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State of the Union: Obama's salmon joke makes a splash

The president's snappy one-liner about fishy bureaucracy breaks up a sometimes plodding State of the Union address. Twitter users and armchair commentators eagerly take the bait.

January 26, 2011|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

For many viewers, the star of the night was the salmon.

President Obama broke up a sometimes plodding State of the Union address Tuesday night with a snappy one-liner about excessive bureaucracy.

"The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater," he quipped. "And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

Ba-dum-BUM.

The one-liner got a rousing laugh from the audience and gave online armchair commentators at home fodder for the remainder of the night.

"A very witty fish joke," a reader commented on a live chat at latimes.com.

Filmmaker and liberal political commentator Michael Moore wrote on his Twitter feed, referencing the president's opening call for unity and respect between the parties: "Soon a fresh water salmon will sit next to a salt water salmon in the spirit of civility."

Another Twitter commenter remarked, in constitutional language, on the president's duties: "He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend #salmon."

The one-liners continued as Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin delivered the Republican rebuttal.

"This guy is going to try to sell me a blender that can turn #salmon into puree, isn't he," former "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann tweeted.

But the president couldn't satisfy everyone.

"Elitist. Real Americans eat their salmon raw," tweeted Slate Magazine reporter Chris Beam.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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