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

Payback time for the Bush administration, that's the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.  We, the people, will pay almost $19 billion to rebuild Iraq over the next few months.  And construction bids are now being  accepted by the U.S. government.  Scores of countries are eligible to bid, but not France, Germany, Russia and Canada.

The Bush administration has decided that those countries worked against America in Iraq, and therefore are not entitled to profit.  Now many Americans will support this action, believing that these so-called friends turned on us in our time of need.

There's no question the Bush administration has made mistakes in Iraq, but the overall policy of removing a brutal dictator and giving democracy a chance in the Middle East is a worthy endeavor.  So you can disagree with the methods, but you should support the goal.  The Bush administration believes Canada, France, Germany and Russia do not support the goal.

But the most important question here is this one.  Is the payback policy good for America's future?  Will it hurt us down the road?  I believe the policy is a split decision.  France and Russia certainly do not deserve any consideration in  Iraq.  Both governments took money from Saddam and many believe they were bribed to oppose U.S. policy.  There's some evidence to support that belief.  And in the months to come, you will see it.

But Canada has already donated more than $100 million to help in the rebuilding Iraq.  And Germany has helped a lot in Afghanistan.  So I would allow those countries to bid on the projects.  Alienating them at this time seems counterproductive.

Russia and France have made it clear.  They will not help America stabilize Iraq.  So a clear message has to be sent back to Chirac and Putin.  Don't expect any favors from the USA.

However, President Bush should make every attempt to persuade other countries that we are not a vengeful nation and will embrace compromise.  Certainly Germany has done enough in the war on terror to get some slack here. 

Canada can't help us anyway.  They have no military to speak of.  And the socialistic system they have there has nearly bankrupted them.  So Chretien is history.  A new administration is upcoming.  We should be trying to work things out with Canada.

Talking Points admires accountability, but admires vision as well.  President Bush is not well liked overseas.  That's not good for us.  He should stick to his principles, but also embrace policies that will improve America's image abroad.  Payback is sometimes justified, but it's not only the wisest thing to do. 

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

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

The forces of darkness will not like this one.  Who's Looking Out for You, in the stores for three months now, returns to the number one spot on The New York Times bestseller list a week from Sunday.  Thank you all very much.

And we're closing in on Hillary Clinton for bestselling nonfiction book of the year.  This is another example of the power of the folks.  Unlike the senator's book, we don't have the DNC [Democratic National Committee] buying tens of thousands of copies of Who's Looking Out for You?  We just have you looking out for us.

And, apparently, that's enough.  A very nice Christmas present from you to me.  Not ridiculous at all.  Thank you very much again.

--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