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Obama apologizes to Tim Shriver for Special Olympics remark

March 20, 2009 | 11:31 am

Democratic President Barack Obama and Jay Leno on NBC's Tonight Show 3-19-09

(UPDATE: Friday afternoon Press Secretary Robert Gibbs chimed in with a re-apology for further damage control, calling his boss' Special Olympics crack a "thoughtless joke."

(And now California First Lady Maria Shriver chastises Obama, whom she supported in the Democratic primaries last year. For that Ticket item click here.)

President Obama has apologized to the Special Olympics for his crack on the "Tonight Show" about his bad bowling as our colleague Mark Silva reports.

In case you haven't heard about it -- and if so, that means you weren't reading The Ticket in the middle of the night -- the president began damage-control while he was in the air enroute back to the White House. Here’s the president's exchange with Jay Leno:

LENO: Now, are they going to put a basketball -- I imagine the bowling alley has been just burned and closed down.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no. I have been practicing all -- (laughter.)

LENO: Really? Really?

THE PRESIDENT: I bowled a 129. (Laughter and applause.)

LENO: No, that's very good. Yes. That's very good, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something. (Laughter.)

LENO: No, that's very good.

THE PRESIDENT: No, listen, I'm making progress on the bowling, yes.

Ouch. Silva reports that, the president called Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, to say he was sorry.

"He expressed his disappointment, and he apologized in a way that was very moving. He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population," Shriver said today on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The president, Shriver said, wants to invite some Special Olympic athletes to the White House to bowl or play basketball. Read the rest of Silva’s report.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: Associated Press

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