It appears that President Barack Obama made a rude joke about First Lady Michelle Obama and oral sex at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Leadership Council.
Talking to some 600 supporters at the event on Wednesday night, Barack Obama referred to Ellen DeGeneres, the stand-up comedian and television host and a lesbian.
“I want to thank my wonderful friend who accepts a little bit of teasing about Michelle beating her in push-ups but I think she claims Michelle didn’t go all the way down,” he said.
The crowd erupted into what the Los Angeles Times described as “bawdy laughter”.
In the pool report of the event, Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News, wrote that this was a line that Barack Obama “let hang, naughtily, provoking laughter from the crowd”.
It remained unclear, however, whether Barack Obama uttered a deliberate double entendre about his wife having oral sex with a lesbian or whether he simply stumbled into using a phrase that was misinterpreted.
The LA Times plumped for the latter interpretation, reporting that “the president seemed briefly caught off-stride when the audience interpreted as off-color a joke he made about a push-up competition between DeGeneres and his wife, initiated by the talk show host in February”.
After the bawdy laughter, the newspaper continued: “Obama kept a straight face. <<That’s what I heard>>, he added. <<I just want to set the record straight. Michelle outdoes me in push-ups as well. You shouldn’t feel bad>>.”
Political reporters immediately picked up on the obscene reference.
“I hope @MichelleObama yells at @BarackObama tonight. Or at least withholds pushups,” twteeted Meredith Shiner, a reporter for Roll Call.
Barack Obama was very much amongst friends at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel event, part of a two-day fundraising swing through California and Nevada during which he is expected to raise more than $15 million for his re-election bid.
At a similar event in New York this year Barack Obama was heckled by people shouting: “Marriage!”
After recently coming out in favor of gay marriage, however, this time he was greeted with chants of: “Four more years!”
Ellen DeGeneres, whose decision to come out of the closet in 1997 prompted headlines and predictions that her career was over, introduced Barack Obama at what was a who’s who of gay Hollywood and those whose work had taken gay themes into the mainstream.
Max Mutchnik, creator of Will and Grace was a co-host. Lance Black, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk and the singer Cher attended.
Barack Obama spoke for 30 minutes and highlighted measures that have been applauded by the gay lobby, including his repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule banning open homosexuality.
He equated gay rights with civil rights struggles for equality of treatment based on sex and race, stating that his achievements had been part of “this constant progression to include more and more people in the possibility of the America dream”.