Jimmy Fallon’s guest lineup tonight just got nuked thanks to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who stunned Washington and TV news networks this morning by dropping his bid to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House. The vote to replace Boehner, aka third in line for the White House, has been postponed, and shocked cable news network on-air talent broke into regularly scheduled programming to announce.
Just yesterday, NBC announced that the Tonight Show had booked Boehner for tonight’s broadcast. But with McCarthy’s stunning news, and the rules mandating the current speaker can’t give up the gavel until a new person is elected, Boehner’s status is now outgoing-ish. Today’s shocker would have made Boehner much stiffer competition for Stephen Colbert’s guests Dartmouth College Football Dummy, Cate Blanchett and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, and Jimmy Fallon’s Lena Dunham and Scandal star Darby Stanchfield. But, alas, it was not to be, as Boehner pulled the plug on his Tonight Show visit.
In a statement issued to reporters after McCarthy’s shocker, Boehner said he would serve as House Speaker until a new Speaker is elected, that they will announce that voting date at another time — seriously — and that he was confident when they did hold the vote they would announce a new House Speaker. Fallon would have had his work cut out for him tonight.
Boehner had been expected to use his Tonight Show appearance to deliver some iteration of the “everyone misspeaks sometimes” gag he’d been using this week to explain McCarthy’s recent boast that the Benghazi committee was set up to nuke Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. McCarthy had been running to replace Boehner on an “I’m not Boehner” platform, until he shot himself in the foot.
“I think I shocked some of you, huh?” McCarthy said this morning to in a hastily called news conference after throwing cable news networks into a tizzy when he pulled out of the race. “To unite we probably need a fresh face,” he said in quickly prepared comments that ended with him stumbling over some cliche about how this is the “best foot step,” or “step foot” or something foot-related. “I feel great about this decision,” he insisted, despite having said hours earlier he was in it to win it.
Asked by a reporter if his Benghazi comments last week played into today’s surprising switch of plans, McCarthy responded, “Well, that wasn’t helpful…yeah, I could have said it much better. The Benghazi committee was created for one reason: to find the truth for the families of the four Americans [killed]….I should not be a distraction.”