By Hillary Busis
Updated March 19, 2013 at 02:34 PM EDT

Who’d have guessed that the spirit of Liz Lemon would live on… in Jay Leno?

In late February, the Tonight Show host channeled 30 Rock‘s main character — who never lost an opportunity to bite the hand that fed her — by joking about NBC’s slumping ratings. NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt was so incensed at the joke — “It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers” — that he reportedly sent an email of complaint to Leno.

But apparently, Leno wasn’t cowed by Greenblatt’s note. In last night’s monologue, the comedian took another swipe at the network during a joke about St. Patrick’s Day: “You know the whole legend of St. Patrick, right? St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and then they came into the United States and became NBC executives.”

The dig comes in the wake of rumors that NBC is planning to retire Leno as early as next year and replace him with Jimmy Fallon — despite his continued ratings success. NBC insiders have vehemently denied word of this succession plan — probably because they’ve been too busy dealing with Smash‘s high-profile flame-out and America’s shunning of Matt Lauer and the Today show to even think about a late-night shuffle.

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