Stephen Colbert almost gets Jeb Bush to say something nice about Obama

Jeb Bush enters the Ed Sullivan Theater for a taping of The Late Show
(Image credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert thanked Jeb Bush for being his first Republican candidate interview in a long while, and it looked like he meant it. Bush said he was honored to be there for Colbert's first Late Show, and it looked like he meant it, too. Colbert asked Bush why he wanted to be president, and Bush gave a pretty good and only slightly rote answer about fixing Washington and bringing civility back to politics.

Colbert asked if Bush really thought he could do that, and Bush said he would prove it by breaking a taboo. "I don't think Barack Obama has bad motives," Bush said, "I just think he's wrong." Colbert joked that Bush nearly had the audience clapping with the first half of his comment, but then said that Bush seems like a nice man and "there is a nonzero chance I will vote for you." He then asked Jeb! about the exclamation point at the end of his name on his campaign signs. "It connotes excitement," Bush said, getting a good, perhaps inadvertent, laugh.

Colbert was a little rushed with his questions, but he had time for one more. He set it up by pointing to his own brother in the audience and noting they don't agree on policy, then asking how Jeb and George W. Bush are different. Jeb started off by saying he is younger and better looking, but when Colbert steered it back to policy, Bush answered that his brother could have tamped down harder on spending with the GOP-led Congress.

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So George W. Bush "wasn't conservative enough?" Colbert asked. "On spending," Bush replied, arguing that George Bush didn't use his veto pen enough. "In Florida, I was known as Veto Corleone," Jeb said. Colbert shot back that in the Godfather movies, "you know he was an antihero, right?" And that was that. (Well, almost. Due to technical glitches, Bush had to tape his departure twice, notes Dave Itzkoff at The New York Times. "Before Mr. Bush taped his stage exit for a second time, Mr. Colbert told the studio audience, 'Sit down and get ready to fake another orgasm.'") You can watch all but that last part below. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.