George W. Bush on “Leno”: “History to Judge” Decisions as President

Former president shows off paintings, including one of Jay Leno

George W. Bush stopped by "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Tuesday night in a rare public appearance since his departure from the White House in 2008.

"Only cause of you," the 43rd president said to Leno. "You're about to head out to pasture; just wanted to see what you look like before you got to the gate." 

In a mostly tongue-in-cheek interview, Leno and Bush quipped about everything from how Bush dealt with the stress of being president to his newfound love of painting.

But perhaps the largest revelation came at the very beginning of Bush's talk with Leno, after the late-night host asked Bush how he coped with making tough decisions as president.

"Well, you have to be believe in what you're doing," the former president said. "I’m also very comfortable with the fact that it’s going to take a while for history to judge whether the decisions I made are consequential or not. And therefore I’m not too worried about it."

When Leno asked Bush about his decision to stay out of the limelight after eight years in the White House and not offer his take on current policies, Bush had a succinct and straightforward answer.

"I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor," he said.

"I really don’t miss the spotlight," Bush said. "I think eight years in the spotlight is enough."

He and former first lady Laura Bush are now comfortably living in Dallas, Texas, where they spend most of their time working on pet projects like their global health initiative at Southern Methodist University, which focuses on working on cancer in Africa.

And Bush has taken on a new passion.

"You may not think I'm a painter, but I'm a painter," Bush said as he and Leno went through some of the former president's paintings – a portrait of his longtime pooch, Barney, and cat, Bob.

But the real surprise of the night came next.

"I do take painting seriously and it's changed my life," Bush said as he presented Leno with his very own portrait painting.

At 67, the former president looked upbeat as he appeared with his wife. Leno asked the couple how they dealt with Bush's recent health scare.

He received a stent to unclog a severely blocked artery over the summer.

"It was scary. It was very scary," Laura Bush said. But the former president responded, "I wasn't that scared."

Leno then joked "You had Obamacare?"

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