During the course of plugging his new book, Kids Are American Too, on his show the other night (it “turned out to be a very hot Christmas gift this season!”), Bill O’Reilly thought it might be fun to answer questions from kids. But he was not prepared for Courtney Yong, from San Francisco. “Mr. O’Reilly, I really enjoyed Kids Are Americans Too,” Courtney’s question began, auspiciously enough. “But in the first sentence of Chapter Three you say the Constitution guarantees ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Isn’t that from the Declaration of Independence?”
Now, some of us, in O’Reilly’s situation, might have laughed. We might have made a joke about how everyone confuses those two old things, and later made a hissing, angry phone call to whatever HarperCollins editor let the sentence, “For openers, the Constitution guarantees all of us, in a famous phrase, ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’” slip by untweaked, since while, as the folks at Media Matters have noted, the Constitution promises the government shall not deprive any person “of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” Courtney is right: “Pursuit of happiness” belongs to the Declaration.
But what did noted America lover Bill do? He tried to cover it up. No, worse — hilariously worse — he tried to act like he did it on purpose. “An excellent question, Courtney,” he responded. “The reason the Constitution was forged was to assure new American citizens the right to free life and access to pursue happiness in his or her own way. The Declaration was the statement; the Constitution, the instrument.” Wow. That’s … beautiful.