NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor who is now attempting a political resurrection, is willing to talk about the prostitution scandal that forced him to resign, but perhaps not crack a joke about it.
Spitzer, who announced on Sunday he would run for New York City comptroller, traveled to California on Friday to appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, one of many TV comedians who has steadily made him the butt of jokes in the five years since the scandal.
When Leno asked how Spitzer could have been "this stupid," the former governor offered a somewhat serious defense: "Hubris is terminal," according to video clips released ahead of the show's broadcast on Friday night.
"People who fall prey to hubris, end up falling themselves," Spitzer said. "And that I think is something to which people in government are susceptible to. Those who feel they are somehow increasingly important to power."
Five years ago, just over a year into Spitzer's first term as governor, he was identified as "Client No. 9" in a high-end prostitution ring. He resigned almost immediately.
The image of his visibly shaken wife, Silda Spitzer, standing at his side, became part of the inspiration for the hit TV show, "The Good Wife." And Spitzer, who had been know as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" during two terms as New York attorney general, was promptly dubbed the "Love Guv."
As for Spitzer's Democratic rival, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, his campaign criticized Spitzer for "skipping town."
"Sadly for Jay Leno, Eliot Spitzer's resignation from office was no laughing matter," Stringer's spokeswoman, Audrey Gelman, said in a statement.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)