"Welcome to California, now under the division of Ringling Bros., ladies and gentlemen," Leno said as he welcomed the motley group to his 300-seat NBC studio for taping of the program.
Leno became a ringmaster of what some consider a political circus since Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) announced his candidacy during a "Tonight Show" appearance on Aug. 6. When 135 candidates qualified to seek Gov. Gray Davis' job, Leno invited them all to come to the show.
Leno said that looking out at the sea of candidates in the audience made him proud to be from Massachusetts.
He also gave each candidate 10 seconds to say what they would do to improve California.
The catch? All 90 candidates had to answer at the same time.
Leno poked fun at candidate Kurt Rightmyer, who identifies himself as a "middleweight sumo wrestler," saying that his platform was to cut out the fat from the budget so he can eat it.
One of the audience members was Bob Cullenbine, a Democratic candidate from Santa Clara, who came to the taping wearing a clown outfit. His business card read: "Absolutely as unqualified as the other clowns."
The show featured actor Robert Downey Jr., who said the recall was "a sick, pathetic circus" and then announced he was running.
Leno told Downey, who has had a string of drug-related legal problems, that he couldn't run because of "two words: convicted felon."