‘If we were more like Jay Leno, America would be a better place’: Glenn reacts to Jay Leno’s farewell

Last night, Jay Leno bid an emotional farewell to The Tonight Show after 22 years of hosting the program. Late night host Jimmy Fallon will replace Leno, who enjoyed tremendous ratings success right up until the end. On radio this morning, Glenn played Leno’s hearfelt goodbye and recalled his own appearance on The Tonight Show.

“Here is a guy who has hung out with presidents. He has hung out with everybody. He met them and that's neat,” Glenn said. “Who in television talks about the audio guy? Who in television talks about the lighting guy? Who in television talks about the cameramen? Nobody. He is a good, good man… Class act.”

Glenn made his first and only appearance on The Tonight Show in December 2009, while he was promoting his bestselling book the Christmas Sweater. He shared his experience this morning:

When we first went to The Tonight Show, it was at the zenith of things… The Tonight Show had been trying to get us on for a long time, and I avoid those things like the plague. I'm not interested in them… [But] we were on our way to go see the Andy Williams Show, and I said while we're in Los Angeles, let's just do The Tonight Show too. But we said we want to make it all about Christmas. We don't want to talk about why the president is a racist or anything like that. We just want to talk about Christmas. And so they agreed to it.

So we fly out, and I'm sitting backstage. I still have my little plaque. They put a little plaque on your door in the back that says, you know, ‘Glenn Beck, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.’ And so I go backstage, and Jay comes in just to say hi real quick. He was nice but it was weird. When we walked out on the set, I could feel the disapproval from the producers. Not from the average everyday person, but just from the higher-ups… And pretty soon this producer comes in that we had trusted and he closes the door, and he's like, ‘Um, they're putting stuff into the questions now for Jay’… We wanted to deal with Christmas. They were getting into politics and the typical questions that everybody had asked me a million times. And I said, ‘Go tell the producer to come in.’ So he came in along with Jay… I said, ‘I'm going to answer [those questions] exactly the same way I've answered them every time. There's no new ground. ‘And Jay said, ‘Glenn, if I have you on, it's going to look weird that I don't ask you those questions.’ I just looked at him and I said, ‘Well, I guess you guys don't keep your word. So thanks very much.’ And I looked at one of the guys and said, ‘Call the pilots. Tell them to fire up the engines. We'll be in the airport in 20 minutes. And let's go see the Andy Williams Christmas show.’ And I started moving towards the door. And that's when everybody freaked out and they were like, ‘Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay.’

So when Jay Leno was introducing me, I could see the prompter… It said, ‘Oh, I see there's some boos and some controversy here.’ There was none. I got three standing ovations. And there was no controversy, but the writers had put it into the script, into the teleprompter for him to say that…. So he says that, so I'm like, okay, let's see if this man is a man of his word. I sit down. And [it] goes fine.

But at one point… we're going into break… and the crowd stands up. They're applauding, and Jay reaches over and he puts his hand on my microphone and his microphone while the crowd is really going crazy 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.’

So the show ends. Jay is a man of his word. A year later, I'm flying out to Los Angeles. And it's my birthday. I'm supposed to be working on my birthday, and you know, we have nothing planned… it’s just another day. But unbeknownst to me, my wife called Jay Leno and says, ‘Jay, it's Glenn's birthday and he really wants to see your car collection. Is there any way he could just go in and see your car collection?’ Not assuming that Jay Leno is going to, you know, be there… And he says, ‘Absolutely.’

And so, as we're landing in Burbank, she says, ‘By the way, we're going to go over and see Jay Leno's car collection.’ And I'm really excited just to see the cars. The car pulls up, and Jay is there at the warehouse out front ready to meet us. And we get out and he is totally a different guy… I'm not talking politically. He's just now a guy who's a mechanic. He's just a normal guy. And we talked for a few minutes and I said, ‘Jay, you're not the same guy I saw on The Tonight Show.’ And he said, ‘That's the role I play.’

Now he's just a guy who's hanging out, and he's not Jay Leno. There's Jay Leno and then there's a guy named Jay. He walks us around, and he stops at one point and he's asking me what I think about Sarah Palin. I tell him. And he turns to me and he said, ‘Can I ask you a question? When did we become this country where if you vote different than me, I have to hate you?’ And I said, ‘I don't know, Jay, but it's wrong.’ And he said, ‘I know it is.’

Leno’s legacy may be his comedy and his public persona, but Glenn got the opportunity to meet and speak with a “really good, cool guy” that “we need to be more like.”

“If we were more like Jay Leno, if we would have talked less about his monologue and more about how he lived his life and who he really is as a person, I think America would be a better place,” Glenn concluded. “It is a really bittersweet day… Jay Leno is going to go on and do many, many great things. I wish he'd 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. Good man.”

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!