Obama on Leno: AIG anger and a politically incorrect joke

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 20, 2009 

WASHINGTON — On his appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in what was billed as the first by a sitting president on a late-night show, President Obama talked about the economy and rage over the AIG bailouts — and made what sure sounded like a politically incorrect joke.

The show was taped earlier Thursday for its late-night airing; Obama was in California, where he also held public events.

Among his comments:

_He was “stunned” by the bonuses; he also continued to defend Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

_He addressed the vote in Congress to allow the government to impose a 90 percent tax on the bonuses after Leno expressed concern that such a tx could be applied to other people whose positions Congress doesn't like: "Well, look, I understand Congress' frustrations, and they're responding to, I think, everybody's anger. But I think that the best way to handle this is to make sure that you've closed the door before the horse gets out of the barn. And what happened here was the money has already gone out and people are scrambling to try to find ways to get back at them.”

_He told Leno he’d been working on his poor bowling skills. “I bowled a 129,” he said. After some laughter, and some goading from Leno, the president said “it was like Special Olympics or something.”

_He said the heartless Mr. Potter of “It’s a Wonderful Life” had become like Mother Teresa in the context of modern-day lenders.

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