Burbank, Calif. — George W. Bush and comedian Jay Leno both poked fun Monday at the Texas governor's tendency to fracture syntax and mispronounce words. And the Republican presidential candidate even donned an Al Gore Halloween mask for added laughs.
NBC's "The Tonight Show" opened with a sequence in which the show's host was about to light a candle in a big Halloween jack-o-lantern.
"You can't do that," Bush said, saying the material was highly "flammabbabble."
"I think the word you want, governor, is flammable," Leno corrected.
Bush stubbornly stuck with his mispronunciation and pointed to a mock sign on the studio wall that read: "Warning: Highly Flammabbabble."
"You know, sometimes my mind gets ahead of my words, if you know what I mean," Bush told Leno later.
Bush also bought along a prop in the tradition of Leno's feature in which he reads funny newspaper headlines and wedding announcements.
"I got a little headline of my own here," Bush said, displaying a pretend copy of next week's Nov. 8 edition of the Los Angeles Times. The banner headline read: "BUSH WINS."
At one point, Leno, noting that Halloween is Tuesday, reached beneath his desk and put on a Bush mask.
"That's scary, but this is more scary," Bush said, donning a Gore mask.
Asked about an Esquire magazine article in which President Clinton says Republicans should apologize for the impeachment trial, Bush said, "I think we ought to just move on," suggesting people were getting tired of hearing about it.
He said he didn't think Clinton would necessarily help Gore by campaigning because he said people will make up their own minds.
On charges by Democrats that he isn't ready to be president, Bush said, "the more time you spend in Washington, the less qualified you are."
He said such criticism also was leveled at former California governor and two-term president Ronald Reagan.
Bush appeared on the show during a two-day West Coast campaign swing. It was the latest in a series of appearances both candidates have made on nationally televised entertainment programs.
Gore is set to appear on the same program tonight.