One of the biggest topics in the debate last night was how the candidates have handled the illegal alien issue in the past. Governor Romney put forth that Mayor Giuliani presided over a sanctuary city in New York, that he ignored the problem. The mayor then accused the governor of running a sanctuary mansion because some illegal aliens had worked at Romney's Massachusetts home.

So here's the truth. Like most Americans, Governor Romney doesn't personally check the papers of people working for him. So that's an unfair criticism by Giuliani. However, the mayor is correct in saying that he did what was best for the City of New York when it came to the illegal alien situation.

When Giuliani was first elected in 1994, violent crime was out of control here in the Big Apple. About 2,000 people a year were being murdered. So the NYPD had no time to track illegals and nowhere to put them, even if they made time.

In '94, the federal government detained very few illegal aliens. So what was Giuliani supposed to do? It is true that since many New Yorkers are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, tracking down illegals has never been a smart political move here. But again, in a city of eight million people, the cops have other things to do. Not an excuse, a reality. So I think it's fair to cut Giuliani some slack.

Governor Romney did recognize the severity of the alien problem and allowed Massachusetts state troopers to investigate immigration status. That's good. That policy has now been revoked under his successor Deval Patrick, a real open-border guy.

With the improving situation in Iraq and the economy still fairly strong, illegal immigration may emerge as the top issue in next year's election. Democrats are largely sympathetic to the plight of illegals, while Republicans are taking a harder line. All the GOP candidates know this is a core issue for conservative voters. So there's little doubt that border security and employer accountability will be a mainstay of the Republican platform.

So is Rudy Giuliani soft on illegal immigration? Not anymore. And that's what counts.

Pinheads and Patriots

O'REILLY: Time now for "Pinheads and Patriots." In the Sudan, Gillian Gibbons, a British subject who was teaching in that African country, has been sentenced to 15 days in jail because she allowed her second-grade students to name a teddy bear Mohamed. Ms. Gibbons will be deported after her jail term ends. She's lucky to be out of there.

And since thousands of Americans have been harmed by Islamic fanatics, we are making Gillian Gibbons an honorary patriot.

On the pinhead front, say hello to 74-year-old Willie Nelson, still smoking pot after all these years. Nelson is the cover boy for the latest edition of "High Times."

Last September, the singer pleaded guilty to marijuana possession, paid $1,000 fine. Mr. Nelson is obviously a pothead, and some might say, a pinhead, as well. Not me.

You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads and Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com