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Myth Watch

June 10, 2007|David Colker

The myth: A Jay Leno essay, widely distributed online, calls Americans "the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen." It goes on to praise President Bush, blame the media for wallowing in bad news and urge citizens to thank "the good Lord we live here."

The truth: The essay is real, but it's not by Leno. It was written last year by businessman and conservative commentator Craig R. Smith.

How it happened: According to the urban myth guide at Snopes.com, the original commentary ended with quotes from B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine. But somewhere along the way, as the essay got passed around the Internet, the Forbes quotes were dropped and a few lines from a 2005 monologue by Leno were substituted. The Leno quip mentioned several recent natural disasters, the avian flu and other maladies and then asked, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?" (Insert laugh.) It was only a matter of time, as the commentary kept popping up on blogs and in mass e-mails, before Leno was credited with the whole essay and Smith's name was dropped.

More info: www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/hitnail.asp

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-- David Colker

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