Australian laments video of him eating -- ear wax

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (AP) -- Australia's opposition leader lamented his past behavior on Wednesday, as images of him picking his ear wax in Parliament reached a growing audience via the Internet.

The embarrassing footage was captured by Parliament's official television camera at least six years ago as Kevin Rudd, then a junior Labor Party lawmaker, sat in the House Representatives listening to a colleague question a government minister.

Rudd, who is likely to become Australia's prime minister next month, is seen in the background absent-mindedly probing his left ear before apparently placing the same finger in his mouth.

The footage has found it way on to YouTube and has attracted increasing attention in recent weeks as Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat, leads Prime Minister John Howard in opinion polls ahead of Nov. 24 elections.

Rudd was questioned by the media Wednesday about his behavior after the footage recently featured on U.S. national television on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

"I'm really pleased about that -- how did I go on Jay Leno?" Rudd said, laughing with sarcasm.

"All of us in public and private life I'm sure would wish our behavior to be more ideal," he told reporters, declining to comment further.

Rudd, who was elected Labor leader in December last year, has previously told journalists he was scratching his chin.

Posted by KO

The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.