Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles -It is an honor to introduce my first guest. He's the 44th President of the United States and the author of this best-selling new book called "A Promised Land." Here is President Barack Obama. Hi, President -- -Jimmy. -Thank you so much for coming back to the show. You look great. And I know we don't really have a way of really keeping in touch. But, gosh, I really missed you, bud. -I missed you. Although, I kind of like the whole disheveled -- -[ Laughs ] -You know, sweater. -No. No, no. -Slightly -- -I can't -- -Little bit of stubble look. -No. -Now, you're back behind a desk, tie. -[ Laughs ] -I can't -- for you -- -You know, hair product. -Yeah. I mean, I'm swearing swim shorts, swim trunks, under here, but I'm not going to show you that. But, yeah, I got to dress up for you. I always think of the time when I came to the White House for the Fourth of July and I opened up for the Foo Fighters for a veterans... -Yeah. -...party that you had, and I got -- I was so nervous. I got really dressed up there as well. And I was wearing -- I think I was wearing a three-piece suit, and it was probably 98 degrees. -It was really hot. -It was ridiculous -- And Michelle was like, "Oh, you poor thing. Loosen your tie or something." I mean, there was sweat coming through my collar, and you were like, "Didn't you get the memo? It's a barbecue." And I go -- -Come on. -I was awful. I was sweating so much. But, yeah. Those were so many -- so many fun memories hanging out with you, and -- Congrats on the book. Here it is. Great cover, by the way. Great look. -Thank you. -Just crisp, clean. It's a -- it's not a quick read. But, it is a -- you get your money's worth. Look at this. I mean, that's a big book. -You know what? I think you can handle it, Jimmy. I really do. -Well, I mean, I got up to the part with the pictures. And that's where I got really excited. [ Laughter ] I -- before we get into everything, how is the family? How is Michelle? How are the girls? -You know, Michelle is great. She sends her love. -Aww. -The girls have been with us throughout the, you know, pandemic. Yeah, they've been doing remote college. Malia's a senior at Harvard. And Sasha's a sophomore at Michigan. -Wow. That's great. -So... you know, as we've talked about parenting, now I'm a little bit ahead of you in age. -How is it? -You go through this cycle. They love you. They think you're terrific. You get to around 12. -[ Laughs ] -They think you're a loser. -Yeah. I got my first eye roll, yeah. -But by the time they come back to you and, in this case, you know, Sasha's now 19, Malia's 22. You know, they, suddenly, like you again. -[ Laughs ] -And they're interesting and they're smart, and they're funnier than you are. -Yeah. -So it's been a joy to have them around. You know, I think they have, obviously, started getting cabin fever hanging out with us as much as they are. But I don't mind it. -I got my first eye roll the other day, which was pretty interesting. -Oh, man. How'd do you handle it? -I couldn't -- I really -- It really broke my heart. I go, "You're my number one fan. You can't -- you laugh at everything. Every joke I tell, you laugh at. I -- I -- And she was like... -Oh, man. -Yeah. -Wait till they're 14. Whoo! -I cant -- I can't even. I can't even. Are you -- in this past four years, I think the last time I talked to you, we were talking about what you were most excited about doing, and I think you were like, just even pressing a button on an elevator, or, it was like the simplest little things that you did not do. Have you done that? Have you taken out the trash? Have you -- -I -- yeah, look, I mean, there's a bunch of honey do list items that I have been carrying out. Don't seem quite as romantic as they did at the time. -Yeah. -And, you know, I've driven a couple of times, although in very restricted areas. -Stick shift or automatic? -And much to the -- Uh, automatic. -Me too. -You know, I didn't want to cause, you know, havoc. -[ Laughs ] Yeah. -But, you know, the thing that I haven't been able to do that I thought I was going to be able to do -- and Michelle knew I was an idiot to think this way, was, I thought I could, like, go around and take a walk sometimes. And it turns out that... -Yeah, you're you. -...I can't do that. I cannot -- I can't do that. So -- Although we've been doing some bike rides. 