Obama Takes On Letterman

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 -- President Obama extended his media blitzkrieg into late-night television Monday, becoming the first sitting commander in chief to appear on "Late Show With David Letterman." Obama was the only guest of the night.

Why he would agree to do "Letterman" was the question for the famous Top 10 list. Among the answers:

-- "Something to do with that whole cash for clunkers deal."

-- "We told him Megan Fox would be here."

-- "Said yes, without thinking, like Bush did with Iraq."

But the No. 1 answer: "Wanted to congratulate Dave on the big Emmy win."

On Sunday, Letterman saw the Emmy for best variety, music or comedy series go -- for the seventh straight time -- to Jon Stewart's "Daily Show."

Obama's appearance was largely serious. Letterman asked about Afghanistan, the economy and health care.

Is it true, he asked Obama, that racism fuels the hatred against him? "First of all, I think it's important to realize that I was actually black before the election," Obama deadpanned.

"How long have you been a black man?" the host chimed in.

But the star might have been an audience member from Missouri named Mary Apple. Before Obama arrived, Letterman had made fun of Apple for bringing a heart-shaped potato -- the same wrinkly one she had brought to Letterman's show two years earlier.

"The main reason I'm here -- not any of those Top 10 lists -- I want to see that heart-shaped potato," Obama said when he came out.

Letterman motioned to the woman to throw him the potato, then gave it to Obama.

"Well, thank you so much for sharing," the president said.

"Yes, it's all yours, congratulations," Letterman said as Obama slid the potato into his pocket. "If only the job was this easy."

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