Obama took a break from governing and fundraising to sit for a conversation with the talk show host.
Asked by Leno for his reaction to the killing of ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Obama said "obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and the universal aspirations of people."
Leno told Obama he gets angry when people attack a president, whether a Democrat like Obama or a Republican like his predecessor George W. Bush.
"Look, I think the things that folks across the country are most fed up with, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, is putting party ahead of country or putting the next election ahead of the next generation," Obama said.
Leno asked Obama whether he has been watching the GOP presidential candidate debates.
"I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island before --," Obama quipped, referring to the reality TV show "Survivor." "Once they narrow it down to one or two, I'll start paying attention."
Before Obama came on stage, Leno joked to the crowd that "the guy outside patting everybody down before you came in to see the president, he's not Secret Service. He just hangs around here."
He also said the president was in Los Angeles raising money for "a huge disaster relief project."
"It's called NBC," he deadpanned.
Leno also took a shot at Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry during his monologue. He claimed when the Minnesota congresswoman heard Gadhafi had been shot twice in the temple she replied, "I didn't know he was Jewish." He then noted the Texas governor had recommended going to a flat tax. "He believes that the tax should be flat just like the Earth," Leno said.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the president "spends a lot of time talking about serious subjects" and "doesn't get enough opportunities to be lighthearted in the way you can be with Jay Leno." But even though Carney said Americans "get their information in a variety of ways," he declined to say whether Obama would grace the shows of Leno rivals Conan O'Brien and David Letterman.