Glenn Beck on Friday paid tribute to Jay Leno, who made his final exit from NBC's "The Tonight Show" on Thursday after 22 years.
"He's made us a better America," Beck said simply. "He really has."
Beck played audio from Leno's farewell monologue, where the comedian praised those he has worked with over the years, saying they came to be his family.
"Here is a guy who has hung out with presidents," Beck said. "He has hung out with everybody ... but the people -- who talks about the audio guy? Who, in television, talks about the lighting guy? Who, in television, talks about the cameramen? Nobody."
Beck said Americans typically only see Leno as a comedian, but fail to see that "he is really truly one of the true good guys in our society."
This Aug. 6, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama talking with Jay Leno during a commercial break during the taping of his appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in Los Angeles. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Beck proceeded to tell the story from his first time on "The Tonight Show," where the writers tried to "sandbag" him with political questions, even writing in "boos" to the teleprompter. Beck made it clear at the outset that if he were to appear, he only wanted to discuss his book "The Christmas Sweater" and other Christmas-related topics, but the producers attempted to change things at the last minute.
Beck said he was ready for anything when the show began, and was just "waiting" to see if Leno would be a man of his word and not make it a controversial political interview. Leno ended up not only being a man of his word, but a man Beck grew to profoundly respect.
"The crowd stands and up they're applauding, and Jay reaches over and he puts his hand on my microphone," Beck recalled. "And he said, 'You know, we're not all that different.' He didn't say he agrees with me politically, because I don't think he does. But he said, 'We're really not all that different. We actually probably have an awful lot in common.' And I thought, 'Well, there's something.'"
Beck got to know Leno even better when his wife arranged for him to see Leno's car collection for his birthday, and Leno ended up giving them a personal tour.
To this day, Beck said he isn't sure whether Leno was lecturing him or commiserating with him, but he said something that left an impact.
"He said, 'When did we become this country where if you vote different than me, I have to hate you?'" Beck recalled. "And I said, 'I don't know, Jay, but it's wrong.' And he said, 'I know it is. And if we lose this, we're -- we're in real trouble.'"
"He may have been lecturing me, I don't know," Beck said. "He may have been teaching me. He may have been commiserating with me ... I don't know. He was so soft spoken, and so kind about it."
Beck said that "Jay Leno is going to go on and do many, many great things," jokingly adding that he wishes Leno would "do them with TheBlaze, but I don't think that's in the cards."
"In a sea of filth and anger and everything else, Jay Leno tried to show us every night you don't have to be that way. We can be better," Beck concluded. "Good man."
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