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Queens Chronicle

Obama’s gutter ball

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:00 am

President Obama made a rare verbal gaffe when he tried to poke fun at his poor bowling skills with a flip reference to the Special Olympics on “The Tonight Show” last Thursday night. It was obvious he was just trying to engage in some glib self-deprecating humor with host Jay Leno and was not trying to be hurtful. The remark did not create a media maelstrom. Nonetheless, I doubt that Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher and the vast majority of the non-Fox News political pundits would have looked the other way had Obama’s predecessor made the same remark.

Actually some good came out of the president’s intemperate one-liner. Public awareness of the Special Olympics and what they accomplish increased exponentially. Those who take part in the Special Olympics are first-class athletes in spite of cognitive difficulties. Kolan McConiughey, a Special Olympics competitor who has bowled three perfect 300 games, became an overnight celebrity after the president’s appearance with Leno. Expect Kolan to visit the White House shortly to give tips on throwing a perfect hook on the lanes, as well as the secret to nailing the 7-10 split.

Obama also took some ribbing for selecting the University of North Carolina Tar Heels to emerge victorious from March Madness. Not surprisingly the president’s prediction did not go over well with Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach of arch-rival Duke University. “As much as I respect what he is doing, really the economy is what he should focus on more than the brackets,” said an annoyed Coach K.

Leno also got a jab in. “Does the fact that North Carolina is a swing state have anything to do with your prediction?” he astutely asked Obama. The president offered a sheepish smile and did not categorically deny that politics had something to do with it. No longer bound by electoral considerations, Bill Clinton predicted on Sirius XM Radio that the Louisville Cardinals would emerge as champs.

Just when we all thought the Knicks turned a corner, and had a decent shot at their first playoff appearance in eight years, they completely humiliated themselves on their home court. Last week, the New Jersey Nets, fresh off a winless four-game western road trip (a time-honored Nets tradition), and without All-Star point guard Devin Harris, came in and beat the Knicks by 26 points. Topping that, the awful Sacramento Kings, who were 40 games under the .500 mark, and hadn’t beaten a team from the NBA’s Eastern Conference all season long, came to Madison Square Garden two days later and destroyed the Knicks even worse than the Nets did.

It’s rare that I agree with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but they are right in refusing to add the name “Citi Field” to the Willets Point station. Why should they provide free advertising to Citigroup when that troubled financial behemoth is paying the Mets $400 million over the next 20 years? And why should the MTA pay for new signs if political or business decisions in the future cause a change in the name of Shea Stadium’s successor?

Spike Lee’s film “Kobe Doin’ Time,” in which he got unfettered 24-7 access to NBA star Kobe Bryant, will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, slated to kick off April 23.

Welcome to the discussion.