Heeeeeeere's Barack Obama!

03/19/2009 at 09:00 PM EDT

Heeeeeeere's Barack Obama!
President Obama (left) and Jay Leno
Margaret Norton/NBC; Dave Bjerke/NBC
Loaded with one-liners, President Barack Obama visited the Tonight Show on Thursday night and likened his new job to competing on a reality show: "I do think in Washington, it's a little bit like American Idol. But everybody is Simon Cowell."

The appearance by the First Guest provided Jay Leno with what he called "the most exciting show of my life" – and fodder for jokes and banter. "A lot of people were surprised that the president came to NBC," said Leno. "You'd think by this time, he'd be tired of big companies on the brink of disaster."

Obama, dressed in a dark blue suit with a red tie flipped up the tails of jacket when he sat down, then crossed his legs and talked about the perks of the office, starting with his new mode of transportation.

"How cool is it to fly in Air Force One?" asked Leno.

"I personally think it's pretty cool, because they give you the jacket with your name there," he said. But for his daughters, he said, what's cool is what's in a cabinet in the presidential helicopter. "Our first time on Marine One and the Marines are saluting us as we board and Sasha looks over and says, 'Are those Starbursts?' "

Critics Not Amused

Some critics, including at least two GOP senators and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, questioned whether the President should have taken the time to appear with Leno when the economy is in crisis. Obama countered that he is able to do two things at the same time.

As for sports on Pennsylvania Avenue, Obama revealed that he recently bowled 129 – "I've been practicing" – and still enjoys the occasional game of pick-up basketball with aides.

"When they play, do they throw the game?" Leno asked.

After a long comic pause, Obama said, "I don't see why they would throw the game except for all those Secret Service guys with guns around them."

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