Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thank you for watching us tonight.

Some very bizarre things going on in the war.  We'll have that in a moment.

But first we have some very good news to report this evening, as the United Way has reversed itself and is now going to give millions directly to the 9/11 families instead of going through other agencies.  That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

First of all, this is a no gloating zone as well as a no spin zone, so we want to congratulate the United Way for helping the families in time for Christmas.  At a press conference this morning, the United Way's September 11 Fund announced it would immediately allocate $75 million in a cash assistance program that would go directly to the 9/11 families.

That means each family that lost someone in the terror attacks will get $10,000 before the end of the year, and thousands of other Americans who lost their jobs will get $2,500.

The star attraction at that press conference was our pay George Clooney, and of course my name came up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Would you say that this very public dialogue between you and Mr. O'Reilly became a distraction, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR:  Do you work for Fox?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  No, I don't.

CLOONEY:  I don't know what the-- whether it is or not.  My feeling was to merely defend a fund that we're all very proud of.  And at some point, you do have to step up and say that you can't just make up facts, and that the truth is that this fund is operating very well.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O'REILLY:  Now, I've always felt that Mr. Clooney was well intentioned, but I don't believe he grasps the big picture here.  All the facts we've reported on The Factor have been accurate, every one of them.  And the pressure have brought to bear on the charities has paid off for the families.  That's obvious.

The Red Cross turned around fairly quickly, releasing $275 million they had log-jammed to the families after its president was scorched here on The Factor.  But the United Way took three months to turn around.

The problem here is not ill intent, it is a bloated bureaucracy.  Both the Red  Cross and the United Way are enormous organizations that are not used to moving with urgency.

But there's also another problem in play, and Mr. Clooney epitomizes it, epitomizes it.  Once again, I think he's sincere in wanting to help people, but he does not want somebody like me holding him accountable for anything, and he's more than willing to believe what the United Way is telling him without independent verification.

Simply put, holding the powerful in America accountable is what we do here.  And many powerful people just don't like it.

I take no pleasure in hammering the United Way or the Red Cross, but it had to be done.  And now we applaud those organizations for using their power to help the people who are suffering greatly.

Finally, Talking Points would like to thank Factor viewers, you.  One of the reasons that the Red Cross and the United Way turned around was they knew you didn't like what was going on.  They knew their fund raising was going to be hurt in the future.  So you guys used your power as well, and it worked.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

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

Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera is being accused of making life difficult because Geraldo is carrying a gun in Afghanistan?  Former CNN correspondent Peter Arnett believes packing heat is not the right thing to do -- it might intimidate news sources.

Having been to some dangerous places in my time, I find Peter's argument to be ridiculous.  If you might get killed, carry a gun to protect yourself.  Rivera is right to carry, but he should have kept quiet about it.

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