Former president Bill Clinton and CNN's Piers Morgan at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Former president Bill Clinton and CNN’s Piers Morgan at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Why did Jay Leno fail to land Bill Clinton as a guest on his much-watched “Tonight Show”? As if it needed explaining: Because the 42nd president of the United States didn’t like the way that Leno cracked jokes about Monica Lewinsky. All the time, that is.

That’s a revelation that comes from a New York Post roundup of a new book by “Tonight Show” staffer Dave Berg (“Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show“).

Following the former president’s triple-bypass surgery, “The Tonight Show” sent him a “$12,000 custom-made tandem bicycle,” but the Clintons had to return it because it violated ethics rules then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was bound by. So the show sent along a one-seater for Bill. Though that was a nice little quid, Bill Clinton failed to supply the quo, as he declined invitations to appear on the program. He “simply didn’t like Jay’s never-ending Monica Lewinsky jokes” — that’s Berg’s take on the whole thing.

A study released in February found that Clinton was Leno’s No. 1 target, tallying 4,607 rips out of nearly 44,000 jokes between Leno’s ascension as host in 1992 and his retirement earlier this year. Though the Erik Wemple Blog has fond memories of watching Leno’s program, a look at his top Clinton jokes raises a question: Just what were we laughing about? Maybe it was all in the delivery.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.