"I don't think the administration understands how angry people are out here," liberal columnist David Sirota said.
The president defended his moves while speaking in California.
"Somebody was saying the other -- today, I think -- that I shouldn't be on 'Leno.' [That] I can't handle that and the economy at the same time," Obama said, chuckling.
As for AIG, he continued the firm language, but tried to channel the outrage into support for his economic plans.
"We cannot allow what happened at AIG to ever happen again in this country," Obama said this afternoon at a town hall meeting in Los Angeles. "I know a lot of you are outraged about this. I'm outraged, too. The idea that some of the very people who drove our economy into the ground could accept bonuses with one hand while they were taking taxpayer money with the other goes against our most basic sense of what is fair and what is right.
"We also want to do this because it serves the most important goal we have today, which is to rebuild our economy in a way that is consistent with our values -- an economy that rewards hard work and responsibility, not high-flying finance schemes; an economy that is built on a strong foundation, not one that's propelled by overheated housing markets and maxed-out credit cards. That's how we'll bring about a recovery that endures."