“It’s hard for some to believe, but I think eight years in the spotlight’s enough.”
On the Jay Leno Show Tuesday evening, former President George W. Bush spoke of his family, his time after the White House, and revealed a few paintings he has completed since taking up weekly lessons.
According to CBS News, when he hired the art instructor, he told her, “There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find it.”
However, instead of presenting self-portraits or scenes from the Bible, Mr. Bush shared likenesses of Barney, his dog, and his adopted cat named Bob (named so that he can “remember how to spell it” when he gets older).
Mr. Bush also showed off a smirking portrait he made of Leno, complete with American flag pin and the L.A. skyline behind him. “I can’t make fun of him anymore,” Leno said.
The 43rd president has stayed low on the radar since leaving office in 2009, a time when the country was in two wars and struggling with the economy.
When Leno asked him if he’s concerned about his place in U.S. history, Bush joked that historians are still focused on Washington, not Bush. “My attitude,” he said, “is if they’re still writing biographies of the first guy, the 43rd guy doesn’t need to worry about it.” Then he added, “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.”
Bush’s wife, Laura, also joined her husband on the Tonight Show stage and Leno continued to ask questions about such things as Bush’s hospitalization in August due to a blocked artery. Mr. Bush, 67, said that it was all because he “didn’t behave that well” when he was younger. “I might have smoked some,” he joked.
As far as the pet paintings go, Mr. Bush says that they have changed his life.
Barbara, Bush’s daughter, recently gave writers at Vogue a tour of her shared New York City apartment and spoke of the paintings on her mantel, one being the likeness of a feline. “About two years ago, my retired father took up painting,” she said. “And, to our surprise, he’s an excellent artist. On Valentine’s Day, a very sweet portrait of my cat, Eleanor, arrived, signed with love by my dear dad.”
While on Leno’s couch, the former president also spoke of President Obama and the 2016 presidential race.
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