[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[March 14, 1995]
[Pages 351-353]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner
March 14, 1995

    Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Bill. I can't think of 
anything better for a politician than to be introduced by a guy named 
``Headline.'' [Laughter]
    Hillary and I are delighted to be here. I am told that this is by 
far the largest group of radio and television correspondents ever 
assembled this far from a Los Angeles courtroom. [Laughter] You know, 
the press is always asking me if I'm watching the O.J. trial, and Mike 
McCurry always has to say, ``Oh, he's so busy with affairs of''--of 
course I watch it. [Laughter] And the other day I was watching it, and 
the camera zoomed in to Judge Ito's computer monitor. You've seen that, 
haven't you? There was an E-mail message on it from Wolf Blitzer begging 
for a recess. [Laughter]
    You know, every year when I come here, even though I've only been 
here a couple of years, I recognize more and more faces. And now I'm 
getting so good at it I can tell when people are missing. [Laughter] 
This year, thanks to Mr. Armey and others, PBS couldn't afford a ticket 
for both MacNeil and Lehrer. [Laughter] I know that because Louis 
Rukeyser told me that when he checked my coat when I came in. [Laughter]
    I'm trying to figure out what's going on here. I guess the rest of 
you are, too. I have puzzled over this Republican assault on affirmative 
action. You know, the Republicans started affirmative action under Mr. 
Nixon. I think the reason that they don't like it anymore is because the 
Democrats are now a minority. [Laughter] I have decided to adopt their 
position on another important issue: term limits. I'll settle for two. 
[Laughter]
    You know, this campaign is amazing. It's gotten so heated up that 
when I called L.L. Bean last week they told me they're back-ordered on 
red flannel shirts for several months. Because I'm President, they 
promised to send me mine by June. [Laughter]
    Look, in spite of this campaign, I want to tell you that I am going 
to keep doing the job the American people elected me to do. I'm going to 
let the rest just take care of itself. I'm still working on Saturdays. I 
mean, I was working on Saturday a couple of weeks ago, trying to do the 
things that a President really doesn't have time for during the week. I 
was reinventing my filing system according to Gore, adding up my own 
frequent flier miles on Air Force One. I even did a little spackling in 
the Roosevelt Room. [Laughter] And I noticed--

