ILLUSTRATION BY ISMAEL ROLDAN FOR USN&WR
He's the son and stepson of two famous newsmen. But when Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace was ripped by Bill Clinton for a "conservative hit job" in a confrontational 2006 interview, it wasn't the headlines Wallace was mulling over when Bubba fled the set. It was adding Clinton's autograph to a collection started in the 1940s by stepdad Bill Leonard. "I brought the damn book," Wallace says, "and I said, 'I know I'm pushing my luck, but . . .' " His reward: "Thanks Chris, Bill Clinton." Fast-forward to this April, when Sen. Barack Obama appeared on Wallace's show, 772 days after being invited. Interview done, out comes the autograph book, and the presumptive Democratic nominee scripts: "I enjoyed our interview, and will make sure that we don't wait another 772 days!"
Wallace, the son of 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace, credits his signature-seeking to his stepdad, who, before running CBS News, hosted a radio show called This Is New York . Guests from Harry Truman to Alfred Hitchcock signed his book, and Wallace has carried on the practice. As a kid, Wallace says, looking at Leonard's collection "gave me a sense early on of just what an extraordinary business this was and the opportunity you have to meet all kinds of people." Now that the collection is three books long, he observes: "People had better handwriting back then."