Bonding over Kale Chips and a sampler platter of politics...
While Republicans were partying in Tampa on Wednesday night, David Letterman devoted most of his late-night show to First Lady Michelle Obama. Part of a back-to-school media junket for Mrs. Obama, she offered parenting and healthy eating tips, discussing new school lunch standards and her recent Kids' State Dinner at the White House. There was a smattering of politics as the First Lady was lobbed softballs from the comic in order to broach her topics, and she arrived at Letterman's New York studio armed with a gift for her host: A video tribute from President Obama, marking the 19th anniversary of the show.
Letterman was primed for discussing the First Lady's healthy eating promotion with the Let's Move! campaign: He was introduced to his audience as he opened the show as "kale and okra farmer David Letterman," and later bonded with Mrs. Obama over a shared love for Kale Chips. He also worked a foodie joke about the President into his monologue.
"Here's what's great about America: You can now buy waffle flavored vodka," Letterman quipped. "See? Good things are happening under Obama. Waffle flavored vodka."
School lunch standards and the Kids' State Dinner...
Letterman might seem an unlikely choice for a discussion about kids and healthy eating, but he's often spoken about parenthood after fathering a child fairly late in life. Clad in a sleeveless black dress with gold accents and a black belt, Mrs. Obama was at ease as she discussed USDA's new healthier school meal standards that take effect this Fall, and got applause from the audience when she mentioned it's the first update in 15 years.
Letterman provided comic relief as Mrs. Obama detailed the mandate for low-fat dairy, whole-grains, lean meat and fruit and vegetables every day in America's school cafeterias.
"What was the menu 15 years ago?" Letterman asked. "Was it mostly just slop and gruel and potatoes?"
Mrs. Obama giggled and praised America's cafeteria corps.
"In all fairness we've got school lunch chefs now--we call them chefs because they play a big roll--but there are lunch ladies who have been doing a tremendous job for years with little to no resources or support," Mrs. Obama said, adding that the new meal standards also come with more money for schools.
Under the legislation Mrs. Obama championed that changed the lunch standards, that's a tiny six cents per meal, but it's more than before.
"Pizza's still a good thing but now the schools are serving it on a whole wheat crust and it's gonna be accompanied with something like strips of green peppers and carrots and fruit," Mrs. Obama explained.
"Simple changes. If you have pasta it will be whole wheat might be accompanied by turkey meat."
As the two discussed Mrs. Obama's first-ever Kids' State Dinner, held last week at the White House, Letterman hailed inviting the 54 junior chefs who created healthy lunch recipes as a "tremendous idea." Mrs. Obama explained that the kids were afforded all the protocol of a State Dinner, arriving through the North Portico like dignitaries would, and being "entertained by bands." The kids actually arrived through the East Wing.
"We served a combination of their recipes," Mrs. Obama said. "We had a cabbage and turkey meat Sloppy Joe. We had Kale Chips that one kid created--"
Letterman interjected with pretend disgust--"Kale Chips?!"--and Mrs. Obama played along.
"They were good, Dave," Mrs. Obama said. "The kids were grubbing on the Kale Chips."
Letterman explained that he's been trying to lose weight, and when a friend suggested Kale Chips he said "you've got to be kidding."
"It looks like something you'd fish out of the bottom of your lawn mower," Letterman said.
"But by God they were tasty. Hats off to Kale Chips!"
Mrs. Obama also discussed her other signature initiative, the Joining Forces campaign, and the GOP Convention. She's not watching, she told Letterman, but urged Americans to watch the conventions for both parties; the First Lady will be speaking at the Democratic convention next week in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"I, as the wife of the guy they are running against, tend not to watch it, but I think it’s important for everyone to watch these conventions,” Mrs. Obama said. “This is the time when you get to know the party, you get to know the platforms, and you get to understand the candidates.”
She effortlessly batted away Letterman's efforts to get her to discuss Rep. Todd Akin, the fellow responsible for injecting "legitimate rape" into the national conversation.
The visit was Mrs. Obama's third to the show; she last joined Letterman on Late Show in June via satellite, offering her "Top Ten Fun Facts About Gardening" to promote her book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, published in May of this year.
The First Lady's trip to New York on Wednesday included filming two other national TV shows, CBS's Rachael Ray, and the syndicated The Dr. Oz Show. These will air in mid-September.
Watch the full episode here.
The President's message for Letterman:
*Photo and video courtesy of The Late Show with David Letterman, Worldwide Pants Inc.