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I looked outside and there was the Vice President mulching the 
environment in the Rose Garden. [Laughter] So I invited him in, and we--
there we were, all alone on a Saturday, a beautiful Saturday, and we got 
into this deep discussion about the new ideas we needed for reinventing 
Government. I said, ``You know, we've got to have exciting ideas, 
breakthrough ideas, third-wave ideas.'' And so, we began to think. Right 
off the bat in this drive to downsize Government, we discovered that 
there was a useless extra ``C'' in the FCC, and we got rid of it right 
away. [Laughter]
    Then we asked ourselves, in our lust for consolidation, ``Do we 
really need North and South Dakota?'' [Laughter] But when we thought of 
how frugal and inexpensive they were, and when we remembered the votes 
on the balanced budget amendment, we said, ``Yes, we do.'' Furthermore, 
for economy's sake, we intend to propose a Central Dakota for this 
Congress. [Laughter]
    The Vice President, ever the humble public servant, suggested that 
this year we could save money by doing away with the White House 
Christmas tree, and we could just hang the ornaments on him. Now, he 
approved that joke, I want you to know. [Laughter]
    Then Leon Panetta came in, and we had, finally, at last, three 
people in the same room in the White House who were over 45. [Laughter] 
And we decided that we could consolidate our staff further by replacing 
fifteen 30-year-olds with five 90-year-olds. [Laughter] Then the rest of 
the staff came in. They all trooped in, and we were talking about new 
ideas, these exciting breakthrough ideas. We discussed an opportunity 
for entrepreneurship in dealing with the deficit, which I know the 
Republicans will agree with. Next week I intend to propose that we put 
the President and the Congress on commissions. Then we'll turn a profit 
in no time. All your programs will be gone, but we'll do well. 
[Laughter]
    This is a serious proposal. Instead of getting rid of all these 
domestic observances that we have, all these domestic programs, why 
don't we do what all the athletic events are doing, you know, like the 
Mobil Cotton Bowl? Let's get corporate sponsorships for Government. 
Like, we could make February 12 Lincoln-Mercury's birthday. [Laughter]
    And you all tell me all the time I need to do better marketing. So 
we have a new idea. We're going to put Ed McMahon's picture on the IRS 
refund checks. Just imagine, when you get your envelope from the 
Treasury Department, up in the corner it says, ``You may already be a 
winner.'' [Laughter]
    Two other ideas we had--somebody in one of these meetings--you know, 
even the Democrats go too far sometimes on downsizing Government. One of 
them said we ought to turn the Pentagon into a triangle. And I said, no, 
I am going to hold the line with a veto threat for a rhombus. [Laughter] 
Then it was suggested that the greatest consolidation we could do is to 
consolidate the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
into the Joint Chiefs. [Laughter] You know, I was afraid that was 
politically incorrect, but it got by. It got by. [Laughter]
    Now, this is the most important thing I'm going to say tonight. I 
came here to offer a way to make peace with our Republican friends on 
this heated school lunch issue. Al Gore and I have discovered a 
reinventing Government way, Mr. Armey, to get around this terrible 
rhetoric we've been flinging at you on school lunches. We have a way to 
save money through streamlining that does not require us to deprive our 
children of food. Instead of cutting food, we're going to cut the 
cutlery. And here's how: with a spork. [Laughter] Now, you know, I don't 
know how many of you know this, I've been eating off these things for 
years. I never knew they were called sporks. But that's what they are. 
This is the symbol of my administration. This is a cross between a spoon 
and fork, no more false choice between the left utensil and the right 
utensil. This is not an ideological choice. This is a choice in the 
middle and a choice for the future. This is a big, new idea, the spork. 
[Laughter]
    Now, when we get by that, I'm going to reach a breakthrough 
agreement with Senator Dole to cut down on the commuting costs of 
Congress by moving the Senate sessions to New Hampshire. [Laughter] I'm 
hoping even to get Senator Gramm's vote for that. [Laughter]
    Also, we decided to do something for that group of constituents 
that's supposed to be so alienated from the Democratic Party. We want to 
combine the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with both the Bureau 
of Fisheries and the Interstate Trucking Commission. We're going to call 
it the Department of Guys. [Laughter] And if you don't like it, there 
ain't a place

[[Page 353]]

for you in the Democratic Party anymore. [Laughter]

    Finally, I have decided to support the most controversial Republican 
idea in the legal reform area, ``loser pays,'' but only if we tie it to 
campaign finance reform and make it retroactive to 1992. [Laughter]

    Now, that was what Al Gore and I did on just another Saturday 
afternoon at the White House. So even though all the action's with the 
Republicans on the Hill, I just wanted you to know you're still getting 
your money's worth out of us. [Laughter] It shows you the kind of great 
thinking you get out of a bunch of highly motivated people who don't get 
enough sleep at night. [Laughter]

    Well, I could go on like this forever, but you know that, don't you? 
[Laughter] Let me say, for 51 years, all of you have gotten together and 
invited others to join you in celebrating the best of the electronic 
media. And while the times change and the rules change and the practices 
change, I really believe that most of us in this room, like the people 
who came here 51 years ago, want what's best for our country and do what 
we do in the hope that we're doing it well enough to advance the 
interests of the United States and to keep the American dream alive.

    This is an unusual and difficult time for all of us because of all 
the challenges out there in the country today, but it's a very, very 
exciting time, not only to be covering events in Washington but to be a 
part of it. I thank you for the work you do, and I thank you for having 
us here tonight.

    I do want to say that I'm a little apprehensive; the next speaker, 
Bill Maher, has a TV show named ``Politically Incorrect.'' Out of 
respect for him, I've tried not to be politically incorrect tonight. Out 
of respect for me, I hope he won't try to be presidential tonight. 
[Laughter]

    Thank you all, and good night.

Note: The President spoke at 9:42 p.m. at the Washington Hilton. In his 
remarks he referred to Bill Headline, chair, Radio and Television 
Correspondents Association; CNN News reporter Wolf Blitzer; 
Representative Richard K. Armey; Robert MacNeil and James Lehrer, co-
anchors of the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour; economic commentator Louis 
Rukeyser; and television host Ed McMahon.