Today on The Gaggle, Mars, Bitches! Edition

Today Little Scottie is the target of some high quality snark from reporters who’ve noticed we’re not exactly terraforming the red planet as we speak or anything:

Q So the President supports a Mars mission?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a long-term mission that the President outlined, John, so I think you have to look at the overall perspective in what the President said. But he wanted to make sure that there’s a clearly defined mission for our space program, and there is. And he believes it’s important to continue to advance space exploration and for the United States to continue to lead the way. And that’s what we are doing, and today’s launch is an important first step to put us back on track.

Q And how is the Mars program going?

MR. McCLELLAN: NASA can probably update you on the effort. Again, this is a long-term program, and you can sit there and smirk about it, but the President felt it was important — (laughter) — the President felt it was important to outline a clearly defined mission for NASA. And we’re all excited about today’s launch and we wish the —

Q Will he be speaking about it —

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on — we wish the crew all the best.

We have the award for the Worst. Question. Ever.

Q Scott, first of all, to all those involved with today’s launch of the Shuttle Discovery, to the astronauts aboard, and to all of us, isn’t this a great country, or not? (Laughter.)

But the press corps hasn’t completely lost its spine. Watch Scottie aggressively not give a damn about reassuring CIA agents they won’t be outed for petty political retribution:

Q Scott, in the wake of the Valerie Plame incident, on which you will not comment, intelligence officials have indicated there’s a growing concern among operatives in the field, a fear that they might be the targets of political manipulation. And they have indicated that something must be done on the part of the White House to help allay these fears. And given that these people are in the forefront of the war on terror, isn’t it necessary to do something more than simply stonewalling all discussion of the incident in order to restore confidence?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I’ll reject your characterization. What we’re doing is helping to advance the investigation forward. And the President said he’s not going to get into trying to draw conclusions based on reports in the media. Let’s let the investigators complete their work. And that’s what we’ve said, so I’ll reject your characterization. We have for a long time said that we want to help them get to the bottom of this and the best way to do that is to cooperate fully in that investigation. And that means not commenting on it here from this podium.

The Karl Rove stonewall continues.

Next up, we have your daily Les:

Q Scott, when the Reverend Jesse Jackson admitted that he fathered a child out of wedlock, the President, as you remember, telephoned him after this admission. And since Karen Stanford, the mother in this case, has just stated, “I was attacked by friends, strangers in the black press without mercy and labeled by them a political stalker, gold digger and opportunist,” will the President now telephone Jesse’s victim, as he did, Jesse?

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate your question, Les, and I don’t have —

Q You appreciate the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Les —

Q Do you think I could appreciate an answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I don’t think it’s worthy of an answer.

Q You don’t think it’s worthy of an answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Because your characterization is not accurate.

Q It’s not? How is it inaccurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

And last but certainly not least, we have the Best. Question. Ever.

Q We’re approaching the four-year anniversary of 9/11. And right after 9/11 the President said he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive. Do you consider it a failure by either the military or the intelligence that four years later Osama bin Laden is not only on the loose, but is still being tied to terrorist activities extending into Spain, Egypt, Iraq and England?

Scottie’s reply: Blah blah blah on the run cakes. I’d like to send that reporter a cookie.