In the Great Late-Night War, you can look to history for guidance as to how this thing is going to turn out.
Like, you can look at the Battle of the Bulge as a historical parallel. NBC is the Nazi army, Jay Leno is the Vichy government in France, and things are not going swimmingly as 1944 draws to a close.
The Allied armies have overrun much of France and Belgium, and they're quickly closing in on the Fatherland. Something has to be done. So the Germans launch the Battle of the Bulge in late December, with the goal of encircling and destroying four Allied armies and forcing a peace treaty.
Leno's Vichy government is quick to agree to whatever the der Führer thinks best. What der Führer thought best was the capture of The Tonight Show in Bastogne, Belgium. The Nazis would take it, then put their guy back in charge.
C'est tout! C'est si bon! Ist gut!
Finally, with Bastogne and the crippled, beleaguered Tonight Show all but surrounded, the NBC television Nazis made their demand to Allied commander Conan O'Brien: Surrender.
And Conan said "NUTS!"
THE REST will be history. Most notably, NBC and a now-damaged Jay Leno.
Look, all CBS' David Letterman did was screw young female subordinates. In this day and age, that's survivable.
But Leno, on the other hand, was an embarrassing failure at 9 o'clock. And now he looks like NBC's eager toady in sticking a shiv in Conan's back. He's the "Tonight Show Indian giver." He's the butt -- and the chin -- of all the other late-night hosts' jokes.
Letterman is having a field day.
ABC's Jimmy Kimmel, meantime, is making fun of Leno . . . on Leno's own show, and Jay was defenseless against the hilariously withering "attack."
That's damaged goods.
OH, YEAH. That's damaged goods.
So now we must quickly switch historical analogies to plumb the true good fortune of Conan O'Brien.
Press reports say negotiations are being "finalized" to pay Conan $30 million to leave The Tonight Show so Leno can take it back. Imagine it this way -- not only is Conan getting a coveted spot in a lifeboat while the crew of the Titanic is otherwise occupied rearranging the deckchairs, he's getting $30 million for the privilege of saving his own ass.
All because he had the guts to say "NUTS!"