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Knoller's numbers: President Obama's late-night TV appearances

WASHINGTON - Who is out of place on this list: Bette Midler, Jennifer Lopez, Liam Neeson, President Barack Obama, Sean Penn or Vince Vaughn? It's a trick question. They all belong -- as guests this week on the late-night talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

President Obama leaves the White House and heads West Thursday afternoon to tape his appearance on Kimmel. Doing the show will help the president amortize the political costs of his cross-country trip to help the Democratic National Committee. His second gig for the evening is a fundraising event after the talk show.

How much will taxpayers be reimbursed? We don't know because from Mr. Obama's first day in office, the White House has steadfastly refused to make public its calculations on the costs of political travel and the share of the trip's cost to be charged to the DNC. Previous presidents also refused to have their administrations disclose similar costs. But only President Obama has repeatedly claimed -- as recently as last Saturday, in an interview with CBS News' Bill Plante -- that his is the most transparent administration ever. "It's true," asserted Mr. Obama.

Just like the actors and rock stars who make the rounds of late night talk shows to plug their latest movie or record or book, the president has used his appearances to promote his policy agenda to an audience unlikely to see his speeches on middle class economics on C-SPAN or read about them in the New York Times.

It'll be Mr. Obama's first time as president on Kimmel -- he had planned to appear on the show last year but canceled. Thursday's appearance marks at least his tenth time on late night. Here's my tally of his late night appearances since taking office:

  • "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno": 3
  • "The Late Show with David Letterman": 2
  • "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart": 3
  • "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon": 1

Pres Obama has also made three appearances on "Oprah" and two on "The View."