Bill O’Reilly and Jay Leno covered a lot of ground when the Fox News personality appeared on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday night on NBC.
In a wide-ranging conversation, the star of “The O’Reilly Factor” handicapped the Republican presidential race, clarified comments he made recently about Whitney Houston and Ellen DeGeneres, and accepted Leno’s praise for his comedic guest shot last weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”
O’Reilly, 62, was on the show to promote his most recent book, “Killing Lincoln,” about the final weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s life and, of course, his subsequent assassination. O’Reilly disclosed that a movie based on the book is in the works. And he said his next assassination book — about President Kennedy’s final weeks — would be out in October.
With the 20th Republican debate due to take place Wednesday night (Feb. 22) on CNN (8 p.m./7c from Mesa, Ariz.), Leno got the conversation started by asking O’Reilly what he thinks of Rick Santorum’s rise in the Republican race and what it means for frontrunner Mitt Romney.
“The debate tomorrow night’s really going to be important for Romney,” O’Reilly said. “He’s gotta do very well. If he doesn’t and he loses Michigan, then all bets are off for him.” The Michigan primary is next Tuesday (Feb. 28). It’s a state where Romney’s father was once governor, which means he’s expected to win it.
O’Reilly also said he feels the U.S. economy is still in the doldrums, despite the recent strength of the stock markets. To him, that only means “the rich guys are getting richer [and] the regular folks are getting hosed,” he told Leno.
In another portion of their conversation, O’Reilly once again brought up the subject of Whitney Houston’s death and reiterated his view that the mainstream media didn’t do enough to emphasize her history of drug abuse which likely contributed or caused her death earlier this month. This was a topic O’Reilly took up in a series of TV appearances last week.
Leno praised O’Reilly for the stance O’Reilly took recently when he stuck up for Ellen DeGeneres when she was the subject of a protest campaign launched by people who objected to her acting as a spokesperson for J.C. Penney because she’s gay. O’Reilly bashed the protesters on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
And when Leno asked him about last weekend’s “SNL” appearance — in which O’Reilly turned up in a riotous talk-show spoof — O’Reilly feigned modesty about his “performance,” although you could tell he was very pleased with how it went.