A wealthy Hollywood producer and a major corporation paid for the flight that carried former President Bill Clinton and two American journalists home from North Korea, prompting a word of thanks from former Vice President Al Gore and the freed reporters during an emotional airport reunion.
Stephen Bing, a close Clinton friend and longtime Democratic fundraiser, is the plane's owner, confirmed Marc Foulkrod of Burbank, California, chairman of Avjet Corp., the company that manages the aircraft.
Gore, who runs Current TV, which employs the two journalists, gave a shout-out to Bing during remarks after the plane landed early yesterday in Burbank.
"To Steve Bing and all the folks who have made the flight possible, we say a word of thanks, deep thanks as well," Gore said.
The journalists themselves offered gratitude to another apparent patron: Dow Chemical Co. and its chief executive, Andrew Liveris.
The connection between the chemical company and the Current TV journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, was not readily apparent. Liveris issued a statement that explained that a plane owned by the company was used "in different parts of the mission in recent days."