Former President George W. Bush is no longer a politician. He is no longer the decider. No, as he told The Tonight Show's Jay Leno on Tuesday night, the former president is a painter.
"You may not think I'm a painter," Bush told Leno, "I think I'm a painter."
Bush made a rare nationally televised appearance on Leno's show, billed by Bush as a send-off for the host. And he came loaded with the paintings he's been working on with a Dallas tutor once a week. "There's a Rembrandt trapped in this body," Bush said he told the instructor. "Your job is to find it."
The former president showed off a painting of his dog Barney (RIP), and a portrait of his new cat, Bob. Bush also proved that there's no late-night show anecdote better than a Putin anecdote:
"I introduced Barney to Putin, and he kind of dissed him," Bush said. "So a year later, Putin introduced me to his dog. Huge hound, bounding across the lawn, and he says, 'bigger, faster, and stronger than Barney.'"
Bush also came armed with a portrait of his host, just to push the whole thing over the edge into the semi-surreal.
The former president does genuinely seem like a different person. He received solid applause throughout the interview, but no more than after repeating his post-presidency rule for talking about Obama. "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor," he said.
Asked if he was glad to be out of the White House, Bush didn't hesitate. "Yes, I am," he said. "Eight years is plenty."