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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Jay Leno sinks to new low -- makes fun of Obama with recycled gags

May 4, 2010 | 11:36 am

Jay_leno If there were ever any better evidence that Jay Leno has creatively run out of gas, it's the news, from Politico, that his labored performance at Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner wasn't exactly, ahem, loaded with new material.

No wonder many critics said that President Obama, with a little help from joke-smiths at "The Daily Show," ended up getting far better reviews for his comedy performance than Leno himself. In fact, as Politico's video sleuths discovered, a host of gags from Leno's routine came -- pretty much word for word -- from prior opening-monologue routines on "The Tonight Show" and the short-lived "The Jay Leno Show."

We've got the Politico video to show you, but here's a couple of examples of how baldly Leno cribbed from his own comedy routines:

From “The Tonight Show” (March 16): "If you took all the money the Republicans have spent trying to stop healthcare, and all the money Democrats have spent trying to get healthcare, we could afford healthcare, you know that?”

From Saturday’s routine: “If you took all the money Republicans spent trying to stop healthcare, and all the money Democrats have spent trying to get healthcare, you know somethin’? We could have had healthcare!”

From “The Tonight Show” (March 22): "Supporters of the bill say the American people now get the same health benefits members of Congress get, which is great. See, if we could just get some of those other perks: the free travel, the envelopes with the cash in them, the get-out-of-jail-free cards ...."

From Saturday’s routine: "Supporters of the bill say that the American people will now get the same health benefits that members of Congress get, which is great. How about some of the other perks? The free travel, those envelopes with the cash in them, how about some of that? The get-out-of-jail-free cards. Why can’t we get that?”

This is embarrassing on oh-so-many levels. Did Leno really think no one would notice that he was passing off old material as new? In today's video-centric era, there's no way to hide your past, as "The Daily Show" has proven nearly every day of the week. Even worse, is this what Leno does all the time at the dozens and dozens of stand-up gigs he performs around the country every year? Did he really think the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which is crammed with lofty media personages -- not to mention the leader of the Free World -- was a place where he could get away with a second-rate rerun act?

I admit to never having been the biggest Leno fan in the world, but at least I was always willing to grant that he was the hardest-working comic in the business. But now it looks like even that title is undeserved. After this charade, Leno looks like the laziest comic on the planet. Take a look at the damning evidence yourself:

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama with President Obama and Jay Leno at the White House Correspondents' Assn. dinner. Credit: Olivier Douliery / Getty Images