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Obama apologizes to Tim Shriver for Special Olympics remark

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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Comments () | Archives (13)

The comments to this entry are closed.

No "sincere" apology can take back the hurt look in a family members eyes when you said that. When you think it and say it, you mean it. There are no take backs. You need to do some Public Service Anouncments, donate some money to the cause etc, as punishment but not for forgiveness.
Shame on you.

No "sincere" apology can take back the hurt look in a family members eyes when you said that. When you think it and say it, you mean it. There are no take backs. You need to do some Public Service Anouncments, donate some money to the cause etc, as punishment but not for forgiveness.
Shame on you.

For goodness sake! Lighten up, people!

If George Bush had made the same comment, he would have been crucified by the media, and it would have been front-page news, and the top story on the TV news. Since our Lord and Savior, Jesus Obama, said it, though, there has been nary a word about it. Un-freaking-believable.

The President's comment was an off-the-cuff attempt at a joke, obviously gone awry. Anyone seeing more than that is just looking for something that isn't there to bash him.

Since his apology was so "moving," whadda say we forget the whole thing??

WHO CARES???? Leave him alone he is a normal guy!!! Maria Shriver your an idiot!

Why has our country become so pathetic that every comment is viewed under a microscope, really look at what he said and in the context he said it in, next is communism, Please

Can Americans stop being so sensitive. We can't say anything anymore. Get over it.

I for one am not offended: joking about the Special Olympics raises awareness about a very special cause. The whole point is they are different, and while they cannot compete at the same level as those who are not "special" they still have a good time and they make it their best effort...just as Obama does in the bowling alley I'm sure!

Everyone seems to have the same misquote for this interview. Obama didn't say "It was like the Special Olympics." He said, "This is like the Special Olympics," referring to the way Leno was congratulating him for his bowling game." It was still an inappropriate comment, but the transcripts are wrong. Listen to it yourself.

In my opinion I think that people are over reacting about something that doesn’t really matter. Why is it that when a regular person says something like that nobody cares? but then the president says it and it is a big deal. People should get over it and move on nobody is perfect. Everyone knows that he didn’t mean it intentionally so why worry about it.

Obama. What a jackass.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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