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(NECN) - President Barack Obama made <A HREF="http://www.necn.com/Boston/Politics/2009/03/20/Obama-makes-Special-Olympics/1237545247.html" target="_blank">a remark comparing his bowling skills to the Special Olympics</A> while a guest on NBC's The Tonight Show. As the interview neared its end, Mr. Obama told Leno that he had been using the bowling alley, but rolled a 129. Leno jokingly complimented the president on his score, but Mr. Obama quipped, "It was like the Special Olympics or something." The audience laughed, but Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton covered for the president over what could have been seen as an insensitive remark. "He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world," Burton told reporters flying back to Washington with Obama aboard Air Force One. Bob Johnson, president and CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts, took time out of his morning to address the president's remark with NECN's Good Morning Live. Johnson did not give the president a pass on making the comment. "It's exactly these kind of backhanded comments that I think lots of people would like to take back once they say them," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, once they're said, the damage is done. Comments such as this by a person of this stature suggests that comments such as this are okay, and they are not." Johnson said that Mr. Obama's quip could be extremely damaging. "It just sets us back decades in our efforts to prove to the world that people with intellectual difficulties are more like us than unlike us and can do so much more than they can't do," Johnson said. "It was an unfortunate comment." "He needs to be a role model, which he's done a very good job of being in so many ways," Johnson said. "He needs to let people know that what he said is hurtful and those kind of comments are hurtful and terribly unnecessary and disparages a group of people that plain just doesn't deserve it."