James’ post is great as it is, but might I just add that the places Katie Couric has been visiting aren’t really in the middle of the country. With the exception of Chicago, which is at least the gateway to the Midwest, Philly, Boston, and New Brunswick (!?!) are all part of the Bos-Wash corridor, accessible by the Acela. As someone who has crisscrossed the entire country by car numerous times, let me suggest that you haven’t seen much of the “middle” of this country — washed or unwashed — going by that itinerary. I mean, who says, “I’ve got to break out of my New York cocoon and see some of real America. Let’s go check out Philly and Boston.”
Update: Woops! An e-friend reminds me that, er, uh, St. Louis is the gateway to the West. Chicago — as per the Simpsons — is the Miami of Canada, among other things. Regardless, it’s still the last locale West of New York that people who dismissively refer to fly over country don’t consider flyover country.