John Boehner Jay Leno

Perhaps the most surprising thing about House Speaker John Boehner’s appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Thursday was that he was the second guest, not the first.

That prime position went to Matt LeBlanc, star of Showtime’s “Episodes.” Leno even joked about it. “He’s third in line for the presidency. You’re on a TV show,” he quipped to LeBlanc.

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made his first appearance on Leno in November, he too got the second position.

Boehner’s first late-night TV appearance started with some effort at self effacement, as he make jokes about his name and his suntan.¬†Perhaps the most revealing was when Boehner acknowledged that the government shutdown was a “very predictable disaster.”

So why did he go forward with it?

“You learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk,” he said. “So I said, ‘If you want to go fight this fight. I’ll go fight the fight with you.’ But it was a very predictable disaster. So the sooner we got it over, the better. We were fighting for the right thing, but I just thought tactfully it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

He acknowledged that GOP “infighting” was “bad,” and got a few criticisms in of President Obama, but one of his more flippant moments was when Leno asked him whether he would ever run for president.

“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.”

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