Claim: Essay by comedian David Letterman (or Jay Leno) urges Americans to focus on the positive.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, March 2007]
JAY LENO... "HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD"
The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right?
The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change.
So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?''
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?
We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.
With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"
In early 2008 the following preface was added to the example quoted above:
Jay Leno on President Bush (Surprising)
Jay Leno wrote this; it's the Jay Leno we don't often see....
As most of you know I am not a President Bush fan, nor have I ever been, but this is not about Bush, it is about us, as Americans, and it seems to hit the mark,
In mid-2008 the attribution changed from Jay Leno to David Letterman:
David Letterman wrote this; it's the David we don't often see....
Origins: In September 2005, the U.S. was still reeling from the physical, emotional, and political fallout of Hurricane Katrina (and several other recent severe storms), and national debate was ongoing about the Pledge of Allegiance and the appropriateness of its reference to the U.S. as one nation "under God." That month, comedian Jay Leno riffed on the emotional climate of America in one of his Tonight Show opening monologues:
As you know Hurricane Rita is headed toward Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Another hurricane! It's like the ninth hurricane this season. Maybe this is not a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.
A year later, Craig R. Smith penned the above-reproduced essay exhorting Americans to focus on the positive aspects of their country rather than the bad events that typically comprise our daily news fodder. By March 2007 the original had been altered through multiple e-mail forwards, with the closing paragraphs (which quoted B.C. Forbes) removed and a paraphrase of Jay Leno's joke (with misplaced quotation marks) appended to the end, creating the mistaken impression that the talk show host was the author of the entire piece (as evidenced by its new opening line, "Jay Leno hits the nail on the head ..."). However, only the last sentence originated with the lantern-jawed comedian; the rest is the work of someone else. Later revisions erroneously attributed the article to Leno's late-night competitor, David Letterman.