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Early Ratings Returns: David Letterman Trouncing Conan O'Brien

Jun. 18 2009, Updated 12:36 p.m. ET

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Fueled by the Sarah Palin controversy, The Late Show with David Letterman has taken a lead over The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien in the all-important ratings race.

Preliminary national returns this week indicated that the Indiana funnyman's Monday show, in which he issued an apology to the Alaska governor over an off-color joke he aimed at her daughter, beat The Tonight Show 3.8 million to 3.2 million, a margin of more than 700,000 viewers.

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Letterman routinely lost to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno by an average of more than a million viewers nightly.

(Photo: JOHN PAUL FILO/CBS /Landov/NBC Universal)

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