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Bill Clinton was Jay Leno's top 'Tonight' target



By DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) - For Jay Leno, Bill Clinton was the comic gift who kept giving. By one exhaustive count, the outgoing "Tonight" show host made 4,607 jokes at the former president's expense during his time on the program.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs catalogued nearly 44,000 jokes Leno made about political figures and celebrities at "Tonight" through Jan. 24. Leno is leaving "Tonight" after Thursday.

His first Clinton joke came on May 25, 1992, shortly after taking over from Johnny Carson and when Clinton was still a presidential candidate. "Clinton says that he's troubled by the amount of sex on television," Leno said. "He says that where he's from sex is a deeply personal thing between a candidate and his campaign volunteers."

"Leno jokes about powerful people and he jokes about scandals. Bill Clinton is both," said Robert Lichter, director of the Washington-area think tank and author of the upcoming book, "Politics is a Joke: How TV Comedians are Remaking Political Life."

How long has Leno been joking about Clinton? One popular topic was the politician's weight and penchant for fast food - now he's a lean vegetarian.

Not only is Clinton more than a thousand jokes ahead of the runnerup (George W. Bush, 3,239 jokes), Leno's top 10 targets also include Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

Leno's concentration on politics is evident in the list of his top 10 targets. They include seven people who served as president or vice president or ran for the presidency. And just outside the top 10 are John McCain, Mitt Romney and John Kerry.

Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian had a relatively low count of 37 jokes.

"Leno is an old reliable," Lichter said. "He's like an old shoe that fits and is comfortable. He was never trendy, he was never cutting edge. But he was a master of the one-liner."

Jay Leno's top targets for jokes during his time at the "Tonight" show, through Jan. 24, as compiled by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

1. Bill Clinton - 4,607 jokes.

2. George W. Bush - 3,239 jokes.

3. Al Gore - 1,026 jokes.

4. Barack Obama - 1,011 jokes.

5. Hillary Clinton - 939 jokes.

6. O.J. Simpson - 795 jokes.

7. Dick Cheney - 673 jokes.

8. Michael Jackson - 505 jokes.

9. Monica Lewinsky - 454 jokes.

10. Bob Dole - 452 jokes.

Join the discussion

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satini123 February 06 2014 at 2:38 AM

Jay Leno, is the number one late night talk show host and comedian, he will be missed. No one else compares with his unique wit. Mr. Lenos classy gentlemanly manner is beyond the realm of wannabe hosts of The Tonight Show. Best wishes and God speed in your future endeavors.

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1 reply
wylecote satini123 February 06 2014 at 2:49 AM

"his unique wit" what about the team of writers that wrote all those jokes.

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Charlene February 05 2014 at 10:18 PM

LOL. Good for you Jay.

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jerryb182 February 05 2014 at 4:29 PM

Jay is great BUT then isin't it always funny to laugh at people in power or of high stature.. As a kid I always found it funny to see the man in a business suit slip on a banna peel. Guess Its just human nature to laugh when the BIG GUYS fail

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s February 05 2014 at 4:30 PM

Bob Hope and Jack Benny were the true masters of the one liner.

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2 replies
BANDIT BILL s February 05 2014 at 4:40 PM

They weren't talk show hosts.

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1 reply
s BANDIT BILL February 05 2014 at 4:42 PM

I didn t say they were. But both were better than Leno.

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BANDIT BILL s February 05 2014 at 6:30 PM

Then Rodney Dangerfield has no equal.

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roadwarrior1700 February 05 2014 at 9:35 PM

Jokes are a comedians loaded gun, I don't think he told enough jokes about politicians, There still here..!! LOL

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ka4jnb February 05 2014 at 4:36 PM

Johnny was and will always be my favorite, and how I do miss him. Jay has his own originbut that is just ytoo much of a streachality, (Jay-walking comes to mind), but his awareness of not just the political scene but his take on the world scene has been refreshing and astute.

I will try to miss him as much as I missed Johnny, but at my age that would just be too much strain on mhy sstem, not to be risked. Goodbye, Jay

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dhendr3229 February 05 2014 at 8:32 PM

I would be willing to bet Leno ends up somewhere else doing the same type of show. Just can't Fallon making this time frame work.....

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2 replies
dhendr3229 dhendr3229 February 05 2014 at 8:33 PM

redo: Just can't see Fallon making this earlier time slot work....

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mrjabre dhendr3229 February 05 2014 at 10:37 PM

But???? He not funny unless you like his donkey laugh. Maybe he could do a show about his cars or life? Probally, he should thank God for the gift, enjoy life and not let us have to see him again on TV!!!

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jay.jay95 February 05 2014 at 8:13 PM

fallon and jay are both funny

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rpwr111 February 05 2014 at 4:46 PM

it's a shame leno been replaced on the tonight show. he was funny and was great with the guess .
he's replacement got huge shoes to fill.

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1 reply
Kay rpwr111 February 05 2014 at 4:54 PM

His replacement will NEVER fill Jay's shoes! No one can. Jay is a master of his craft juat as Johnny was. So few of them around anymore. Too many losers on late night TV.

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madcardina February 05 2014 at 4:47 PM

Johnny Carson has no equal, but Jay is #2 on the list. It's always nice to leave rated #1 in the Late Show ratings as both Johnny and jay have done.

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1 reply
JAMAICA JOE madcardina February 05 2014 at 4:56 PM

You evidently have not known of George Burns or Milton Bhurle or bob hope! Lucy Arnez is in a league of her own.

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1 reply
bambi4318.barbara JAMAICA JOE February 05 2014 at 5:51 PM

Yes but they never emceed the Tonight Show, you are mixing apples and oranges.

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