DAVID GREENE, HOST:
There are not many events where you will get President Barack Obama and Rick Santorum - oh, and Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian - all at the same dinner. Actually, maybe there's just one event like that. It's the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, where Washington's journalism establishment gathers to listen to the president tell all sorts of jokes and where they invite enough stars to make them think for a night that they cover Hollywood and not boring fiscal policy. Well, Julie Mason attended the dinner last night here in Washington. She's a veteran White House correspondent and currently secretary of the White House Correspondents' Association. Julie, thank you for getting up so early. We appreciate it.
JULIE MASON: I don't mind at all. I barely slept.
GREENE: So, last night, I mean, Washington really was pretending to be like Hollywood. They actually had a red carpet in the hotel as I understand.
MASON: Washington will always be Washington, but when Hollywood comes here, it just makes us that much nerdier.
GREENE: That's a nice way to put it. Well, what were the high points and low points of last night if you could capture a few?
MASON: Jimmy Kimmel did a terrific job. He was the entertainment this year. Every year we have a comedian come and speak and tell jokes. And he was really good. He was super nervous. He was terrified. He had his whole family - his girlfriend was with him and his dad...
MASON: ...his dad was running around snapping pictures. He was scared, yeah. That room, it's almost 3,000 people, it's the president of the United States. You're sitting there at the head table next to the first lady. She was trying to calm him down a little bit but he was very nerved up.
GREENE: Best joke?
MASON: I loved his "Scooby Doo" joke about Ron Paul.
GREENE: I think we have tape of that.
JIMMY KIMMEL: Ron Paul is still in there. He's still sticking with it. To me, Ron Paul looks like the guy who gets unhooded at the end of every "Scooby Doo" episode.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
GREENE: That's just too mean. Well, President Obama had his chance to take the stage. And at one moment, he referred to when Rick Santorum had called him a snob for suggesting that Americans should all have the chance to go to college. And here's the president talking about himself and Mitt Romney.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We also both have degrees from Harvard. And I have one; he has two. What a snob.
GREENE: So how'd the room respond to that?
MASON: The room seemed to respond really well. The president can really deliver a line, and he's gotten better, too, because he used to laugh at all of his own jokes. Now he doesn't. Now he can really be straight-faced with it.
GREENE: Most bizarre moment?
MASON: The whole night is bizarre. The whole night is strange. I mean, you turn around you bump into Lindsay Lohan. You know, it's crazy. And then Paul Rudd is there and Elizabeth Banks, and you're stepping on someone's dress and it turns out to be, you know, Martha Stewart. It's just a crazy night.
GREENE: And today the sun rises and Washington is back to normal.
MASON: With a really bad hangover.
GREENE: Julie Mason, secretary of the White House Correspondents' Association. She's also host of SiriusXM's "The Press Pool." Julie, thanks for coming in.
MASON: Thank you, David.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GREENE: This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.