Speed Reads

last night on late night

John Boehner dubs Mitch McConnell 'Stealth Vader,' still thinks Ted Cruz is 'Lucifer in the flesh'

Former House Speaker John Boehner is making the rounds to promote his candid, folksy Washington memoir, On the House, and on Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert asked him for a lightning-round assessment of 10 prominent politicians. Boehner had nice or mostly nice things to say about most of them, Democrat and Republican, with one big exception. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), he said, is "Lucifer in the flesh, the most miserable son of a bitch I ever had to deal with."

Former President Bill Clinton is the "best political I ever met," Boehner said, while current President Biden is a "good guy, really good guy, 30 years I've known him, there's nothing we couldn't work out." Former President George W. Bush is a good friend, he added.

Some of Boehner's assessments were a little ambivalent. Former President Barack Obama, for example, is "not quite my cup of tea, but we got along well." For Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), he had only two words: "Stealth Vader."

Boehner's description of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as "one of the funniest people you'll ever meet in your life" drew Colbert up short, though. "Can you explain Lindsey Graham?" he asked. "Can you explain what the hell happened to him? He's baffling even to people who voted for him." "Well, Lindsey, you know, he can move a little right, move a little left," Boehner said. "He's a pretty good dancer, but he really is one of the funniest people I've ever met."

Earlier on the show, Boehner elaborated on why he holds Cruz in such contempt, explaining that he would come over from the Senate and rile up the House GOP "knuckleheads" into doing stupid things like shutting down the government. "Ted Cruz was the mastermind behind this plan, and so he's really the only person in the book I really take to task — and I take him to task," he said.

Boehner also told Colbert the two things he learned about politics from growing up working in his father's bar. "The first thing you have to learn is the art of being able to disagree without being disagreeable," he said. "Second lesson is you have to learn to deal with every jackass who walks in the door. Trust me, these are the two skills that helped me most when I was speaker of the House." Watch below. Peter Weber