Well, the Clooney-O'Reilly standoff is getting kind of old, but it has heated up again and spotlights a more important issue.  That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

Melissa Robison, who lives in Antelope, California, writes, "Bill, just saw Clooney on the Letterman show.  You should sue him."

We received hundreds of letters about Clooney's statements on Letterman and The Today Show.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN," CBS)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST:  What's the deal with that guy from Fox, the Bill O'Reilly guy?  Why is he --

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR:  The Black Irish?

LETTERMAN:  Yes.

CLOONEY:  The Black Irishman.  I don't know, I don't really want to help that guy out at all.

LETTERMAN:  OK.

CLOONEY:  He just makes up stories.

LETTERMAN:  All right.

CLOONEY:  Makes up stories and hurts people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS, THE TODAY SHOW, NBC)

CLOONEY:  Less money is being collected because he asked the wrong people and ran a story that was three weeks old.  The last time he talked to anybody was October 9 at United Way, when we had raised $150 million.  By the time he ran the story on October 31, we'd raised $266 million.  It would have helped his story to say $266 million, but he didn't do it.

All of his facts were wrong or three weeks old, in a six-week-old story.

There is a responsibility, you know, to be a good citizen.  But you can't run into a -- you know, a crowded theater with no sign of smoke at all, and start screaming, Is there a fire in here?  That's not being a good citizen.

KATIE COURIC, HOST:  That's what you think Bill O'Reilly has done.

CLOONEY:  That is exactly what he's done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY:  Now, the larger question is, why did Mr. Letterman and Miss Couric allow Mr. Clooney to go unchallenged when his facts are simply wrong?  I mean, it's outrageous.

You may remember that Matt Lauer was pretty tough on me when I did The Today Show, and that was fine.  Tony Przytula from Oak Forest, Illinois, may have the answer for us.  "Mr. O'Reilly, George Clooney went unchallenged on both programs.  It was typical elite media garbage, coordinated, rehearsed, and one-sided.  Without your efforts, Bill, much less money would be going to the families.  You're being attacked because you had the guts to hold some powerful people accountable."

Well, I think, you know, to be self-serving, Tony's analysis is a good one.  I've always said the powerful protect each other.  Everything we have reported on The Factor has been true, everything.  We haven't had to make one retraction of fact in five years that we've been on the air.

The problem with the powerful protecting each other is that you often don't get the truth.  Miss Couric could have easily asked George Clooney about the Red Cross reversal, for example.  That meant an extra $250 million to the 9/11 families.  Everybody knows The Factor led the way in that reversal.  It's a matter of congressional record.  Yet Mr. Letterman and Miss Couric didn't even bring it up.

Not fair, not right.  Happens all the time.

Now, I really don't want to talk about George Clooney any more.  I have nothing against him personally, but I feel he's a hopeless case vis-a-vis the charity issue.  As Jack Nicholson once said in the movies, "You can't handle the truth."

But the larger issue of the powerful protecting each other is one that's hurting America.  What happened to the Marc Rich investigation?  How about the vote-buying investigation centering around Senator Clinton?  What happened in the Wen Ho Lee case?  Why is security still terrible at America's nuclear weapons facilities?

There are scores of other things that all of us should know that are being kept from us.  Both parties are guilty of this and it's been going on for years, with the help of a timid and sometimes corrupt media.

The charity scandal in this country is enormous, it's huge, but nothing's going to be done about it.  After all, it's your money, not theirs, so the powerful simply don't care.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." 

Matt Drudge is reporting the town of Kensington, Maryland, has banned Santa Claus from the Christmas tree lighting ceremony there.  In the past, Santa arrived on a fire truck, to the delight of the town's children.

But this year, two families complained.  And the City Council said Santa made them uncomfortable.  Well, dopey complaints make me uncomfortable, but they have to be tolerated in a free society.  Apparently Kensington, Maryland is not part of that free society.  And Santa Claus is persona non grata, which of course is ridiculous.

 — You can watch Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET.  And send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com