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Obama Talks Policy, Makes Questionable Joke on Late Night Talk Show

U.S. President Barack Obama appeared on a popular late-night television program Thursday to talk about the economy, but his message may have been overshadowed by an impromptu remark about bowling.

During his appearance on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Mr. Obama spent a lot of time talking about the AIG controversy. He said he was stunned at news that executives of the company received huge bonuses after AIG received federal bailout money.

But toward the end of the interview, Leno asked about the White House bowling alley. Mr. Obama said he had been practicing the sport, and recently scored a 129 out of a possible 300. Leno complimented the score, but Mr. Obama joked about it, saying "it was like the Special Olympics" - referring to a sports program for disabled people.

A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said later that the remark was not intended to disparage the Special Olympics.

Mr. Obama also rose to the defense of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has been criticized for his handling of the government's bailout programs. Mr. Obama called him a "calm and steady guy" who he said is doing an outstanding job dealing with a faltering economy, an auto industry on the verge of collapse and a host of other issues.

Mr. Obama became the first sitting president to be a guest on the Tonight Show, which is filmed in Los Angeles. His appearance wrapped up a two-day trip to California to push his economic policies.