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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The Washington Post reports:

Talking about an urgent need to reorganize the federal government, Obama noted that "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

The joke earned one of the biggest laughs of the night and has since dominated TV news recaps of the speech. It also appears to be the most well-remembered moment of the night among Americans who watched, at least according to the NPR word cloud above.

So who came up with the joke? We're told it was newly minted White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley, who, as a former commerce secretary, "knows a thing or two about this," according to a senior administration aide.

Administration officials reminded reporters Wednesday that the Commerce Department is responsible for salmon fisheries while the Interior Department operates salmon hatcheries in fresh water and deals with salmon habitats along freshwater streams. Both are now working more closely to coordinate their efforts, the officials said.