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BARACK OBAMA IN THE WHITEHOUSE

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President Obama appears on the Jay Leno Show

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Jay Leno program hosted President Barack Obama this evening on The Tonight Show. The visit was another historic first, as Barack Obama is the first sitting President to ever speak on one of the late night shows on national TV.He did it on his 59th day in office. In a very serious conversation, laced with tidbits of laughter, President Obama spoke candidly with Jay Leno. Topics included AIG, and banks in general, the economy and his thoughts on how to fix the financial crisis. Topics also included Tim Geithner, small businesses, life flying around in Air Force One, the auto industry. On the lighter side, he spoke about the swimming pool at the Whitehouse, along with a basketball court that will be transformed from tennis courts. Also mentioned was the new puppy that will be presented to Sasha and Malia very soon. Check out the link below and watch highlights of the interview with the 44th President of the United States.... Below the video is a link to the transcript of the complete interview, followed by an explanation of the entire conversation.

http://www.nbc.com/The_Tonight_Show_with_Jay_Leno/video/clips/president-obama-319/1067421/

Complete Transcript

The president joked that it was mere coincidence that his Final Four picks were all from swing states, and revealed he has been working on his bowling in the White House, recently rolling a 129. But most of the discussion was devoted – perhaps for the first time in the show’s history – to in-depth discussions of tax policy, as well as macroeconomics and finance. And there was a reassurance from the president that the American people “should have complete confidence in the banks,” and should not be putting their money “in their mattresses.“
President Obama came on about 20 minutes into the 60-minute show. He was wearing a blue suit, red tie, white shirt, with a flag pin on left lapel (that was a minor issue in his campaign.) He walked across the stage to the seat next to Mr. Leno’s desk, waved to the crowd, many of whom were standing as they applauded. He then sat with right leg crossed over left leg.
Asked by Mr. Leno if it was fair to judge him based on just 59 days in office, President Obama said Washington “is a bit like ‘American idol’ except everybody’s Simon Cowell. Everybody’s got an opinion.”
But, he said, the American people are in a place where “they understand that it took us a while to get into this mess, and it will take us a while to get out of it.”
“I think they are going to give us some time,” he added.
The president and Mr. Leno spent several minutes discussing the bonuses for executives of American International Group, with the host noting that Mr. Obama looked genuinely angry when talking about them recently. “Stunned is the word,” the President said.
“The question is who in their right mind when the company is going bust decides we’re going to be paying a whole bunch of bonuses to people,” Mr. Obama said. “That I think speaks to a broader culture that existed on Wall Street, where I think people just had this general attitude of entitlement where we must be the best and the brightest, we deserve $10 million or $50 million or $100 million payouts.
“And the immediate bonuses that went to A.I.G. are a problem, but the larger problem is we’ve got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough and people have a sense of responsibility, and they understand that their actions are going have an effect on everybody,” he said. “And if we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we’re going to be okay.”
Mr. Leno also asked about the Congressional vote to levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses awarded to executives at companies that received bailout funds.
“I understand Congress’s frustration,” Mr. Obama said. “But the best way to handle this is to make sure you close the door before the horse gets out of the barn. What happened here was that the money’s already gone out and people are scrambling to try to find ways to get back at them.”
Mr. Obama said that he would like to see a change in tax policy “going back to the 1990s, where you and I, who are doing fairly well, pay a little bit more to pay for health care, to pay for energy, to make sure the kids can go to college who aren’t as fortunate as my kids might be. Those are the kinds of measured steps we can take.”
Mr. Leno asked whether somebody should go to jail for the financial misdeeds that are the source of so many headlines today.
“Here’s the dirty little secret,” Mr. Obama said. “Most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal. And that is a sign of how much we’ve got to change our laws.”
“The answer is to deal with those laws in a way that gives the average consumer a break,” he said. “When you buy a toaster, if it explodes in your face, there’s a law that says your toasters need to be safe. But when you get a credit card or a mortgage, there’s no law on the books that says if that explodes in your face financially, somehow you’re going to be protected. So this is the need for getting back to some common sense regulation.
Mr. Obama seemed at a momentary loss for words only once during the session, which lasted 35 minutes (although some of it might be edited for the final show). That was when Mr. Leno, after asking about how Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is holding up, said that “I love that it’s all his problem.”
Mr. Obama recovered and said, “Look, I’m the president. So ultimately all this stuff is stuff is my responsibility. If I’m not giving him the tools that he needs to move things forward, then people need to look at me.”
He added: “One of the things I’m trying to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for someone else to blame. And I think Geithner is doing an outstanding job.”
Before the president’s appearance, Mr. Leno opened with the traditional “Tonight Show” monologue, and noted that people were wondering why President Obama would come to NBC. “You would think by this time he would be tired of big companies on the brink of disaster with a bunch of overpaid executives.”
Security was tight, Mr. Leno said, and President Obama had a huge entourage. “It’s still less people than when we have Mariah Carey on,” he said. And the show had intended “to have Vice President Joe Biden come out and say a few words. But it is only an hour show.”
The fact that President Obama decided to get out of the White House and travel all the way across the country is not that unusual, he said. “It happens to a lot of guys when their mother-in-law moves in with them,” Mr. Leno said.
NBC executives said the “Tonight” show had been in regular, almost weekly contact with the White House seeking to book the President on the show. When Mr. Obama made plans to stage a town hall meeting in Orange County, Calif., near Los Angeles, the show’s bookers stepped up their contact with the White House’s office of broadcast media, which is headed by Dag Vega. The booking was the result of what one NBC executive called “just this routine contact.”
Despite the fact that no previous sitting president has appeared on one of the late-night entertainment shows, bookers for most of them have been aggressively pursuing the President, a producer for one of the shows said.
“He did all the shows as a candidate, so everyone has stayed in touch,” said the producer, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as to avoid any potential bad reaction from the White House which might interfere with landing Mr. Obama in the future.

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