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Georgia’s long-standing fight with Tennessee over water and borders is gaining another ingredient from TV’s “The Daily Show” — which state has better barbecue. A crew from Comedy Central’s late-night fake-news show was at Sugar’s Ribs on Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga on July 17 to film a dozen diners squaring off.
“Basically, they had a bunch of people from Tennessee and Georgia talking about the water dispute and also talking about barbecue,” Sugar’s chief operating officer, Jesse Rogers, said.
“It was absolutely hilarious,” said Cal Haywood, general manager of Sugar’s Downtown and son of the restaurant owners Lawton and Karen Haywood.
Correspondent Al Madrigal fired off comical questions to Cal and Lawton Haywood, their friends and some of the restaurant’s best customers on the barbecue joint’s giant balcony overlooking the city.
“It was slightly scripted, but a lot of improv,” Cal Haywood said. “Their job is to make people laugh. So I’m sure we’re going to be the butt of the joke.”
The tentative air date is Thursday, Comedy Central spokeswoman Eve Kenny said.
“But that is completely subject to change,” she said.
Because “The Daily Show” is topical, segments get moved around at the last minute.
Sugar’s Ribs will post the air date on its Facebook page.
“The goats made it in,” Cal Haywood said, referring to Sugar’s small herd of fenced-in, grass- and brush-eating goats that were the backdrop for the signing of a “peace treaty” between the two sides.
The Georgia General Assembly this year overwhelmingly passed legislation offering to give up Georgia’s claim that the state border is actually about a mile north at the 35th parallel — which would swallow 67 square miles of Tennessee — in exchange for being allowed to tap Nickajack Lake for water. If Tennessee turns down the offer, Georgia threatens to take the border dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Daily Show” paid a previous visit to the area in 2005, reporting from Rhea County, Tenn., the site of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial.
As part of a series called “Evolution Shmevolution,” correspondent Ed Helms interviewed people who still disbelieve evolution. One of those he talked to was fundamentalist activist June Griffin, who called evolution a “total fabrication and a lie.”
But Helms pretended the people he interviewed were “costumed performers” in a “living history museum of 1920s Tennessee.”
“It’s all pretend,” Helms said. “Because if it were real, it would be … terrifying.”
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.