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Jay Leno to George W. Bush: Thanks for all the jokes

Former president George W. Bush speaks at the Reagan Library 11-18-10

One of the dangers of following book media tours is that several days in, the author slips into narrative cruise control, a storytelling routine that shares the same stories the same ways. This is especially true by the time they reach the West Coast because, given the Eastern location of major media outlets, most promotion tours start there.

Think Sean Hannity and the bald guy on the "Today Show."Former president George W Bush with Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library 11-18-10

Promoting his best-selling memoir "Decision Points," former President George W. Bush made two stops in the L.A. area Thursday, including "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

And he had fresh material for both. At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, with former First Lady Nancy Reagan on his arm (photo left), Bush answered a long series of written audience questions.

"I loved being president," said No. 43, "and I love not being president."

He said he'd still be out of the spotlight if it wasn't for promoting the book. But he intended to return to relative anonymity soon because "I just don't want to be out opining on everything" since it ends up being taken as critical of his successor. And the job's hard enough.

He said he hoped "Decision Points" would be a reference point for future historians and a glimpse of life inside the pressures of the presidency for today's readers. "I don't settle scores," said Bush. "I'm not an angry person. I'm a happy guy."

Bush said one of his greatest thrills was surprising U.S. troops one Thanksgiving in Baghdad.

An 8-year-old wanted to know what Bush wanted to be at age 8: "Willie Mays!"

And Bush recounted how excited he was years later as president to welcome his childhood hero and baseball great to the White House as "Commissioner" of Bush's annual T-ball games for little people.Former president George W. Bush and Jay Leno 11-18-10

On Osama bin Laden: He knows President Obama is still trying to find the 9/11 villain and he wishes he'd been able "to bring him to justice."

"But," Bush added, "he's not leading any victory parades."

Any advice for parents of teens? "Look them in the eye and say, 'I love you and there's nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. (pause) So, stop trying!'"

At NBC, Bush got a standing ovation from the audience and appreciation from the stand-up comedian: "The last time you were here it was 2000. It was 10 years ago. And in the last 10 years, thank you for all the material."

A notorious early-riser, Bush looked at the late-night host and said: "You know, I hate to tell you, I don't want to hurt your feelings. But I was asleep."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press (Bush speaks at the Reagan library, 11/18/10); Mike Nelson / EPA (Bush and Nancy Reagan, 11/18/10); NBC.

 
Comments () | Archives (13)

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President Bush you are the best! We miss you.

I really like this President. As a conservative I didn't always agree with all the big government things he did, but I always liked him, and I always knew he loved our country -- and especially our military.

Hmmmm... Never thought I'd miss you Bush...

I agree with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher - without any need to do so, Bush destroyed the GOP, and I would add, did lasting damage to the country by ignoring the Constitution (on war), moving left (Prescription Drug & No Child), and blowing out the budget.

Last but not least, he gave us Obama on a silver platter. Whatta guy!

@ Reality Strikes-

I'm thinkin' they're still there and in larger number in Afganistan.

Bush is a class act. BHO, not so much.

Reality Strikes, give it a rest you anonymous coward.

This President was authentic and a leader. So much braver -- and effective, I might add -- than the empty suit in the Oval Office now.

I miss him.

He didn't give us Obama.... McCain did. Obama is a criminal and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent !!

The only thing Bush ever did right for this country was give us OBAMA.

And right on Reality Strikes. These idiots are part of the reason this country is declining. A nation of people who can actually say they like this president with a straight face is destined to fail.

Nice put down, George. Your turn was long over due.

This President was authentic and a leader. So much braver -- and effective, I might add -- than the empty suit in the Oval Office now. - - -Opinion- - -

George W. Bush sent thousands of young men and women to their death in Iraq for no reason what so ever. - - -Fact- - -

I'm thinkin' they're still there and in larger number in Afganistan. - - -Fact-- - (Bush did begin by sending young Americans to die in Afghanistan first)

People seem to either love or hate Bush. People who love Obama, hate Bush, and vice versa. Me, I don't like either of them. Bush spent like a drunken idiot, and now Obama is doing the same. They are both doing the exact same thing.

Fact, the economy was in a state of recession when both Presidents went into office.

Fact, the economy was in a state of recession when Bush left.

Fact, the economy will still be in a state of recession when Obama leaves.

If you remove the republican and democrat titles, you end up with a black guy and a white guy who are remarkable similar.

Bush, really, is a lot like Obama lite.

Obama is just better at talking.

Bush was garbage and should be charged with treason!

George Bush was a patriot and a man who loved his country. He did not send men to die for no reason, he sent men to die so that others might live. People who have never been in charge of anything, like Obama and clearly some of the people who have posted comments here, have no idea what it is like to make the tough choices and look at the big picture. Bush made choices not based on popularity but on what he thought was right. What more can we expect from any leader.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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