04/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Obama 'Special Olympics' Crack On Tonight Show (VIDEO, POLL)

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UPDATE: Obama apologizes for joke, watch video of Special Olympics chairman

Even before Barack Obama's interview on the Tonight Show had aired, the White House was working to tamp down a hubbub over an off-hand joke the president had made.

When Obama told Jay Leno that he had recently bowled a 129 score, Leno replied dryly, "That's very good, Mr. President." Obama chuckled and said it's "like the Special Olympics or something."

Around 9:30PM ET (two hours before the show airs anywhere), White House spokesman Bill Burton made a brief statement to the reporters on Air Force One: "The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world."

Transcript is below, here's video:

Q 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.)

Q Really? Really?

THE PRESIDENT: I bowled a 129. (Laughter and applause.)

Q 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.)

Q No, that's very good.

THE PRESIDENT: No, listen, I'm making progress on the bowling, yes.