"At some point in your life, you have to sort of take sides."
I've never bought into the idea, popular recently among some, that Leno is a secret conservative. But he does make jokes that come from completely outside the media bubble. It might be his persona which goes back to the blue collar working class comic, now an endangered species.
The idea that Kerry is unwelcome in Israel doesn't exist in the media bubble so it's certainly interesting to hear him tell a joke that would shock and offend most liberal Jews.
Jay Leno sees a small silver lining in the recent collapse of U.S.-backed Mideast peace talks: It should make his job just a little easier when he performs in front of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this month.
"I guess any American that's not John Kerry is more than welcome there right now," Leno said.
Kerry recently caused an uproar when he warned that Israel could become an "apartheid state" if it doesn't reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.
For Leno, the trip will be his first to Israel. At a time when pro-Palestinian activists are urging entertainers to boycott the Jewish state, he said he didn't have "any problem" with his decision to perform. "It's a great honor. It's a great country. It's a great people," he said.
While said he sees both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said he considers himself to be "very pro-Jewish, very pro-Israeli." Leno himself is not Jewish.
"At some point in your life, you have to sort of take sides. I tend to side with the Jewish point of view on many things, especially issues like this one. I realize how important Israel is," he said.
Again, an attitude suggestive of a different and older entertainment industry. It's the kind of thing you might have expected to hear from Frank Sinatra back in the day.
You don't tend to hear it much in the new entertainment industry.