CHRIS MEGERIAN, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — There weren’t many laughs, but President Joe Biden received unsolicited advice from Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday as the president sat down for his first in-person interview with a late-night host since taking office.
Host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” expressed frustration at the intractable problems in Washington and advised the president, “I think you need to start yelling at people.”
Biden countered, saying the country was still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, but insisted that he had “never been so optimistic in my life.”
Kimmel immediately chimed in: “Why are you so optimistic? It doesn’t make any sense!”
Biden said he was pinning his hopes on young people, “the most educated, least prejudiced and most generous generation in American history.”
“This generation will change everything,” Biden said. “We just need to make sure we don’t give up.”
The show was recorded during the day in Los Angeles. Biden is visiting the city this week for the Summit of the Americas, which is attended by countries from across the hemisphere. Audience members included First Lady Jill Biden, as well as Biden’s granddaughter Naomi and her fiancé.
Biden’s only previous late-night appearance as president was in December when he remotely spoke to Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s The Tonight Show.
Kimmel began his interview with a question about gun control, citing a number of recent mass shootings.
“I think, I mean, just to figure out why we didn’t do anything about it?” Kimmel asked.
Biden responded that “it’s not your father’s Republican Party” and accused his political opposition of being too afraid to do anything about guns because they’re afraid of trouble in the primaries.
Kimmel insisted that Biden could use executive orders to enforce gun control, noting that former President Donald Trump “handed them out like Halloween candy.”
While Biden has taken some unilateral moves on firearms, the president has said he has no interest in going beyond his powers.
“I don’t want to emulate Trump’s abuse of the Constitution and constitutional power,” he said.
Biden said he knows what some people think: “Republicans don’t play fair, why are you playing fair.”
“Well, guess what,” he said. “If we do what they do, our democracy will be literally under threat. Not a joke.
Kimmel responded, “It’s like you’re playing Monopoly with someone who won’t pass or follow any rules, and how are you ever going to make progress if they don’t follow the rules.”
“You should send them to jail,” Biden joked.
Elsewhere in the interview, Kimmel says he is disappointed with the progress being made on issues like climate change and abortion.
“We stepped back,” he said.
Kimmel later sympathized with Biden’s concerns, especially the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling expected to strike down Roe v. U.S. Wade, who legalized access to abortion throughout the country.
“What a terrible job you have,” Kimmel said. – I’m glad you’re doing it. But, my God, does this really look like a bad concert.
Biden said he was considering executive orders that could help with access to abortion — “we’re looking into this right now” — but said the best solutions are legislation and elections.
If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, Biden said, “this will cause a mini-revolution and they will vote to fire a lot of these people.”
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