By Emily Ramshaw, The Texas Tribune

WASHINGTON (THE TEXAS TRIBUNE) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry took to the stage at an exclusive journalists’ gala Saturday night to roast himself — and poke fun at his gubernatorial predecessor George W. Bush, and presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

His remarks before the Gridiron Club — including jabs at Bush’s smarts, Romney’s faith and Santorum’s far-right credentials, drew raucous laughter. To uproarious applause, Perry called his brief lead in the GOP presidential primary “the three most exhilarating hours of my life,” and said he could sum up his run for the White House this way: “It was the weakest Republican field in history, and they kicked my butt.”

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But he also gave a poignant shout-out to the young reporters who “worked their butts off” trailing him on the campaign trail. “I truly like them and respect them,” he said.

Among the night’s zingers:

On his poor debate performances:

“What a relief to be on a stage with just one podium.”

“My gaffes start countering each other.”

On Bush:

“My favorite part [of his presidential library] is the petting zoo.”

“The only difference between George and me is I say ‘oops.’”

On hearing President Obama was in Korea and would visit the DMZ, or demilitarized zone:

“Why do you have to go all the way to Korea to get a driver’s license? It must be something about that birth certificate.”

On Romney:

“I like Mitt Romney as much as any good-looking man can like another good-looking man and not break Texas law.”

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“I keep waiting for Mitt to say, ‘Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?’”

“My problem is saying stuff that isn’t right. Mitt’s problem is saying stuff that is.”

On Santorum:

Perry said his Texas A&M degree in animal husbandry is “what Rick Santorum thinks gay marriage leads to.”

“Which one of the Village People are you?”

On Paul:

“He’s the crazy uncle you expect to pull a nickel out of your ear.”

“Of those 7,000 babies he delivered, he had to go in after two of them.”

On Gingrich:

“I endorsed him because he said he would name me commander of Moon Base Alpha.”

On Herman Cain:

“If you can’t make fun of yourself, there’s always Herman Cain.”

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at