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This has been a difficult year for our troubled nation, and I don't think I have to tell you that it doesn't show signs of getting any easier. Racial injustice, climate change, the corporate sleeper hold on the political system—more and more, we've come to accept these dreadful realities as a given, the price of doing business for a crumbling empire set to the percussive soundtrack of late-stage capitalism's death rattle.

It's not my nature to be a Gloomy Gus, but I must confess: I feel it, too, gang. Or at least I did, until I had what my wife, Jane, likes to call one of my "3 a.m. epiphanies."

I sat bolt upright in our bed and reached for the trusty reporter's notebook I always keep on my nightstand in case of just such a eureka moment. My eureka moment consisted of six simple words, which I wrote down with the same scratchy penmanship that bedeviled Mrs. McGillicuddy in that one-room schoolhouse in Elmira, New York. I looked at the words carefully, gave them the same no-BS scrutiny I've applied to all my reporting since I was a Kansas cub. Then I realized I'd left a word out. So I licked the nib of my pen the way my dear grandmother always used to do and added it. The document is reproduced here unaltered, in precisely the way I wrote it that late night less than a week ago:

Now, I don't pretend this will cure all our nation's ills—I may be a world-famous television personality, but I've got enough good old-fashioned horse sense to know the problems we face are bigger than one news anchor's ability to read the news off a teleprompter every night. But that's kind of the point: All I do is read the news. I act like I write or edit it, too, but let's be serious: That note was the first thing I've written down in more than a decade. I'm good at reading. You think it's easy? It's not. Even Lester Benedict Arnold Holt will tell you that. Why should it matter whether I was on this or that helicopter during some battle or other in whatever war happened to be going on? Frankly, I don't even remember exactly what I claimed. As I said on Today, these past months have been "torture" for me. And if there's one thing I've learned about Americans, it's that we don't condone torture. Sure, we spend a lot of time arguing, rebuking, shaming each other. But in my experience, nothing makes this country feel better than when we can unite in publicly forgiving a beloved public figure for doing something that we barely even remember what it was, so how bad could it have been, really? recommended