By Ken Tucker
Updated April 27, 2010 at 01:41 PM EDT

The Late Show

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“He’s a complete boob — he can’t help himself,” said David Letterman about his old pal Jay Leno on The Late Show last night. As for the criticism and ridicule Leno has been subjected to since regaining The Tonight Show, Letterman said flatly, “He got what he deserved.”

What happened to that Super Bowl peace agreement?

Last night on The Late Show, guest Dr. Phil was expatiating upon the rocky shoals of emotional upheavals, and he mentioned “the late night wars.” David Letterman was immediately off and running, doing his own rapid psychoanalysis of Leno:

Letterman clearly views Leno as someone who wants to be liked by everyone (unlike Dave, and thus, to play reverse-psychologist, one reason why Letterman is both the more interesting public figure and why he can’t, over the long haul, draw more viewers than Leno with his man-of-the-people image).

“I’ve known Jay since 1975,” said Letterman. “Everybody loved Jay because he’s so funny, you can’t not like him. But then there’s also this other side of him, and I think he’d own up to it, that he’s just a complete boob. He can’t help himself.” Letterman says once all the Conan-Leno stuff went down, he and his comedian pals “were all able to say, ‘Oh, there‘s the Jay we remember.'”

In other words, Letterman’s saying that even back in the struggling nightclub days, Leno was a schemer. Which is different from being ambitious.

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