Eliot Spitzer was Jay Leno‘s guest on “The Tonight Show” on Friday (July 12). There, Leno got to ask Spitzer the question everyone wants to ask every disgraced politician: “How could you be this stupid?”

Spitzer, to his credit, didn’t squirm any more than necessary when answering.

The politician, who has suddenly entered the race for New York Controller (only a few days before the election), was once the governor of New York state. His fall from grace came in 2008, when it came out that Spitzer had been a regular client of an escort company, Emperors Club VIP.

Since then, Spitzer has appeared as a political commentator on cable networks. But it’s this return to politics that gave Leno the opportunity to question the former governor’s stupidity.

“Here’s my question,” Leno asked Spitzer in the interview. “You’re a brilliant guy. You’re someone I always admit — you got the mob in New York, you’re the guy that brought down Wall Street and the banks. How could you be this stupid?”

Spitzer grinned and nodded at the question, obviously expecting he would have to answer something like this.

“When I used to speak about corporate governance back when I was, you know, the Attorney General and stuff,” Spitzer explained. “There was a phrase that I used that was ‘Hubris is terminal.’ People who fall prey to hubris end up failing themselves. And I that I think is something to which people in government are susceptible. Those who feel they are somehow increasingly important to power … And this is something that I think infected me. And the fall from grace is incredibly painful.”

If this is the kind of answer Eliot Spitzer has to give, he might just do all right in his return to politics.

Posted by:Laurel Brown