Not ready for prime time (again)?

Huckabee's "understanding" is that he won't be crossing a picket line to appear on "The Tonight Show."

By Tim Grieve

Published January 2, 2008 9:04PM (EST)

In an interview with Time Saturday, Mike Huckabee said that he and his staff "learned an important lesson" from the embarrassment he suffered when he didn't know about the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran a day and a half after it was released. "We are being much more careful now," Huckabee said. "If there is some breaking news, I am being pulled out of events to be sure that I know what may be happening."

That's probably a good idea, and it would be an even better one if Huckabee and his staff actually put it to use.

Huckabee is scheduled to appear on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" Wednesday, despite the fact that TV writers -- who he says he supports "unequivocally" and "absolutely" -- remain on strike. There's no conflict there, Huckabee explained earlier today, because "there was a special arrangement made for the late-night shows, and the writers have made this agreement to let the late-night shows come back on, so I don't anticipate that it's crossing a picket line."

Not exactly.

While David Letterman's production company, WorldWide Pants, has reached a deal with the Writers Guild of America -- meaning writers are returning to work at "The Late Show" and the WorldWide Pants-produced "Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" -- NBC hasn't struck any such deal, and the writers are still picketing "The Tonight Show." When a reporter explained the situation to Huckabee today, the candidate again said that his "understanding" was that "there's a sort of dispensation given to the late-night shows."

"Is that right?" he asked.

Told that it wasn't right, Huckabee reportedly said, "Hmm" and "Oh," then moved on to another question.

Update: Talking Points Memo reports that Hillary Clinton will appear on Letterman's picket-free show tonight.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Jay Leno Mike Huckabee War Room