John Boehner on Jay Leno: GOP Infighting ‘Maybe’ the Worst I’ve Ever Seen

National Journal
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Brian Resnick
Jan. 24, 2014, 3 a.m.

Two white men of a cer­tain age who are not as pop­u­lar as they once were sit down to talk polit­ics, spray tans, and health care. 

That’s a setup for a bad joke, but it happened Thursday night on NBC. 

House Speak­er John Boehner joined Jay Leno on The To­night Show and took some jabs at his fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans. Leno, who asked some very sober ques­tions (“Did your par­ents live to see your suc­cess?”) said he had wanted the speak­er on the show for some time. Be­cause Leno is end­ing his ten­ure on the show next month, Boehner agreed.

“I heard you go­ing — this show was about over and I thought I’d bet­ter get here be­fore it was too late,” Boehner said at the be­gin­ning of the in­ter­view.

“I was go­ing to say the same thing for you,” Leno quickly replied. 


Here are the high­lights from the tran­script.

On Re­pub­lic­an in­fight­ing: 

LENO: Now this GOP in­fight­ing. Is this the worst you’ve ever seen it?

BOEHNER: Oh, no. Well, maybe it is. [Laughter.] It’s bad.

On how the Re­pub­lic­ans caused the gov­ern­ment shut­down:

BOEHNER: Listen, I told my col­leagues in Ju­ly, I didn’t think shut­ting down the gov­ern­ment over Obama­care [would] work be­cause the pres­id­ent said I’m not go­ing to ne­go­ti­ate. And so I told them in Au­gust. Prob­ably not a good idea. Told them in early Septem­ber.

So I said, do you want to fight this fight? I’ll go fight the fight with you. But it was a very pre­dict­able dis­aster. And so the soon­er we got it over with the bet­ter. But re­mem­ber the is­sue. The is­sue was, we wanted to delay Obama­care for a year be­cause it wasn’t ready. Then we asked them to delay the in­di­vidu­al man­date for a year. So we were fight­ing for the right things; I just thought tac­tic­ally it was not the right way to do it.

On his ex­traordin­ary com­plex­ion:

BOEHNER: Listen, listen, I play golf. I ride a bike, I cut my own grass, ride a bike. And my moth­er is dark-com­plec­ted [sic] so I’m a little dark.

LENO: So, there’s no tan­ning bed.

BOEHNER: There’s no tan­ning bed.

LENO: There’s no tan­ning bed.

BOEHNER: There’s no spray. Nev­er. Not once, nev­er, ever.

LENO: Nev­er a spray tan?

BOEHNER: Noth­ing.

On his job as speak­er:

BOEHNER: Well, people think, all right, you’re the speak­er, you’re the lead­er. They don’t real­ize I’ve got a a lot of oth­er roles that I play. You know, some mem­bers, I have to be the big-broth­er fig­ure. Some I have to be the fath­er fig­ure. Oth­ers I have to be the dean of stu­dents or the prin­cip­al. Some of them I have to be the Gestapo.

On 2016:

LENO: Who do you like in 2016? For the Re­pub­lic­ans?

BOEHNER: Well, listen, I’m not en­dors­ing any­body, but [former Flor­ida Gov.] Jeb Bush is my friend, and I frankly think he would make a great pres­id­ent.

On run­ning for pres­id­ent him­self:

LENO: You ever think of run­ning for pres­id­ent?


LENO: No? Do you want to show what you did you when I asked you that ques­tion be­fore? Do you want to show them what you told me?

BOEHNER: Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke ci­gar­ettes, and I’m not giv­ing that up to be pres­id­ent of the United States.