President Obama has made a lot of history in his first 18 months in office, but becoming the only sitting president to visit daytime talk show "The View" was probably not even on his radar. In a wide-ranging interview aired on Thursday (July 29) that spanned serious topics like racial tensions, the economy and the controversy over the firing of former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod, Obama also explained why he's not invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding and admitted that he's never heard of "Jersey Shore" star Snooki.
In his third appearance on the show, the president was asked what the hardest part of the past few months has been for him, given the multiple challenges of the Gulf oil spill, handling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the continuing economic malaise.
"Obviously the country has gone through a tough stretch," he said, taking his seat on the show's famous couch between returning icon Barbara Walters and comedian Joy Behar. "When I was sworn in ... we were losing at that time 750,000 jobs per month, the economy was shrinking at a pace of about 6.5 percent — which is unheard of since the Great Depression — and so the last 20 months has been a nonstop effort to restart the economy, to stabilize the financial system, to make sure that we're creating jobs again instead of losing them, and in the midst of all that we've also had the oil spill, we've also had two wars, we've also had a pandemic, H1N1, that we had to manage, and a whole host of other issues.
"What has been gratifying is the fact that the economy now is starting to stabilize and grow again," he continued, "and what's been satisfying is seeing how resilient the American people are. As much as you said it's been tough for me, the truth is, it's not tough for me. ... You think about what the American people have gone through, losing jobs, seeing their home values go down, their 401Ks declining ... I don't spend a lot of time worrying about me. I spend a lot of time worrying about them."
But given the even harder question of why he agreed to appear on "The View" again in the wake of harsh criticism from the pundits on the right who slammed the decision as trivial in light of the serious issues facing the country, he joked, "We're trying to find a show that [first lady] Michelle actually watched. This is it right here."
While he's juggling so many major crises, the president still makes time to stay on top of what's going on outside the Beltway. He answered questions about fighting to hold on to his Blackberry — saying the 10 people who have his e-mail address are very careful not to send the "real juicy stuff" to it — but danced around a query about whether troubled actor Mel Gibson should undergo anger-management counseling. He quipped that he'd rather talk about the war in Afghanistan than the "Lethal Weapon" star's racist, sexist diatribes on the now-infamous recordings. "I haven't seen a Mel Gibson movie in a while," he answered, admitting that he was aware Lindsay Lohan was in jail, but couldn't recall how he found out.
Asked if "Jersey Shore" breakout star Snooki should run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, the president admitted, "I don't know who Snooki is," revealing that he does occasionally use Twitter, but not on a regular basis. "Some 20-year-old is doing a lot of the tweeting [for me]," he explained.
As for the inevitable question about what's on his iPod, the president once again copped to being a Jay-Z fan, saying he has songs by Jigga and Frank Sinatra, as well as opera legend Maria Callas, but, alas, no Justin Bieber. "I do not have Justin Bieber," he said, adding, "I have met Justin Bieber. He came to sing at the White House ... he's a very nice young man."
With former first daughter Chelsea Clinton's wedding coming up this weekend, the president clarified that he was not invited, but that there were no hard feelings. "I am not going," he said. "It's tough enough having one president at a wedding — you don't want two presidents!"
Obama said that, as he expects to do for his daughters, Sasha and Malia — who, he added, thankfully have not had any boys calling on them at the White House yet — he suspects the former president and first lady are trying to keep Chelsea's wedding a family affair and not distract from her big day.
"Ya'll will not be invited to Malia and Sasha's weddings," he joked afterwards to the show's panel.
What did you think of President Obama's appearance on "The View"? Let us know in the comments below!