Let’s start today’s gaggle with Chimpy’s good “friend”, the Bugman:
Q So — on DeLay and on one other subject — so just on the record, then, the President has reviewed the allegations against Leader DeLay and he’s completely confident that Tom DeLay is clean and can lead the Republican Party?
MR. McCLELLAN: He was asked this question in a press conference just a couple of weeks ago; he made his views known when it comes to Leader DeLay. That remains his view. And in terms of those matters, I mean, I think I previously talked about that those are issues that will be addressed by the congressional leaders and by Leader DeLay.
Q Scott, you said a couple days ago that, as the President said, he considers Tom Delay a friend. I actually went back — I never saw the President say that anywhere. He said he had confidence in Tom DeLay. And I also noticed that Tom DeLay said when the President was running for President in 2000 — or 1999 — that Bush was not a social friend of his. So does Bush consider —
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a number of congressional leaders that he works closely with on the Hill and he considers a friend, sure.
Q And he considers Tom DeLay a friend?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. I mean, I think there are different levels of friendship with anybody, so — (laughter.) Well, no, you referred to social friends and — but, no, he certainly is a friend.
Q What level of friendship are you referring to here?
MR. McCLELLAN: A friend. The President considers him such. And we support his efforts, along with the efforts of other congressional leaders, to move forward on the agenda that the American people want us to enact.
Of couse we all remember there was a time that Chimpy considered Ken Lay to be one of his good “friends”, too. Sounds like the Chimpster is slowly backing away from Mr. DeLay.
Next up, Scottie visits Planet Inventshit.
Q Scott, you said that — in talking about Social Security with the leaders this morning, the President talked about progress that’s been made and that it’s time to move forward. What progress does the President think has been made, and what does he want in terms of the move forward?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think if you look at survey after survey, it shows that more and more Americans understand that there are serious problems facing Social Security, and you continue to see in survey after survey that there is strong support, majority support for the idea of giving younger workers the ability to invest in personal retirement accounts. That is a voluntary effort that the President has put forward. And the first phase of our push on Social Security has been to reach out to the American people and educate them about the challenges facing Social Security.
Last but not least, Les has trouble folding the Road Map while Scottie refuses to ask for directions.
Q Scott, on the road map, can you identify even one Palestinian terrorist group that has been disarmed by the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the Bush administration’s own road map? And I have a follow-up.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it’s important to look at some of the steps that have been taken. And the President talked about President Abbas the other day in the news conference. We look forward to having President Abbas visit Washington again so the President can talk to him about what we can do to support them in their efforts to move forward on the two-state vision that he outlined. But there have been some steps taken to address the security situation.
Q In the event that Hamas, a terrorist organization not yet disarmed by the PA [Palestinian Authority], wins a majority in the legislative PA, will the Bush administration still send $350 million U.S. taxpayer dollars to the PA, or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, it’s — the one thing that you see when people have elections that are free and fair is that they tend to choose people who are committed to improving their livelihood, not people who are committed to terrorist acts. And I think if you look back at the previous Palestinian elections, the people that were elected, while they might have been members of Hamas, they were business professionals. They were people that ran on talking about improving the quality of life for the Palestinian people and addressing their economic needs and addressing other needs that are important to them — not terrorists.