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Trying to pass a $3.6 trillion budget takes mad persuasion and mind manipulation. So when President Obama made history last week by appearing on The Tonight Show, it represented an evolution in outreach tactics. Dating back to JFK, sitting presidents have been trying to get that TV burn to build a fan base. Here are some historical presidential moments on the idiot box...
5. President Kennedy on NBC-TV, 1963
• When JFK wasn't sneaking jump-offs into the oval office, he was running game on Washington reporters. In this clip, he takes extra time to ensure that his propaganda was not misquoted. He didn't expect this to ever be released publicly.
4. President Reagan on Barbara Walters, 1981
• Despite the GOP's attempt to revise history and hail Reagan as a great US President, the people know what's really good. His experience in Hollywood set the stage for this theatrical portrayal of a rugged Reagan at home on the ranch. Sound familiar? While describing his patriotism, he declares at the end, "There is a whole new breed of people called American."
3. Bill Clinton on "Larry King Live", 1992
• To his credit, Bill Clinton's shrewdness helped him weather countless political scandals as president. His diplomatic discipline is evident in this footage as Larry King tries to get him to give an off-air opinion of CNN's Ted Turner. Clinton, who was a presidential candidate at the time, looks suspicious and remains mum. Too bad he couldn't get his groupies to do the same.
2. President George W. Bush on "Deal or No Deal", 2008
• This is perhaps the most surreal appearance from a sitting president on TV. When Bush showed up via satellite to give a superficial shout out to a war vet contestant, he explained his true motives: "I'm thrilled to be on Deal or No Deal' with you tonight. Come to think of it, I'm thrilled to be anywhere with high ratings these days." Maybe he wasn't as delusional as we thought.
1. President Obama on "The Tonight Show", 2009
• Although substantive discussion comprised most of the interview, his comment about the Special Olympics made all the headlines. It was definitely cringe-worthy. But commander-in-chief-comedic-relief is a risky balancing act. Everyone's got bad jokes, but Barack should really leave improv to the pros.