'Cause you're moving fast enough that even if they... -They go, "Hey, is that --" -...spot you, it's too late. -Yeah, exactly. -You're gone by that time. -Probably it's even bet-- if you -- You can't even do it alone, I'm just saying, but if it's you and Michelle and the kids, everyone's like, "Wha-- wha-- what, what? That's like --" People would just freak out. -Well, the thing about Michelle when we go bike riding together, she's this -- she thinks she's in a race, right? I mean, it -- on the Alps or something. And she's just powering through, and she's about a mile ahead of me, and... -Oh, no. -I'm sort of meandering, trying to figure out how to shift gears, and so -- -Yeah, I'm cruising, yeah. Me too. -Yeah, it's not that romantic. -It's more of a workout. -It's more of a workout. -For this, you took a deep dive into your journey to the White House, and your first few years as president. You also released an audiobook version, which you narrate, which I think is great. But I was going to ask you, when it came time to record it, was there any part of you that was kicking yourself for writing such a long book? [ Laughter ] -Absolutely. You know, you don't -- You don't realize how exhausting it is to just sit there and read. And it gives you a newfound respect for, you know, professional actors and narrators and so forth, because after about three hours I was whooped. -Yeah, exactly. -And, you know, you look, "Really? We only got through ten pages? What do you mean?" -You're like, "Hey, can we get Tom Cruise to do this or something?" -Exactly. But, you know, the goal of my -- my book was to tell a story about, yes, policy, and you know, the Affordable Care Act and how we got Bin Laden and all that stuff. But also to try to pull the curtain back and give people a sense of what it's like for a family to go on this weird journey. And -- and, you know, how Michelle and the girls and I had to try to hang on to our sense of who we were and normalcy, and with highs and lows and tensions and stresses. -Yeah. -And kind of come out of the other end intact. And so part of my goal here was not just to give some dry report, but, you know, to describe for people what it's like, you know, the first night you sleep in the White House and you kind of realize, "What the heck? How'd I end up here?" Or... -Yeah. Do you remember the first thing you saw when you actually walked into the White House? -Were you like -- Did you look at like a phone or an old painting or something and you're like, "Wait, I'm actually -- I'm the White House"? -All of the above. -Yeah. -And, you know, the interesting thing is, is that you don't -- you literally are moved in while you're being sworn in. So you haven't -- The Bushes were very gracious. They had given us a tour, but, you know, you're not really paying attention. It kind of feels like you're in a museum. Uh... You get inaugurated. There are a bunch of balls. You're shaking hands and schmoozing and watching parades. And then you go home, quote/unquote, and suddenly you're in this place where the Gettysburg Address is next to -- in the next room, and... you know, you realize that your life is not going to be the same, and trying to make sure that you're maintaining perspective. You know, I discuss a lot in the book... you know, one of the greatest accomplishments, I think, of my presidency for both Michelle and me was raising two girls in this very strange environment and them turning out to be these wonderful, not at all entitled, you know, kind, thoughtful people. -Yeah. -Partly because of my mother-in-law, who, you know, she -- we were very lucky to have her come stay with us. And, you know, she'd look at the girls if they were acting up and she'd say, "What are you guys doing?" -Yeah. -"You know you didn't do anything." -Good. -"You're just here for the ride." -You need that, yeah. -"Settle down." -Yeah, and just grounding them. So... And part of the reason I wanted to personalize it was so that young people who read it, who are interested in public service, who are interested in government or just changing the world, they can kind of see, "Okay, here's somebody who is kind of normal and was able to do some important stuff. And maybe, I can, too." -Yeah. -And hopefully inspires them to get involved. -Yeah. You wrote that, yeah, you want this -- this book is for, like, young people, in their 20s, and who want to change the world. I was going to ask you, are you inspired by your own daughters? -I am. You know, they and their friends, you know, during this summer after the tragedy of George Floyd and the protests and activism, you know, they found ways to get involved that were very smart and thoughtful and practical. And they got their friends involved. This whole generation of young people coming up are smart, thoughtful, sophisticated. And they really believe all the platitudes about everybody's equal and we should treat everybody fairly. And, you know, we don't like racism and we don't like discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation. It's second nature to them. And there is a courage and conviction that they bring to it that really is inspiring and makes me optimistic. You know, it's a matter of us old heads getting out of the way and making sure we don't break things so badly that by the time they're in charge, you know, it's not too late.