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

Well, it's been quite a year for us here on The Factor.  That's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

This is our last broadcast of the year.  Next week I will be imitating Rip Van Winkle, only awakening to greet Santa and eat a little plum pudding before heading off to church.  Believe me, if I don't atone on a weekly basis, I'm in big trouble.

As you may know, 2001 was the breakout year for The Factor.  We're now a dominant number one in cable news and a powerful force in America.  The No Spin Zone book remains at number one on The New York Times best-seller list, and the Fox News Channel is pulling ahead of CNN.

Question is, why?  The easy answer is, straight talk.  We are very clear about our analysis, and our debates usually sparkle.  Last night was a great example.  Congressman Barney Frank, who loathes me, actually agrees with me that President Bush should let Congress see documents about Mr. Clinton's fund raising tactics and FBI abuses in Boston.

DNC chief Terry McAuliffe gave us his take on the economy.  He's mostly wrong, but he had his say, much to the disgust of some of our conservative viewers who don't like to hear the other side.  Many liberals are like that, too.

Then Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan came into the No Spin Zone and debated me about the Afghan people.  He feels sorry for them.  I feel they should be more self-reliant and have to bear some responsibility for the Taliban.

And that's the way The Factor usually goes, lively verbal exchanges that don't waste your time.  This program provides information, heat, light, and fairness.

But what The Factor does best and what few others on TV do at all is watch the powerful.  We're not afraid of them.  And we believe you have a right to know what they are doing behind closed doors.

You simply would not believe all the powerful people who call Fox News upstairs, where the brass are, trying to get me toned down.  Happens all the time.  But you have to give the Fox brass credit.  They stand up and they don't interfere with what we do here.

So America now has an alternative to the lockstep presentations of the network news.  As Talking Points always says, we don't want you to agree with us, just consider our point of view and then make up your own mind.  But please keep an open mind.

Finally, it goes without saying that we appreciate you and want the best for you and your families.  We all live in a great country, and although life is generally hard, we have options here that few others have on earth.

This Christmas season we should think about those options and use them well.

It's been a great year for The Factor and we hope '02 is great for you.  Thanks again for putting us on the map.

And that's the memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

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

Writing in The Boston Herald, TV critic Mark Peraguard says this, "Anchor Bill O'Reilly hypes his indefensive America's special on Fox, talking about how he'd shoot Usama bin Laden on sight.  That's the quality we want in a newsman, vigilantism.  Imagine Walker Cronkite speaking that way."  Imagine.

We'll, here's a clue, Mr. Peraguard.  Mr. Cronkite was not a news analyst.  He was a news reader.  There is no vigilantism in war.  Capeesh?  My analysis is that it's best for the country, for bin Laden to be killed in action.

I know The Factor's quick and complicated for you, Mr. Peraguard, but try to keep up, because if you can't, it gets ridiculous.

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