There weren’t many laughs, but President Joe Biden received some unsolicited advice from Jimmy Kimmel on Wednesday when the president sat down for his first in-person interview with a late-night host since taking office. function.
The host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” of ABC expressed frustration with the intractable problems in Washington and advised the president, “I think you have to start yelling at people.”
Biden balked, saying the country was still suffering the effects of the pandemic, but he insisted he had “never been more optimistic in my life.”
Kimmel quickly chimed in, “Why are you so optimistic? It does not mean anything!”
Biden said he’s pinning his hopes on young people, the “best educated, least prejudiced and most giving generation in American history.”
“This generation is going to change everything,” Biden said. “We just have to make sure we don’t give up.”
The show was taped in the afternoon in Los Angeles. Biden is heading to the city for this week’s Summit of the Americas, which brings together countries from across the hemisphere. First lady Jill Biden was in the audience, along with Biden’s granddaughter Naomi and her fiancé.
Biden’s only previous late-night appearance as president was in December, when he spoke remotely with Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”
Kimmel began his interview by asking about new gun laws, referencing a series of recent mass shootings.
“I guess, I mean, just to get into the nitty-gritty, why haven’t we done anything about it?” Kimmel asked.
Biden responded that “it’s not your dad’s Republican Party,” and he blamed his political opposition for being too afraid to do anything about guns because they fear the challenges of primary elections.
Kimmel asked Biden if he could use executive orders to increase gun control, noting that former President Donald Trump “handed them out like Halloween candy.”
Although Biden has taken unilateral action on guns, the president has said he is not interested in overstepping the bounds of his authority.
“I don’t want to emulate Trump’s abuse of the Constitution and constitutional authority,” he said.
Biden said he knows some people feel like “Republicans don’t play it squarely, why are you playing it squarely.”
“Well, guess what,” he said. “If we do the same as them, our democracy will literally be in danger. Not a joke.
Kimmel replied, “It’s like playing Monopoly with someone who won’t pass or follow any of the rules, and how can you progress if they don’t play by the rules.”
“You have to send them to jail,” Biden joked.
Elsewhere in the interview, Kimmel hinted that he was disappointed with progress on issues such as climate change and abortion.
“We backed down,” he said.
Later, Kimmel sympathized with Biden’s challenges, particularly the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision that is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, who legalized access to abortion nationwide.
“What a terrible job you have,” Kimmel said. “I’m glad you did. But, boy oh boy, does this seem like a bad gig.
Biden said he was looking at executive orders that could help with abortion access — “we’re looking at it right now” — but said the best solutions are legislation and elections.
If the court strikes down Roe v. Wade, Biden said, “this is going to cause a mini-revolution and they’re going to vote to get a lot of these people out of office.”
“After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing was done,” President Joe Biden said in a speech Thursday night. “This time it can’t be true. This time we actually have to do something.”