This interview with George W. Bush on The Tonight Show is incredible. For as much as I loathe most of what he did while he was in office, you can’t deny that he’s one of the most fascinating people of our time.
The man who ruled the free world for almost a decade and who arguably is responsible for so many facets of the geopolitical landscape absolutely refusing to have any meaningful discourse about his time in office, the decisions he made or how his presidency affected history. Shrugging it off by saying that he won’t have to worry about how history judges him because he’ll be long gone, vying instead to talk about golf tournaments and the touchingly earnest paintings he does of his pets.
It’s also fascinating how palpable his discomfort is. Not only with being on television and having to make hammy, pre-scripted banter with Leno, but his unease inside his own skin. I mean this guy literally ran the world for eight years, started wars, appointed people to the Supreme court, and after all that he’s still so very apparently the black sheep of his family, living in his father’s shadow and desperately, hopelessly seeking everyone’s approval, especially his mother’s who he obviously and tragically will never receive.
When Leno asks him if he lists being a painter on his resume Bush replies “It depends if you like the painting or not” which gets a chuckle from the audience but is so telling and so underlined by sadness that it almost breaks your heart. And when his wife joins the interview it get even worse. He just looks like a nervous kid who’s Mom is parading him in front of her friends, telling him “George, tell Mr. Leno about the necklace you bought me”. It’s really easy to hate everything Bush did as a politician, but as a human you feel bad for him and almost can’t help but liking him.