Obama Jokes With Clooney at Star's Gala Fundraiser


LOS ANGELES - George Clooney played the suave host, chef Wolfgang Puck whipped up something for dinner, and President Barack Obama and about 150 of his Hollywood donors enjoyed a few laughs at Clooney's good-humored expense.

The event at Clooney's sprawling home raised nearly $15 million, a record for a single fundraiser.

Obama told the crowd Thursday night that his famed Hope poster from his 2008 campaign was derived from a photograph of Obama sitting next to Clooney when Obama was a U.S. senator. Clooney had been in Washington advocating on behalf of the Darfur conflict in Sudan.

"This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photoshopped out of a picture," Obama said. "Never happened before, never happen again."

In fact, the artist who created the poster, Shepard Fairey, used another photograph of Obama but said he relied on the Obama-Clooney picture to avoid a copyright infringement case with The Associated Press.

In this crowd, Obama didn't even need to mention gay marriage, or his historic statement this week in support of it, to get vigorous applause. "Obviously," the president said, "yesterday we made some news."

The guests paid $40,000 to attend, accounting for about $6 million of the evening's financial haul for Obama's campaign and the Democratic Party. The remainder came from a raffle for small-dollar donors.

"We raised a lot of money because people love George," Obama said. "They like me; they love George."

The A-list party also gave the president the kind of Hollywood buzz a Republican seldom gets. But the glitzy event set up a stark contrast with Obama's mission on Friday to highlight the plight of struggling homeowners in Nevada.

Among those at the dinner were Robert Downey Jr.; Barbra Streisand and her husband, James Brolin; Jack Black; Salma Hayek and Tobey Maguire, who shared a table with Clooney and Clooney's girlfriend, Stacey Kiebler.

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