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On Leno, Boehner talks shutdown, 2016 and his tan

With under two weeks left in Jay Leno’s reign of the “Tonight Show,” House Speaker John Boehner stopped by the show for the first time Thursday -- after multiple denied requests, Leno said -- to discuss infighting in the Republican party, his preference for 2016, and whether or not his tan is real.

“Listen, I play golf, I ride a bike, I cut my own grass, my mother is dark complected, so I’m a little dark,” Boehner told Leno, “There’s no tanning beds, no spray anything, never, not once ever, ever, nothing.”

Asked whom he’d peg as the best Republican candidate for 2016, Boehner name-dropped former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

While sitting down with Jay Leno last night, the Speaker of the House said he's not running for president. "I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I'm not giving that up to be the president of the United States," he said, adding that he gets along just fine with President Obama.

“I’m not endorsing anybody, but Jeb Bush is my friend, and I frankly think he’d make a great president,” Boehner said. 

But one thing was clear: Boehner himself has no intention of running for president.

“Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine, I smoke cigarettes and I'm not giving that up to be president of the United States,” the speaker said.

Boehner was noticeably relaxed, and when asked by Leno if he agreed that most Americans blamed the GOP for the 16-day government shutdown last year, he simply answered: “Yup.”

“Listen, I told my colleagues in July I didn’t think shutting down the government over Obamacare would work because the President said ‘I’m not going to negotiate.’” Boehner said. “I said, ‘If you want to fight this fight, I’ll fight the fight with you,’ but it was a very predictable disaster, and so the sooner we got it over with the better.”

While the speaker touched on the serious issues facing the country, and the infighting within the party (which he says is more about “tactics” than “goals”), he also made some jokes, like noting how some people have problems pronouncing his name correctly.

“It’s hard running for office when people can’t say your name. You know, my name looks like ‘Beener,’ ‘Bonner,’ ‘Boner’, Boehner (pronounced BAY-ner) told Leno, “But thank God my name wasn’t ‘Weiner’.”

Speaking about the controversy over NSA surveillance tactics, Boehner reiterated his stance that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is “a traitor.” He admitted that the NSA has “made mistakes” and said that the House is “going to take a look at what needs to be tweaked." 

“We spy on everyone else, and they all spy on us, so let’s just get over it, it’s been going on for thousands of years,” Boehner said.

The Ohio congressman also waded into international affairs when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin, someone he said he has no interest in meeting.

“I just think he's a thug,” Boehner said of Putin, “I think he's treated his neighbors in a disrespectful way and frankly, I think the president ought to stand up to him and better protect America's interests and our allies, especially in Eastern Europe.”

Jay Leno will host his last “Tonight Show” on February 6th, with Billy Crystal slated to be a guest.  Jimmy Fallon will pick up the hosting gig on February 17th.