President Barack Obama has apologized to the chairman of the Special Olympics Committee for his late-night talk show quip equating his bowling skills to those of athletes with disabilities.
Appearing on "The Tonight Show" Thursday, the president told host Jay Leno he'd been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129. Then he remarked: "It was like the Special Olympics or something."
"If I had to do it all over again, I'd have said Rush Limbaugh, but that wasn't on my prompter."
The audience laughed, but the White House quickly recognized the blunder.
The Special Olympics, founded in 1968, is a global nonprofit organization serving 200 million individuals with intellectual disabilities.
"Again, I apologize. The guys sent me the wrong answer, what else can I say? Without that prompter I'm under a great handicap! Shit! (Peck, Peck) Are you guys listening to this?"
"OK, I ...should...have..referred...handicapped ...statement ...to...gulf?..Oh, golf, where...you have a ..handicap. I meant to refer to golf, not bowling. (Can't you guys speed that thing up?"
On his way back to Washington on Air Force One, Obama called the chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver, to say he was sorry - even before the taped program aired late Thursday night.
He also fired two of his staff who let him down on telling him what to say.