In his first appearance on any late-night TV show, US president Joe Biden touched on topics ranging from vaccinations to his approval ratings as he joked with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show about his lack of cooking skills.
Mr Biden, 79, also the first sitting president to appear on the late-night show since president Barack Obama in 2016, told the host that he and first lady Jill Biden had convinced the White House staff to let them cook their own breakfast.
“We come from middle-class backgrounds… We’re not used to people waiting on us,” he said.
“We now have a deal — and they’re great, the guys who run the kitchen on the second floor, is we don’t have them come in to do breakfast for us, because there’s no need for them to have to do breakfast for us. We can make our own eggs or pour a bowl of cereal…”
“You make your own eggs?” Fallon interrupted. “Well I don’t. Jill does,” the president said over laughter and applause.
Sharing an anecdote to elucidate his cooking skills, Mr Biden said that his daughter — then aged nine — once told an interviewer: “My daddy can’t do much. He can boil water and make pasghetti. He can’t do much else.” The president added: “And guess what? She is right.”
Asked whether he pays attention to presidential approval ratings, Mr Biden quipped: “Not anymore.”
There were serious moments in the interview too, particularly on the economy and on Covid. The president acknowledged that the public was worried about high inflation.
“People are afraid, people are worried,” Mr Biden said. And people are getting so much inaccurate information.
“The truth is, the economy is growing more than it has in any time close to 60 years. The unemployment rate is down to 4.2 per cent and it’s going to go lower, in my view.
“My job is to be straightforward, shoot from the shoulder. Let people know exactly what the truth is and lay out how I am trying to make life better for them.”
The president said he hoped for both the pandemic and inflation to be “under control” by this time next year, as he urged Americans to get vaccines and booster shots against the Covid-19.
“The bottom line is, the way to avoid this virus is to get two shots and then get the booster shot,” he said. “It will make a gigantic difference … it’s patriotic to get it done.”
Admitting to not having a single Republican vote for his ambitious $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan, Mr Biden said he still hoped to pass the bill in the Senate before the end of year.
“So, it is going to be tough but I think we can get it done. And if we don’t get it done, I will keep at it till we get it done.”
As Fallon lauded the president for bringing “class” back to the office, Mr Biden stressed the importance of a return to bipartisanship.
Reflecting on the late Republican senator Bob Dole asking him on his deathbed to give his eulogy, Mr Biden said that relationships in politics like that were hard to find these days. He blamed QAnon, “extreme elements of the Republican party” and former president Donald Trump for “feeding” into an atmosphere of intense partisanship.