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  • -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.