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


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

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Tommy V February 05 2014 at 4:26 PM

Politicians simply are the best people to make jokes about. They can never say a simple yes, or no dude. They ALL exagerate the lie. It's unbelievable some of the things they expect us to believe.

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Mary February 06 2014 at 11:09 AM

who keeps these numbers and what is the salary for that job?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
rademps February 06 2014 at 11:20 AM

Talented delivery and talented writer(s).

Flag Reply +5 rate up
gary maletta February 05 2014 at 5:31 PM

That is what comedians do. That is why they are called comics and they have a no hold bars attitude toward anybody that sets themselves up

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1 reply
starpiep gary maletta February 05 2014 at 5:40 PM

Leno was less than funny.

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1 reply
Cliff Robinson starpiep February 06 2014 at 2:23 AM

To you, perhaps. But to the majority of people with a sense of humor and at leasr good English comprehension, he wa more than funny-------he was and is hilarious!

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BILLIE-BABY February 05 2014 at 5:27 PM


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Hollywood February 05 2014 at 5:24 PM

Someone kept a count? Really?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
stan1725 February 06 2014 at 11:23 AM

Through all the years that Leno has done the tonight show in my opinion he could never come close to Carson's level of entertainment, however a couple of years ago I began watching him more often and noted he had his own unique way of making people laugh. I wish now that I had paid more attention early on. I came to realize there will never be another Carson, likewise there will never be another Leno. I'm not particularly excited about his replacement. Fallon has some pretty big shoes to fill. Good job Jay.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
rubadub894 February 05 2014 at 5:21 PM

I just cannot stay up taht late anymore. Good luck to all . Oh! I know . Record it.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
paf4 February 05 2014 at 5:21 PM

I thought NBC was stupid the first time they fired Jay Leno, now they're just double stupid.
Jay Leno is a master at what he does. He's funny, extremely likeable and never cruel in his comedy.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
TOM HASSELL February 05 2014 at 5:33 PM


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1 reply
filliperogers TOM HASSELL February 05 2014 at 5:58 PM

and his sidekick Ed machman. I know the name is spelled wrong.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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