Leno. But meantime, some comedians assess, talk about, ruminate about the White House Correspondents dinner on "LARRY KING LIVE" right now. We're going to be live after Larry, but here's Larry. See you in a bit.