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You may remember that the then-candidate Al Gore (search) refused to appear on this program during his presidential run while the then-candidate Bush did appear.

I've always maintained that Mr. Gore made a major mistake because the perception of him was that he couldn't handle tough questions. And by avoiding aggressive Q & A, he reinforced his image as a slippery kind of guy.

Well, this time around, we've invited all the major Democratic candidates in for a chat far in advance of the primaries. And most of them have kindly agreed. We've done extensive policy interviews with Senators Lieberman and Edwards. Al Sharpton was on last night. John Kerry and Richard Gephardt have promised to come in soon.

The only candidate we sought who told us to stuff it is Governor Howard Dean, who showed up on Larry King last night. Unfortunately, few watch that program. Ratings were very low.

Dean is the current darling of the elite media, getting news magazine covers and mostly favorable attention in the print press, but his refusal to enter the no-spin zone is interesting because you'd figure the guy would want to raise his profile. And this program is by far the most watched news forum in American primetime TV with a very diverse audience, according to the research.

Governor Dean is an interesting guy. He's running on a McGovern anti-war platform, but the National Rifle Association loves him. He doesn't like taxes and gave corporations big tax breaks to relocate to Vermont. On the other hand, he wants universal healthcare paid for by the government and provided advice to Hillary Clinton's disastrous foray into the healthcare arena.

So it's tough to put this guy in a category, even though he's now the darling of the far left. As you may know, I'm not big on politicians who run away from questions. We treat everybody who's honest with respect on this program, which is why we get 90 percent of the people we want to have on.

Now Dean got hammered by Tim Russert on NBC, which maybe why he's avoiding the tough venues, but that's no excuse. If you can't play with the big boys, you don't deserve to be one.

So we are not impressed with the hype surrounding Governor Dean, even though we love his state. We'll let you know if he wises up.

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Another sign that the FOX News Channel is breaking through all over the country: In Tunnel Hill, Georgia, 73-year-old Bob Spratlin has rented a billboard that says, "Thank God for the FOX News Channel."

We, of course, appreciate the sentiment and the investment of good folks like Bob.

What's interesting about our success is that the elite media hates us, but millions of regular folks down there in Georgia and everywhere else loves us. Ridiculous? Depends which side you're on.

--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com