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About (Late) Last Night: Matt Lauer teases upcoming George W. Bush interview

October 26, 2010 |  7:15 am

"Today" show host Matt Lauer appeared Monday night on "The Tonight Show," as a pit stop on his way to the California Women's Conference. There, Lauer explained, he will moderate a chat with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his would-be successors, Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown. Lauer seems to be on something of a political kick.

His chat with Jay Leno mostly revolved around Lauer's upcoming sit-down with George W. Bush on Nov. 8 -- the first interview with the former president in advance of his new book, "Decision Points," which is to be released the following day.

"We've been corresponding with President Bush and his people for the better part of a year, and we're very happy that he chose us," Lauer said.

He did well to hype his own exclusive: "When you stop and think about what President Bush experienced in office, from 9/11 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina, and so many other things, the financial situation," Lauer said. "It should be really interesting."

Leno asked about the delicate game of interviewing presidents, and Lauer was quite candid. "It depends on the timing," he said.

"Sometimes you go in and do an interview with the president and it's a really good time and they're jovial," Lauer said. "And other times it can get tense." He made a face of genuine discomfort. "I did an interview with former President Bush on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in the Oval Office that got kind of heated," Lauer recalled. "He was kind of making his point by poking me in the chest a little bit."

To lighten the mood, Lauer and Leno then did a brief Three Stooges routine.

Leno quickly righted the interview before it devolved too far into slapstick and got back to the important issues. Namely baseball, as Lauer's favorite team, the New York Yankees, lost to Bush's Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series. "We had a bet," Lauer revealed. "We didn't talk, but our people set it up."

Baseball fans know how that one turned out. "I lost $5 to him," Lauer said. So if we're to trust their fandom, the upcoming interview should be one of the tense ones.

-- Joe Coscarelli
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