Jay Leno lets Barack Obama get all the laughs on 'The Tonight Show' (it wasn't that difficult)

It was President Barack Obama, not Jay Leno, who got the biggest laugh on The Tonight Show. In a remark that no doubt thrills fans of the country’s favorite karaoke show, Obama remarked that Washington is “a bit like American Idol — and everyone is Simon Cowell.”

Granted, it wasn’t difficult for the President to beat Leno at his own game, given that the Tonight host had just finished a monologue that included a lame yuk about increased backstage security: “It’s still less people than when we have Mariah Carey on.”

The President’s Tonight Show segments featured lots of long, serious answers to softball questions — or even non-questions: “Tell people what happened” was Leno’s way of non-grilling Obama about the ongoing disaster of AIG and its controversial bonuses. The President was able to lay out his policies as we’ve heard them before. It’s not Leno’s job to question the President more closely, you say? Well, then The Tonight Show should have kept the subject matter limited to the choice of Presidential dog, basketball, and ultra-Leno questions like, “How cool is it to fly in Air Force One?”

Obama and Leno joked about his bowling game. When Obama said he recently bowled a score of 129 and Leno chided him for such a low result, the President tossed off a remark some might consider, um, politically incorrect: “That was like the Special Olympics or something.” (Earlier in the evening, appearing on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, another late-night host, Craig Ferguson, said gently that this was the kind of joke “you beg them to edit out” before broadcast.)

In general, however, this was the kind of Presidential appearance that did what it was intended to do, on the President’s end, anyway: it aimed to reassure Leno’s vast audience, to give comfort, to enable viewers to believe we can come through the present hard times with a leader who seems confident. In that sense, it was the TV equivalent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats.” The Leno interview didn’t set the airwaves ablaze. It gave off a gentle glow. And it was left to Obama to make the night’s sharpest remark, commenting on bandleader Kevin Eubanks making a rare appearance in a suit: “He looks like Secret Service,” said the President, not missing a beat.

What did you think of President Obama’s Tonight Show appearance?


Comments (178 total) Add your comment
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  • ed

    “Well, then The Tonight Show should have kept the subject matter limited to the choice of Presidential dog, basketball, and ultra-Leno questions like, “How cool is it to fly in Air Force One?” — You’re a friggin moron Tucker. Seriously, get some perspective and grow up.

  • E

    I am disappointed that our President jokes about his shortcomings by referencing the special olympics… Just a slip up

  • nader paul kucinich gravel

    A slip of the mask from The Obama Deception;
    A Freudian Slip.
    Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom?

  • Lisa

    Why is the President on Leno anyway? He doesn’t have anything better to do? He should stop with all his public appearances (already campaigning for re-election) and get down to work.

  • Sammy D

    Just Obama’s way to give a shout out to his good friend Maria Shriver. Where is his teleprompter when he needs it?

  • Otis

    While Obama is playing celebrity and filling out his bracket, I’ll have to work on the important things like the USA economy forward and providing security to my family and fellow Americans from the Freaken Russians and their buddies in Iran.

  • anoop

    i thought the campaign ended months ago!!! hmmm, someone needs to get back to work i think…

  • lency

    It’s true that we are not use to seeing the President still going around like he’s campaigning, but I feel he just wants to assure the people that he is still the people’s President. He just wants to comfort us in all this chaos.

  • J C

    And Rome Burns while Nero fiddles.
    Lets ignore the fact that a trillion dollars was spawned out of thin air the other day.
    Or that inflation is about to skyrocket.
    Or that North Korea is threatening a missile launch while the President wants to get rid of our Missile Shield.
    Or that Iran will have nuclear weapons any second.
    Or that every other cabinet pick is a tax cheat.
    I could go on, but I think my point is pretty clear.
    The President goes into a softball interview so moronic schlubs like Tucker can post about how great he is. This way TV writers can write about “something important” instead of entertainment news. All so they can sleep better at night.
    As for the special olympics gaffe, it was obviously unintentional. But if the President had an “R” by his name we would be talking about it for the next 2 months, and there would be calls for impeachment hearings.
    I guess the teleprompter in chief isnt much w/o his pre-typed speeches.

  • Muffy

    I heard he has an album coming out!

  • JP

    Leno recently grilled Elisabeth Hasselback about politics more than he did with the President tonight. What a joke.

  • pattybil

    I think it was great, and the joke about Obama being a lame duck about his blowing numbers, Obama was putting himself down. Nothing to get to excited about.

  • viewer

    He stuttered a lot and gave inadequae answers! He even joked around about lying in his presidential campaign. He made himself look dumb by apprearing on jay leno.

  • wordtodawise

    Your pals McCain and Palin lost the election, get over it you morons. President Obama is a brilliant politician, a great communicator and and incredibly effective executive. This is top class stuff.
    Republicans, Lean back and watch a master at work. Don’t waste your skin being so damn jealous and petty.
    By the way, why are republicans so dumb and backward? Contaminated gene pool maybe? Pity, pity, pity…

  • Ian in Bangkok

    Obama’s awesome! Why not appear on the Tonight Show – perfect medium to reach out to the American publice. Only a not very intelligent person would think the president’s goofing off on the job. Then again a not very intelligent person would not be able to comprehend how a brilliant president can get so much more accomplished in much less time then say a less gifted president. He got this cabinet together in record time and has addressed more issues in 2 months than bush in a year: Guantanamo, stem cells, health care, economic recovery, afghanistan, iraq… For those complaining about Obama goofing off, just be grateful we have an amazing man in office for a….CHANGE!!!!!

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