Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, whose wayward plane over Washington last month caused the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol, found himself in more uncharted territory last week: in the middle of a late-night booking war.
CBS's "Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn" announced last week that it had booked the Republican governor to appear on tonight's show to respond to jokes Kilborn had made about Kentucky's campaign to rebrand its image by finding a new slogan.
On his July 15 show, Kilborn suggested the slogans "Kentucky, we now have the Internet" and "Kentucky is for lovers who can't afford Virginia." (Four years ago, Kilborn called the state "Kensucky" in the wake of a devastating tornado there, prompting the state legislature to pass a resolution condemning his comments.)
Late Friday, however, representatives from Fletcher's office told the Kilborn show that the governor was backing out of that appearance to go on NBC's earlier and higher-rated "Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
Leno, too, has mocked the state, joking in a July 13 monologue that the new slogan should be: "Got teeth?"
The Kilborn show says the governor reneged on the CBS deal, but Fletcher media adviser Fred Davis says no agreement was made "in writing." In fact, Davis said yesterday, it was the governor's office that first contacted Leno about appearing on his show after hearing his "Got teeth?" joke, and a call from Kilborn's office followed.
"Both shows wanted Ernie," Davis said. "Both of them are great shows. You can only pick one."
"Kilborn" executive producer Todd Yasui said that he's not sure why Fletcher backed out but added that the show will go on: "No offense to someone who holds an important government position, but it's not like we were thumb-wrestling over a Colin Farrell appearance."