Sometimes having a high-interest politician, like a Sarah Palin or a President, on a program can substantially boost ratings. Back in 2008, Palin decided to appear on Saturday Night Live after Tina Fey had spoofed her for months and turned her into a pop culture phenom. More people tuned in to watch that episode of SNL than they had since Nancy Kerrigan appeared in 1994. A similar phenomenon occurred last night when President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

President Obama was in full form Tuesday evening, joking about Halloween at the White House and some trouble he’s had with the holiday’s handouts. The whole interview wasn’t one big joke, however. The President got serious about Gaddafi, and tactfully avoided specifics when asked about the GOP. Whether or not you agree with his policies, Obama is super likeable and an at-ease interview. It’s no wonder The Tonight Show posted a 4.1 in the ratings last night, kicking Letterman’s butt by a full third. According to Deadline, that’s 52 percent more than this season’s average. Not too shabby, especially since the lead-in was a rerun of the little-watched Prime Suspect.

If you missed the interview, there’s plenty of venues for you to check the Obamo/Leno dynamic out. Cinema Blend has several clips from yesterday’s interview available to view in Kelly’s post. Alternatively, you can catch the full episode at NBC.com.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. E.T. on NBC.

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