The Paul Johnson Murder Mystery

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

The mystery surrounding the brutal murder of American Paul Johnson (search) in Saudi Arabia, that is the subject of tonight's "Talking Points Memo."

As you may know, the 49-year-old Johnson was beheaded by Islamic fascists. And shortly after that, murder was announced, the Saudi government said it killed the terrorists involved. At first, it was reported the terrorists were caught trying to dispose of Johnson's body. That turned out to be false.

Then both the Saudi government and the U.S. State Department clammed up. Exactly what happened in the Johnson case turned into a mystery.

Earlier this week, Mr. Johnson's brother appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and said he tried to go to Saudi Arabia himself, but was stopped in Jordan when he could not obtain a visa.

Well, we called the Saudi embassy and got quite the runaround. Today, however, the embassy issued this statement. "Prince Bandar bin Sultan (search) was disturbed when he learned that the FOX News program "The O'Reilly Factor Factor" insinuated that Saudi authorities search for the remains of Paul Johnson is haphazard and that Saudi Arabia is making it difficult for the Johnson family to travel to the Kingdom and ascertain directly the state of the search...If we receive any such request for visas we would not hesitate to arrange for them."

Well, that's good and we appreciate the prince's action, but he should do more. First, his government should pay for the Johnsons to travel to the kingdom. This is a poor family. And the foreign minister there should receive them and brief them on the search to find the body.

Second, Prince Bandar himself should hold a press conference and explain what the heck's going on with this investigation. This is a strange situation. The terrorists were caught and killed an hour or so after the beheading. Isn't that a little unusual? How exactly did that happen? And why was it initially reported the terrorists were caught trying to dump the body?

When an American is executed overseas by terrorists, it's the duty of the U.S. State Department and the country involved to keep the public fully posted. That has not happened in this case. Florida Senator Bill Nelson (search) has written a letter to Secretary of State Powell asking for information. And we applaud Nelson's actions. We hope these developments today will help the Johnson family. They have suffered enough.

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

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

It's Bastille Day (search) in France, where they celebrate their independence. And we hope everybody over there has a good time. We, of course, cannot participate in the celebration with the French because we're boycotting French goods and services.

I guess we could re-enact the storming of the Bastille, but that might be ridiculous in Idaho...

Anyway, here's the update on the boycott: A group in France known as MEDEF has appealed to Americans not to boycott French goods, and not to cancel travel plans to that country.

MEDEF is also known as the French Business Confederation (search), and they're right to be concerned. Travel to France is not what it was pre-9/11, and French exports to the USA have fallen by more than a billion dollars from 2001 to 2003. That's according to the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division (search).

Once again, if France stops hurting the USA, we will stop boycotting, because we do miss those snails— In the meantime, get those bumper stickers on— That's escargot.